WSU News

Homeless women’s stories shared in book, video

Book CoverVANCOUVER, Wash. – Homeless women’s stories as shared in a book by a Washington State University faculty member are featured in a two-part video to be broadcast on cable TV six times in the next two weeks.
 
The video, “Women Surviving Homelessness,” includes Desiree Hellegers, WSU Vancouver associate professor of English, and narrator-activists whose stories are featured in Hellegers’ 2011 book, “No Room of her Own: Women’s Stories of Homelessness, Life, Death and Resistance” (Palgrave Macmillan). Hellegers is a founding co-director of the Center for Social and Environmental Justice at WSU Vancouver.
 
Her book is based on extended interviews with 15 women gathered over nearly 20 years. It illuminates the physical challenges of homelessness on bodies already compromised by health issues and harrowing conditions – including routine threats of sexual and physical violence.
 
“Desiree Hellegers brilliantly collates and connects the stories of disparate homeless women,” wrote David Barsamian, founder and director of Alternative Radio. “We learn much about these citizens with no addresses. They have been studied to death but rarely do we hear their voices.
 
“Hellegers skillfully and with compassion weaves the tapestry of these women’s testimonies,” he said. “From Sweet Pea to Debra and Marlowe, their accounts of survival and dignity reveal hidden truths of gender relations and our political and social culture.”
 
Narrators Arnette Adams, Anitra Freeman, Debra Martinson, Jessie Pedro and Delores Loann Winston are involved in intersecting activism in Seattle, including Women in Black vigils. Since the turn of the millennium, Women in Black has stood vigil for more than 400 people who have died homeless in one of the most “livable” cities in the United States.
 
The women were filmed as they read from Hellegers’ book in April at a Portland, Ore., release event. The video, by the Flying Focus Video Collective, was taped by Sara Newton and PC Peri and edited by Barb Greene. It will play this week at the following times:
 
Part I
• 12:30 a.m. Sept. 18, Comcast channel 22
• 11 p.m. Sept. 19, Comcast channel 23
• 9:30 p.m. Sept. 21, Cable Access Network channel 23
 
Part II
• 12:30 a.m. Sept. 25, Comcast channel 22
• 11 p.m. Sept. 26, Comcast channel 23
• 9:30 p.m. Sept. 28, Cable Access Network channel 23
 
DVD/VHS copies will be available in mid-October for a suggested donation of $11, plus $4 postage, at http://www.flyingfocus.org.
 
The collective, a nonprofit educational organization, has produced works since 1991. More than 700 programs dealing with public policy issues have been cablecast and shown at public screenings.
 
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