pictures and story by Mike Hazard
David A. De Lampert Jr. has peace on his mind.
“I do a lot to make sure in my soul I don’t let nobody steal my peace.”
“We are so hard on each other. Nitpicking, always looking for what’s wrong and put someone down. People don’t know how to forgive.”
“When they come here, I come here (to the Peace House), I want to see that smile, for just one moment. The roughest cat in the world sitting down there, to see him smile, or her, I want to see that peace on them. Because I know when we go back out there, we go into a jungle, into a world, something where none of us really knows what’s up the road.”
Maybe you’ve seen David out and about? He’s been living on the streets of Minneapolis for over 30 years. A veteran, he survives on disability checks and through gratuities people offer him. He spends his days inviting people to sign his coat with a permanent marker. When they sign, they will often give him a dollar or two “to help me keep going.”
“Personally, I feel this is the richest thing you got going for yourself, is your name,” David says. “And as we fight in this world to obtain something for ourselves and to be somebody, nobody wants to feel like they’re nobody no matter who it is, I encourage people to believe in my travels that we are somebody.”
“Everybody is somebody. Irregardless of whether you are an addict, alcoholic, or whatever, whatever your vice is in life. I happen to believe personally you can be at peace with yourself.”
David is one of the people profiled in John Nolter’s profound project, A Peace of My Mind. These statements of David’s are transcribed from John’s podcast.
Like many, Julie Knopp has been moved by David, who is also known as Pops. “I consider Pops one of my greatest spiritual mentors,” she writes. “Calling himself ‘a bearer of good news,’ Pops has been homeless for over 30 years and earns astounding wages collecting gratuities from passersby on the street as he invites them to sign his clothing. Over the past decade, he has filled up almost 500 coats, shirts, hats, and umbrellas with signatures.
“While it started out as a way to survive, Pops now calls this his ministry. Through this practice, he makes each passerby feel truly special. Without judgment, Pops listens to their stories in a way that makes them feel worthy of being heard. His ministry has taught me to never doubt the worth of any human being or their story.”
“One thing I love about coming here (to Peace House) is I like to say I have met my family universally all over the world,” says David.
This picture story is by Mike Hazard. It is part of a project called Peace House People. The project is funded by an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature; and by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
This article originally appeared in “The Alley,” the newspaper for the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis.