The Alley Newspaper

These articles originally appeared in “The Alley,” the newspaper for the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis.

What’s in a Word?

Over the last few years, there has been a movement to stop using the word “homeless” to describe those who don’t have permanent housing. Phrases like “those with lived experience of homelessness” or “the unstably housed” have popped up to fill the void. Those advocating for the change intend to reduce the stigma attached to …

What’s in a Word? Read More »

Working Instead of Staying Busy

Someone recently sent me an article that, among other things, lamented the busyness that people experience at their jobs and the amount of time and energy that this busyness wastes. The author’s goal was to get his readers to move from busyness to action, from working a job that may or may not pay the …

Working Instead of Staying Busy Read More »

The Sacredness of Used Clothing

Like many nonprofits, Peace House Community relies on donations of both money and items to offer services to its community. Sometimes the items we receive are essential to our work, but often we receive donations that cause more problems than they solve. I used to work at a housing agency that had to deal with …

The Sacredness of Used Clothing Read More »

A Penguin Walks Through the Door…

A few years ago I came across a list of questions employers could ask potential employees to test their creativity and their ability to adjust quickly to unexpected circumstances. My favorite question was “A penguin walks through the door wearing a sombrero. What’s the first thing it says?” I actually used this during a few …

A Penguin Walks Through the Door… Read More »

You May Know More Than You Know

I’ve learned a few things in the last year about fundraising, like You can never say thank-you enough and Tell donors what you are doing with their money, because it isn’t your money that you are spending.” I’ve also learned that I need to ask Peace House Community’s donors a lot of questions, like How …

You May Know More Than You Know Read More »

Do Whatever You Want

When people find out that I worked with the homeless, they sometimes ask me if they should give money to panhandlers. I used to give the standard social work answer: “If you give them money, it could be used for drugs or alcohol. It’s better to give them a snack, or to donate money to …

Do Whatever You Want Read More »

What World Do You Live In?

I’m often struck by how wildly different people’s experiences (and, as a result, their worldviews) can be, even when they seem to have a lot in common. For instance, most of my friends avoid coffee after 4:00 p.m. because it ramps up their adrenaline and keeps them awake, but I often joke that, at Peace …

What World Do You Live In? Read More »

The Greatest Sacrifice

Never having been in the armed forces, I don’t have personal experience with the idea of leaving no one behind on the battlefield, even if rescuing them requires great personal risk. I understand it in concept, but I’ve never had to live it out. Only recently did I realize that I get to see others …

The Greatest Sacrifice Read More »

Standing Still

I spent last week visiting my parents in Jasper, a small town in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. It was the first time since my 11 year old twins were born that I have been away from them for more than two days consecutively. It was also the first time in over 20 years that I …

Standing Still Read More »