A cross-country project and book aimed to present the public with a rare peek into the lives and stories of America’s homeless.
About this project
Fifty Sandwiches is a cross-country journey dedicated to presenting the public with a rare glimpse into the lives and stories of America’s homeless. Their unique and unheard experiences will be captured in a book and called Fifty Sandwiches.
Toss a mattress in a van and travel the country interviewing members of the homeless population. Each face, sandwich, and story, will be documented extensively in Fifty Sandwiches. There is an example posted below and plenty on the blog. Throughout the journey, the experience as a whole will be updated on Instagram and the Fifty Sandwiches blog.
The goal is to close the gap between perception and reality, collecting unique splices of life along the way. I will be traveling city to city, offering to take homeless people out for a free meal in exchange for an interview. Well, more of just a casual chat between strangers rather than interviews. As each chat progresses, these talks will evolve into a dynamic collection of life struggles, stories, and philosophies from a population that is rarely given a voice.
Each of our perspectives is formed through a lifelong road of challenges and obstacles experienced first-hand. With that said, the goal is not only to unveil these unheard perspectives, but to capture the story and explanations behind them. If I am given the advice ‘Always trust your gut’ I want to know the journey that led to this realization. What happened when you didn’t trust your gut? What would have happened if you had? How have you changed since then? This is more about presenting remarkable life journeys of the less heard and less fortunate than broadcasting generic or universal convictions. See some of the interviews so far.
What is this for?
This project hopes to give a collective face to an issue too often perceived as a social nuisance. Homelessness is often seen as an inevitable result in the social food chain. By gathering a collective range of perspectives and life stories, Fifty Sandwiches aims to further humanize the homeless. This book will inspire public awareness, using personal anecdotes and challenges to foster the realization that homeless people are not defined by their living situations. This is no remedy to homelessness, rather a method to raise awareness. As with any social issue, the first step to finding a solution is through recognition and understanding.
Why the name Fifty Sandwiches?
I plan to interview as many people as possible to guarantee an authentic selection of stories and experiences that accurately portray the true diversity among the homeless population. As of now, the number of people I interview will be at least one hundred, but 185 Sandwiches just doesn’t have that ring to it!
Secondly, it is important to understand that the people in this book will only have two things in common with one another: they ate a sandwich, and they are homeless. Outside of that, their life’s struggles, loves, experiences, and aspirations are all vastly distinct. Naming the book “Fifty Homeless People” would deduce the people in it, undermining the entire objective.
However, sandwiches are not in need of being seen as anything more than a sandwich: an assortment of lunch food layered methodically. Frankly, it does not matter to me or anyone else if the pulled-pork sandwich is grouped together with a ham and cheese pita. If a few aspiring chefs are angered to find that Fifty Sandwiches is about properly representing homeless people then they will have to learn a valuable and ironic lesson that both books and homeless people should not be judged by their cover.
Here is an example piece of what I have collected so far in preparation! I strongly encourage you to check out the blog for more examples or click on the photos above. Please feel free tocontact me or comment below with any questions or thoughts about the project or myself! I am also happy to support any other KS projects I can so let me know if you have a cool project!
Attached below is only part one of three parts in my talk with Matthew. I will be posting more interviews as updates as the projects persists so stay tuned!
Risks and challenges
First of all, I’m a nobody, a middle man. These aren’t my stories or my experiences. I’m just the medium through which they are told.
If I have to discuss myself in anyway, it will only be to booster confidence that I can in fact pull this off. Afterall, a three month, 13,000+ mile cross-country trip dedicated to interviewing homeless people and accurately portraying their stories to the public is no easy task.
In short, I am a recent graduate of Boise State University, majoring in Communication with an emphasis in Journalism. I wrote for Boise State’s newspaper, The Arbiter, and have had a few other pieces in other publications. I am fluent in the interviewing process and am confident in my ability to get people to open up about their personal life.
This idea of traveling throughout the nation to transform the public’s view of homelessness has been waiting patiently on my to-do list for more than six years. Throughout my education I have taken every opportunity possible to focus my projects on homelessness and the public’s misconceptions regarding the homeless population.
It is not an overstatement to expect this trip to be a major life-changing experience. I like to think my senses for adventure are untamed, managed only by budgetary constraints. This life offers an endless buffet of remarkable experiences and I’m not here just to have a taste. The idea of tossing a mattress in a van and traveling the country to get beat over the head endlessly with culture-shock excites me to no end.
This idea has been evolving in my head for years, sharpening its nails and scratching at my conscious. This is my project, everything I have to offer will is being put into this. There is no doubt in my mind that I will not be able to succeed and show the collective population that there is more to homelessness than tattered faces and simplified statistics.