What is 50 Sandwiches?
50 Sandwiches is a cross-country journey dedicated to presenting the public with a rare glimpse into the lives and stories of America’s homeless. This glimpse will be crammed into a book and called 50 Sandwiches.
Get a van, make it livable, and travel the country interviewing members of the homeless population. Each face, sandwich, and story, will be documented extensively in 50 Sandwiches. Throughout the journey, experience as a whole will be updated on the 50 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. The interviews will begin with the telling of the ‘who’ the ‘what’ and the ‘how’. These interactions will be informal, resembling intimate discussions rather than an interview. 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 reasonings 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.
This project hopes to give a collective face to an issue too often perceived as a nothing but a social nuisance. Homelessness is typically viewed as an inevitable result of the social food chain, being presenting in forms of statistics and not the people behind them. By gathering a collective range of perspectives and life stories, 50 Sandwiches aims to further humanize homelessness.
This book cannot and will not represent the entirety of the homeless population; 50 Sandwiches intends to represent the diversity amongst the homeless population through experience and perspective. This book will inspire public empathy, 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, closing the gap between perception and reality. As with any social issue, the first step to finding a solution is through recognition and understanding.
Who are you?
Me? 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.
Alright, but how can we trust you are the best person for the job?
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 successfully presenting 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 know my way around a camera and 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. I have had an extreme interest in homelessness, specifically perceptions of homelessness, since I was in high school. 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.
As stated, 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 be 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.
Opening the public’s eyes is great, but will it do anything for the actual homeless?
Beyond raising awareness, this project hopes to be able to aid the homeless population directly. Though the details have yet to be hashed out, I would like to be able to set up a trade program where purchaser’s of the book help the homeless directly. This may entail a winter beanie and two pairs of thick socks being donated for every book bought, something of that nature. Socks are one of the most needed items of homeless shelters but among the least donated. Far short from changing their living situation, at the very least this will keep some toes toasty.
Why the name 50 Sandwiches?
I plan to interview as many people as possible to guarantee an authentic selection of stories and experiences that accurately portrays the true diversity among the homeless population. These interactions will be narrowed to the 50 that fit best.
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, fears, and aspirations are all vastly distinct. Naming the book “50 Homeless People” would deduce the people in it, undermining the entire objective. Luckily sandwiches are not in need of social justice.
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 50 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.
Whether or not this project happens is completely up to you. All funding for this project will go directly into the trip itself. This includes the van and the cost of making it livable, gasoline, food, and any road bumps that may occur throughout the course of the 13,000 mile journey.
With your help, we can take steps to provide the general public with fresh and realistic perspectives on homelessness by sharing their stories and struggles to the nation. Your donation will help raise awareness on a social issue that is belittled and misrepresented, helping the hundreds of thousands of people suffering from homelessness in the United States.
I am putting all of my faith, effort, and time into this project in hopes all of you potential donors see the same potential I do in 50 Sandwiches’ unique approach and ability to transform the public’s eyes in a positive way.