It was the morning of Day 1 for the SXSW Interactive Conference. I was excited for the big kick off of 2017. I knew there would be huge installations at every corner fighting for my attention. I had planned my day ahead, hoping to hit as many hot spots as possible in the short time I would spend downtown before leaving for a weekend away. The thing that caught my eye this year wasn’t what I had expected to be welcomed into the city with. It wasn’t some huge statuesque bull with smoke coming out of its nostrils (yes that was really downtown) it was something much simpler. Very simple in fact, a piece of cardboard.
It took me a second glance to realize what was going on. I’m used to seeing homeless lining the edges of the streets, each with their own sign displayed. But this was different. There weren’t just a few signs scattered across the city, there were several signs held by people from all different walks of life. Each had the hashtag #WelcomeHomeless written across them. I immediately thought, “What? Welcome homeless, quite an interesting statement.” As I parked my car, I knew I had to find out what this was all about.
I approached a couple people carrying signs and was immediately welcomed with smiles. I asked what their mission was and found out I knew more about it than I had realized. They were promoting a new book titled, “Welcome Homeless,” by Alan Graham. Now that name might not ring a bell right away until I tell you that he was the founder of Mobile Loaves & Fishes. You’ve probably seen their trucks driving along 360. He also founded Community First! a village that has garnered a lot of media attention. Graham has a passion and a heart for the homeless community here in Austin and has worked on innovating a new lifestyle to share beyond Texas borders.
In his new book, Graham shares stories of the homeless and the stories of those whose worldviews have been shifted by the homeless. The book delves deep into what it means to be connected to God, the earth and each other. In doing so, he shows us the home we’ve all longed for but never had. Graham hopes the book will make everyone feel truly at home by inviting those living on the fringes of society into your heart.
You can find out more about the book and order it by visiting: http://mlf.org/welcome-homeless/