For 20 years, Desiree Hellegers has been working on and off with homeless women from Seattle, bearing witness to their struggles and their strengths, and working with them to tell their stories.
The result is a newly published book that is a stunning collection of personal narratives: No Room of Her Own: Women’s Stories of Homelessness, Life, Death and Resistance.
Hellegers and a number of the women featured in the book will read from it at 2pm on Sunday, October 16 at The Elliott Bay Book Company, 1521 10th Avenue on Capitol Hill. Details on the Elliott Bay website.
I’ve known Hellegers since before she began the interviews that led to this book. The work was born of her personal experience working at the old Lutheran Compass Center shelter in Pioneer Square. It is grounded in her cogent political analysis of why homelessness has become entrenched in our society.
The book gives much-needed attention to the work of Women in Black, whose regular vigils call attention to the deaths of homeless people on the streets of Seattle. And it is noteworthy not for the horror stories the women tell of their experiences, but for the strength of their personal courage, compassion, civic engagement and activism to change our world.
Published by Palgrave Macmillan, the book demands to be read by a broad community to help us move the civic debate about how we value people’s lives. It is deeply personal, startlingly political and incredibly powerful.
“Heartbreaking and inspiring stories of courageous women enduring and triumphing over adversity few of us can imagine. … They have been studied to death, but rarely do we hear their voices,” commented David Barsamian, the founder and director of Alternative Radio.
“The reality that sings out from Desiree Hellegers’ remarkable book is that women who lack a roof to sleep under at night are not lacking in competence, will-power, a way with words and a generous spirit of activism,” stated Cynthia Cockburn, noted feminist writer and member of Women in Black London.
WHAT: Readings from No Room of Her Own
WHEN: Sunday, October 16, 2pm
WHERE: The Elliott Bay Book Company, 1521 10th Avenue, Seattle, 98122