Tent City compilation gives homelessness many faces
Two years after woods dwellers departed and bulldozers moved in, Lakewood's Tent City continues to spark dialogue about the tightrope walked by many marginal wage-earners, what constitutes "affordable" housing, and our economic future. The faces of former Tent City denizens in a new compilation add dimension to the discussion.
In the 140 pages of Faces Of Tent City - We Are People Too, photographer Sherry Rubel challenges the viewer not simply to react, but to consider the connections from working, to working poor, to jobless, to destitute - and to think about ways to restore independence and dignity to broken lives.
Rubel spent four years chronicling conditions in the Lakewood encampment through her camera lens, using the results to probe the effects of poverty and the need for realistic, affordable solutions.
She drew attention with a summer 2015 exhibit at the Monmouth Museum, as she came to view Tent City as a metaphor for a disturbing trend in American life.
Her experience propelled her to the State Legislature in Trenton, where she caught the ear of Union County Senator Ray Lesniak (D-20).
Those talks led to his sponsorship of a bill that would create tiny-home pilot projects in three sections of New Jersey. The measure is under discussion in the Community and Urban Affairs Committee.
She is also involved in developing arts-based, sustainable, micro-home communities through Revival Village.
The book is available through Amazon, and also in magazine format through MagCloud. Rubel says that she hopes to remove the stigma that attaches itself to homelessness, and to help avert what she sees as a growing affordable-living crisis not only in the Garden State, but across America.