Each One Teach One: Up and Out of Poverty--Memoirs of a Street Artist by Ron Casanova (as told to Stephen Blackburn)

Curbstone Press

In this compelling life story, Ron Casanova paints a frank portrait of an "alternative" lifestyle unshaped by journalistic angle or political agenda. Casanova grew up in New York City, where he was neglected in orphanages, and later beaten and over-medicated in a state-run mental hospital and a juvenile correctional facility. Through all this, it's incredible that he built a sense of humanity within himself after his numerous ordeals. But it is not built overnight.

Casanova's evolution as a homeless activist is also part of his odyssey. Through his eyes we witness the 1989 police-induced riots in New York's Tompkins Square Park; squatters taking over buildings all around the country; a homeless march on Washington D.C.; and Cassanova's meeting with erstwhile HUD director Jack Kemp, after which Kemp signed a document claiming HUD would give 10 percent of abandoned buildings to the homeless.

In practice, the document has proved worthless. Yet Casanova fought on and continues to fight. His story not only illustrates the need for affordable housing in this country but also the cycles of poverty that keep people down. Amidst endless media narratives of super tycoons and Wall Street millionaires, it's inspirational to hear about Casanova putting up the ultimate investment--his life--to support the dignity of others.

 
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