On my bicycle rides around town, I am met with regular visible reminders that not all people are free.
Portland has had a challenge dealing with the growing number of men, women and children living on the street for decades. There is a severe lack of affordable housing for the working poor already, and an even greater shortage of emergency housing for homeless people who are enslaved by violence, illness, addiction and poverty.
The flood of homeless people moving through Portland has grown so great that our mayor, at wits' end and with no resources to address the issue declared a homelessness "crisis" citywide -- and then thew up his hands, saying he could do nothing about it. He then ordered Portland Police to allow the homeless to camp along sidewalks, in parking lots, wherever they could find space that didn't block traffic.
And that is exactly what these folks are doing. They're camping wherever they can find space.
Under bridges, along sidewalks, in parking lots. (In one case, a group of folks who'd been priced out of their rental housing tied a bunch of dilapidated boats together to form a floating encampment in the middle of the Willamette River and then dropped anchor. The city lacks the resources to chase them all over the river, so for now they're staying put near the east bank.
These photos were taken earlier this week on a bicycle ride along the Willamette River.
Other than to say that such encampments are to be found all over town and that there are thousands of people going to sleep outside every night here, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.
If you celebrate the Festival of Freedom, consider devoting time at your seder to talk about how YOU can help bring about such a world in your community, and think about a plan of action you can follow through with after the seder is complete.
Chag Pesach Sameach -- a joyous Passover to all.