I have this idea for a series of blog posts, and I’d like to run it by you for input and ideas.
It would be a series of profiles of panhandlers and other people on the street, based on interviews with them. The purpose of the series would be to help break down stereotypes by focusing on the human beings behind the outstretched hands.
From what I’ve seen, panhandlers and street people are simulaneously highly conspicuous and invisible, because people can’t help but notice them but tend to avoid eye contact with them. This series of profiles would try to play some small part in bridging that contradiction.
The way I envision it, I’d approach them, introduce myself and the project to them, and ask them if they’d like to participate. If so, we’ll go to a coffee shop, have a snack and a beverage, and they’ll tell me their story while I ask questions and take notes. I’ll take a photograph of them if they’re okay with that. And I’ll pay them for their time. Then I’ll write up the profile and post it here on the blog.
I do have a few concerns though, mostly around ethics, privacy, and exploitation. I don’t want to exploit anybody. I don’t want people to let me invade their privacy just because they need the $10 I’m offering them. And what do I do with information they might provide that could potentially put them in jeopardy? (For example, if they share information about illegal activity, and they’re willing to be identified by name and/or photograph…should I not publish that information?)
Are there other considerations I haven’t thought of?
Finally, if I do go ahead with this project, are there any questions you would like me to ask them?