Most days, you can find David writing poetry at a table in Tim Horton’s, on the other side of Dorrance Street. “I have an international following.” He worked in technology until 2005, when his $98,000 job went overseas. “I lost my home, my job, my marriage. I was homeless for 13 months. But I’m better off now then I was before. When you have to start over again, you appreciate what you have.” He’s been writing poetry for almost 40 years. You can read his poem about this window here
Mr Quasi Moto, who is part avocado, works with the group Big Nazo, whose studio is close by. In the mid 1980s, when this street was still pedestrianized, “I started doing some street performances on the corner of Union and Westminster. We needed a place to come and test the waters. We’d come out for an hour or two, work through material. We weren’t ready for the big time then.”
Daemion works for City Year, a nationwide organization that gives 17- to 24-year-olds the opportunity to engage in 10 months of full-time community service. Its local base is above where Bowl & Board used to be. He coordinates community projects for City Year volunteers. “I graduated from the University of Oregon and wanted to do something different. In his spare time, he likes going to the library and “checking out random books.”
Kristen works at Craftland, where she also sells notebooks that she makes, with covers made from old maps. “I have a textile background, which means I wear scarves most of the time. It’s one of my little addictions. I’m like the Carrie Bradshaw of scarves.”
In the 1870s, Christiana owned a high-class hair salon in a building where the store Oop! is. Though she was African-American at a time when few owned high-profile businesses in the city, her salon business thrived. It went by the name “Madame Carteaux”, Bannister’s first married name. Today she is better remembered as an abolitionist, a fundraiser for “colored regiments” and as the founder of the first Home for Aged Colored Women in the city, today a nursing home called Bannister House.
Danielle works part time in clothing store Clover, and part time as an art-and-design teacher at an elementary school in Cumberland, RI. “We don’t have a dedicated art room, so I’m art-on-a-cart. None of the students can see I have tattoos. I get them done at Federal Hill Tattoo on Atwell’s Avenue. They’re about the things in my life that mould the person I am.”
Juan has been head of security in the AAA building for the last 16 years. “You never know, sometimes we have trouble. But we like things to be quiet.” Before he worked here, “for 25 years, I was supervisor of maintenance at City Hall. Before that, I was in the marines as a boilerman. I traveled halfway around the world, to England, Scotland, the Mediterranean, West Africa.”
Deborah is one of the downtown parking attendants. “For 21 years, I worked in a bank, taking care of people who wanted to open big trust accounts. I used to write checks for millions of dollars.” Seven years ago she switched to a less stressful job that involved being outside – though she does sometimes have to suffer irate motorists. “We’ve gotten grabbed by people. One attendant got hit by a car. We can call for backup, the cops will be here in two minutes.”