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Collection Occupational Folklife Project

Homeless Shelter Workers in the Upper Midwest

In 2016, social services worker, writer and documentarian Margaret Miles of Minneapolis, Minnesota, received an Archie Green Fellowship from the American Folklife Center to document workers in the emergency homeless services in three interrelated Midwestern urban centers--Bismarck, North Dakota, Minneapolis-St Paul, Minnesota, and Chicago, Illinois. She recorded interviews with overnight shelter advocates, meal and clothing center coordinators, street outreach workers, daytime drop-in supervisors, housing case managers, and others who work to resolve housing issues, assist individuals with financial crises, employment, addiction, illness or mental health concerns. Their work makes them "master-navigators of complex systems such as healthcare, social security, corrections, veterans benefits, and tenant-landlord law." This collection consists of 18 interviews and includes shelter workers serving diverse communities of clients, including ex-offenders, abused women, GLBT and Native American youth, and individuals with HIV/AIDS. Many of the interviews are accompanied by images by Miles's co-documentarian, photographer Catherine ten Broeke. Troyd Geist, Folklorist for the North Dakota Arts Council, served as a consultant to the project.

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