A Portland artist is gathering donations from Burning Man festival-goers—seeking unwanted, old or damaged equipment in an effort to provide the homeless with supplies for winter.
In September, Noah Mickens, ringmaster for the performance group Wanderlust Circus, helped some of the homeless residents at the Springwater Corridor move their belongings during the sweep ordered by the mayor.
He was struck by the similarities between the camp and Burning Man, an arts festival that takes place in the Nevada desert.
"Looking at all the tents and camp kitchens and bicycles, it reminded me of Burning Man or an encampment at the Oregon Country Fair," says Mickens. "A lot of equipment from Burning Man goes in the trash because of damage, but it was exactly the stuff these people needed."
A couple days before the end of the week-long festival that runs from the last Sunday in August to the first Monday in September, Mickens created a Facebook page announcing the supply drive.
It was a success, he says, as people donated tarps, sleeping bags, coats, blankets and a six-man tent.
Mickens, who says he spent his childhood moving between hotels, friends' couches and homeless shelters, says he has been donating to homeless camps in Portland for several years. The drive was just the next step.
Mickens' efforts were first reported this weekend by Oregon Arts Watch.
On Sunday, Mickens will host a second drive, where people can bring their donations to his house. In the days that follow, he will deliver the donated items to homeless camps around Portland, such as Right 2 Dream Too.
"It's the exact same issues that you see in Syria. People are driven from their homes and sent out to die in the street with nothing," Mickens says. "People should find a way in their lives to help with that terrible tragedy."