Tonight, I took my youth group on a stroll down Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. We’re having an all-church retreat this weekend, but we’re not really ‘retreating’ anywhere. The economy is hurting folks, and schedules are tight, so we’re having our programs at the church itself. It’s pretty fun, actually. There’s a different feel to gathering at night for worship and fellowship than there is when gathering in the morning, like usual.
So, what’d we do on Telegraph? First of all, I let the kids know that we have a budget as a youth group, but I wanted them to think about what they would do with money at their disposal. Some usual stuff was shouted out (going to see “Watchmen,” buying a new pair of converses, etc.), but then I we tried to think more constructively. How do we help those who are in need?
After all, Telegraph doesn’t really look like this anymore:
Today, it looks a bit more like this:
However, the above picture is from during the day, and I can’t find any good photos of the night scene. There’s a great book by Richard Misrach called Telegraph 3 A.M.: The Street People of Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley, California, which came out in 1974. (Used copies run for hundreds of bucks.) This next picture is from that book (I think), and some of the same kind of folks (but a little grungier—gutter punks) still hang out on the sidewalks, sitting on the ground, eating Blondie’s pizza and playing their guitars. Some of the youth talked to these kids, gave them a couple bucks, and bought one girl’s self-published zine. Afterwards, we bought some cheap postcards at this same corner (Haste and Telegraph, in front of the old Cody’s Books), and then we got Yogurt Park and pizza before heading back to the church. A good time was had by all.