The Concrete Killing Fields : One Woman's Battle to Break the Cycle of Homelessness

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9781885331557: The Concrete Killing Fields : One Woman's Battle to Break the Cycle of Homelessness

WINNER OF FIVE NATIONAL AWARDS IN FOUR CATEGORIES!*2016  INTERNATIONAL BOOK AWARDS - Award-winning Finalist in Autobiography/Memoir *2016 BEVERLY HILLS 4TH ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL BOOK AWARDS -  Winner in Social/Political Change category;  *2015 FOREWORD REVIEWS INDIEFAB BOOK OF THE YEAR - Bronze Medal in Autobiography & Memoir category;*2015 INDEPENDENT PUBLISHER'S IPPY AWARDS - Bronze medal in Current Events/Social Issues/Humanitarian category;*2015 NATIONAL FEDERATION OF PRESS WOMEN'S Competition -  2nd place in Non-Fiction Book category.How does a memoir win five national awards in four different categories? According to Foreword Reviews 5-Star review "This blend of memoir, social advocacy, and stories about homeless men in Memphis, Tennessee" is "at once deeply personal and broadly drawn... By delving into the reasons behind homelessness of the individuals she meets, PatMorgan presents intriguing conclusions about issues related to mental health, government policy, and our social safety net. Perhaps most compelling, Morgan doesn't hold back about the frustrations of working not just with the system, but with the homeless themselves. Although she's always respectful in her descriptions of their mental issues and addictions, she is transformed from a wide-eyed volunteer to an advocate who sees far more shades of gray in the"concrete killing fields" around her.

A political insider who once interned for Senator Al Gore and worked on Bill Clinton's presidential campaign, Morgan settled in Memphis in a bid to save her second marriage and soon found herself volunteering at her church, helping homeless men find shelter and other resources. She soon found the experience to be life-changing and started documenting their stories as a way toward understanding their situations.

The author even proposes a"Twelve Steps for Do-Gooders" based on the model followed by Alcoholics Anonymous. This powerful document, delivered with concision, artfully describes the difficult balance that many advocates and social workers must strike in order to be truly helpful. In step four, for example, she writes, "Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself and the 'help' I was trying to provide to others, often rendered unrecognizable because of my frustration and anger at the very people I wanted so much to help." Where the book shines the brightest is in Morgan's descriptions of those very individuals. 

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From the Author:

I wrote The Concrete Killing Fields primarily because I wanted more people to understand that underneath the grime and stench of the streets there's a person, not all that different from the rest of us, who has experienced a litany of losses, including health, mental health, sobriety, jobs, opportunities, families, and friends. Housing is the last thing they lose in becoming homeless.    The Concrete Killing Fields started out as a brief, monthly update that I wrote for my church's bulletin to help some of our parishioners understand why all those dirty, smelly homeless people were in the basement of our church  and what we were doing to help them. By the time parishioners read a couple of paragraphs about one of the homeless people we'd helped in our "Street Ministry," most understood what, how, and more importantly, why we were trying to help them. Those paragraphs were the first ripples in a torrent of words that would come after I'd resigned from my volunteer position as the director of the Street Ministry to return to college. By then, I'd learned a lot about homelessness and homeless people and the underfunded, full-of-holes social service system (especially the mental health system). I felt sure that I needed the credentials to go with what I'd learned if I expected to be taken seriously by professionals. It was one of the best decisions I'd ever made.  At Rhodes College, along with courses in sociology, psychology, abnormal psychology, political science, and urban studies, I took several writing courses. I still remember telling the professor after the first class of my first course in writing that I felt that I'd always wanted to write and somebody had finally given me a pen!  The updates I'd written for my church became the nucleus around which The Concrete Killing Fields developed. When it became clear that I needed to make major changes in my first draft if I wanted it published--and I did--it ended up quite differently, with far few characters and much more about my all-time-favorite homeless person, Alepeachie, and several others whose lives had profoundly affected me and my life. I hadn't intended to write about myself but in remembering and writing their stories, long-buried events and nightmares of my past had surfaced and writing about them was therapeutic. (I'd read that if you are going to write about yourself, you need to "open a vein." I think I hit an artery because those memories came out in spurts throughout the book.)  Finally, in addition to wanting more people to understand homeless people and homelessness, I wanted people to know how much politics matters when it comes to dealing with poverty, health, mental health, addictions, housing, and homelessness--and how some politicians DO care and are willing to do all they can to help improve others' lives.

From the Inside Flap:

What do Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Andrew Cuomo and Homeless People have in common?  Pat Morgan...she worked for all of them.
 
Pat Morgan found her calling in the basement of Calvary Episcopal Church in Memphis, Tennessee where she discovered the "invisible people" the homeless. She hadn't set out to become an expert on homeless people; she hadn't planned on working in Washington DC, and she hadn't planned on finding the healing that she didn't even know she needed.
 
As a political insider, part policy maker and confessed political junkie, Pat Morgan was the fly on the wall with a ringside seat. Failing at picking cotton as a young girl, she discovered that what she was good at picking was smart people and mentors to guide her.
 
"I'd wept when nobody could see me and laughed when everybody could. I'd mourned more than I ever expected to mourn and I'd danced every chance I got. I'd like to think I hadn't "cast away" stones, but the truth is that I'd cast a lot of stones and gathered up a few more to cast at the barriers to accessing the system."
            Pat Morgan, from The Concrete Killing Fields
 
Get ready for an intense glimpse into a lifetime of stories--stories of people you have heard of and stories from those who are invisible--all waiting to be told.
 
"Readers, be warned! Pat's "must tell" testament is compelling and contagious, relentless and raw, inspired and inspiring! Read and digest The Concrete Killing Fields. You will not remain the same."
            --The Reverend Dr. Douglass M. Bailey

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Pat Morgan
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Morgan, Pat
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