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Picture Show: In the Shadows of Progress
The stark reality of this moment in time is that many people are losing their jobs, their homes, and their ways of life. Yet amid what can seem like ceaseless news of loss, there are those who refuse to surrender hope. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Tent City, a temporary encampment below a freeway in Nashville, Tennessee, where hard-pressed and otherwise homeless strangers have come together to form a community.
Photographed with disarming intimacy by Scott McIntyre, the people of this encampment keep homes of plywood and tarp, unsure how long they’ll be able to stay on the land, part of which is owned by local ministries, part of which is owned by the Department of Transportation. But according to McIntyre, who formed a number of friendships while photographing the camp, that uncertainty doesn’t diminish their resilience. “I learned a lot about what happens to people in rough periods of time,” he says. “And if you take care of your neighbor, your neighbor might take care of you.”
Sosa, one of the many dogs living in Tent City, watches over the tent home of Cowboy, his owner. Cowboy has been in Tent City in Nashville, Tennessee for five years.
BJ Edlund (center), and his wife, Kristy, are newcomers. BJ lost his design business and his home due to lack of work and money. “I never thought it would get so bad I lose everything,” said Edlund, whose friends have lived in the encampments along the Cumberland River in Nashville and helped the couple get established. One of them, Ed, is seen at left.
Like a lot of their neighbors, Brandon met his significant other while living in a homeless shelter in Nashville. The couple says the camp has more of a home feel to it than any shelter they ever lived in.
Mark May, 47, broke his back and both of his arms during a work-related accident. When he left the hospital, he came here with no money and no place to stay. Theresa Gordon and Rick Cole offered him a place to stay and since then he has been contributing whatever he can. Sometimes that involves going to market dumpsters to retrieve discarded produce and any other foods.