8B - The Michigan Daily - Weekend, etc. Magazine - Thursday, March 16, 2000
The Michigan Daily Weekend, etc. t
8 a.m. Stewart Chase rises from his tent to face the bitter chill of
another Michigan winter morning. His day begins with the ritual smok-
ing of a hand rolled cigarette. When the cigarette is extinguished, he
heads into town for a day of "canning". Canning is a slang term which
refers to the task of searching dumpsters for cans and depositing them
for ten cents each. Only half an hour later, Stewart has collected $1.50,
just enough to buy a forty-ounce of Schlitz beer. He heads back to the
campsite where he drinks the beer, starts a fire, and hangs out with his
friends. When the bottle is empty, he returns to canning. This cycle
continues until all the beer is gone and the cold darkness forces Stewart
to retreat to the relative warmth of his tent for the night. This is any day
in the life of Stewart Chase.
You would never guess that Stewart grew up in a middle class fami-
ly and lived a married suburban life until he was thirty years old. Five
years ago divorce brought on terrible depression accompanied with
heavy drinking. Before Stewart realized the severity of his problems,
he lost everything he had worked for. The only possessions that
remained were a picture of his parents and a wallet full of expired cred-
Stewart is now one of about ten people who live year-round in a
community of tents on the outskirts of Ann Arbor. They have rejected
the rules and curfews of the homeless shelter system and do not allow
themselves to depend on free meals. They create their own shelter, and
scavenge enough money to survive. This tent community of homeless
men is close knit. Together, they provide the social support all of them
need to endure the frozen winter nights. When asked what motivates
him to continue the way he does, Stewart confidently responds that it
is the desire for independence that drives him to stay in the communi-
ty, even in the most arduous of circumstances.
Stewart Chase deposit
closer to having enoug
Stewart Chase rests outside his tent before going canning.
Stewart nase orinks is torty-ounce while waiting or a tire to catch on this
snowy winter morning.
Stewart Chase'shows a: picture of his, parents that the always keeps in his wallet.
Chuck Francis talks with Stewart Chase about his rejection of the shelter sysi