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Sad News for Cincinnati's Poor

By Gregory Flannery · December 19th, 2007 · Porkopolis
  Jimmy Heath became an advocate for the homeless the hard way -- via personal experience.
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Jimmy Heath became an advocate for the homeless the hard way -- via personal experience.

Over-the-Rhine has lost a friend and advocate, as have homeless people, panhandlers, people struggling with addiction and those who dared to leave suburban comforts in an effort to know the heart of poverty. Jimmy Heath has died.

A 2002 recipient of the McCrackin Peace and Justice Award, Heath didn´t come to his egalitarian ideals and fierce sense of justice the easy way. Homeless when he arrived in Over-the-Rhine in 1995, he credited the Drop Inn Center with helping him recover from years of alcohol and drug abuse and giving him a new sense of purpose. Buddy Gray, founder of the Drop Inn Center and inspiration to a generation of Cincinnati activists, recognized Heath´s talent as a photographer and urged him to use it to help build public awareness of homelessness.

The Cincinnati Enquirer took note of Heath´s passing, calling him a ¨photographer (who) was also advocate for the homeless,¨ but omitted his work as editor of Streetvibes, the gritty monthly newspaper published by the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless.

Sold by panhandlers, the newspaper has been a controversial fixture in the local media landscape, offering a sometimes withering analysis of public policy in a city once ranked among the meanest places for homeless people in the country.

Heath also was director of the Center for Community Photography at Peaslee Neighborhood Center, where he taught neighborhood kids. He was active in the Over-the-Rhine Community Council, the North American Street Newspaper Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. His photographs can be viewed at www.jimmyheath.org.

Mass of Christian Burial is scheduled for noon Wednesday at Mother of God Church in Covington, followed by a potluck lunch in the undercroft. A Jimmy Heath Memorial Fund has been set up to help with funeral costs and to further his work, according to his fiancée, Brenda Zechmeister. Donations can be made at any Fifth/Third Bank branch.

Peace Breaking Out All Over
The grassroots peace movement is growing. In fact, in Greater Cincinnati this week it will be 50 percent bigger than last month. In conjunction with the National Iraq Moratorium Campaign, the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center (IJPC) is organizing anti-war vigils in neighborhoods throughout Cincinnati.

Instead of the six neighborhoods that hosted vigils last month, nine are planned this time, according to Kristen Barker of IJPC. At 5:30 p.m. Friday people will take candles and signs and stand witness for peace, reminding passing motorists of the need, during this holiday of peace, to work for peace.

Vigils are planned for the corner of Clifton and Ludlow avenues in Clifton; at the corner of Winton and Gray roads in Winton Place; along West Eighth Street between Enright and Rosemont avenues in Price Hill; at Hoffner Park in Northside; at Heritage Park on Hamilton Avenue, near the Cross County Highway, in Mount Healthy; at the corner of Forest and Reading roads in Avondale; at the corner of Beechmont Avenue and Five Mile Road in Anderson Township; at the corner of Harrison and McHenry avenues in Western Hills; and at the World Peace Bell in Newport.

Holiday shoppers at Saks Fifth Avenue downtown were greeted Dec. 15 by animal-rights protesters. Standing outside the store, members of Mercy for Animals protested the fur trade. On fur farms, animals spend their lives in small cages before being killed for their coats, according to Mercy for Animals.

¨Animals are gassed, electrocuted, drowned or beaten to death, and some are even skinned alive to be made into fur coats or fur trim,¨ says Mindy Sanders, the organization´s campaign coordinator. ¨With so many stylish synthetics available, there´s no excuse for wearing fur.¨

For more information, visit www.mercyforanimals.org.

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