Man in a van tells the nation’s recession stories

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A hospital security guard? True enough, but the guy’s really a farmer who couldn’t make ends meet and had to take a wage-paying job.

A pleasant little town in western Colorado? Maybe so — but the bucolic setting belies a 75 percent unemployment rate.

And yes, that woman over there has bought plenty of clothes at Nordstrom. But now she’s clothing herself at the the Goodwill.

These are the kinds of stories that Eugene, Oregon, native Aaron Heideman is picking up as he makes a big loop around the nation for his “Man in a Van Project,” collecting stories of how the recession has affected ordinary Americans.

Heideman himself was laid off from his $11-hour-an-hour job in a paint store. He gave away a lot of his possessions to a thrift store and lit out in his van to tell the story of the recession.  A sign on the van asks, “How has the recession affected you?”

He was collecting people’s stories in front of the White House the other day and as of this week has made his way to New York City. His ultimate destination: Grand Rapids, Mich., the site of the ArtPrize competition. He’d like to win the $250,000 prize, but will settle for telling the nation’s story.

Heideman’s odyssey is recounted pleasantly enough in a story today in the Eugene Register-Guard by Mark Baker. But don’t fail to point your browser at Heideman’s website, where his blog tells tales of soup kitchens, hassles by police, Las Vegas in the summer without air conditioning and much more.

Heideman invites you to tell your own recession story there by replying to one of his blog posts.

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