John Partipilo’s tribute to Nashville Scene editor Jim Ridley
Photojournalist John Partipilo’s cover story in the Nashville Scene visually identifies the struggle that many homeless youth and families are experiencing in Davidson County. The story was John’s idea and the last story he worked on with late Scene editor Jim Ridley. This was his tribute to him.
“I just want to end homelessness in Nashville. I just want to give people a chance to know what home feels like. They deserve it. They really deserve it.” – John Partipilo
Tribute Story by John Partipilo
There’s a huge problem in Tennessee and even across the United States of homeless children. There’s no reason it should exist in our state or in our country.
The city is constantly spending tons of money on houses and other things, but you have to have affordable housing for people like this. This is ridiculous – this doesn’t look like America. It reminds me a lot of the Indian reservation you know when I growing up as a kid. It’s just like — it’s poor.
I took the story to Jim and I showed him some of the shots and he loved it. He said, “This is amazing. I want this to be a cover.” He goes, “I can’t believe this, I just love these pictures.”
He was so happy and so proud. He said, “I am going to love to have this on the cover of the Scene. This is the kind of stories I’m looking for. We’re trying to do more hard hitting stuff and you’re one the best people I’ve ever seen at this.”
So I went out to do it.
Then when he died I was just devastated. I wanted this story to be really good because this is for him. Wherever he is — I hope he can see this. I think Jim would be proud of this story and photos.
A city is not great unless it caters to of all of its people. You have to make it for the poorest of us, that’s what people want you to do and Christians are supposed to do. You have to look to the people with the most need and those are the people you have to include in this great big plan for the city, because if you sweep these people under the rug then you’re doing an injustice — a big injustice.
This homeless situation — I’ve been shooting it for 15 years and all the city and state have done is they just keep sweeping it under the rug.
I noticed this problem when I moved to Nashville. It started at where the stadium is now, where the Titans are. That used to be a big homeless area where people were staying. They came in and built the stadium and all the homeless people were thrown out.
Then it went to the bridges, you know, the pedestrian bridge and other bridges and they got kicked out of there. Endless, endless, endless. Fort Negley, same thing, kicked out, swept under the rug.
The problem isn’t solved — They are just pushing people into different areas. What will solve this problem is affordable housing.
Let me tell you something. These people aren’t bums. They all have jobs, they all work. Every one of these people work. They just can’t make enough money to live in a house and they can’t get a loan. That’s the problem.
So what are we going to do?
How can you help?
Share this story. Share the Nashville Scene’s story. Talk to people at Open Table, Room in the Inn and the Nashville Rescue Mission. Volunteer. Be part of the solution and remember most of us are just a few paychecks from homelessness.
Join the Conversation
Become a subscriber and submit your email here to learn more about how I’m building strong communities. Have something to add? Leave a comment and learn more about how I help clients on my services and process pages.