For Your Consideration | June 11, 2014
Welcome to the first in our series to highlight the considerate ways in which we engage those that suffer on the margins of society. Have something to share? Email us directly at HERE or visit our Facebook Page to reply to the series posts directly. Enjoy!
We begin in Paris: National Geographic’s May 2014 edition introduced us to two centers that take the fluidity of life to a whole new level – that is, floating along the Seine – let’s dive in:
The Fleuron St. Jean, is a light green boat that doubles as a hospitality center of sorts, moored along the Seine on the outskirts of Paris. Every night at 6:30pm, the barge invites dozens of men (and their canine companions!) on board for a one-night voyage that does not entail travel – rather, a warm meal and a comfortable bed. “We call them passengers out of respect,” says Adrien Casseron, manager of the floating homeless shelter that is funded by the Ordre de Malte. Casseron explains, “The passengers leave their worries at the dock. This boat is a symbolic escape that allows them to dream, perhaps to hope…”
In 2010, the Beatueau L’Adamant, a floating barge with walls of glass, was completed to welcome its first mentally ill clients. Patients come for coffee, a snack, to confer with the medical staff, create art, or simply enjoy the view. “From the first day aggression evaporated. Why? No one can explain,” clinic director Jean-Paul Hazan says. “These are very sick patients, but there has been no violence.” He pauses. “I think it has changed us too, but I can’t say how.” It also seems to have metaphorically blurred the boundary between the marginalized mentally ill and the presumably normal. “Simply put, we are all in the same boat here.”
Read the full National Geographic Article, “Love and Loss on the Seine” HERE.