Mike & Zeus: Strongly independent, Mike said he did not have everything he would like but he had what he needed. He added that he built the structure from what he had found to work with in The Jungle.

  • Image 1 of 14

Homeless In The Shadows of The Jungle

John Simpson | United States

The Jungle is a 20-acre plot of land heavily covered in trees and bushes. The springs are wet, the summers hot and wet, the falls cold and wet, and the winters brutal and wet.

It is also where approximately 45 unhoused persons live in varying degrees of structures - ranging from tarp covered tents to cobbled together wooden and sheet metal structures.

While some of the Jungle’s citizens struggle with substance abuse or mental health issues, there is a very strong sense of independence. Many have told me that they don’t want to live in “your” society; that they feel unwanted and unwelcome; that they like being right where they are.

“I would rather be in the shadows here than out there in the light,” one homeless man told me.

These photographs were taken during a three month period of time (December 2023 – March 2024) in which I visited The Jungle, talked with many of those living there, and made these images to provide a look into – and perhaps an understanding of - their society.

As cities and counties begin to criminalize homelessness, some of the unhoused look for places that are out-of-the-way.

The Jungle in Olympia, Washington is one such place. Situated on 20 acres of land between two wetlands, the site is a culture unto itself. It has its own language, its own way of doing things, its own rules – to say nothing of the fierce sense of independence that many inhabitants’ share about not wanting anything to do with society at large.

In The Jungle there is a sense of cooperation amongst many of the inhabitants. A sharing of information or resources is common. While there are those who struggle with substance abuse and mental health issues, there are a few who are hiding from law enforcement. No surprisingly, there is an underlying distrust of outsiders, as I was made aware on a number of occasions.

This small exhibit provides a glimpse into a culture of homeless individuals who simply want to be left alone.

Email:  JMSimpson1@gmail.com

Mobile:  (253) 414-4678

Content loading...

Make Comment/View Comments