Route to Recovery

A trip through the epicenters of the recession

Voices on the road

Nov 25, 2009 17:12 UTC

Homeless for several months, struggling with addiction and a serious health issue, Dale Harvey has now turned his life around. He has gotten clean, had surgery and moved into his own apartment. On Monday when he moved in, he rented a moving truck and offered his services for free to anyone who needed help moving their belongings. Dale tells his story in the multimedia piece above.

ROUTE TO RECOVERY from Carlos Barria on Vimeo.

Religious and commercial billboards collide in Alabama

Nov 16, 2009 16:49 UTC


BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Billboards in Alabama are a curious mix of the crassly commercial and deeply religious, often side by side.

For instance, we saw “Go to church or the devil will take you” next to a billboard advertising a BBQ restaurant chain. Or “It’s your choice, Heaven or Hell” — where Heaven was depicted with blue skies and white fluffy clouds, while Hell was all fiery flames – shared space with a billboard for gas station with cold beer.

Alabama is firmly within America’s Bible Belt, an area dominated by evangelical Christians where church attendance is very high. Thus it seemed odd that religious messages would stand so close to an advertisement selling earthly wares, as the two seem to be somewhat at odds with each other.

But that was nothing compared to the two-sided billboard we saw a mile or so from downtown Birmingham.

On one side a poster cheerfully proclaimed that “Jesus is the reason for the season,” a reference to the fact that Christmas is less than six weeks away. A picture of a piece of holly was included to underline the poster’s festive, family appeal.

But on the other side was an advertisement for Hooters. For those people not familiar with this chain of bar restaurants, it is best known not for its food but for the physical attributes of its largely young, female staff, who wear tight white t-shirts and snug-fitting, uber-short shorts. A group of these young ladies adorned the advertisement.

The contrast stopped us dead in our tracks. Two messages were worlds apart but stood back to back.

We’d be curious to know what other people think of this combination. Is it just us who find this double billboard extolling the virtues of both Jesus and Hooters striking?

Photo by Carlos Barria

Click here for more Route to Recovery


Greetings, I just registered and wanted to pop in and introduce myself to the people. Let me just say that it is a awesome website that you have here.
Plymouth Voyager

Introducing the Route to Recovery

Reuters Staff
Oct 28, 2009 17:13 UTC

A woman wears a "Keep it Made in America" pin as she participates in a labour activists march in Lansing, Michigan June 1, 2009. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

It would be an understatement to say America has had a tough time lately. After many heady boom years, the bursting of America’s housing bubble led to the near meltdown of the global financial system and the longest, deepest recession since the 1930s.

The downturn some have called the Great Recession began in December 2007 and may already be ending. But U.S. unemployment stands at nearly 10 percent, and much of the economy’s growth has been fueled by government spending in programs like Cash for Clunkers and the first-time home buyer’s credit.

The trillion-dollar question for America is whether the growth of the past quarter is sustainable. Reuters will be attempting to find out this month, in a cross-country trip through the epicenters of the recession and the recovery. Reporter Nick Carey, photographers Brian Snyder, Lucy Nicholson and Carlos Barria, and Reuters TV producer Sharon Reich will be on the road for three weeks starting on Nov 3.

From El Centro, California, with the highest unemployment rate in the country, to Austin, Texas, which has been hit comparatively lightly by the recession, the team will seek out answers at the ground level.

  • How have ordinary Americans fared through this long downturn and what are their hopes and fears as the grim year of 2009 drags slowly toward its close?
  • How are everyday people faring in Bentonville, Arkansas, home of the behemoth retailer Wal-Mart, which has thrived as Americans look to cut household spending?
  • What happened to the dreams of retirees who bought homes during the boom in Bullhead City, Arizona?
  • Do shrimp fishermen in Alabama have anything in common with out-of-work bankers in Charlotte, North Carolina?

You can follow the team’s travels on our Route to Recovery page, with an interactive map featuring news, pictures and video from the towns they visit.

Nick, Brian, Lucy, Carlos and Sharon will also be filing updates from Twitter. You can send us your own questions and comments using the Twitter hashtag #routetorecovery, or by clicking “Add a Comment” in the live blog window.

Do you live in one of the towns we’re visiting? We want to hear from you.


Commercial realestate has crashed in arizona my house was in an excellent location.Not now.You cant even give away downtown prime central phoenix realestate.The vultures are everywhere wanting something for nothing.The government should have let the too big to fail banks fail.Im losing my home and they have no real help.I didnt even pay much for my home but will lose it.I got a home loan modification which is reported negatively on my credit.But no help on horizon to consolidate my loans to survive.ITS EITHER GONNA SELL OR ITS GOING TO THE AUCTION SO BOTH BANKS CAN SHARE IN MY JOY!

Posted by Mikey | Report as abusive