Selling Street Roots is far more than just a job for Julianne and Dominick Hart; it is an exercise in relationship building.
In nearly everything they do, Dominick and Julianne are together. They met in 2014 and bonded instantly through their mutual love of music. Dominick was playing drums in Chapman Park the day they met, and Julianne said she knew he was the one for her.
“I walked right up to him and asked if I could play my guitar for him,” she said.
The two work well as a team and are rarely seen without each other. Their love for music shines through when they are selling Street Roots, and they can often be found making up songs to attract potential customers.
“When we get to work together, we are earning it together so we are both excited,” said Julianne, smiling at Dominick.
After living together in Canby for several years, the couple unexpectedly lost their housing and ended up on the streets of Portland.
Julianne said the transition from having a steady income and a house with her children to sleeping on the streets was hard.
To make matters worse, soon after they met, Dominick was diagnosed with colon cancer. The doctors initially told him he had just 10 months to live. In the past three years, he has had surgeries, and he looks forward to starting a new treatment soon that he hopes will lead to recovery.
Things have begun to look up for Dominick and Julianne. They recently got the keys to their own apartment, thanks to Transition Projects, a program that provides short-term and long-term housing support.
Having a place of their own opens up a world of opportunities for the two.
“I’m going to be working to get a more regular visitation with them,” Julianne said about her three children, “now that I have my own place with running water and electricity.”
She said her plan is to “save up for Christmas so I can get gifts for my kids and have our first real Christmas tree in our place.”
And Dominick now has a clean, safe environment to rest and heal from procedures.
“Trying to recuperate from that (surgery) while living in a tent is not easy,” he said.
When the two aren’t selling Street Roots or making music, they enjoy gardening.
“I like being out in nature and making it more beautiful,” Julianne said.
The couple say they’d like to eventually move to a smaller town where they are able to garden and enjoy nature.
Above all, they try their best to stay optimistic.
“We’re both survivors,” Julianne said. “We made it through a lot, and I’m glad we have this new place to us now.”
Dominick and Julianne can be found playing their music and selling Street Roots near the food carts on Southwest 10th Avenue and Alder Street.