California Humanities for All 2016 Quick Grant Narrative
Project Summary: A Place to Call Home
We are documenting stories by and about the Homeless through audio, video, photographs, essays, and music to inspire respect, empathy, and compassion. The stories include the perspectives of those living without a home, organizations working with the homeless, city officials charged with finding solutions, and community members confused or scared by homeless people. We will raise awareness of the depth of the issue through an interactive live event with perception-challenging exercises that showcase these stories for the Nevada County community. There will be a call to compassionate action, and civic participation will be clearly outlined for this ubiquitous problem.
Description of proposed project:
• We will provide the participant storytellers with the humanities learning experience of being heard and supported as they share their life experiences. The culmination of the project will be a live event where ten of the most impactful stories will be presented in a multi media interactive format providing audience members with a learning experience that will challenge their belief systems about homeless people. Dave Isay, in his StoryCorp Project, learned from his 2015 listener surveys that 81% of those who listen to stories are reminded of shared humanity.
• The participant storytellers in this project will be homeless people and those who interact with them. The audience will consist of people from the Nevada County (NC) community.
• We will engage the audience and encourage awareness and participation in the homeless issue by creating and presenting 1-2 minute audio sounds bites capturing a thoughtful aspect of the captured stories. These will be broadcast on KVMR, as well as posted on various websites of partnering organizations, with links to the full written essay and audio/video online on a dedicated “A Place to Call Home” website. We will submit a series of articles to NC newspapers, post blogs on KVMR website, LinkedIn Publishing platform, and CoPassion Project website, and on our partnering organizations (Hospitality House, and Sierra Roots) websites. We will prepare a 30-minute interactive presentation informing attendees of the omnipresence of the homeless population and asking questions to determine their perceptions. We will contact the Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club, Chamber of Commerce, Elks Club, Downtown Merchant Groups of Grass Valley and Nevada City, and neighborhood associations in Nevada County’s more conservative areas, such as Lake Wildwood, to schedule this presentation. During the presentation, we will compile all comments regarding attendees’ perceptions about the homeless, and conclude with the announcement of the live event where their thoughts and concerns will be addressed.
• From December, 2016 - July, 2017, stories by and about the homeless will be captured, recorded, and edited by the KVMR StoryCatcher Team (hereafter, referred to as KVMR Team), consisting of the KVMR Board President, and four other volunteer KVMR broadcasters. We will combine video, photographs, essays, poetry, and music at the KVMR studios and in the field. We will record and edit at least four stories per month. Recording time will be up to 60 minutes, edited down to 20-minute segments. These will be posted on the dedicated website with the 1-2 minute pieces distributed on other websites, as noted, and social media. From August, 2017 - October, 2017, the KVMR Team will discuss and analyze the 10 most impactful stories to be creatively communicated on stage through live performances, audio with collage of photos/video, spoken word, skits, poetry readings, and live music. The team will analyze the stories at KVMR studios. In November, 2017, the project will conclude with a one-and-a-half-hour public live, free event at the Nevada Theatre in Nevada City, CA. The production will be live broadcast or recorded for later broadcast on KVMR, where we will present a summary of the project and the outcomes observed throughout the year. There will be a gallery showing photos and artwork with written story statements in the lobby of the theatre. The format for the event will be an introduction of the evening’s activities, and after every two stories there will be live audience participation answering questions such as “How close have you come to homelessness?” We will also bring people on stage dressed in different fashions (homeless dressed up in high quality clothing and officials dressed in dirty rags) and ask audience members who they believe to be homeless. Participating organizations will have representatives and table displays showcasing the compassionate actions each are contributing to the community. There will be clear and simple ways for attendees to participate-volunteer and sign up. Beginning in January, 2017, the Project Directors will oversee marketing efforts for project awareness and promotion of the November event will begin.
2. Objectives and desired outcomes
• There are at least four organizations dedicated to the homeless in Nevada County. Although counts are far from accurate, those working with the homeless estimate at least 500-600 people live without a home in NC. This figure has been going up steadily in recent years. Many of these people are ill and will not survive in extreme conditions. Having a home is a universal basic human need. Our project will lessen the fears of both the homeless and those afraid of encountering a homeless person. We believe our project will bring about a sense of inclusion and common humanity for the homeless and promote compassionate action on the part of the community.
• The greatest benefits of “A Place To Call Home” are fostering greater understanding among people, inviting thoughtful reflection, consideration, and community participation to shape and change the future for homeless individuals and the community at large. Offering access to “A Place To Call Home” through KVMR Community Radio, online, and with a live-event/reception open to the public, will allow our community to relate to the homeless population with increased understanding and compassion. Hearing meaningful “real life” stories will help the community understand the universality of the human condition, including the broad range of homeless identities. We expect to decrease fear while increasing compassion, connection and a positive attitude towards homeless human beings that will foster direct action. We will assess these outcomes with a pre/post evaluation for the audience members at the live event, asking the following questions, using a scale of 1-5 (1 meaning not at all comfortable, and 5 meaning very comfortable): What is your comfort level in relating to a homeless person in NC? What is your comfort level in helping a homeless person get needed help? In addition, we will monitor the actual numbers of recorded conversations, numbers of blogs/articles, and how many groups we speak with about this project on a monthly basis, and we will contact the organizations one month after sign ups from the event to determine how many people followed through..
• The people who will plan and implement the activities of “A Place To Call Home” project are Project Directors and the KVMR Team. They will be responsible for production and creation of the 20-minute multi-media pieces. The Project Directors are Susan M. Davis and Betty Louise. The project photographer is Dee Anne Dinelli,. The videographer is Ralph Henson. The essayist is Joanna Robinson, among others. Responsible for music is Brendon Phillips. Susan Davis will also handle the website development and social media, while Betty Louise will be the live event coordinator.
• KVMR’s mission is to provide community members opportunities to connect through the development and production of music, news, and public affairs programs that entertain, inform, and educate. KVMR 89.5 FM has been broadcasting as the NC Community Radio Station since 1978. KVMR is also available via live webs stream anywhere in California twenty-four hours a day at www.kvmr.org. KVMR’s unduplicated audience is 40,000. The station has a small staff of ten and a few contract staff, but the majority of the station operates with the generous time of volunteers, over 700 of them. We have memorandums of understanding from our partnering organizations for this project, Sierra Roots, Hospitality House, and Pets of the Homeless. (Available on request.) The prior relevant experience of the KVMR Team is in eliciting story as broadcasters with over 30 years combined experience in the radio business. The partnering organizations provide the valuable access to homeless stories as they have been working with these people for many years.
• Resources needed are consulting fees for Project Directors, costs for website development, theater rental fees, promotional printing, KVMR studio space, and 10% administration fees for KVMR.