Betty Louise & Susan M. Davis, Project-Directors
Betty Louise and Susan are the Co-Founders of The CoPassion Project - Humans Being Positively Human.They met, virtually, in 2009 when they each produced and hosted their own radio shows on the Internet radio networks, Positive World Radio Network and WeEarth Global Radio Network. They transitioned this virtual friendship to a real, face-to-face, heart-to-heart friendship a couple years later when both were living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Thanks to serendipity, they both relocated to Nevada County, California in 2015, and became real neighbors, in the same community, and able to spend time co-creating with their CoPassions. They are both graduates of the KVMR Community Radio Broadcaster Training Class of 2016, and are StoryCatchers with KVMR's StoryCatchers-Voices of the Community program.
Dee is a professional photographer specializing in fine art portraiture and owner of Shadow Dance Photography
. She also serves as Media Director on the Board of Directors for Sierra Roots, a Nevada City, CA non-profit organization focused on building community with homeless people. Dee has raised three children, dotes on six amazing grandchildren, had a 38 year career in special education, been a life long gardener, and for the past four years has been developing an Aquaponics garden, which is the model for use in the future Sierra Roots sustainable supportive micro-house village for chronically homeless and very low income members of the Nevada City community.
Dee is especially fond of photographing artists, musicians, poets, playwrights, and actors. She loves to photograph artists at work in their studios and environmental portraits in clients' homes and workspaces.
Edgy and creative work is a particular favorite.
Brendan Phillips, Musician & Music Curator/Producer
Brendon, son of songwriter/storyteller/activist, U.Utah Phillips, is a social worker and has been working with the Nevada County homeless community for several years. Brendan is also a musician/ singer/songwriter in his own right with Fast Rattler, a collaboration of kindred spirits, inspired by all things Utah. Encompassing a wide range of musical influences; from Americana and Bluegrass to gypsy-jammin’ wood-punk, Phillips and Fast Rattler pay homage to the songs of Utah while also adding their own spin, reimagining Utah’s songs in a string band format.
Catherine Busch, Videographer/Documentary Filmmaker
Catherine, owner of Creating Images, is an acclaimed documentary filmmaker producing, directing, writing and editing productions for over 25 years. Her work includes independent documentary productions, environmental programming, educational video programs, public relations videos, medical videos, recruitment videos, vocational video programs, and projects for non-profit organizations. Catherine's rich education and life experiences are major factors in her ability to create. As a Sister of St. Joseph, Catherine became a teacher, nurse, medical photographer, photographer, director, editor, writer, and videographer. Her many degrees and certifications include a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Carlow College, Practical Nurse from Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh, Medical Photographer from Mercy Hospital's School of Medical Photography, a graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and finally, a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Film and Television Production from UCLA, graduating magna cum laude.
Betty Louise, StoryCatcher/Audio Producer
Betty Louise is Co-Founder of The CoPassion Project, and an Author, Certified Coach, US Radio personality, and a Certified Broadcaster at KVMR Community Radio. Betty Louise is a Certified Master Facilitator and has had leadership training through Bay Area Nonviolent Communication. For more than 20 years, she has been facilitating, teaching and interviewing progressive thinking experts, artists and innovators from all over the world. Author John Gray of Mars/Venus fame, Grammy Award Winning Freddie Ravel, and brain researchers Jill Bolte Taylor and Dr. Louann Brizendine have been some of her amazing radio guests. While she provides feedback, support and guidance, her clients, audience, and teams she facilitates, are the ones who discover the courage, confidence and grace within to manifest their own fulfillment and aliveness. This empowering discovery inspires and motivates them to allow their natural gifts and talents to unfold and blossom.
Gemma Benton, Artist
I am a mixed mixed media and encaustic artist, storyteller and Native American singer. I've always loved well made things that had deep meaning behind them. For as long as I can remember I always felt connected to basketweaving and wanted to be a basketweaver but I've never had the patience or the dexterity to do the art justice. So for many years I was content to watch and admire artists, gather medicines and sing while others created their art.
About twelve years ago. I started art journaling. For me, it was one way to deal with the stress and heartache of my son going to Iraq. I found that art helped me navigate through the fear and helped make meaning in my life where I felt there was none. Soon I started making artist trading cards and traded cards with people all over the world. I then moved on to making altered books. In 2009, I started getting serious about my art and began painting images from Native American and indigenous creation stories. Somewhere along the way, I realized that my art was all about stories. Personal stories. Cultural stories. Healing stories.
In the last few years my art has grown more abstract, using visual and organic materials as symbols to express stories that we have consciously forgotten but that sing to us from a place from deep inside of us. As I paint I am weaving memories and stories, patterns from baskets, earth pigments, beeswax, and plant medicines. Through my mixed media and encaustic work, I feel like I am doing the work that I had always wanted to through basketweaving. That is, weaving beauty, wisdom and healing into our lives. And of course reclaiming our stories.
I hope my art helps to connect you with your stories and inspires you make meaning and beauty in your life. To learn more about my art and the work behind it at gemmabbbenton.com.
Darin Barry, Writer/Photographer/Musician
Darin Barry is a writer, musician, artist and political activist, and an outspoken advocate for mental health, and homeless issues. He often writes about his own journey from being a practicing alcoholic to being on the recovery road. He is sober today. His works have appeared on Rachel Maddow, the Daily Show, and CNN. He has acted in The Librarians, Grimm, and Portlandia.
He lives in Nevada City, California. He regularly blogs and posts his fine-art photographs on his website, Boutez En Avant.
The suffering of the poor isn’t subtle; I first encountered it as a very young child. I grew up in Glencoe, Illinois, an affluent suburb north of Chicago on Lake Michigan. My family lived near the depot of the commuter train that ran up from Chicago to Milwaukee. Trains rumbled past our house morning and night, their engines lurching to a restless stop and revving back up again as they departed the station. Most passengers on that line in the 1950s were businessmen going to and from their offices in downtown Chicago, but also, going in opposite directions, were many African-American women coming to work domestic jobs in the suburbs and returning home at night to the city’s South Side.
The sight of those women walking wearily back to the station at the end of the day haunted me. One of them, Ruby, a large, openhearted woman, came to our house once a week. I watched her hoist heavy pails of dirty water around the house, crouch on her knees to scrub the kitchen floor, and wrestle the unwieldy vacuum cleaner step by step up our narrow carpeted stairs. As the day went by, it wasn’t lost on me that her morning smile went down with the waning sun. At nightfall, she trudged to the train with the other women, each on her way home to make her family dinner and care for her own children.
I always wondered why their lives were manifestly so much harder than those of the white women around me. It seemed so unfair. A lifetime of contemplating the reasons for poverty has provided many complex answers to that question, but it hasn’t changed my feelings one whit. My involvement at Hospitality House , a shelter in a rural county in the Sierra Nevada foothills northeast of Sacramento, California, has been a response.
In 2005 I co-founded Hospitality House along with several other people, including my late husband Utah Phillips.
At the House, I’ve witnessed many people’s struggles; each one, whether won or lost, has been a meaningful story, often raw, about what we humans do and are. My purpose in this blog is to share those stories as respectfully and accurately as I can. I’ll change people’s names and may change genders and specific details to protect confidentiality. My motivation is to honor suffering and redemption, and to hold up a mirror, for however unusual their content may seem, these stories not only touch us, they describe us.
Tony Beverly, Voiceover Specialist
Tony Beverly, is a volunteer, Certified Broadcaster at KVMR Community Radio in Nevada City, CA, hosting his late-night show as “Husky LePew, Your Soul Provider” and fulfilling a dream of being a D.J. he’s had since his teenage years. Tony's show is MUSIC FOR GROWN FOLKS - Old school R & B, Smooth Jazz, Light hip-hop, Blue Eyed Soul and more. Tony’s velvet voice is heard on the A Place To Call Home audios and videos, and it is even more special that he is a Hospitality House Community Shelter success story.
Susan M. Davis, Fine Artist/StoryCatcher
Susan is Co-Founder of The CoPassion Project, and a StoryCatcher with KVMR Community Radio. She is an experienced designer, marketing professional and conversation radio/TV host, now living in the Sierra Foothills, in Northern California, after a successful entrepreneurial career of forty years in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has received national honors, awards, and publication for work in the Sustainable Design/Green Building industry, and for contributions to education and broadcasting. Susan is the Founder of The Co-Creation Community, a socially conscious, for-profit business of which The CoPassion Project and A-Place-To-Call-Home are co-created projects. What she loves most is being a co-creator, mentor, and connector, and to give ‘Voice’ to igniting positive change in the world. She works both online and peer-to-peer, by mentoring, consulting, public speaking, and hosting workshops, and retreats. Susan integrates her passions and talents in the areas of design, fine art and holistic sustainability into all she does. Throughout her long career as an entrepreneur, she has brought her education and background in Fine Art, and her “artist’s eye” to the table, no matter the business or the industry in which she’s worked.
Tom Durkin, Writer/Editor/Photographer
Tom has been a professional writer, editor, and photographer for more than 40 years. He currently is freelancing and serving as a board member and marketing director for One Source – Empowering Caregivers. He holds a BA in Psychology and a MFA in TV/Film from UCLA. Throughout his adult life, Tom has had a few episodes of being homeless (“occupational hazard”), and he brings his you-can-survive-this perspective to his contributions to the A Place to Call Home Project.
Marylou Falstreau, Artist/Poet
The idea for the “Women and the Hourglass” series came to Marylou Falstreau in a dream, just over seven years ago. In the dream, she was sitting around a conference table in serious discussion with a small group of women. When she woke up, all she remembered were the words “women and hourglass”.
As an artist, poet and workshop leader, Marylou was inspired by these two words and began a creative and healing mission of discovery. The “Women and the Hourglass” series was born and is speaking to women across the United States and around the world.
There are now 65 images available in Cards, Prints, Affirmation Card Decks, Magnets and most recently, a Coloring Book.
Marylou lives in Grass Valley, California with her business and life partner, Alan and she continues to explore what it means to wake up to her own power and potential.
Julia Jacobs, Writer/Poet
My name is Jules. I was born at home in 1981 in Santa Cruz. CA. From birth, I have always known that I was different from others. In fact, I insisted on it. When I was in pre-school, I would throw a fit if my mom tried to send me in shoes that matched.
We lived in South America for a few years in the late 1980s, but came back when the earthquake hit in 1989. I grew up in Santa Cruz in the 1990s, during the days of punk rock, surfing and skateboarding, classic cars, Fight Club, and good old Beverly Hills 90210. I lived, I loved, and I learned—all the hard way. In 2009, my best friend was violently murdered in an act of domestic violence. I owe a lot of who I am to her. Her name was Jasmine Lepore and I will always love her. I moved to Maui, Hawaii to be with her mother and to run away from the pain of seeing her in all the memories of the place where we grew up. After five years, I decided to come back to Santa Cruz again and I’ve spent the last four years on my “walkabout,” embraced by the streets of the city that raised me.
I am 36 today. I am still different today. And the only thing I can promise is that I will always fight through the night to bring others the hope of a new day. I will grow stronger, or I will die.
Jenny Hale, Artist/Set Designer
Making art is the curving of our hands into a cup to receive and reflect the glowing essence of the natural world. My work is inspired by the natural world and explores how humans place themselves within it.
I am constantly amazed at the process of being human. Finding our place in this world is so complex and then in such a short time, we are gone. Our experience is so temporary that I feel sure we are spirits in physical bodies and that there is so much more to life than what meets the eye.
Artmaking is a process of making the invisible visible and in that discovery may we be refreshed to see our world in a new light.
Yvon Dockter, Artist/Sculptor
I've learned that I love to combine materials. I search for different materials to work with and to add with one another. I've been enjoying combining metal with ceramic. It especially pleases me to reclaim "Found Metal". I also enjoy gathering indigenous materials in order to create strong clay bodies, and striking and unusual glaze effects in my ceramic work. Some of my sculptural work has a 'primitive' flavor. I also enjoy the balance of producing unique functional ceramic ware. Although I've been using metal for less than ten years, I've been playing with clay for over thirty years.
Every year, for the past several years, I've made 100 bowls for Hospitality House Community Shelter's, Empty Bowl Soup Event.