T H E P R O J E C T
It’s a typical morning, I’m drinking my coffee, kissing the kids off to school, and feeling like life should be good. What’s haunting me? I think back to yesterday when I passed that filthy, toothless woman on the street. For a second, we made eye contact and I felt chills down my spine . . . Her eyes were so like Mom's. She disgusted me, but at the same time, touched my heart. Why did I walk away? Why do I have such a hard time seeing a homeless person as a fellow human being? Who are these ghost-like derelicts, all but invisible, who still tug at our hearts? What is wrong with me? I really don’t get it.
Now, I wonder about her story. . .
Inside the shell of addiction, filth, mental illness, and anger, sometimes buried very deep, there is joy, there is creativity, there is humanity. When we hear the stories of the broken and damaged people, we remember they are not separate from us. They are someone’s family member, a citizen, a person. They are Us and we are Them. We are One. And we all need a place to call home.
While there are several podcasts, radio programs, articles, and projects about homelessness, this project uniquely focuses on the situation in rural, small-town America. Unfortunately, the federal money funding projects addressing the homeless population is being given to urban and not rural areas, like Nevada County, California, where there is also great need. Creative ideas and compassionate actions by members of the community at large are needed more than ever before.
This project is timely because the issue of homelessness is on people’s minds and in the news daily throughout our country and throughout the world. Communities everywhere are being tasked with finding a “solution to homelessness”. This is a complex issue, with a multitude of varied and layered circumstances and challenges. We believe there is no one solution and that the foundation of any positive change needs to focus on our common humanity and shift the perspective of a divide between “Them and Us” to being more inclusive.
At a Nevada City Council Meeting, in Nevada City, California, on November 9, 2016, Council Member Ed Scofield said, “Nevada County is taking the issue of homelessness more seriously than ever. We know it will only get worse as homelessness is on the rise. We need to create unique solutions”
We are offering this multi-media humanities and arts-centric project, “A Place to Call Home”, that gives voice to four specific groups in the community: homeless people, those working with organizations serving the homeless, officials charged with finding solutions, and community members fearful of homeless people. We expect that our findings from “A Place to Call Home” project will benefit both our local, rural community, and also perhaps show those in urban communities some creative and collaborative models from which they too can benefit.
Recorded story, in any media, allows a person’s humanity to shine through the circumstances, and perspectives of both the storyteller and listener/reader/viewer can shift and transform, simply by experiencing “story.”
Here in Nevada County, California, we see many positive, mostly grass-roots’, responses to the situation, from the tireless daily efforts of volunteers, as well as some not so positive responses motivated by fear and lack of compassion. If we are ever to find solutions for homelessness in any community, whether urban or rural, we must bridge the divide in perspectives, and operate from a place of inclusiveness and common humanity.
We launched our “A Place to Call Home” project in October, 2016, with the intention of capturing and recording stories in Nevada County from the four specific groups previously outlined, which range from citizens referred to as NIMBYs (not in my back yard) sentiments to those volunteers organizing a cold weather shelter and feeding homeless people and their pets. We have already recorded and edited over fifty stories, using the KVMR Community Radio station’s production studio in Nevada City, and have scheduled more story-catching in the weeks to come. Many of these stories are posted on KVMR's StoryCatchers page, and on the Audio Story Showcase, here on our website.
These stories are edited to create short, twenty minute, engaging audio-centric segments, which bring awareness to our community on the issues of homelessness, and help bridge the divide and shift the consciousness of “Them and Us”, to a more inclusive place of shared humanity, and to inspire compassionate action by more members of the community.
We are also creating short, "sound-bite" videos for each of the stories we catch for the Audio Story Showcase and StoryCatchers. They can be viewed on the CoPassion Project - Humans Being Positively Human YouTube Channel.
A music CD is also in production, coordinated by Brendan Phillips, including original music by Brendan and others including his father, folksinger/activist U. Utah Phillips.
We are also producing a 2018 Daily Compassionate Action wall calendar, with photographs by Dee Anne Dinelli and "compassionate actions" or simple acts of kindness to take, highlighted for each day of the year. Many of these "compassionate actions" have been submitted to us by homeless people, themselves, and by concerned community members. This calendar will be completed by November, 2017, and available for purchase online and at public events.
The A-Place-To-Call-Home documentary film is also in production. This documentary will combine video, photographs, music, and spoken word, all created by our team of Co-Creators. Our goal is to go into production in 2018, with footage we've filmed in 2017.
From August, 2017 - October, 2017, our team of Co-Creators will discuss and analyze the ten most poignant stories to be creatively communicated on stage through live performances, audio with collage of photos/video, spoken word, skits, dance, poetry readings, and live music. In November, 2017, Phase One of the A Place to Call Home project will conclude with a one-and-a-half-hour public live, free event at the Grass Valley Center for the Arts . The production will be live broadcast or recorded for later broadcast on KVMR. We will present a summary of the project and the outcomes observed throughout the year. There will be also be a group art show at the Granucci Gallery at the Center for the Arts, showing photography and mixed media fine-artwork. The lobby of the Center for the Arts will display paintings by Franceska Alexander, inspired by Sierra Roots vision and project for a supportive, sustainable community with permanent micro-housing for the chronically homeless people in Nevada City. 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 and sign up to volunteer or contribute.
We believe that these very human stories along with the varied positive compassionate responses already happening in our rural community, can act as models around the country, along with creating awareness and more participation in our own community.
We want to touch the lives of the four community groups we identified. We intend to give their deepest feelings about homelessness voice, and create a caring and compassionate setting so they know they truly matter. We have already collected and recorded poignant stories from homeless people and those working with them, and from our target community, as well. Stories from this multi-faceted perspective speak to the listeners/viewers’ hearts, inspire compassion, and encourage varied and creative positive action.
All people want to feel safe in their community, and to know their families can feel comfortable walking down the street. All people want a place to call home; one where they are safe, warm, cared for, and can live with dignity. We believe people wish to be part of a solution, rather than part of the problem. As documented by Dave Isay and Storycorps.org, listening and recording stories reminds listeners of our shared humanity, helps us see the value in everyone’s life story and experience, and become interested in how society can be improved.
The CoPassion Project is partnering with KVMR 89.5 FM Community Radio, StoryCatchers - Voices of the Community. As part of the KVMR Storycatchers team, we are extracting one to two minute audio segments (impactful sound-bites), which are shared on KVMR’s podcast section of http://www.KVMR.org, in KVMR blogs and social media, as well as here on the A-Place-To-Call-Home website.
We have already launched a dedicated website (http://www.A-Place-to-Call-Home.org) where finished 20 minute audio segments will be accessible along with photographs, video, essays/blogs, and links to current news reports from around the country on the topic of homelessness, and the creative responses happening in other communities as well as our own.
The CoPassion Project website is also be posting finished audio segments in Human Voices . There is now a dedicated Human Voices mobile app for IOS devices, and we will be establishing an iTunes presence, as well , where segments will be available to subscribers.
Additionally, on November 1st, 2016, we launched a Facebook Page where we are growing a following for this project, and where we post content, daily. Once we reach 500 Likes on Facebook, we will launch the “A Place to Call Home Project” Group, where members will more easily be able to connect, engage in discussion and share their stories. We will also be posting blog articles about “A Place to Call Home” on LinkedIn Publishing Platform, and on the websites of the local Nevada County collaborator non-profit organizations like Nevada County Hospitality House Community Shelter, Sierra Roots.
We are very interested in and excited about creative ways to break traditional formats of audio/multi-media storytelling, and expand into what we call, "Media Evolution/Media Conversion" – a new way of communicating positive action and change. Because we know the power of collaboration, we are wide open to the possibilities this co-creative project will create. Our goal is to create something innovative and uber-engaging that will speak to the emotions and hearts of a diverse audience – those who currently see themselves as disconnected and perhaps fearful of homeless people as well as those who are actively seeking solutions.
We know that our “A Place to Call Home” project will stimulate and encourage compassionate action from listeners/readers/viewers, when the presentation is unique, powerful, engaging, and professionally produced. We have assembled an outstanding team of co-creators, experts in their chosen media, who are also passionate about inspiring inclusion and common humanity with homeless people and working diligently through their compassionate actions with this community.
This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
And with the support of The California Arts Council, Arts & Public Media Grant.
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of California Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.
We are engaging in further efforts to raise the funds needed for the "A Place to Call Home" project, crowdfunding just one of them. In early Summer, 2017, we held the Humans Being Positively Human Indiegogo Crowdfunding Campaign, and we are very grateful for all the support we received.
If you wish to contribute to help fund this project or to support any of the non-profit organizations participating in the project, please go to our Donate Page, where you will find links. Contributions to A-Place-To-Call-Home can be made to The Co-Creation Community's PayPal by clicking HERE.
100% of your contribution will go to fund the project.