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The Homeless Paradise is a photographic project sparked by Diana Kim's experiences with her homeless father on the streets of Honolulu.
The Homeless Paradise is a photographic project sparked by Diana Kim's experiences with her homeless father on the streets of Honolulu.
112 backers pledged $10,608 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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THE HOMELESS PARADISE - A Photography Project by Diana Kim

(Left) Myself as a 5 year old, enjoying a ring pop candy with my father. (Right) My father standing on a sidewalk in early August 2014, shortly before Hurricane Iselle was expected to arrive.
(Left) Myself as a 5 year old, enjoying a ring pop candy with my father. (Right) My father standing on a sidewalk in early August 2014, shortly before Hurricane Iselle was expected to arrive.

Summary:

My project The Homeless Paradise is a continuation of a photographic project I began nearly three years ago, and was sparked by my personal experience of documenting my father's life on the streets of Honolulu.

I plan to produce a photo book containing photographs of my personal experiences with my father, and Polaroid portraits of homeless individuals in my community.

In addition to producing a photo book, I will distribute CARE Medical History Bracelets to the homeless individuals who would like to have an alternative option of securing their important documents and forms of ID.

Personal Story:

I spent about a year and a half trying to assist my father as he battled a severe mental illness. During that time, I chronicled our experiences in a personal blog (www.homelessparadise.com), in hopes of somehow helping to humanize homelessness.

Our time together on the streets was more than I had ever spent with him as a child, and I struggled with reconciling my feelings towards my father's absence in my life, while continuing to care deeply for homeless individuals.

Initially, I felt as if every fabric of my existence was tearing apart because I couldn't "fix him." Over time, I learned to navigate through my feelings of desperation and became more vocal in my community with my father's condition and the personal struggle of having to watch a loved one battle mental illness.

My father sleeping behind cardboard boxes in July 2014.
My father sleeping behind cardboard boxes in July 2014.

I ended up spending a year documenting his journey, and built up the courage to regain my voice on this issue while going on-air with Beth-Ann Kozlovich at the Hawaii Public Radio station. Just weeks after the interview, I learned that my father had a heart attack and was found on the sidewalk. A good samaritan had cared enough to call 911, and he has thankfully been receiving the medical care he desperately needed.

I realized shortly afterwards how important it is to have IDs and other important documentation to reintegrate into society. Many homeless individuals face the threat of losing their documents, having them stolen, or thrown away by city and county sweeps.

I want to address this issue by providing an alternative option, and have accepted a partnership with the CARE Medical History Bracelets team. I will digitize forms of ID and any important medical documents for the homeless individuals who want to participate in the project, and gift them with a bracelet right on the spot.

My father today.
My father today.

The Homeless Paradise Community

While spending time on the streets with my dad, I became much more familiar with those who lived nearby. My hope is to expand this project by continuing to share the stories of those who are still on the streets today. I believe that this is an empowering opportunity that will allow them to control the narrative.

"Homelessness is a humility that changes a man's attitude towards life." - Randy
"Homelessness is a humility that changes a man's attitude towards life." - Randy
"I wish people wouldn't judge me the wrong way, we're all equal and all human. Just because one homeless person does something bad doesn't mean that everyone is bad." - Dedy
"I wish people wouldn't judge me the wrong way, we're all equal and all human. Just because one homeless person does something bad doesn't mean that everyone is bad." - Dedy

I spent the summer before law school getting to know the gentlemen in the video clip above, and found myself at a crossroad. I shared with Darryl, my internal struggle on whether I should embark on another academic journey into the ivory tower, or opt to "stay in the trenches" with them. They had strongly advised that I go to law school. Darryl had told me,"Diana, you need to go, so you can use what you learn to help people like us." I took his words to heart, and now I find myself hearing the echo of his powerful statement shared in the video:

"I don't want to survive, I want to thrive. We need to get out of where we are, if that's what we want. I don't want to die here."

(Left) An 11 year old's layout drawing of his last home. (Right) Children at a homeless shelter blow bubbles outside.
(Left) An 11 year old's layout drawing of his last home. (Right) Children at a homeless shelter blow bubbles outside.

As I reflect on my past, the children at the shelter, Darryl and his friends, and my most recent experiences with my own father, I feel a strong desire to continue this project. 

I know I have the heart to see this through, and the skills to produce a compelling photo book.

The faces of the homeless in Hawai`i.
The faces of the homeless in Hawai`i.

Project Aim:

I will accomplish my goals by: 

  • (1) publishing a photo book
  • (2) hold an exhibition
  • (3) collaborate with community members and organizations to stimulate public policy discussions. 
(Left) A homeless man pauses after coming back from a job interview. (Right) He shares his passport, the only photograph he has of himself as a child.
(Left) A homeless man pauses after coming back from a job interview. (Right) He shares his passport, the only photograph he has of himself as a child.
"I don't beg, I don't steal. I get $650 a month from social security and I am disabled because of a bone infection I had when I was younger. I would pay $450 a month to have a roof over my head, but where am I going to find that?" - Roxanne
"I don't beg, I don't steal. I get $650 a month from social security and I am disabled because of a bone infection I had when I was younger. I would pay $450 a month to have a roof over my head, but where am I going to find that?" - Roxanne

Donations:

The $10,000 pledge goal will go towards funding photographic equipment and software, equipment maintenance, purchasing of rewards for donors, CARE Medical History Bracelets to hold important documentation/ID for subjects, prints and frames for the exhibition, copies of The Homeless Paradise, helping to offset a portion of my living expenses, and travel expenses to the neighbor-islands for potential subjects.

Randy and Fox discuss the logistics of moving their belongings to a new location.
Randy and Fox discuss the logistics of moving their belongings to a new location.

I am confident in undertaking this task. My past work has been published in the HONOLULU Magazine, I have freelanced for the Associated Press, the New York Times, Sporting News Magazine, and the Newsweek Magazine. I have collaborated with the State of Hawai`i's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education team, and the University of Hawai`i at Manoa's Office of Public Health Studies for photographic and design work. 

Thank you for supporting me in my dream to use photography for social change, and in raising awareness on the issues I care about most! You can follow my progress on The Homeless Paradise FACEBOOK PAGE.

(Left) A man who is homeless rests surrounded by his belongings. (Right) A police officer gives a citation to a Micronesian family for having a makeshift shelter at a local park.
(Left) A man who is homeless rests surrounded by his belongings. (Right) A police officer gives a citation to a Micronesian family for having a makeshift shelter at a local park.

Diana Kim

Awards & Grants:

  • Patsy T. Mink Legislative Fellowship (2013)
  • University of Hawai` Excellence in Teaching Nominee (2013)
  • Outstanding Student Award for Office of Public Health Studies (2011)
  • AlohaCare Health Sciences Scholarship (2007-2009)                           
  • Excellence in Journalism Awards, Board of Publications (2005-2006)
  • Hawai`i Association of Broadcasters Scholarship (2003-2004)

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Supporters:

                
 
        

PRESS:

Risks and challenges

This is a work in progress and success largely depends on building trust and relationships with individuals over a period of time.

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Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    A personalized thank you credit on The Homeless Paradise website:

    (www.homelessparadise.com)

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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    A personal thank you note.

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    A handwritten personalized postcard, with an update on my progress.

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Signed postcard size new ink-jet print from The Homeless Paradise.

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    A personal phone call thanking you for your support, with signed postcard size new ink-jet print from The Homeless Paradise.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    A signed 8x10 new ink-jet print from The Homeless Paradise, and thank you note.

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $175 or more About $175

    A signed copy of the book, "The Homeless Paradise" and thank you note.

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Exclusive First Edition of 50 Numbered and Signed: The Homeless Paradise. This limited edition of The Homeless Paradise will include a book sized print, with a personalized note.

    You will be the first 50 recipients of the book once it comes out.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Wow, you are a super supporter and I would like to thank you with a signed copy of "The Homeless Paradise,"a signed 11x14 archival print from The Homeless Paradise in a premium-finished Koa wood frame, and an afternoon of tea/lunch and conversation.

    Note: Travel expenses not covered. Must be on the island of Oahu for face-to-face meeting.

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Funding period

- (60 days)