The Writers' Group is helping the homeless to be heard, collecting their voices through writings, in an anthology called Street Pens.
The Writers' Group is helping the homeless to be heard, collecting their voices through writings, in an anthology called Street Pens. Read more
Giving Hope to the Homeless
Regardless of why people lose their homes it's almost never their chosen outcome for their current housing status. Few desire to be homeless. So, when it happens it's often an emotional blow that leads to depression and despair. Most in this situation feel hopeless and see no way back into a life where they live in a structure suitable for housing people with respectable living conditions including utilities, heat, and clean running water.
On top of the stigma that comes with being homeless, the logistical quagmire of lifting oneself out of it is a "catch 22." It's difficult to find employment if a person doesn't have an address to put on an job application. Nor do most in this situation have functional means of mobile communication. They can't afford a phone. But without a job, how does one pay rent or a mortgage? It's easy just to give up all hope of ever returning to it.
Sometimes, even people with jobs are without homes for one reason or another.
Volume 1 of Street Pens will focus on the homeless of Las Vegas. People come to the city in search of the big jackpot. While some change their lives with a massive win, most just don't hit that big. Often, in the relentless pursuit of striking it rich, they neglect to care for other areas of their life. Sometimes, if things line up in just the wrong way, it can lead to disaster and the unforeseen result of being without a home, if not worse.
With the help of talented creative director, producer Anise Labrum, we hope that writing can be a path to the better lives that the people of Las Vegas came to the city in search of in the first place. Funds will go to not only writing equipment but also to arrange to have their writing transcribed onto digital media, rewards for participants whose work is selected for the Street Pens publication, to develop the web site and more. To do all this we need to arrange monthly gatherings for our writers. There, we'll arrange to have them fed and schedule a future meeting time and day for subsequent months. We'll also provide gift cards for writers who has their works chosen for the Street Pens publication. The grand prize winner is one year's rent from a participating real estate partner.
If you haven't had a chance to discover the work being done for the homeless by the CARE Complex in Downtown Las Vegas, you really should familiarize yourself with the great people, our partners, because they're doing things differently. Here's their web site:
Other partners include
Risks and challenges
Literacy: Are homeless people literate? Yes they are. However, as part of the strategy of this project we'll partner with various organizations and/or authors to provide used books to homeless shelters in an effort to encourage and increase literacy.
Safety: Going from one encampment of the homeless to the next brings with it its own set of challenges, not least of which is safety. While the impression is that homeless people are also thieves and killers, that's true for just about any of the rest of society. It's not so much the homeless themselves who are the danger. It's the areas they manage to get away with living in. In upperclass neighborhoods homeless are usually seen as a nuisance to be dealt with and removed. And they are dealt with. For the same reason, upper class neighborhoods are not neighborhoods where drug dealers and gangs are common. The homeless and the underbelly of society typically coexist in the same areas of town. Visiting the homeless brings one into territory controlled by elements that can at time be unpredictable. This is why we're localizing the first volume of Street Pens to Las Vegas. The Writers' Group is based in Vegas and has access to local resources familiar with the local scenes to better navigate around these sorts of problems.
Participation of target demographic: To get these writers to submit their work to us we're making it a contest. Works will be judged by contributors to this campaign and published in an anthology. Also, we'll organize a BB&Q event to draw the target audience to one place where we can present this idea to them, get them to sign up, take supplies and notes on follow up dates to collect their work. Then, to ensure they'll return, the funds from this campaign will be used to purchase food and supplies for a monthly dinner for our Street Pens participants.
Supplies: This is the easy part. A significant part of the purpose of this campaign is to purchase writing pens and paper.
Digital transfer: at subsequent follow up meetings we'll educate participants on how to utilize public access to technology to be able to transcribe their work into digital manuscripts.
Production: the collected works will be judged and compiled and produced into an anthology that will be made available for purchase via Amazon and other online book retailers. The proceeds of net sales of which will go to further the mission of this project into other geographic regions and urban areas.
Documentation of the process: if a budget permits, equipment and manpower will be needed to film and document the process of this project.
Corporate Sponsorship: there are a variety of ways corporations can get involved in this effort. For example, a restaurant chain may want to cater the monthly "cook outs" that we'll host in order to bring our writers back in begin collating their work.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (50 days)