The Bear in the Room: how communities are responding to the homelessness crisis in California
Everywhere in the world, people are talking about California’s new reputation. It’s not sunny days, Hollywood, or Silicon Valley. It’s the homeless camps lining the streets of both big and small cities across California. With “The Bear in the Room”, we seek to look at some of the innovative ways local communities in Southern California are helping to alleviate the homeless crisis and get people back into stable housing. From programs to help veterans from being evicted to new models of shelters, the stories here in California are not just doom and gloom. They provide a model for how to help on a human scale.
Mission to Heal
In 1979, a young doctor named Ronald Pust at the University of Arizona became the faculty director of a medical student-initiated program of service-learning in the Tucson area called, Commitment to Underserved People. This program was one of the first medical-school educational programs in global health in the country, operating on a shoestring budget, and overseen by just a few dedicated physicians and teachers with a passion for global health.
The documentary gives us an in depth look at global health and how the program at the U of A is different. Their approach focuses on the community and local institutions that are already in place and avoids the common trap of foreign doctors “parachuting in” during a medical crisis. From 1982 through 2013, this course has graduated 669 participants, who have gone to over 70 nations to practice medicine in developing and remote areas.
This is a series exploring community-centric ideas for helping people get access to fresh fruits and vegetables and creating sustainable communities. The series will explore 6 different ideas in short ten-minute web documentaries. The first in the series, One Can a Week, can be viewed here. The second in the series is called Market on the Move. You can read more about it below. We are raising $30,000 for the next three videos in our series. Please make a donation to our campaign today!
Market on the Move
The poor in our country do not have adequate access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Communities with high rates of poverty are sometimes called “food deserts.” Market on the Move is a story about helping the food deserts of Nogales, Tucson, and Phoenix bloom. A few enterprising volunteers and food bank organizers came together to build a program that would “rescue” the millions of pounds of produce that are thrown away every year; before it even reaches the grocery store. Our documentary follows Lan, Estrella, and Ethel, three individuals who rescue the fresh produce. We also follow the trucks that distribute the food across Arizona and the individuals who now have access to fruits and vegetables for their families. Because of Market on the Move children experience eggplant and fresh tomatoes for the first time and their parents have the security in knowing that dinner is on the table. What started with fliers posted on telephone polls around Tucson is now an organized machine that supplies produce to 22 mobile markets every season. This is not just the story of food rescue and how it can benefit impoverished communities. It’s the story of how a good idea is realized, without any real plan or resources; but only the hard work and connectivity of three individuals.
Welfare in America (Ties that Bind)
This documentary film will follow the lives of three different families who have fallen on hard times during this recession and their struggle to get back on their feet over the course of a year. Each family will highlight a different strategy for making ends meet: a family utilizing the government’s welfare program, a family relying on a local community organization such as Habitat for Humanity or a local food bank, and a family helped by the Church of Latter Day Saints more comprehensive outreach system.
We spend a year with the families in order to answer these vital questions: are people better off after seeking a welfare program than they were before? How does the welfare system affect them, their families, and their relationships? How do their lives change over the course of a year? What system helps these families become independent and what system creates more harm than good? The answers to these questions may not be simple, but we must not be afraid of asking them.
Through the stories and interviews, the viewers will be able to explore the themes of community, generational poverty, self-esteem, the complications and benefits of a faith-based welfare system, and bureaucratic ineffectiveness.
One Can a Week
Three years ago, Peter Norback asked his neighbors if they would leave one can a week on their front porch for the Community Foodbank. Today, Peter’s program has been wildly successful and imitated in many communities across America. Neighbors helping neighbors. It sounds simple but his model is more than that. It could be a revolutionary way to feed our Nation’s hungry.