Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ready to Go! Learning Curve Express

What, am I crazy? Perhaps.

In 2005, when first I set out in this bulky, spartan RV on a naive mission to capture faces and voices of kids who knew homelessness from experience, I had no idea what was down the road, literally or figuratively. What resulted was an amazingly inspiring documentary, My Own Four Walls, that lets kids unload on the realities of homelessness, including their hopes and dreams.

I would have never predicted I'd be still living in this tin can, preparing to head out on a 5th cross-country tour, still seeking to give voice and visibility to homeless kids. But I am....

Crazy? Well, my friends would be able to shed light on this topic. But, with homelessness among families and teens surging, I feel a sense of, if not insanity, a befuddlement and frustration that comes with seeing things get worse instead of better. Out of that feeling LEARNING CURVE EXPRESS was born.

LCE will take me to families and teens who desperately turn to an unpredictable rotation of friends, family and motels that may provide a nightly place to sleep. For some reason, Congress and HUD decided to exclude these folks from the homeless count, relying instead on an oft-criticized "Point In Time" street count that bamboozles Congress into thinking we don't have much of a homelessness problem, especially when it comes to families and teens.

HEAR US Inc., my nonprofit organization, is committed to giving voice and visibility to ho
meless children and youth. We're honing in on the issue of these uncounted children, teens and parents who really do count. I will film short interviews as they describe perils of not having a fixed, adequate and regular (part of the definition of homelessness) place of abode.

Using technology, skilled techie students in Northern Illinois University's film program, and chutzpah, I will contact the local office where our LCE participants live, ask them to watch the 3-minute video of their constituent, and invite them to get informed and involved in this issue.

Part of the success of this ambitious effort (2-min. video clip) will rely on how well my RV, dubbed "Tillie the Turtle," gets me from place to place. Most of the success will depend on getting voters in these congressional districts to weigh in with their legislator that HOMELESS KIDS COUNT! A campaign to do so is in the works.

At least I'm starting with a clean RV, with the year-old dirt blasted off by my friends at Mike's Auto and Truck Repair in DeKalb, IL. I know I'll gather more dirt, dents, and experiences along the way. I'd like to have virtual company, so travel with me and, if you have a few bucks to toss our way for this crazy trip, we'd be most happy for the support.