Homeless but Classy

Boston artist Kenji Kayayama has started creating high-quality, hand painted signs to replace makeshift cardboard posters typically used by homeless people.  Their original art is used and they are given an opportunity to tell their story.   It seems many of the homeless are trying to find their voice as much as they are trying to solicit for money.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACan you imagine the frustration in being homeless?  Not only is there the need to find food OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand a place to sleep but it often is the ultimate in feeling like a failure.

What do you think is the most helpful thing you can do for the homeless in your city – or on the other side of the world?  What are you doing now? Do you see it as a critical problem or just accept it as part of the choices people make?

(The artwork in this shot was done by Carl Frisso from Norway! Please check out more of his work at Behance.net.)

And here’s another question that came up when discussing this with Joanne.  Do you think having nice signs helps or hurts the homeless? Are passersby more likely to give – or are they more likely to think that if the person has a nice sign they probably have the ability to get out and get a job?  Does having a nice sign make the person appear more competent than they really are?  Does having a really nice website bring the same risks?

On May 26-27th we’re going to be immersed in an event we call Innovate – right here at the Sanctuary in Franklin, TN.  We’re going to spend two jammed packed days looking at your creative ideas and helping you shape them so the world takes notice. If you’re an artist, a musician, a comedienne, a sculptor, a writer, a speaker, or you want a better sign to share your message, we’d love to meet you and be a part of your growing success.  See the rich lineup of presenters here.

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  • WOW! Very Cool. Thank you for sharing, Dan.

    In my opinion, this is a very innovative way to help the homeless. My husband and I dedicate all of our volunteer work to serving the homeless here in Minneapolis. Homelessness is complicated and each case needs individualized solutions. But there is one way to help the homeless that is universal and accessible to all of us. The simple act of acknowledging them and treating them like we treat our peers can be a game changer. I’ve heard so many stories of how a homeless person’s life was changed through the kindness of ONE stranger. The work that Kenji puts into creating these signs plants the seed that they are worth it.

    To answer the question, “What do you think is the most helpful thing you can do for the homeless in your city?” We can all take 10 seconds out of our day to acknowledge them. Smile, talk to them, bring them a sandwich and a bottle of water. The most important thing is making that connection. I have seen first hand how this one simple action changes and even saves lives.

    This is a very critical problem and not one we can depend on someone else (the government) to fix. Together we can take small steps to create big change. Thank you so much for covering this.

    • Holly,
      Awesome – sounds like you’ve done some important research and are doing meaningful work with the homeless. What a great way to share your time and gifts with those who are working their way up.

      • The opportunity found us and I must say that we’ve gained so much more than I feel we have given. We have been blessed in so many ways and what good is it if we can’t share? 🙂

        People can indeed work their way up!