Street Spirit Partnership

What if every time you watched a movie, you could raise a homeless street vendor's income ten fold?

 Now you can join a movement to change the media landscape -- our partnership with Street Spirit is an effort towards a new media revolution in the East Bay, a pilot project for the homeless to replace netflix and virtual reality, offer a real interactive media experience, stake their space in a media landscape in which the homeless have no space, no voice, no housing and no income.    

For the month of May, purchase our DVD at 1/2 price along with a special edition Street Spirit Paper from any vendor in the East Bay!

"Finding Gold in the Garbage": Street Spirit Reviews Dogtown Redemption

 
 

"When Amir Soltani first moved onto a quiet street in Oakland he noticed a parade of people coming by periodically to check the garbage. One after another throughout the day they would peer into the bins looking for redeemable bottles and cans.

The earliest person might find a few. Those who came later in the day would find less, or nothing, and Soltani began to want to talk to the recyclers, if only to tell them someone else had gotten there first and nothing was left..."

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Hand-Emblazoned Redemption Glasses!

 
 
 

With 3 weeks left, we currently stand at 55% of our goal – just over $26,000. Your blessings of support and friendship have been nothing short of spectacular. To celebrate the growth of this movement, we have decided it’s time to toast our recyclers, friends and funders with the ultimate gift.

Ever wonder what happens to the glass our shopping cart recyclers bring to Alliance Metals? Welcome to the glass house: the wonderful world of David Levi, the maestro of glass.

 
 

Surprised by Hope - Cam Ostrow

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Today's guest blog was written by Cam Ostrow, an organizer for the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness.  She has recently been working to promote the Resolve to Fight Poverty Conference, a national conference aimed at equipping students with the tools to combat poverty in their own communities.   Watching the trailer for Dogtown Redemption, I think what was most surprising to me was precisely how surprised I was by it. It was not the images of extreme poverty or devastating hunger that surprised me, and it wasn’t even the statements on the near pariah status of so many homeless individuals in their communities – those were the things I expected. Instead, what surprised me about the trailer was the message of redemption and hope at the root of each individual speaking and ultimately at the heart of the film.

I’ve been working on issues of homelessness and hunger since I was in high school, from leading campaigns like Amnesty International’s Demand Dignity, to my work right now with the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness.  After so many years, I am no longer shocked when I hear facts about the abuse suffered by homeless individuals at the hands of local police, and I barely flinch when someone points out how racism is central to the system that keeps poverty in place. Of course, seeing the spread of hunger and homelessness both nationally and internationally continues to devastate and move me. But still, these images do not surprise me: I understand that they are real and immediate and I have come to accept them even despite my yearn for them to change.

As a 22 year old recent college graduate, I am aware that I have grown up amongst a generation of activists who are preoccupied with what we cannot change.  We are hopeless pessimists, and we whole-heartedly believe that the system has screwed us along with everyone around us.  And maybe in some ways it has, but watching the trailer for Dogtown Redemption’s reminded me that I must have gotten into this fight believing that I could change something – believing that somehow, even knowing everything that was wrong with the world, there was hope for the future.  The film inspires me because it reminds me that I do not need to be surprised by a message of hope amongst images of poverty. What I need to continue my activism is to believe that somewhere out there, there is redemption for those who have been systematically thrown into poverty, and I need to believe that even when it seems like this work is unending, there is always the promise of positive change.

This was particularly helpful to my work on the 2013 Resolve to Fight Poverty Conference, which is the largest gathering of students and activists coming together to work on issues of hunger and homelessness in the country.  The conference is about learning how and why poverty has come to exist the way it does and impact certain communities the way it does – but it’s also about learning what we can do to change it.  To me, despite all of the horrifying instances of poverty which the conference will undoubtedly address, it is ultimately a hopeful event where students can take a moment to look past the infinite obstacles that await us move forward in the fight to resolve poverty.

-Cam Ostrow

 

Happy Birthday Nelson Mandela!

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Today, we would like to wish a happy 95th birthday to Nelson Mandela.  In 1990, not long after his release from prison in South Africa, Mandela ended an 8-city tour of the United States with a visit to Oakland.  His trip has since been immortalized in the creation of the Mandela Parkway: a thoroughfare through West Oakland created after the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake.

Mandela was invited to Oakland by then-U.S. House of Representatives member Ron Dellums.  Dellums, an Oakland native and longtime anti-apartheid activist, had four years earlier spearheaded a major sanctions bill against South Africa’s apartheid regime.  His work, and the work of countless activists throughout the Bay Area, had led many to call the East Bay “the birthplace of the anti-apartheid movement in the United States.”

As he addressed the crowd in Oakland, Mandela spoke of the energy the support of the American people had given him: “Despite my 71 years, at the end of this visit I feel like a young man of 35.  I feel like an old battery that has been recharged.  And if I feel so young, it is the people of the United States of America that are responsible for this.”

Like Mandela, the support we’ve received after only one day of fundraising has our batteries fully charged.  At the time of this writing, we’ve received some $14,000 in contributions from over 40 backers, and friends all over the country have shared our campaign over 300 times on Facebook.  You’ve tweeted, e-mailed friends, and opened your hands and hearts to our film.

But earthquakes continue to happen every day in Oakland and across the United States.  Lives once built on solid bedrock continue to crumble.  But like the Mandela Parkway, something new, creative, and beautiful always finds its way out of disaster.

West Oakland may be down, but it’s not out.  Your support has proven that much.  We hope you’ll stick with us and follow this project through to the end—to make poverty visible, and prove that redemption is possible.

With love,

The Dogtown Redemption Team