World Wheel Newsletter 2009 Working with homeless youth in Los Angeles
Dear World Wheel Family,
I find myself in Los Angeles (LA), at this time of our economic crisis to listen to the young people on the streets. They tell me their stories and I hear their cries for a more meaningful life than what they have found in our society, and in their own families.
When I came to LA and heard there were more than 14,000 youth that live on the streets, under bridges, or on the beaches, I knew this was one of the locations I wanted the World Wheel to focus in the United States. I have worked in 18 countries with art and community and felt it was time to address the issues in my home town.
Los Angeles has the largest number of homeless for any city in the United States. I began the first of December 2008 because I was so uncomfortable thinking of these kids out in the cold and rain. During those winter days I started going to the beaches to give out blankets, sleeping bags and food.
I started volunteering at the Ocean Park Community Center, location in Santa Monica and brought in my stones and tools to teach sculpture--something to inspire and honor the soul.
The World Wheel Project now has a team of
7 professional people in the various fields of art who are teaching the youth
or contributing to some aspect of the project (see homeless youth mask left hand side).
Markell Brooks in ceramics and Mary Wright in painting have kept the classes
going while I have been away.
When I asked people in LA about these
kids, I found they were unaware that there were youth living on the streets. I
started going to the Venice beach with my video camera to interview the
homeless youth, to catch their stories, listen to their view of life; and
realized I must make a film. This is my focus at the moment.
I have been inspired by these youth who have refused to live in a society that does not support their own spirit. They are searching for a new way of life with meaning. Most come from broken homes, abuse, rape from family members, or hiding from the police who are not helping the situation. By the time the youth are 19 years old, most have a police record. This prevents these bright, innovated young adults from being hired.
I am looking for a location to create an environmental stone sculpture with the youth, to make it their place. If anyone has ideas of land in the greater LA area, please let me know.
I started the second World Wheel Project in the Andes in 1999. It is continuing with Matico’s bed and breakfast (www.casamatico.com). The sculpture I created with the help of the Peguche Village outside of Otavalo is used as a ceremonial site (see right photo below). Matico’s women’s group "Hwari Maki (Women’s Hands)" are all flourishing.
The World Wheel, is supporting the Otavolenian culture with a kindergarten in Peguche through donations.
go to top Amazon Ecuador World Wheel School for Shuar Children
Edie Hartshorne and I began a school in 2007 for the Shuar children in the Amazon of Ecuador, east of Macas held in the rain forest by the Yukias River. The school continues as a summer school taught by our Shuar friends, Solania Unupi and Federico Tsamaraint. They are teaching the Shuar language, traditional crafts, stories of their culture, and sustainability so that these traditions won’t be lost.
The World Wheel contributors are supporting the graduate studies completion of two very bright Shuar girls, Tamara Tsamaraint and Solania Unupi. They are very grateful and send thanks.
On the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica in 2005, we held a performance ceremony with activist women from the region. Many people gathered as we prepared by garbing ourselves with colored sarongs, and tied pouches of colored earth gathered from the World Wheel sites.
We were blessed by the presence of Guadeloupe Urbina and her powerful music. Her voice and guitar penetrated the sound of the waves for protection and healing of waters and earth. We entered the ocean in prayer and formed a spiral, letting loose the natural earth colors forming an ocean rainbow spiral.
I have been gathering poems about water, asking people to send me their writing about their relationship with water. I continue to gather these poems for the next Ocean Rainbow Spiral prayer for the water’s of our planet, perhaps on the coast of Australia this coming summer.
The World Wheel has begun work on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona, to assist a Native Deaf woman. Her cabin off the grid in the Lukachukai Mountains, has no facilities, is in desperate need of repair. We are putting on a new roof and facilitating other repairs.
In June 2010, I have plans to start a World Wheel project with the Aborigines in Australia with the musicians Tash and Elena of Indigie Femme (www.indigiefemme.com). I hope to return to Senegal next December with Edie Hartshorne (edie.hartshorne.net) to continue working with the women and water issues, constructing new wells and desalinating water (see newsletter 2008).
I send love and gratitude to each one of you for supporting and caring about our global family. Please continue to send thoughts of peace and collaboration into our world.
Photo by Vijali Hamiton -- Four Faces of Unity (detail) in Seneca Reservation
Photo by Vijali Hamiton -- Woman Of Space Pregnant With Sun in Spain
All photos from LA Homeless youth by Vijali Hamilton