Homeless Advocacy Art Bus Is Bringing New Life to Your Streets

Artists give street performance in Downtown Washington, DC
Artists give street performance in Downtown Washington, DC

Here’s the thing about art: It turns an ordinary perception into an encounter. In art mode, you aren’t just sensing objects anymore, you’re in a conversation with another creative being. This is how the Homeless Advocacy Art Bus wants to transform the all-too-common perception of homelessness.

This converted school bus will show up in your city and unload a party of performers and poets, some wearing masks, others showing their faces. They’ll open a pop-up gallery of sculptures, writings and drawings made of the stuff of city experiences. These artists are homeless, but they’re no longer invisible. You no longer want to just walk past them. Now you’ll stop, watch, listen and talk. Won’t you get on the bus?

The Homeless Advocacy Art Bus has no Burning Man affiliations whatsoever, but it’s exactly the kind of thing we want to see everywhere. They’re using art to snap people out of complacent states and getting them to confront the reality of homelessness, but doing it with color and story and creative force. The world needs much more of this.

The project is trying to raise $57,000 to get the bus on the road, starting in their home base of D.C. but eventually rolling out to cities across America. Please support their StartSomeGood campaign by June 30.

About the author: Jon Mitchell

Jon Mitchell

is the publisher of the Burning Man Journal, the Jackrabbit Speaks newsletter, and the Burning Man website. His playa name is Argus. He co-wrote a big story about spending 24 hours at the Temple of Juno in 2012. He’s been a Burner since 2008. Email: argus@burningman.org / Twitter: @GoForArgus

8 Comments on “Homeless Advocacy Art Bus Is Bringing New Life to Your Streets

  • Yolo says:

    A move forward to combat homelessness would be to open up women’s shelters to men, since homeless men have almost no shelters to go to, and most women’s shelters are 1/8 or less full and blanket the entire United States in nearly every city.

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  • Doug Sanford says:

    While the Homeless Advocacy Art Bus may not have any official Burningman affiliation, the DC Burner Community loves and supports Baardia ( the initiating artist) and his continuing enrichment of our city and it’s people!

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  • Yep, Yolo, people who are homeless or in tenuous housing situations know darn well what they need, and they know the conditions and what’s available–and they know way too well what DOESN’T work–it’s just that many in power aren’t listening and still regard people experiencing homelessness as invisible. But the people experiencing homelessness themselves have the ideas and solutions that can help change happen. We’re hoping this project can empower the people who know what they themselves need with a platform through which to be seen and heard. If you support this, you’re supporting the people going through this.

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    • Yolo says:

      A huge number of the homeless population are men who were kicked out of their homes after divorce and ordered to pay alimony and child support beyond their income level. They have only 2 options, jail (for nonpayment) or the streets. They can’t work because the state will take their entire paycheck.

      There’s no way to help these men aside from warning them of the dangers of making bad choices (marriage and kids) in the first place.

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  • Bardia Saeedi says:

    Jon, thanks for this insightful write-up. You captured the spirit of this project beautifully.

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  • Doug T. says:

    Bardia has been absolutely tireless and relentless in his efforts to get make this a truly meaningful and useful endeavor in DC. I really respect him as an artist in his own right, and even more so as a promoter of this project. Please support this!!!

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