ABOUT

The WE ARE ALL HOMELESS project began in 1993 due to the awkwardness I felt when I’d pull up to an intersection and encounter a person holding a sign, asking for help. Like many, I wrestled with whether or not I was doing good by giving them money. Mostly I struggled with my moral obligations, and how my own choices contributed in conscious or unconscious ways to the poverty I was witnessing. I struggled with the unfairness of the lives people are born into, the physical, mental and psychological handicaps. In my struggle, I avoided eye contact with those on the street, unwilling to really see them, and in doing so avoided seeing parts of myself. That began to change once I began asking them if they would sell their signs. My relationship to the homeless has been powerfully and permanently altered. The conversations and connections have left an indelible mark on my heart. I still wrestle with personal questions regarding generosity, goodness, compassion, and guilt. And what it means to be homeless: practically, spiritually, emotionally? Is home a physical place, a building, a structure, a house? Or is it a state of being, a sense of safety, of being provided for, of identity? I see these signs as signposts of my own journey, inward and outward, of reconciling my own life with my judgments about those experiencing homelessness.

SIGNS OF HUMANITY

SIGNS OF HUMANITY is a documentary film that explores inter-related themes of home, homelessness, compassion, and humanity. Artist and professor Willie Baronet has purchased more than 1,300 homeless signs over the past 24 years, and he uses this collection to create installations to raise awareness about homelessness. During the month of July, 2014, Willie and three filmmakers drove across the country, interviewing more than 100 people on the streets and purchasing over 280 signs. SIGNS OF HUMANITY is a film about that trip. Click here for more information.

EXHIBITS

There have been over 30 art installations of WE ARE ALL HOMELESS since 2009 in the US and UK, including exhibits at NYU, University of Pennsylvania and the University of Cambridge. In 2016 we were honored to exhibit in Philadelphia and Cleveland during both the Democratic National Convention and the Republican National Convention. In Philly we were part of Truth to Power, a group show sponsored by Rock the Vote, which included artists Banksy, Ron English, and Shepard Fairey. The installations provide an experience for people to explore the humanity of the signs, and questions regarding the nature of home, compassion and what it means to truly see each other.

MEDIA / PR

WE ARE ALL HOMELESS has been featured in media all over the world including NPR, HuffPost, Yahoo! News, Buzzfeed and dozens of others. In one month (during the filming of the documentary Signs of Humanity) it had over 138 million media impressions, was on the front page of Reddit, and an article picked up by the Associated Press was featured in media all across the United States. Click here to see additional media links.

IMPACT

It is sometimes difficult to quantify the impact of WE ARE ALL HOMELESS, but it isn’t hard to see it. From the millions of views and shares and comments to just one online video about this project, to the students at all academic levels who have participated in a workshop, to the thousands of people who have viewed art installations or a screening of Signs of Humanity, or those who’ve heard Willie speak from the TEDx stage or other venues to the hundreds of thousands of dollars donated to The Bridge at their annual breakfast fundraiser. This work has become a powerful change agent for starting conversations about homelessness and shifting perspectives about how we can be more compassionate in our desire to help solve this multi-faceted issue.