"Our country, riddled with burgeoning racism, rife with growing huddles of the homeless, we need art in all forms. We need all methods of art to be present, everywhere present, and all the time present." -Maya Angelou
Through hard times the use of art has healed us. Art has shown us ways to speak and express ourselves when we couldn't find words. For most of us art is a way of self-expression when we have a strong community to guide us. However some people don't get the opportunity to use art as a way of expression, particularly those who are homeless and struggling to find any community at all. Peter Block says in Community: The structure of Belonging, "Helpless = Homeless = Hopeless." His point is that when people depend on outside institutional sources to solve their problems they lose their sense of empowerment and experience helplessness. This helplessness disconnects people from their community making them vulnerable to homelessness. Homelessness is a way of life that leaves them hopeless.
Organizations like Feed the Hungry and City Missions in Cleveland are built to aid people who are struggling. These services support and help struggling citizens, however it is a short lived effect. In the article Supportive Communities for Families, Bernice Weissbourd writes, "When a community is focused on promoting the health of its families...it is offering opportunities for participation and sources of personal support." This is a longer lasting solution.
We will build strong, vibrant communities by developing housing and human services in partnership with healing art programs. Neighborhood healing arts centers have programs for children, adults, the disabled, and elderly. The problem of homelessness and weakened communities has become an epidemic. There must be more creative ways explored to help people out of social institutional dependence and into becoming constructive members of healthy healing communities.
-Roselyn Arnold is a sophomore at Savannah College Art and Design.