Eddie is an artist. We’ve been friends with him for about a year. He is definitely a people person. So well connected and loves connecting people as well. He’s been part of our Sunday night gatherings as well for all this time. As probably every artists in the world, he struggles to live off of his art. In one of the nights talking to him, we find out he had an accident and had to stop working for a couple of months. That work was his side job so he could pay for his bills.
In one of our gatherings, the theme was “hope”. We all were able to listen and share our different prospective and insights on “hope.” The highlight of the night was the understanding that community is key for us to maintain hope and how much we need each other to feel inspired. Finally our goal was to think about someone that we new that could use some hope, and go sparkle that on them in a very practical way. On that very same night we ended up talking about how we could be of some hope for Eddie, but not only that, that he himself, could give hope to other artists.
We put together “Vi Art Show – From Gallery to the Streets”. We had the opportunity to tell him that we understand that artists are many times a voice of HOPE to people, but that we understand that a lot of artists right now could use some HOPE too. Vi was a great opportunity to connect urban artists and gallery artist around a common concern for the community. We let each artist choose a local non profit to support with a portion of their sales. We raised money, but far more importantly we brought together community leaders and artists from a variety of backgrounds and had a great time.
Few places can accomplish what Saint City Session has in Orange County: foster a community where people of all ages, nationalities, and social backgrounds can come together and share in the beauty and artistry of hip hop culture. Whether you are an MC, poet, dancer, visual artist, or DJ, this free session provides a positive outlet for people to explore the freedom and joy of expression.
As a dancer, I have been blessed by the atmosphere that Saint City Session encourages, where artists of all levels can have a place to share their art without the fear of judgement or ridicule. Open discussions and mentoring are a natural occurence at the session when veterans of there respective artforms share tips and technical assistance to those who are just starting out or are just curious.
If you’re looking for a place to learn about and share in the phenomenon of hip hop culture, Saint City Session is definitely a stop on the itinerary!
One story I have that explains the mind frame of 511 and Saint City Session is when I told Maro to help me to simply announce people on open mic portion of the night. He gave it a shot, but did something unexpected half-way through. He announced that his friend Tyson would do some poetry, even though Tyson did not sign up to perform. After some back and forth between them, Tyson came up, and for the first time shared a poem on the mic at Saint City Session. Understand, Tyson has been attending for the past two years, and I could not get him to do that, it had to be done through a friend. A beautiful thing happens when you pass the mic and empower someone else to do the same.
I still remember talking and eating over dinner together on Sunday nights– those two hours were probably one of my favorite times of the week. All kinds of people, of different ages and lifestyles, whether they lived on the streets, in Santa Ana’s crowded apartment complexes, or in Huntington Beach or Irvine, we were there just to talk, listen, and eat together.
And, in this dynamic mix, we had some great discussions each time we got together; and, of these conversations, the one that made a lasting impression on me was about people expressing, feeling, and experiencing love. At first, I felt that love was something that made one vulnerable, and many feel that this vulnerability is what makes people “weak.”
Yet, Chris in particular, one of the local homeless residents in Santa Ana, said something that made me change my mind. He said that, despite the many trials he experienced in the past and in everyday life, he feels that his love for his girlfriend, with whom he can only exchange letters with, is actually protecting him. Life on the streets, he explained, has no rules; people have little compassion, and sinful temptations are everywhere. Full confidence can’t be given, even to the few people who can be trusted. And, everyday existence is more like survival than it is living. “It can really get you down,” he said. And, without having a reason to wake up every morning, you lose hope and you don’t see the point of trying anything anymore. But, as Chris implied, reminding yourself of what and who you love, is another way of reminding yourself of who you are and what you’re doing, even when reality is pushing you in the other direction and you can’t control the situation you’re in. [BTW: I was and am still damn impressed by that.]
I see through your eyes the hope for the hopeless in others. Love for others without asking for anything in return…Unconditional Love. Don’t forget that what for others seems like nothing, it means a lot to others…Those whose life you have touched with your kindness and love. Thank you 511.