In BLOG, Home & Garden

by Andrew Purchin – Director of the project

All of us living in Santa Cruz are affected by the housing crisis. We are continually losing people to the housing crisis — friends, teachers, our favorite checkers at the supermarket, people who take care of us and our children — because they cannot afford to keep living here. Even for those of us in stable housing situations, the current housing crisis is constantly altering our daily lives and the fabric of our community.

“What’s Home? Creative Listening Across Differences” is an examination of housing in Santa Cruz County viewed through the lens of film and art. We are hosting a special night of screenings and performances on Saturday April 15th at 7pm at Project 418. Andrew Purchin, creative director of the project, sees the housing crisis as a major flashpoint:

“For decades I have been a creative witness, by this I mean I make art at sites where there has been tragedy or celebration and have conversations with people,” Andrew said. “I created paintings and had conversations in Santa Cruz near the location where police officers Sergeant Loran Baker and Detective Elizabeth Butler were killed in 2013. In 2016, I responded to our  political polarities by bringing a 170-foot-long “Curious Scroll” to Republican and Democratic national conventions. In 2021, I painted on site at our Benchlands encampment for the unhoused in San Lorenzo Park. At first I was scared but I found my calm immediately as people came up to me and engaged in conversation about the paintings.”

For “What’s Home?”, Andrew put together a group of artists and creative listeners from a range of disciplines and life stories who could help increase empathy toward our unhoused neighbors and drive compassion from those who have been negatively impacted by the unhoused.

The project began with 10 artists conversing with a housed person and an unhoused person separately before bringing together the unhoused and housed people to explore what “home” means to them. Each artist has drawn inspiration from these conversations to make a new play, song, dance, or visual art piece sharing the broad range of housing scarcity stories that exist in Santa Cruz.

“I am one of those homeless people who refuses to accept being homeless, so it’s a big deal for me,” said Michelle, who has been unhoused since May 2021 and who participated in the project. “During 12 years of my active service in the military I felt more secure in what I was doing, what my mission statement was, you know that I was taking care, somebody had my back and I have been praying that being homeless won’t be that one thing that breaks me because I don’t feel safe being homeless.”

“What’s Home?” aims to address the need for the kind of mindset shift that will enable us to be better participants in our communities. With increased empathy, better listening skills, and awareness of our own values and biases, we can more effectively show up to participate in housing solutions.

Conversations are part of documentary clips and will be premiered along with the performances on Saturday, April 15 at 7pm at the 418 Project.

The new artworks and short documentary clips will be exhibited at the Radius Gallery, Wednesday – Sunday 12-5pm at the Tannery Art Center from April 13 to May 7 with scheduled artists talk on May 7,  2-4pm.

For more information, please contact:
Andrew Purchin – Director of the project
Marija DeNike – Production manager
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