In 2007, at a “Faces of Homelessness” panel in Washington D.C., James Burton, a skinny middle-aged man in a beret, painted a scene for CSU students visiting on an alternative spring break trip: one of a fire that consumed his house and all his possessions.
Before the fire, Burton had not insured his house. After the fire, he had nowhere to go. He was homeless.
After sleeping anywhere possible and constantly being moved around by police, Burton decided that the homeless population is invisible unless they are in someone’s way.
So inspired by this man’s story, CSU senior sociology major Sam Bowersox-Daly immediately stepped off the plane from D.C. and composed a song that represented Burton’s openness and honesty about his challenges.
And when asked by his Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement adviser to enter CSU’s “Voices of Hunger” contest, aimed at raising awareness about national hunger and poverty, Bowersox-Daly immediately thought of that song.
“Johnny,” about “the story of a man broken down before he began to live his life,” now plays as the background music in Bowersox-Daly’s photo slideshow, made up of photographs contrasting the glamour and poverty of D.C.
Bowersox-Daly remembers how ironic it was to see the Capitol, White House and all of the city’s extravagant buildings situated just down the street from the 1300-bed homeless shelter where Burton was staying.
“It was interesting to see both of those right next to each other,” he said, emphasizing the irony of seeing so much money and poverty so close to one another.
The project holds sentimental value for the CSU student.
“It probably means more to me as a reflection than the random person watching it,” Bowersox-Daly said about his slideshow. But that doesn’t lessen his desire to inspire others to get involved and take action.
However, he decided to participate in “Voices of Hunger” because he wants to inspire others to get involved and take action.
He said a person never really knows what hunger is like until they have experienced it and that art is one of the most tangible ways to illustrate this idea.
“Art is so interpretive and you can really create feelings and portray an issue from one person to another,” he said, later adding, “I would challenge people to have an experience of their own. It’s a good way to make a change.”
Bowersox-Daly’s enthusiasm and drive to take part in the contest echoed that of his adviser’s.
“The goal is for students to really consider the issues of poverty and hunger; we also hope they will learn something about themselves and their capabilities in the process,” Keith Colton, a SLiCE coordinator, told the Collegian earlier this month.
Other students agreed.
“The real power of this contest is its potential to create community dialogue and drive advocacy, while adding value in the short and long run for a vulnerable part of our local population that often goes overlooked,” Jacob Holsteen, a senior business administration major, said.
Students are encouraged to submit their own visual representations of poverty and hunger using all artistic mediums including: photography, posters, videos, paintings and more. Each entry must be captured on video, lasting no more than five minutes, and submitted to YouTube.
Bowersox-Daly’s video and all of the Voices of Hunger entries can be viewed at http://youtube.com/voicesofhunger.
Staff writer Jessica Cline can be reached at news@collegian .com.