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Upcoming Event:

Business Leaders Breakfast:"Responsibility in Leadership Today": 
Symposium with Renowned Business Exec. Coach Marshall Goldsmith
(Student and non-profit rates available)

Thursday, March 29th, 2007
The UMass Club
225 Franklin St., 33rd Floor
Post Office Sq. across from Langham Hotel,
Boston, MA 02110

Presented by UMass Boston & King Fish Media in support of
Give US Your Poor


Land of 10,000 Homeless:

Minneapolis based Musician, composer, activist Andrew Turpening is the
artistic director of Voices Of The Streets. This organization provides a way
for people not heard in the mainstream media to tell their stories. The first
Voices of the Streets project, “The Land of 10,000 Homeless”, tackles the
problem of homelessness by giving a voice to individuals living in Minnesota
and experiencing homelessness.

Our friend Danny Glover is the Executive Producer of the movie "Bamako."  Read this NYTimes excerpt of a movie we urge you to see:
February 11, 2007

One Angry African Puts Big Money on Trial


ROTTERDAM, the Netherlands

A RARITY among contemporary filmmakers, Abderrahmane Sissako is doing his best to uphold the tradition of “J’accuse” and the outraged polemic. For his latest movie Mr. Sissako, who lives in Paris, returned to his family courtyard in Bamako, the capital of Mali, and staged an act of symbolic justice.

“Bamako,” which opens Wednesday at Film Forum in Manhattan, is a courtroom drama that takes place within a mud-walled compound. It revolves around an unlikely cast of characters: the plaintiffs are the people of Africa; the defendants, charged with worsening the economic plight of the continent, are the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

“Through art you can invent the impossible.” Mr. Sissako, 45, said in an interview here at the Rotterdam International Film Festival, where he was the subject of a retrospective. “It’s obviously an improbable scenario: to put on trial these two institutions that nobody can hold accountable. But that’s the point. In this little courtyard we make the impossible possible.”

To staff the tribunal in “Bamako,” Mr. Sissako sought out real judges and lawyers, whom he armed with extensive research material. He also assembled a cross section of witnesses, from childhood friends to a former minister of culture, all appearing as themselves. Once the cameras were rolling, he allowed the improvised arguments to unfold without interruption. Witness after witness lands blow after blow against the economic policies of the international financial bodies, contending that they have contributed to the impoverishment of Africa and led to cuts in health care and education.

But “Bamako,” despite its equation of globalized capitalism and neocolonialism, is not purely a diatribe. To an almost surreal degree it emphasizes the drift of daily life. In the very space where the court is in session, residents come and go, women dye fabric, a wedding party passes by. “The idea of the trial was born together with the idea of showing life adjacent to it,” Mr. Sissako said.

He also fleshes out the film with a few scripted story lines, which he called “attempts to maintain the viewers’ attention.” In the most flamboyant divertissement he cuts to a mock spaghetti western that the neighborhood children are watching on television — a nod to the first movies he saw and a pointed comment on the dominance of Western culture and ideology. The cowboys in the film-within-the-film are played by friends of Mr. Sissako, including the American actor Danny Glover, who is an executive producer of “Bamako,” and the Palestinian director Elia Suleiman.

The primary setting of “Bamako” holds great significance for Mr. Sissako, whose work often incorporates elements of autobiography. “I couldn’t have made a film like this in just any courtyard,” he said. “It had to be this one, where I grew up. Shooting there I felt protected. I felt I was allowed to make mistakes.”

Thanks to Mr. Sissako’s father, an engineer, there was always a bustling communal atmosphere at the compound. “My father was the only one in his family who went to school,” he said. “He felt a responsibility to take in the children of relatives and friends who were less well off. Usually there would be about 30 people in the house.” The courtyard, he said, “is Malian society in miniature.”

Mr. Sissako was born in Mauritania but grew up in Mali, his father’s home country. As a teenager he bristled against the oppressive school system. “I was never a good student, and I started to get militant ideas because I wanted to overthrow the school,” he said.

His revolutionary views grew more focused when he encountered the writings of Che Guevara, African-American civil rights activists like W. E. B. Dubois, and anticolonialist authors like Frantz Fanon and Aimé Césaire. He was also galvanized by the global anti-apartheid movement and caught up in a growing resentment toward the military dictatorship in Mali. By his late teens he was organizing student strikes. “It was a dangerous time,” he said. “Friends of mine were in prison. One was dead.”

At 19, he moved to Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania, where his mother was living. Homesick for Mali, unfamiliar with the local dialect, he found unexpected solace at the Soviet cultural center, where he spent his days playing table tennis, learning Russian and reading Dostoevsky. He ended up at the prestigious film academy in Moscow. After nearly a decade there he moved to Paris in the early 1990s. His nomadic existence strongly informed his worldview. He found his voice as a poet of displacement, forever grappling with the bafflement of exile and the sorrow of the impossible return.

In “Waiting for Happiness” (2002), set in a Mauritanian coastal town that functions as a way station between Africa and the West, one of the characters is an alienated young man visiting his mother before he leaves for Europe. In “Life on Earth” (1998) Mr. Sissako plays a version of himself, an expatriate returning from Paris to Mali on the eve of the millennium. One line in that film, from a letter that the young man writes to his father, sums up the ambivalent yearning at the heart of his work: “Is what I learn far from you worth what I forget about us?” (Both films were shown at the New York Film Festival. New Yorker Films will release “Waiting for Happiness” on DVD later this year.)

The overtly political “Bamako” represents a move away from autobiography. “I was getting tired of drawing on my own life,” Mr. Sissako said. “There’s a natural end to that process.”

But the explicit subject of “Bamako” had been the implicit themes of his other films: the legacy of colonialism and the lopsided relationship between the first and third worlds. Even more than the average courtroom procedural, it is a film about the power of the spoken word, giving voice to those normally denied that privilege.

It also, however, demonstrates the limits of language. Called to the stand, one of the witnesses finds himself unable to speak. “Truth cannot always be expressed in words,” Mr. Sissako said. “It can also be silent, and you cannot say no to those who are silent.”

In the movie’s emotional climax, another witness forgoes conventional testimony and sings a full-throated lament. The scene is left unsubtitled, but the sentiments could not be clearer. “He was singing in a dialect from the south of Mali,” Mr. Sissako said. “Even most of the people in the courtyard didn’t understand it, but we were all very moved.”

As for the film’s economic arguments, they are probably too simplified to withstand the scrutiny of experts. Christopher Udry, a professor of economics at Yale University who teaches and writes about rural economic organization in Africa, said that while “Bamako” addressed the “fundamental power asymmetry” of the situation, he thought the film was compromised by its stridency.

“The World Bank actually puts an enormous amount of energy in trying to listen,” Professor Udry said. “There is broad recognition that structural adjustment was not successful, though there is disagreement as to why.”

Mr. Glover, who studied economics in college and has been involved in human rights issues for decades, said by telephone that he hoped the film “does more than preach to the choir.” He added, “It’s a statement that opens up a space for dialogue.”

The African group of the International Monetary Fund has seen it, Mr. Sissako said, but he has yet to receive any feedback. Last month he showed his film in Bamako, in front of the courtyard where it was shot. Thousands turned up. Still, insofar as the movie is a broadside, its designated audience is a Western one. Mr. Sissako recalled the advice of an old friend, a Malian judge: “He told me, ‘Don’t think this film will change anything. But you have to make it. Perhaps then they will know that we know.’ ”

John Bonjovi and Friends

Give Us Your Poor's John McGah, Singer/Songwriter Jon Bon Jovi, and Jim Mussleman, Appelseed Recordings in New Jersey

Jon Bon Jovi records track with Mighty Sam McClain
Give Us Your Poor  CD

Click here to support the final stages of our music CD
(Indicate in note section if support is for CD)

Jon Bon Jovi the Rock Icon continues his commitment to homelessness all around the world by recording for the CD and video for Give Us Your  Poor. Jon Bon Jovi, who has since been named Habitat For Humanity's first-ever Ambassador.  In December 2006, Jon recorded a song by singer/songwriter blues/Gospel extroidanaire, Mighty Sam McClain with Mighty Sam's band backing. Mighty Sam wrote the lyrics and co-wrote the music with bandmember Donn Scott Shetler.  We can't give too much away before the release but suffice to say everyone is happy with the results....ok, very happy.

 “Once an idea becomes action, an energy is created that can be contagious," says Jon Bon Jovi, whose global rock idol status is offset by his dedication to the working-class community where he grew up. "People who want to help -- or who need help -- get discouraged because they don't know how to take the first step. I'm trying to make it a little easier by connecting the people with something to give with the people in need. When the connection is made, whatever town you call home becomes a better place."

Mighty Sam McClain and Band

Mighty Sam McClain and Band and producer/engineer Gerry Putnam in New Hampshire recording session for Give US Your Poor

 2006 Recap: A successful year

2006 was a year of great accomplishments and growth for the Give Us Your Poor project.

Michael Mierendorf, Larry Marshall, John Fine, Bryan How and Michael Botelho filmed multiple shoots for the GUYP documentary film.  Also with the lead of Michael Mierendorf  the collaboration of documentation and editing by Larry Marshall the creation of a short documentary was developed for Natalie Merchant's website .  We were also able to create two PSA announcements.  One with Actor Danny Glover for TV and another with singer Gavin DeGraw for radio.

But 2006 was the year of the CD.  Many collaborations were recorded between celebrity artists and (formerly homeless artists).  The list of celebrity artists is impressive including:  Danny Glover, Pete Seeger, Natalie Merchant, Dan Zanes, Sam McClain, Jon Bon Jovi, and Jewel.  All in all 14 tracks were recorded in 2006.  Many thanks to all those involved in the GUYP CD project, Appleseed RecordingsBerklee School of Music, andSonicbids, Nils Gums, Jeff Olivet, and Brianne Widaman to name a few.

In 2006 many new key partnerships were built.  King Fish Media of Salem, MA worked with GUYP updating the logo and developed detailed Media and Marketing plans.  Partnerships were also built with FLIMP a Rich Media direct marketing internet tools.  New advisory board members of 2006 include Executive Coach Gordon Curtis, music industry veteran Phil Sandhaus, and Executive Director of the National Healthcare for the Homeless Council, John Lozier.

By Sarah Nichols


An initiative of the University of Massachusetts Boston, Give US Your Poor, has been meticulously striving to awaken the consciousness towards ending a widespread homelessness in the United States. The year 2007 spells for us new levels of reaching out to the community at large, with the  central mission of stirring action towards eradicating this social malaise.

With the anticipation that a close depiction of homeless people in a film might increase a better perception of homelessness, GUYP in collaboration with celebrated figures from the entertainment industry as well Government and the academia looks forward to the further work on its film on homelessness, curriclum in schools, supporting our partner homeless organizations, and releasing more pubic service announcements.

On the other hand is the CD project (produced and released by Appleseed Recordings) that brings together illustrious musicians and others for a unique advocacy as part of this project.

The Year 2007 for GUYP is a promise for better tomorrows for the homeless and us all in the United States, making our world a celebration of life and consideration.

By Ishita Rungta