‘I Couldn’t Live at Home’

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The collaborative exhibit and performance series “I Couldn’t Live at
Home,” which brings awareness to the 40,000 homeless youth in Minnesota,
kicked off an exhibit with the first of several performances at the Minneapolis Central Library October 6th.

The exhibit, a sequel to the “Sheltering Home Chronicles” exhibit, is presented by the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest and the Minneapolis Public Library.

The October 6 event was the first of four free, public performances at Minneapolis Central Library’s Pohland Hall. Shá Cage, host of the first performance, explained the importance of using art to bring awareness to youth homelessness, saying, “Sometimes with big issues, we are opened up in a way we otherwise wouldn’t be with art.”

The performance consisted of musicians, dancers, and spoken word poets. Other performances in the same location will be Thursday October 18th from 6:30 to 8:30 pm, Saturday November 10th from 3 to 5 pm, and Thursday, December 13th from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.

“All of us are artistic,” added E.G. Bailey, member of the MN Spoken Word Association, “when everything else is stripped away from you, you can reach within yourself and find your humanity, and that keeps you going.”

The exhibit, which runs from now until December 29th in Minneapolis Public
Library’s Cargill Hall, is the result of more than 100 community and artistic partners inspired by decades of stories from young Minnesotans who could not live at home. Their goal is to “use history and art to discuss what we knew but we’ve forgotten; how communities claimed children of the poor when their families were in crisis,” said Kate Searls, the Jewish Historical Society curator, while addressing the change in Minnesota communities since the early 1900s.

The exhibit features photographs, paintings, collages, and sculptures in both traditional and mixed media. There is also a video recording booth provided by the Minnesota History Center in Cargill Hall for visitors to talk about their experiences with youth homelessness. One change noticed by Cage was, “People are starting to ask questions. There is an assumption that we don’t air our dirty laundry.”

The biggest thing that people in the Twin Cities can do to help with youth homelessness is “plug into the resources and community partners and reach out to individuals, ask people what resources they need,”according to Cage.

Two community organizations working with youth were present on October 6. Avenues for Homeless Youth provides shelter, short-term housing, and supportive services for homeless youth. “That building was built by a community that planned ahead,” Searls said about Avenues. Avenues can be reached at 612-522-1690, and welcomes support and donations.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities connects adult mentors to young people, many of whom are on a wait list. Youth are able to establish a friendship with supportive adult mentors (for more information, call 651-789-2400.) Searls invited BBBS to the performance because “Individuals and relationships feed the soul and create avenues for resilience.”