.Camera for a Cause: Humans Being Media puts Spotlight on Solutions

For some feel-good local news, look no further than the Petaluma-based inspirational and philanthropic organization Humans Being Media. Through three decades of documentary filmmaking, Humans Being Media has consistently worked to change the world for the better, one movie at a time.

The transformative power of media is undeniable, and those who choose to use this power for good are the unsung heroes whose hard work holds up humanity’s most precious resources: community, charity, and, of course, hope.

Humans Being Media’s list of community collaborators includes Vivalon, which works to provide Marin’s elders with support in aging; Lifehouse, which assists citizens with physical and mental disabilities; and The Sonder Project, which empowers impoverished communities through high-impact, sustainable development.

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“There are just too many wonderful clients to name here,” said Humans Being Media co-founder Vince Beeton in a recent statement. “Folks who are committed to improving the world through DEI, climate, housing, education, you name it. We work with organizations who are making an impact in impressive and broad-sweeping ways, but also in smaller ways that ripple outward. It’s awe-inspiring, and keeps us hopeful about humanity and our shared future here on this beautiful planet.”

Among these clients and collaborators is Homeward Bound, a local philanthropic group dedicated to helping eradicate homelessness in Marin. Homeward Bound began 50 years ago in 1974 and has since provided 905 people with shelter and housing. The current goal of Homeward Bound is to celebrate the organization’s half-a-century of philanthropy by building 50 new homes to match their 50 years of service.

Homeward Bound also just so happens to be Humans Being Media’s longest-standing Marin County client. And, according to the Humans Being Media press release, Homeward Bound is, “an extraordinary social enterprise who supports the homeless community with housing and so much more—job training, career ladders and opportunities to get a foothold and stay housed and employed. Since 2013 they have created commercials, capital campaign films, and mini documentaries about folks who have benefited from Homeward Bound’s excellent work.”

“I love working with Humans Being Media because of…their commitment to changing the world by telling very human stories of transformation,” said Homeward Bound co-CEO Paul Fordham.

For about a decade now, Humans Being Media and Homeward Bound have collaborated to share the touching stories of those affected by homelessness in Marin County. By interviewing individuals and allowing them to tell their truths about the path leading to and through homelessness, these organizations hope to help humanize the unhoused neighbors of our community.

“We [Humans Being Media and Homeward Bound of Marin] met accidentally,” explained Fordham. “We were creating family housing, and we wanted to document the demolition of this run-down old hotel and tell the story of its transformation…into a place to build housing for 14 families who had nowhere to go. We wanted to document the destruction and rebuilding of the site as an allegory for rebirth. So, Vince [Beeton], from Humans Being, made a short documentary for us, and folks really responded well to the video.”

“So, we came up with this mini-documentary style together and found a winning formula and have had such an amazing response,” Fordham continued. “Being able to document and share all these stories of change and transformation over this period we’ve worked together, it’s been really powerful and impactful on our work in a ton of ways.”

Fordham began his work in helping combat homelessness in England, where he was born and raised. Working in a local shelter/church basement, Fordham’s expectations and preconceptions of homelessness were shattered by his first day. When he later moved to America, Fordham brought his passion, expertise and sense of empathy to the States.

“The trends that I’ve seen in California in particular, and in the Bay Area, have really changed since the great recession in 2007,” explained Fordham. “The homebuilding industry collapsed and disappeared from California, and it never came back. There’s a small number of homes being built, but never at the rate it was before. In the past five years in California, we’ve seen a huge increase in senior citizens—people in their 80s and even in their 90s, in homeless shelters because what they saved for retirement isn’t enough for the current rental market.”

“So, we have a huge housing shortage, and we don’t have enough housing units,” continued Fordham. “When there’s not enough supply, the demand goes up. So, then there are more people renting, the price goes up and so on…then those folks at the bottom get squeezed out…”

Fordham noted that his hometown of Bath in England had about 30 unhoused individuals to care for across the entire city. When he began volunteering in California, that number skyrocketed into the thousands. He described this culture shock as the underbelly of the U.S. that one doesn’t see in Hollywood movies.

This Marianas Trench of disparity between the idealized Hollywood movie version of America and the real deal highlights just how far media, its impact and its ripple effect can reach. This is why the collaborative work of Homeward Bound, Humans Being Media and the unhoused human beings of the North Bay banding together to make movies to educate and inspire is so very important.

“These mini four-minute documentaries give a lot of information in a short time,” said Fordham. “It’s really wonderful to be able to help humanize homeless people through film. And watching these videos can help demystify homelessness and educate to make change possible.”

“If you watch these videos, you’ll see they’re just people,” concluded Fordham. “The solution is producing more housing on all ranges. Housing for sale, for rental, and subsidized and general affordable housing for everybody. We just need more of everything. And if you say no to affordable housing, you’re saying yes to homelessness.”

In a world where much of the news we see is at best rather dreary and often disheartening, media that highlights goodness and inspires it in others is increasingly invaluable. And the seemingly simple act of showcasing positive changes, like the local scale endeavors of Homeward Bound and Humans Being Media—well, it invites in us all a certain permission to dream about how we too could change the world and maybe leave it a little better before we go.

To learn more about Homeward Bound of Marin, visit the website at hbofm.org or call 415.382.3363. Those interested in more Humans Being Media content and collaborations, visit humansbeingmedia.com for more info.

WATCH Humans Being Media’s videos can be accessed using a smartphone and this QR code:

2 COMMENTS

  1. Isabella. Thanks for highlighting Homeward Bound of Marin who do such meaningful and groundbreaking work in our community. I have learnt so much from the staff and the folks who use their services, about my own misconceptions of what it means to be homeless and why it happens. Each person has a uniquely transformative story and it is a great honor and privilege to be invited into their lives and trusted to tell their story. Like the rising tide, this good news uplifts us all. Thanks.

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  2. I work for Homeward Bound, and have found formerly homeless people working in the kitchen and in the Key Room to be friendly and personable. In another setting I wouldn’t even know they were once homeless. That experience has taught me that homeless people come from a variety of temperaments and experiences, that many don’t fit into this image of being crazy or being freeloaders like many NIMBYs think.

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