DeShawn, Nikol, and their babies, Jade and Diamond live on the streets of Venice. They are college graduates. They are artists. And they are homeless, due to multiple circumstances. The couple met on the Boardwalk, and their devotion to each other, and their children, is tear-jerking, if you weren't already emotional from just the fact that they live in a tent with two daughters under two years old - which I was.
Even with all of their harsh realities, DeShawn and Nikol have the best attitudes and spirits of almost anyone I've ever met. Just wait until you watch our film and hear their beautiful philosophies on life, and you won't be able to help feeling a little guilty about any little complaint you might have about your own, most likely comfortable, lives. It's truly awe-inspiring that they can move through this world with such grace and calm, when so many are so much less with so much more. I checked myself, as should we all, really.
When the family was tucking in for the night in a tent on the cold sidewalk by public storage, I was a mess inside. I was also freezing, and I wasn't about to sleep on concrete with two babies. Yet once again, DeShawn and Nikol were just practical and doting on their babies, making sure they were warm and cozy far more than themselves. They are not the typical homeless story these days. They are driven in their art, they aren't on drugs, and they are a seemingly far more happy family than many in Los Angeles who have everything they could ever need - and more. Money doesn't buy you happiness, but it does buy you a warm bed and a roof over your head, and that's the only thing this wonderful little family doesn't have. Yet. We're all working on it. (You can help too, by buying some art from them when you see them on the Boardwalk!)
There is so little affordable housing in Venice now (believe me, I know), and I fear that compassion, humanity, and empathy is getting just as scarce. Then, every once in a while, you hear of someone helping just out of the goodness of their heart, and you are encouraged to go on. To stay. To fight. To help.
After all of the beauty and emotion (and art!) of the week, we decided to pile on and experience some more, this time at the excellent Ai Wei Wei exhibit Life Cycle at the Marciano Art Foundation. I love Wei Wei, and his dedication to putting a spotlight on the human condition worldwide. This show (his first in Los Angeles!) is about refugees and freedom of speech, among other hefty topics, but most of all, it's beautiful and inspiring (and free!).
I love a good quote, and there are many surrounding this show, again full of beauty and inspiration, but also majorly thought-provoking.
I believe we can absolutely do good to all who come into our orbit, as even the smallest act of kindness can create change for the better in someone's life, and I'm sure going to try. I hope you will join me. As I often say, we're all in this together. Plus, it's almost Thanksgiving, so let's focus on being grateful - and helpful. Happy Weekend of doing good!
*Happy 168th Birthday to Abbot Kinney (and to dear Vavine, my Ai Wei Wei co-adventurer!)