Have you ever been homeless?
Do you feel scared of homeless people?
Do you donate to the homeless man on the street corner with a cardboard sign asking for spare change?
Johanna Crider runs the zine, Art4TheHomeless, but it’s far more than just a “zine”. It is a movement. Art4TheHomeless is dedicated towards promoting homeless awareness and bringing forth donations to battle homelessness.
This was inspired through her experiences of living homeless when she was young. She is an advocate of a good cause, a cause I recommend you showing support for, whether it’s donating, spreading word, or submitting your writing for publication.
Here is a 10 question interview with Johanna discussing her press, childhood, and devotion.
1) How are things over at Art4TheHomeless? Any new projects going on?
Art4TheHomeless is doing well. Currently we are looking at new ways to fundraise for our gallery. Our goal is to open an art gallery/venue spot where we can have events such as concerts, exhibitions, etc., to generate funding for homeless shelters/relief organizations while also providing a space for artists to show and network. Right now our goal is to raise $250K to open the gallery. We have several fundraising projects: The $250K Donation Campaign, The Art4TH Zazzle Store which sells art on merchandise suck as iphone cases and prints to raise funds for Art4TH, I’m also selling my jewelry and donating 15% of each sale to Art4TH.
2) What drives your press? It seems be much more than just a press, but an entire movement.
Blogging and Social Networking. Art4TH started out as an art blog called Colors of Ink. It was one of those blogs where you get paid to blog and I wanted to raise funds for homeless shelters. That didn’t pan out since those pay to blog things turned out to be scams or run out of funds but I did meet a lot of artists who wanted to donate. So I opened up the Zazzle store under my own name and connected with more artists. Years passed and along with my best friend, Samantha Medd, who is currently Vice President and the one who named the organization, and also Hart Deer, another best friend, we went from a movement started by social networking to a 501(C) Nonprofit organization. The date the IRS approved our application was my 29th birthday.
3) What’s the $250 Donation Campaign?
The $250K Donation Campaign encourages you to donate $1. Our goal is to rally 250,000 people to donate $1. So far, thanks to 33 generous donors and sponsors such as Marsha Mitchell, Terrestria Movement, and Chicago’s Nancy’s Pizza in Midtown Atlanta who is one of our major sponsors and supportors who helped put our board of directors together and introduced us to our accountant, we have raised a little over $400 toward our goal.
4) What do you look for in poetry submissions for your zine?
As long as the poetry is G-rated and non offensive, we accept almost anything. You can send all poetry submissions to Samantha@art4thehomeless.org
5) Are there particular things a submitter can do to get on your good side when submitting?
Hmmmm are you implying that I have a bad side?
6) Have you ever had to reject a personal friend’s work for publication?
7) Have you ever been homeless?
Yes and am living with relatives now to stay off the streets myself. I was first homeless when I was 9.
8) You became homeless when you were 9? That’s very young. How long were you homeless? How would you say this experience shaped who you are today?
My mother had issues with her family and one of my earliest memories was of us being kicked out of our aunt’s home because I freaked out over sour milk and got sick. I remember my aunt screaming at me and calling me a devil child and a curse upon the family and she would kick us out if my mother didn’t get rid of me. So we wound up moving and eventually were on the streets of GA before my mom pretty much said to hell with this, took me out of school and drove west until she ran out of gas. We wound up in Shreveport, LA and I grew up around Cajuns, people who don’t let anyone go on the streets no matter what. There was this shelter called The Providence House and at that time, homeless shelters for women/families were rare. They took us in and taught my mom some legal skills and she took a job as a legal secretary. We finally got off the streets when I was 12. Being homeless at a young age impacted me early on and set me on the path to advocacy.
9) Do you personally write poetry? What about other art forms?
Yes. In fact, I have a book published. It is called, Release: A Journey Through Emotions. It was published the same year Art4TH was approved and just a month later. You can grab a free ebook copy here, or you can buy the actual book here.
10) Not many people take the initiative required to start a publishing press, let alone a movement. How far do you believe Art4TheHomeless will go? Where do you see the press in 1 year? How about 5?
The Art4TH Zine actually came about when I wanted to do something for the artists who were supporting my dream. So I decided to feature them in a bi-monthly newsletter. It’s now a monthly website/download type newsletter and I just can’t do bi-monthly anymore since I’m so busy with family and trying to make money to survive. My family is great, I just want to save and selling jewelry, working for Amazon.com is making enough to pay some bills of my own without having to burden my family until I find a full time job.