One of the things that people worry about with the increase in technologically centered lifestyles is that we have lost our sense of community. In the blogging world, we know that’s not true, and that communities and friendships can be built wherever people come together. In Lost Angels: Skid Row is My Home, directed by Thomas Q. Napper (who also worked in The Soloist), we see this same concept at work, only in the lives of the at risk, low income souls found living in Los Angeles’ skid row.
One of the beautiful points made in this film, is that even here, community finds a way. People may be unconventional, but they are still people, and they care both for each other and their environment in many various ways. We meet O.G. who is part of a volunteer cleaning crew that spends time cleaning the streets and Leanne who daily feeds the cats of skid row as she pushes around her overflowing cart. You see the heroes like KK, who advises us that after saving Leanne from harassment years previously, that they have discovered a bond, and he will protect her with his life.
I think that films like this are important to watch, as it seems to me that many people tune out those that are less fortunate, and pretend that they either don’t exist or somehow should have the capacity to join “normal” society if they just wanted to. The fact is that it isn’t that simple. As this movie states, and is consistent with some Canadian studies of homeless populations, two thirds of the people on skid row are suffering from mental health issues and/or substance abuse issues. This in itself can be a tremendous issue to navigate, but when you compound that with poverty conditions and social programs that require hard to get documentation, or stringent eligibility rules, the task becomes that much more daunting. The truth of the matter is that change isn’t always needed the way we think it is. Sometimes, people need help, but sometimes they need friends, and a sense of belonging after they hit rock bottom, and it is that more than anything that can lead to change.
Aside from the people living there, we also get to meet some of the people involved in groups that support the members of this community such as LA CAN (Los Angeles Community Action Network) who help with battling social rights issues, and LAMP who are a forward thinking group committed to housing and finding services. One of the key things about LAMP that I think is so awesome is that they are willing to take a holistic approach and help people first, before trying to make them change. This single factor is what keeps some people on the fringes of society and can keep them homeless for years, so its great to see an organization that is willing to help first and ask questions later and the supportive community they have helped to build there.
Although the topic of homelessness may seem dark, this movie shines a light into the shadows and paints a vivid picture of the people, organizations and issues that deserve all the attention they can get.
Here’s a clip: