The Rev. Chris Carlisle launches “Street Stories” – an interactive video platform designed to introduce the voices of those who live in our streets. The idea for “Street Stories” emerged when the Executive Producer of Visionaries, Inc., Bill Mosher, witnessed the Sunday outdoor service in Northampton known as “Cathedral in the Night.” Mosher asked how he might help this unconventional community. Mosher has been telling the extraordinary stories featuring the philanthropic community for more than twenty years. More than 220 stories have aired on hundreds of public television stations. Visionaries seeks to inspire audiences, promote philanthropy on a global level, and serve as a catalyst for positive social change both locally and beyond.
Carlisle has been at the fore of several new church ministries that are not confined to a traditional sanctuary. “Building Bridges,” an initiative for veterans sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, offers community and a meal to veterans in eight different locations in WMA. Carlisle, relying on the strength of his experience that people on the margins have untold wisdom to impart, entered into the project with Visionaries with the help of one private donor and a grant from the Episcopal Diocese.
“Street Stories” reveals that we live in a socioeconomically divided world which ultimately serves the economically privileged as badly as the economically impoverished. The dream of opening a conversation between people experiencing homelessness and people in their surrounding communities is made real in the interactive interface. Visitors to “Street Stories” may select a face and click to hear their story. Each interview is broken down into smaller segments. Beyond education and promoting an increased awareness of the reality of poverty in the United States, “Street Stories” seeks to connect both people on the street and potential social justice advocates with existing organizations to the empowerment of them both. Each location on the site has a list of such organizations in the area. “Our ultimate hope,” Carlisle says, “is that we will build an archive of stories from streets around the world, told by rich and poor, young and old, Christian and otherwise — that consider the tragedy of human poverty and the possibility of God in this contemporary context. Most of the footage is filmed using smart phones in order to maximize participation; and the current plan is to have all film uploaded to the internet and edited in Northampton.”
“Because our Diocese has at least five out-of-the-box communities from Pittsfield to Worcester,” Carlisle continued, “Street Stories” can build awareness in our congregations of the work on the streets currently being done, as well as to motivate congregations to innovate new communities that address poverty in the spirit of Jesus 2,000 years ago.”
In the first days after launch, Visionaries, Inc. has reported that the initial goal of 200 hits per week has been exceeded with 700 hits in the first week.