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Food, Clothing, & Shelter (2013); An Atlanta Resident’s Journey to Combat Homelessness and Hunger

June 23, 2016

food 13A couple of months ago, while walking around Atlanta’s trendy district, Little 5 Points, I walked past a jewelry merchant making copper bracelets and necklaces. I stopped to glance at the wondrous variety sprawled out on a clothed table outside of a small shop. The merchant making the jewelry asked me if I knew of the benefits of copper. I admitted I did not. He then began to relay their beneficial properties. The conversation soon led to a discussion on sustainability and the plight of homeless in Atlanta. This man and I embarked on an intense conversation about the topic for a while as we both passionately bounced our thoughts off of one another.

He revealed to me that he was a filmmaker whose work explored the topic at hand. I told him that I was a film critic looking to highlight films of that nature. He then took me into the store where he showed me a copy of his film, Food, Clothing, & Shelter. It was finished, packaged, and ready to be sold though he admitted he lacked the funding for proper distribution. I grew curious to the content of his film and he offered to sell it to me for a price that at the moment I couldn’t afford. I had no cash on me and his credit card machine was down. He then did something spectacular. He gave me a copy of the film for free and suggested that if I returned to the area I could give him whatever I had. I felt unsure about taking his prized possession, one that he admittedly spent 10 years making along with the copper jewelry he was selling to help finance the distribution. But, he insisted. My only form of payment to him at the time was some cash I ran and borrowed from a friend and the promise of reviewing his film.

That night I watched his film, but life happened as it usually does. I cooked dinner, hung with friends, the next day watched other films, worked, and continued my every day business without ever reviewing or writing about Food, Clothing, & Shelter. That was about six months ago. A few days ago while in my car on the way to meet a friend I heard his voice over the radio as the ignition clicked on. He was on a local radio station discussing the very film I had watched and its upcoming sequel coming to a local theater. My ears perked and I stopped in shock. I had almost forgotten my promise to him though I had never forgotten his film and its message. I remembered my promise and am keeping good on my word.

Food, Clothing, & Shelter is not a professionally made film. It is riddled with amateur mistakes, faulty sound editing, padded moments, and rudimentary direction. This is not a film that will win awards for its technical prowess. Nevertheless, this is a film that is memorable for its message and heartfelt desire for change. Food, Clothing, & Shelter is a passionate look at what plagues our society: growing homelessness and a disparaging lack of healthy food accessible to those who need it. Ebrima Ba, or the street Journalist as he is known to Atlanta residents, narrates, directs, and features interviews with a host of urban farmers in the city as well as homeless members affected by this issue. These people discuss the problems brought on by lack of basic necessities along with offering probable solutions.

Ebrima told me of his awakening and how his impassioned crusade began when I talked to him months before. Born in West Africa, Ebrima’s life has always been wrapped in a sense of healthy community. He grew up using his hands to farm providing food for his community as they did for him. He didn’t know poverty or homelessness until he came to Atlanta. He recalled his culture shock at seeing people sleeping in the streets with no access to food. He was determined to fix it by reminding people of the importance of farming. Ebrima teamed up with a number of local urban farmers further expanding his reputation as the “street journalist” informing those around him about the ease and benefits of farming.

Food, Clothing, & Shelter’s message is simple: utilize our community so that it grows and prospers, therefore, benefiting us all. The experts featured throughout the film talk of humanity’s intrinsic connection to the Earth. They remind viewers of our ability to give life with our hands. They install the very simple truth that we can rebuild the wreckage around us. Ebrima passionately argues for individual’s to rise up and commit themselves to helping one another in the simplest way possible, growing food for all.

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It is embarrassing and shameful to exist in a society where some can choose completely vegan lifestyles and others are forced to indulge in hydrogenated foods that weaken the immune system and destroy the body over time. We should all possess the same access to fresh foods and healthy options. The day we can all individually agree with this fact is the day we can finally change our ways to inhabit a symbiotic relationship with each other, rather than one based on exploitation and disdain. Ebrima Ba is not done with his work in Atlanta. Part two of his film will screen at the Plaza Theater to further enlighten the populace, bring change to the city, and furthermore, benefit the greater good.

Support the fight and hear the message July 18th at 7pm. 

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