In an effort to reduce the social stigma surrounding homelessness and to raise awareness about housing instability, a collection of spoken-word stories about homelessness set to original music recently was released by Michigan State University's Sound/Writing Research Group, or SRG.
Organized in 2018 with support from MSU's College of Arts and Letters, the Department of Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures and the Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology at Michigan State University, the SRG consists of a network of scholars and practitioners working with and through sound and composing in the context of rhetoric and writing studies.
Also helping with the project were associate professor Rebecca Tegtmeyer from the Department of Art, Art History and Design; associate professor Mark Sullivan from the College of Music; Department of Art, Art History and Design student Mathew Gillespie; and music composition student Charlie Cooper.
To produce the collection of spoken-word stories, the SRG teamed up with the Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness. The SRG’s mission is to explore how sound and writing can be used to productively engage social issues in both public and professional spheres and to create access for people interested in doing the same.
For the project, eight individuals who formerly experienced homelessness collaborated with the SRG and the Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness to share their personal stories.
Kim Harris, a speaker on the album, utilized this experience to advocate for the homelessness epidemic.
“Being afforded the opportunity to bring life to my story with a team of students, professors, community partners and sponsors was invigorating,” Harris said. “My initial goal was to give an explicit view of what my life journey entailed and the difficulties that cause the domino effect to homelessness. I wanted to send a clear message of urgency to the masses of the crisis Michigan families are facing.”
To listen to the collection of spoken-word stories, visit the Michigan Homelessness Speakers Bureau online.