Jamie Crawford was in a church in Fort Collins the first time she heard the song “Here for You,” by The Good Time Travelers.
“So it happened/ that thing you’ve always feared,” the song begins. “You’re going down/ there’s no turning ’round.”
Crawford couldn’t shake the feeling the song left her with, compelling her to connect with the songwriters.
“That song really can open up the flood gates for a lot of people and is kind of opaque — it can be interpreted many different ways,” says Pete Kartsounes of The Good Time Travelers who wrote “Here for You” with bandmate Michael Kirkpatrick. “What I love about [the song] is that people are touched by it for different reasons. Jamie [Crawford] was touched by it and reached out to us wondering if we would work with her on a video and we said, ‘Of course.’”
With the full support of the folk rock duo, Crawford used her videography skills to create a music video for the song to support the Sister Mary Alice Murphy Center for Hope, a homeless initiative in Fort Collins. The video features footage and interviews with members of Colorado’s homeless population, telling their stories of being criminalized and living without basic necessities.
The video begins with Morris and Cindy, a couple discussing their story of homelessness. Morris is well spoken and, as the video’s subtitles point out, served in the U.S. Marine Corps for seven years.
Crawford says the homelessness issue wasn’t a personal one for her until she started working on the video — she admits to being “very blessed in that area.” But at a time when she experienced one personal tragedy after another and felt immense dissatisfaction at her job, she returned to college to find another path and a new passion.
“I have almost 20 years experience in journalism,” Crawford says, “and I gave that up to raise my family and work for my husband’s company about seven years ago. I missed journalism. I missed having a job where I was always meeting new people and learning new things. I became very depressed working for my husband’s company, so I decided to go back to school. I took a videography class at Front Range [Community College] and was really inspired for my final project to document the homeless population.”
In hopes of getting an appropriate portrayal of her subject matter, Crawford approached Ken John, resource and marketing director at the Murphy Center. John insisted Crawford use actual voices of the homeless community. So shortly after she started volunteering at the Murphy Center, Crawford met the people she would feature in her video.
“I ended up meeting Morris and Cindy and John-Mark and the video started to become totally different from my original vision, but better,” Crawford says. “John-Mark has become a great friend of mine. I would have never thought that in a million years. We have lunch every Thursday. He teaches me new things and we share stories and he makes me laugh. I’ve really fallen in love with these people that I didn’t think I’d ever be friends with. There are some amazing people that are homeless. It’s not the stereotype of what you might think it would be.”
Crawford’s new friend, John-Mark Guzman, is an advocate for homeless rights and is himself homeless. For Guzman, being a part of Crawford’s video meant sharing an experience more common than many might think.
“Homeless people who share their experience want to share the pain of what [caused] them to be homeless,” he says. “People don’t have to be homeless to know pains like losing a loved one.”
Ken John echoes Guzman’s sentiment, adding how difficult it can be to escape homelessness.
“Some of the problems that society faces have a pretty quick and easy solution,” John says. “For others there aren’t and, unfortunately, homelessness is becoming more long term. Years ago it might have been measured in weeks. Now it’s beginning to be measured in years and that simply has to reverse. We have to find a way to make homelessness rare, short lived and non-recurring.”
For Kartsounes, it’s hard to believe so many veterans, like Morris, fall into homelessness.
“That doesn’t make any sense at all to me,” Kartsounes says. “Why somebody who served their country for so long should ever go homeless is a problem that needs a solution and at least this video might bring a lot more awareness to that. These veterans should not be sleeping under bridges.”
Crawford says the video project opened her eyes and she hopes others will also come to appreciate the complexity of homelessness, to understand that every story is unique and the struggles are very real.
“What I’ve learned is that if homeless people can’t get into a shelter they have to sleep outdoors, and it’s illegal to sleep outdoors so they’re breaking the law,” Crawford says. “Not only are they hungry and dealing with the elements but they’re becoming criminals for needing to sleep.”
For Crawford, the video is a success. Guzman recently found a consistent, clean place to sleep at night — something Crawford is fairly certain is a result of the video.
“An anonymous person also came forward and gave John-Mark a bicycle as a result of being in the video,” Crawford says. “Another person came forward offering to help Morris get dental work.”
In starting her own business, Crawford Video, she intends to keep employing the combination of music and videography to support homeless initiatives such as the Murphy Center.
“It’s funny,” she says. “The power of music.”
See the video at hereforyouvideo.com