Whether you consider the project insightful or tone deaf, the Homeless GoPro Project this week launched an Indiegogo fund designed to help “tell the story behind the stories” of homeless people in need.
Started by Kevin F. Adler and Erika Barraza, the goal is raise enough capital so the pair can travel the country and tell stories that would otherwise go untold. Here’s what they write:
…we are going to travel across the US with a trunk full of wearable cameras to help 100 homeless volunteers (called “autobiographers”) reconnect with their loved ones and local communities through firsthand video storytelling. We collaborate with homeless service providers to source autobiographers in each community. And we’re inviting you to connect with your homeless neighbors and help capture footage in your area, alongside our local partners.
In 2012 at the South by Southwest festival, a tech startup called BBH Labs caused a stir when it employed homeless people as Wi-Fi hotspots. As The Atlantic pointed out at the time, it sounded like an Onion story, a promotional stunt taken to its dystopian, illogical end. It seemed, at least at face value, dehumanizing and exploitative.
The Homeless GoPro Project has attracted similar scorn, which isn’t entirely unwarranted. There is something that feels icky about juxtaposing expensive gadgets and down-on-their-luck human beings to draw attention to a project, however well-intentioned. In this case, though, Adler thinks that giving his subjects the chance to tell their stories far outweighs the criticisms leveled at him. As he told an interviewer recently, “We’re just trying to draw the human story a little bit more.”