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State Grant Propels KVMR Homeless Project Toward 'A Place To Call Home'

Nothing is likely to stop a pair of determined 2016 KVMR broadcaster class graduates and "story catchers" from producing a four-way tale about Nevada County's homeless, especially now that they and KVMR 89.5 FM have been awarded a $5,000 California Humanities For All Quick Grant just over a month ago. 

In fact, Betty Louise and Susan Davis are already working on plans for a multimedia finale for the project next November that'll include a fine arts and photography exhibit, video, live music, readings, as well as audio recordings, of course. 

It's called "A Place To Call Home," intended to inspire a sense of inclusion and common humanity with homeless people and promoting compassionate action by the community at large, according to the two women.  

They'd worked together in the Bay Area on an internet radio service, then found themselves both moving within a month of each other to Nevada County, where they founded the CoPassion Project, "humans being positively human" and discovered, duh, KVMR.

"We'd wanted to do something collaboratively together about the community we're now living in and about truth that'd be positive help here," notes Betty Louise. "It was clear KVMR was the place to do that."

They'd been working with a KVMR group called the "Story Catchers", mostly newer broadcasters who want to integrate more storytelling onto the eclectic Nevada City radio station, when KVMR General Manager Julie Chiarelli spotted the grant opportunity and let the group know about it. 

"Susan and I just jumped on it," smiles Betty Louise. 

And they were one of 34 projects funded statewide -- and at the maximum amount. 

"These narratives help us find our commonalities, appreciate our differences and learn something new about how to live well together," says Tricia Wynne, chair of the board of California Humanities. " Our new Humanities for All Quick Grants program is a way to make support for public humanities programs more accessible across the state, amplifying voices we may not often hear."

According to Betty Louise, that's a shift in California Humanities' previous perspective from numbers of people affected by a proposal. 

"Now they're looking for depth of engagement, and that opened it up to rural applicants like us proposing a compassionate action-inspired program."

How will that unfold in Nevada County?

Easy, notes Susan Davis. 

"We are offering this multimedia humanities project that gives voice to four specific groups in the community," she says. "Homeless people, who may have talents and skills we don't even recognize, those working with organizations serving the homeless, officials charged with (trying to) find solutions, and community members fearful of homeless people."

"We expect that our findings from 'A Place to Call Home' will benefit both our local, rural community, and also perhaps show those in urban communities some creative and collaborative models from which they too can benefit."

To Betty Louise, the key word is "story," and that can be visual, sound, photography, art and other media.

"It's a way we can learn how to understand each other -- through stories," she explains. "If we can shift perspectives on all sides, we can be more open to each other." 

They'll do 60 stories, 10 are already finished, and they'll choose the 10 that'll be "the most impactful on stage" for that November finale, says Betty Louise. 

HEAVY METAL BLUEGRASS?

Sheesh, what will they think of next?

KVMR 89.5 FM will broadcast this Friday's 9 p.m. concert from Cooper's Saloon in downtown Nevada City, where the bluegrass band Iron Horse will perform its cover versions of heavy metal bands like Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Guns & Roses and others. 

"Only they're absolutely amazing," drools KVMR engineer Dave "Buzz" Barnett. "I can't believe they're playing in an intimate setting like Cooper's." 

Barnett will be there to describe heavy metal going bluegrass in the station's first live broadcast from Cooper's in recent years.