“I’ve faltered, but I haven’t given up,” says Calendonia Curry AKA Swoon. “I believe in it and I hope you do too.”
She is speaking about the much ballyhooed Braddock, Pennsylvania church which she purchased a decade ago and parlayed into an art project, or two. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Now we enter “The Sanctuary”.
Now along with her Heliotrope Foundation the street artist is proposing to convert the church into a sanctuary for persons transitioning from incarceration and programs to assist. She’ll be donating it to Ronna Davis Moore, an originator and shepherd for similar such safe havens, – but first Swoon is making sure there are new windows in the building, and is raising money via Kickstarter.
“The Heliotrope Foundation has rallied our community to fix the roof in a traditional way (no tiles this time), so now the building is secure and dry,” Swoon says, “and our next step is the windows.”
READ MORE about how you can participate in the final delivery of this planned safe haven.
“It’s a specific project in a specific place,” says Swoon, “but I believe that it is a beacon in many ways, and that its success will have a ripple effect, addressing questions like: How do we help people heal so that they no longer make harmful choices? Can participating in an effort to re-enfranchise the black community with land and assets be part of a journey of healing for people who have benefitted from our country’s brutal legacy? Can artists work alongside social workers, activists, and community organizers to create spaces that challenge cycles of intergenerational trauma and create the potential for lasting change?”
Now you can help in this new chapter for Swoon’s Braddock church, which will be called called Donelle’s Safe Haven. The church will join Z’akiyah House, a house Swoon bought and fixed up a few years ago for a similar mission.
Swoon recalls the exchange that took place to finally get to “Yes”.
Swoon says she placed the call to Ms. Davis Moore and asked, “Ronna, if we can get this church building to you with the roof and windows fixed, do you think you could take it from there, and make it into something that continues to serve your mission?” She stresses that Davis Moore took all things into consideration before answering.
“Ronna is no naive visionary like I was, so she didn’t answer right away,” says Swoon. “She looked at the space, she contacted her community, she slept on it – and then her answer came back. ‘I have a vision for what it can be, and if you can get it that far, we can take over the rest.’ ”
Learn more: The Sanctuary is here.