Our on-site partner organization, Settled, offers a unique approach to ending long-term homelessness: tiny homes. But their vision is about more than just a place to live. One of Settled’s values is creating purposeful work. As part of this, Settled runs product workshops making high-quality goods to sell or offer as gifts. We asked Kara Kinowski, who runs these workshops, to tell us more.
WH: What are your workshops about?
Kara: One of the five pillars of Settled is Purposeful Work. Disorders and disabilities often restrict the chronically homeless from employment and limit their ability to have a meaningful role in society. What we are doing is helping the chronically homeless rediscover and utilize their talents by providing opportunities to earn a dignified income. One way that Settled provides purposeful work is through weekly Thursday night workshops here in our studio at Woodland Hills.
WH: What kinds of things do you make?
Kara: We are striving to make practical and functional goods from high quality materials: keychains made of recycled leather, hand-stamped cotton tea towels, 100% beeswax taper candles, all natural vegan soap bars, hand-stamped Settled t-shirts and hand-woven pot holders. Soon we will have a line of leather goods such as wallets, card holders, journals, etc.
WH: What happens after you make these items?
Kara: Leather keychains and tea towels are given away as gifts at our tours and demonstrations. The other products are used as gifts for people who volunteer or financially support Settled. This fall we are also going to start selling products at pop-up markets.
WH: Who participates in these workshops?
Kara: We invite our neighbors who are going to be living in Sacred Settlement Mosaic as well as their friends who are coming off the streets. We also invite the homeless with whom we are developing relationships to come and see the community and hopefully welcome them into the next Sacred Settlement.
WH: What do you hope will be the outcome for workshop participants?
Kara: Aside from providing our neighbors with dignified income, my hope is these workshops give our neighbors a sense of belonging and of being capable. People are already coming off the streets and laughing, smiling, getting focused, sharing their stories and building confidence. But I’m not sure whose life is being changed more, theirs or mine.