Emergency Evacuation Plan for the City of Charlotte

Directed by John Malpede and Henriëtte Brouwers

10 day LAPD Residency in Charlotte, NC.
March 23 thru April 2, 2006

Performances: Friday at Urban Ministry Center
Saturday at Davidson College Campus.
Discussions will follow both shows.

About the Project

LAPD has partnered with Urban Ministry Center and with Davidson College to develop a community based performance. The performance was built during this short residency using insights of  homeless and low income people living in Charlotte to gain a better understanding of the experience of Katrina.  Performers consisted of a combined cast of 4 LAPD’ers, homeless neighbors of UMC and one or two college students.  Residency activities included daily workshops, research activities and public presentations at Urban Ministry Center and at Davidson College.

The NC Charlotte Observer             March 30, 2006
JULIE YORK COPPENS, Theater writer

“We lost everything,” the woman says, her face in her hands. “We don’t have nowhere to go.” The counselor nods. He’s been hearing the same sad stories from Katrina evacuees all day. Then he offers this tip: “If you ain’t got a good sleeping bag, get you one of them big, black Hefty bags. But don’t seal it up like a regular sleeping bag. Leave you a little hole up top so’s you can breathe.”  Who better to advise the newly homeless than the experienced homeless? That’s the idea, anyway, behind one scene in an unusual theater piece now in rehearsal at Charlotte ‘s Urban Ministry Center.

A troupe of about 20 ministry clients, employees and volunteers has worked on the project since Saturday with four visiting artists from Los Angeles’ Skid Row. The show, “An Emergency Evacuation Plan for the City of Charlotte ,” is a series of improvised sketches looking at the lives of the needy through the lens of the hurricane aftermath.  Friday’s premiere will be the first public event in UMC’s handsome new building, whose official opening will be April 9. “Evacuation Plan” will also be performed Saturday at Davidson College.

Davidson College senior Kendal Stewart, an Urban Ministry volunteer, landed a $10,000 Sunshine Lady grant to bring members of the acclaimed Los Angeles Poverty Dept. to town for a weeklong residency. She learned about LAPD, a performance group made up mostly of homeless people, and director John Malpede last year, while working on a class presentation about community-based theater. “The idea is to empower the participants, to give them a voice, and to bring up an issue that’s going on in the community and address it,” Stewart says.
“Hopefully you get to see homeless people in a new light,” says Lawrence Cann, head of Urban Ministry’s arts programs. “As talented people who have a real wisdom and sense of humor about their situation.” Laura James, for instance, hasn’t acted since her ninth-grade play. Decades later, theater was the last thing she thought she’d have the opportunity to do as a homeless person. “It’s been so many years,” says James, who plays one of the Katrina victims lining up for dubious advice at an emergency shelter. “I just laugh all the way through.”  She hopes she can pull it together in time for Friday’s opening. “It’s going to be exciting,” James says. “I think people will say, `I didn’t know she could do that!'”

Additional Articles: Testimonies of Evacuees - Plight Deepens for Black Men - Reconnecting Disadvantaged Young Men

Testimonies of Evacuees
Profiles of individual prisoner evacuees and their families who either should have been released by now, or who were released long after they should have been.
I. Arrestees who Were Never Sentenced
Beane, the mother of two children, was arrested for receiving a positive drug test and then held on a warrant in a case that was subsequently dismissed. If Beane had had access to the courts, she would have been released as soon as the error was discovered, shortly after she was evacuated to Angola State prison. Instead, forty-eight days after she should have been released, Beane spoke to Human Rights Watch from the state prison.
 “My kids need me,” Beane said. “I’m not even supposed to be here!” Calling collect from a pay phone in the prison, she cried softly as she told Human Rights Watch about her nine-month-old baby girl and her fifteen-year-old son, taken in by her sister, after the storm. “Just tell my sister, if you speak to her, thank you,” she asked.
Beane’s sister told Human Rights Watch: “All of my family members live in New Orleans. I wasn’t able to find out where they were, but once they arrived at the Astrodome [in Houston], my aunt made contact with my mother. I bought a plane ticket for my niece and nephew because they didn’t have their mother. I was under the impression that [my sister] was supposed to be released the weekend the hurricane hit. But once they transferred her, I just thought it was the hurricane that held it up. Now, it’s every time I call, ‘we don’t know.’ I get nothing, no information about why she’s still there. . I am really just at a point of confusion to the point where I can’t feel . . . I really don’t know anything, I just know her children need someone to care for them. I’m here as long as they need me. But it’s really frustrating, I get the run around [when I call], the prison sends me to the office, the office sends me to the DA [district attorney].
” When Human Rights Watch asked her what she tells her sister’s son about when he will see his mother again, Beane’s sister sighed and said, “There’s nothing I can tell him, nothing I can do to comfort him . She’s been able to call a few times, and he’s gotten to hear her voice, so that’s some comfort.”


The New York Times               March 20, 2006
Plight Deepens for Black Men, Studies Warn

BALTIMORE — Black men in the United States face a far more dire situation than is portrayed by common employment and education statistics, a flurry of new scholarly studies warn, and it has worsened in recent years even as an economic boom and a welfare overhaul have brought gains to black women and other groups.
Focusing more closely than ever on the life patterns of young black men, the new studies, by experts at Columbia, Princeton, Harvard and other institutions, show that the huge pool of poorly educated black men are becoming ever more disconnected from the mainstream society, and to a far greater degree than comparable white or Hispanic men.
Especially in the country’s inner cities, the studies show, finishing high school is the exception, legal work is scarcer than ever and prison is almost routine, with incarceration rates climbing for blacks even as urban crime rates have declined.
Although the problems afflicting poor black men have been known for decades, the new data paint a more extensive and sobering picture of the challenges they face.
“There’s something very different happening with young black men, and it’s something we can no longer ignore,” said Ronald B. Mincy, professor of social work at Columbia University and editor of “Black Males Left Behind” (Urban Institute Press, 2006).
Download this article: Plight Deepens for Black Men

Reconnecting Disadvantaged Young Men
by Peter Edelman, Harry J. Holzer, and Paul Offner

By several recent counts, the United States is home to 2 to 3 million youth age 16 through 24 who are out of school and out of work. Much has been written on disadvantaged youth, and government policy has gone through many incarnations, yet questions remain unanswered. Why are so many young people “disconnected,” and what can public policy do about it? And why has disconnection become more common for young men-particularly African-American men and low-income men-than for young women? In Reconnecting Disadvantaged Young Men, Edelman, Holzer, and Offner offer analysis and policy prescriptions to solve this growing crisis. They carefully examine field programs and research studies and recommend specific strategies to enhance education, training, and employment opportunities for disadvantaged youth; to improve the incentives of less-skilled young workers to accept employment; and to address the severe barriers and disincentives faced by some youth, such as ex-offenders and noncustodial fathers. The result is a clear guidebook for policymakers, and an important distillation for anyone interested in the plight of today’s disconnected youth.

Reconnecting Disadvantaged Young Men, by Peter Edelman, Harry J. Holzer, and Paul Offner; Foreword by Hugh Price, is available from the Urban Institute Press (paper, 6″ x 9″, 156 pages, ISBN 0-87766-728-4, $26.50).

The schedule included:
Mar. 27: Michael Stoops, acting executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH), speaks about his work with NCH and the organization’s efforts to create the systematic and attitudinal changes necessary to prevent and end homelessness.
Apr. 1: Soccer match between the Urban Ministry Center and Davidson students.
Apr. 3: Representatives of local social services organizations talk about their experiences working in activism.
Apr. 4: Homeless neighbors from the Urban Ministry Center in Charlotte discuss their experiences, and a student film about homelessness will be shown.
Apr. 6: A pig pickin’ celebration and fundraiser to benefit Loaves and Fishes.
Apr. 9: David Beckman, president of Bread for the World, speaks.

Image Signing petitions after the performance at Davidson College. The performance was part of  ‘Engage for Change’ : a series of events to raise awareness about hunger and homelessness.



About the Urban Ministry Center:
The Urban Ministry Center is an interfaith organization in Charlotte, NC which strives to fulfill the mission of providing four levels of ministry: immediate assistance with basic life necessities, empowering ministries for the poor and the homeless, consciousness-raising about urban poverty issues, and also the study of and education about these issues http://www.urbanministrycenter.org/
UMC provides a range of basic services (daily lunch, showering, laundry, job counseling, and food referrals, among others) for the Charlotte homeless population.  It also offers an array of projects-poetry and visual art workshops, art auction, soccer team, gardening, and English as a Second Language classes-through its ArtWorks 945 program.

The Cast

EPCC_2006_DSC01542Annie McClendon-Curley, Frankie Benson, Gala Hopkins, Charles D. Lattaker, Ralph, Rob Cann, Ray Ray, Smutty Red, Laura James, Marcus Bell, Matthew Jules, Kevin Michael Key, Tony Parker.

Project Funders

EMERGENCY EVACUATION PLAN FOR THE CITY OF CHARLOTTE is supported by Sunshine Lady Foundation through  Davidson College and initiated by Davidson student and UMC volunteer Kendal Stewart.

Special Thanks

Special thanks to: Kendal Stewart, Mitty Beal of the Sunshine Lady Foundation, Professor Sharon Green, Beth Galen, Lawrence Cann, Robert Cann, Barbara Conrad, Jo Rizer, Stacey Riemer, Laura Boston, Pete Schild, Alex Gregor, Kate Wiseman, Kelsey Formost, Nicole Mader, Moria McCormick.