Profile Response: Sean Andreas, The Circus Project, Portland, OR

 

HWWLT Logo on yellowHomeless people are, by definition, unhinged from their roots. They drift in seemingly random ways, but come together in places that accommodate them with benign weather, supportive services, or community acceptance. Portland, Oregon, a place where those three attributes come together, is a haven for homeless people. Every person I talked with in that city, regardless of economic or social standing, felt a responsibility toward street people and supported services to help them move to more stable conditions. Thousands of homeless people sleep on Portland streets every night; hundreds of them are youth.

Obviously, what these youth need is circus.

IMG_3875

That may be a cheeky statement, but in fact, circus performing has been the path out of homeless for many Portland youth thanks to The Circus Project, a non-profit group founded by Jenn Cohen to train youth, in particular homeless youth, in the circus arts. Seeing Steve Oplin’s film about this unusual organization prompted me to visit The Circus Project in their warehouse facility on the edge of downtown Portland.

IMG_3885Sean Andreas, who started volunteering at The Circus Project three years ago and became Program Director last year, toured me through the high, open space the company moved into in April. Several young women swayed on ropes and rings on a weekday afternoon. Since moving into its own space, the Circus Project offers more classes and programs. The balance of fee paying and scholarship students keeps the organization viable. Beyond specific classes, The Circus Project has drop-in hours that are particularly useful to homeless youth. “Portland has a romanticism among the homeless. We have a tight core, good public transportation, and Portlanders are kind.”

imagesThe Circus Project performs four major shows a year at the Alberta Rose and Echo Theaters in Portland – two of the larger performing arts venues in the city. “Circus studios have been thriving in Canada and Europe for years. Now they are beginning to open in the United States.” The Circus Project offers opportunities for people of means to learn circus arts. But it also offers homeless youth an opportunity to get off the streets and onto the stage.

How will we live tomorrow?

IMG_3878“Fitter. I would hope one of the goals of The Circus Project is to eliminate the barrier between those so have and those who don’t. Performing arts are a way for the homeless to have a voice.”

 

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About paulefallon

Greetings reader. I am a writer, architect, cyclist and father from Cambridge, MA. My primary blog, theawkwardpose.com is an archive of all my published writing. The title refers to a sequence of three yoga positions that increase focus and build strength by shifting the body’s center of gravity. The objective is balance without stability. My writing addresses opposing tension in our world, and my attempt to find balance through understanding that opposition. During 2015-2106 I am cycling through all 48 mainland United States and asking the question "How will we live tomorrow?" That journey is chronicled in a dedicated blog, www.howwillwelivetomorrw.com, that includes personal writing related to my adventure as well as others' responses to my question. Thank you for visiting.
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One Response to Profile Response: Sean Andreas, The Circus Project, Portland, OR

  1. Pingback: Everything Wrong with this Country in a Year, a Week, and a Day | The Awkward Pose

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