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Elize Tyler – Today Will Be Our Last Day On The Streets

[ 0 ] November 2, 2016 |

Rather than working on a music video for the song NIV film maker Elise Tyler and Kurt Wagner of Lambchop agreed that their creative output should work to reflect the complexities of a rapidly growing Nashville. As it grows bulbously, many of its residents find themselves pushed out, with no deserving platform for their plight. “All we can do as artists and communicators is to pass the microphone and allow someone else to tell their story,” observes Tyler. It was then that she reached out to Open Table Nashville, a charity that works with the local homeless population, to trace their stories.

Watcht the short movie and read about out collaboration with Elise Tyler at Dazed Digital

“When Kurt first approached me about this collaboration, he said he didn’t want a music video- he wanted a film. We talked about our hometown of Nashville, the complexities facing our rapidly growing city, about neighbors being pushed out to the sticks as prices rise in town. A quote by Audre Lorde circled in my mind: “Unless one lives and loves in the trenches, it is difficult to remember that the war against dehumanization is ceaseless.” What were the trenches of Nashville, who were the victims being dehumanized in these changing times?

Our discussions about these issues occurred as Nashville’s largest homeless camp- Camp Negley- was being evicted by city officials. Where would these people go, some who had camped there for years? There are very few affordable housing options in Nashville, and many are on wait lists for months before being approved. Kurt and I agreed- these were stories rarely heard in Nashville, but so deserving of an audience. All we can do as artists and communicators is to pass the microphone and allow someone else to tell their story. I reached out to Open Table Nashville, one of the only resources for Nashville’s growing homeless population, to see if I could do a documentary about some of the individuals who were affected by the homeless crisis. That’s when I met Matt and Amber.

Matt and Amber are a beautiful couple. Their love is deep and inspiring, it provided the strength they needed to maneuver their time being homeless. Their story is like so many others- mental illness makes steady work hard, drug addiction destroys dreams and relationships, and poverty cycles through generations, leaving families without proper support networks to deal with mental illness or drug addiction properly. Hard times hit, and Matt and Amber missed a few months rent. They were evicted with nowhere to go, so they figured it out- they got a tent. Matt continued to work while they lived in their tent, as many homeless do. They are survivors, and made the best of their situation.

A few months later, Amber found out she was pregnant. They knew they had to figure something out, or their baby would be taken from them before they left the hospital. Summer was approaching, and Amber couldn’t sleep in the heat anymore. When I met them, she was eight months pregnant. They allowed me and my crew to be part of their last days on the street, as Matt hustled up enough money to get Amber a motel room for a few nights, while he searched for (and eventually found) temporary housing for them and their soon-to-arrive daughter. As Matt said with conviction while we filmed “today will be our last day on the streets.”

The homeless are our often invisible neighbors. As Amber puts it, “Look in any woods, by the interstate, by a creek- there is someone living there.” And yet we dehumanize them, blame them, refuse to provide accessible help for them. Matt and Amber had their daughter and have found housing- they have successfully gotten off the streets. But their struggle will not end there, they now must fight to stay in the housing they worked so hard to get.

Editing this story was delicate and difficult at times. “NIV” provided an upbeat layer to the piece, bringing out the bright moments. To an outsider, Matt and Amber’s story certainly sounds depressing. But the irony was that they were extremely happy while we filmed- they would no longer be homeless! The music helps reveal that happiness beneath the exhaustion and grind you can so clearly see on Matt and Amber’s faces. Tony Crow’s ever graceful piano perfectly ties together the subtle moments. Thank you to Lambchop, Merge, and City Slang for thinking outside the realms of music videos, and elevating the platform to be a tool for much more than just promotion. I hope you enjoy.”

Elise Tyler

To help homeless people in Nashville, visit Open Table Nashville to donate.

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Category: News, Video

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