People Often Ask Us
What Do Fools Do?
First and foremost, we are a community. Everything we do is rooted in relationship building. Our Mission Statement and Purpose give us guidance as we grow our relationships with people near and far.
Fools' co-founder Kay Jorgensen said, "Stay true to the mission, not the form." So what we do varies from time to time, but why we do it remains steady and faithful to our mission.
Specifically, what we do changes according to the needs of the community and the talents of the people who are here. We are ever ready to create something new when the need appears. Our lives during the pandemic reflected this organizational flexibility. Overnight we went from hosting a variety of educational and arts programs to serving as essential workers in SROs and advocates for clean drinking water, access to toilets, and temporary shelter.
As you investigate what we do, you will discover how our mission and our corporate purpose guide our work.
Focuses Our Attention
As a non-profit corporation, we intend to foster awareness and analysis of deteriorating social conditions in the United States and the world at large, seen from the level of the streets, and to facilitate individual and collective responses thereto.
Faithful Fools Bylaws
We are guided
by our Mission
Our activities are guided by the second paragraph of our Mission Statement:
Aware of judgments, we seek to meet people where they are through the arts, education, advocacy and accompaniment.
To Walk Together
Isolation is a symptom of poverty. Community and companionship are treatments of choice when it comes to addressing isolation. We offer support accessing home furnishings when someone gets housing and rental support for those at risk of eviction. Not only do we connect our neighbors with resources, we go with them as they stand in line, fill out forms, or wait on hold to set up an appointment.
Accompaniment grounds continuity of care after discharge from hospital or through treatment for cancer and increases a person's confidence in the healthcare system.
All of us need accompaniment. We have walked with neighbors who live on the streets and people who donate to the Fools and serve on our board. Sometimes we need companionship to get through difficult times like a divorce or eviction; sometimes it's all about celebrating a birth or marriage. No matter who we are or what we need, accompaniment is a relationship that transform direct service into community.
Accompaniment is the foundation of community. It's our practice of hospitality and care.
A Way of Life
A Way to Survive
Art is indispensable. It is a core, life source for our work both implicitly and explicitly. We have collaborated with Tenderloin residents and artists to stage plays, publish poetry, make films, and create art for activism, expression, survival and because it is a joyful thing to do.
Art speaks to the human condition and channels creativity within us all. It inspires us to address the deteriorating conditions of the streets, here and around the world. It is an avenue to analyze injustice and it keeps us strong as we collectively and individually address injustice.
The Tenderloin is home to thousands of artists. Many of them will tell you they create as acts of resistance and as acts of survival. We, Fools, are artists by design and by nature. This part of our work shows up on our walls, in our daily reflections, and in everything we do.
Together we create art. Together we survive and thrive. Together we make a better world.
Remembering our way forward 2018 Fools' Feast Performance
Support Fools Poets by ordering an anthology of poetry or poetry postcards
Ours is not to teach
Ours is to create an environment for learning
The impact of our work has a broad, long-lasting reach through street retreats, immersions, and community engaged learning. We create learning experiences for students in middle school, high school, college, medical school, and international exchange programs. Staff members of non-profit organizations, the public defenders office, and many others have taken advantage of our learning programs to gain a deeper understanding of poverty and injustice on the streets of one of America's wealthiest cities.
Our work in education is grounded in principles of community based learning, popular education (Theater of the Oppressed, for example), trauma informed theory, and other practices that emphasize collaboration, equity, and respect for diverse ways of knowing.
We host community activist workshops on harm reduction, anti-racism practices, restorative justice and other bodies of thought that promote thoughtful responses to the on-going crises of poverty, racism, homelessness, and other forms of injustice.
We believe that social justice can only come about through changing ourselves first and thus challenging our assumptions about others and discovering our common humanity as our shared motivation for learning and for creating change.
Our purpose is to facilitate personal and social responses to the deteriorating conditions on the streets--here in the Tenderloin and in the world at large.
Our primary resource as advocates is building community. We build community among people who might not otherwise meet. In fact, we focus on building relationship among people who think they have nothing in common.
When the streets flooded with people discharged from congregate settings like shelters during the first weeks of the pandemic, we worked with people from emergency planning, housing and supportive services, the HOT team, neighborhood non-profits, and others to find solutions to problems like the lack of shelter (we provided tents), the need for water and toilets (we advocated for both), and many other issues.
Advocacy is not about leadership, it is about community, and community building is our strength. When people are ready to work together, we are there facilitating the relationships, offering the analysis that opens a path forward, and holding space for hard feelings/resentments. We aren't famous, but we are well-known; we aren't directing programs, but we are designing them.
We believe people who are suffering from racism, classism, and other forms of systemic oppression are also people who hold the necessary creativity to find solutions. For us, the path to a more just world lies with the poets and artists, mothers and fathers, janitors and students--all those whose lives are confined by injustice. So really the path forward lies with all of us.
For Faithful Fools, education and advocacy are intertwined with the arts and accompaniment. We can't choose one over another, but our focus is never divided when it comes to building community.