With unemployment rates stuck at decades-long highs and more and more people finding themselves without shelter as foreclosures rates rise, the nation is faced with an unsettling trend. People who have lost their jobs and homes are pitching tents and building shacks in the woods near middle-class neighborhoods as an alternative to sleeping in cars or being warehoused in shelters. They often are invisible to their neighbors and too often are faced with the hostility of local governments.
“Tent City” in Lakewood, N.J., is just one of hundreds of these encampments around the country. It was established six years ago as a way to organize the sporadic camps that dotted Ocean County and provide a level of safety and regularity to the 100 or so homeless men and women who have come to call “Tent City” home.
In an effort to delve into the truth, three New Jersey artists – documentary filmmaker Jack Ballo, journalist and poet Hank Kalet and photographer Sherry Rubel – are combining their mediums in an artistic collaborative perspective that will not only bring the real faces and stories behind this national epidemic to the foreground, but force us to realize that the tent cities are not going away. The encampments may very well become a normal and permanent part of our culture.
A collaborative art event will display photographs, explore journalism and poetry and coincide with a film premiere that will be open to the public. The event will not only bring awareness to the upsurge in tent cities across the country, it will open dialogue and discussions about the reality behind these wooded communities.