One of the most bad ass women in punk, Stacey Dee of the stellar all-female band Bad Cop/Bad Cop, sits down to share her passion project, The Sidewalk Project.
Dee and friends created The Sidewalk Project three years ago to address the concerns about the marginalization of the houseless community.
Quickly their passion project caught momentum, starting chapters in San Diego, Las Vegas and Phoenix, and reaching as far as an internment camp in Malta. The latest chapter will open this month in Orange County on the streets of Santa Ana. With the arrival of COVID, resources and food are even more scarce for the houseless. Dee and the volunteers at The Sidewalk Project welcome your assistance with their amazing organization.
Lean on Me | Skid Row 2018
Jenni: Why did you start The Sidewalk Project?
Stacey: Soma, Emily and I are all “recovered“ artists who, now that we’re healthy, wanted to bring art and music to our houseless communities. We know that an artist needs to create and the lack of being able to create makes a sad spirit. Anytime I’ve found myself having a hard time in life, my mom would say, “Stacey, pick up your guitar,” and every time I did, it essentially saved me, and gave me purpose again. We wanted to extend that opportunity to houseless artists who may have lost their way to create, in hopes that it [will bring] some happiness and purpose to their lives too.
Jenni: What do you think your beneficiaries would say is the best thing about The Sidewalk Project?
Stacey: That we always show up, we listen to what our people need, and that we really do work to fill those needs. That we are not trying to get anyone to join a program, or a religion, and that we don’t judge. That we’re not forcing anyone to get off of drugs to receive anything from us or to create with us. And most importantly, that we save lives.
Jenni: What is The Sidewalk Project’s biggest accomplishment to date?
Stacey: We have just been brought on by the City of Los Angeles as the first new needle exchange program in the last 26 years. Along with providing hygiene kits, femme-care kits, sex-worker kits, food, clothing, PPE, masks, art and music, we now offer harm reduction through our needle exchange program, providing clean needles and supplies and Narcan, and even weed to people in need.
Jenni: How have the effects of COVID and the protests/riots affected your ability to serve the community?
Stacey: We haven’t been able to do a full Sidewalk Project since COVID. Which is a lot like a big party where we paint together, sing together, play music together, eat together, and give out clothing, all kinds of helpful kits, and harm reduction supplies. But we haven’t dialed it back much at all, and instead have been out more frequently going from tent to tent to bring essential hygiene kits, femme-care kits, sex-worker kits, and harm-reduction essentials directly to people so we don’t create large gatherings. We have also been supplying our houseless communities with PPE, masks and well-being kits to help protect them from the virus.
Jenni: How can people help out in their local communities?
Stacey: We have created a “How to Start Your Own Sidewalk Project” that is available on our website. Or you can collect much-needed supplies like tampons and socks, and contact us and we will come pick it up from you. You can donate money or your time. There are many ways to support!
Jenni: How can donors help other than making financial contributions?
Stacey: You can collect supplies at your place of business, or through your social media platforms, you can donate time and come down to help us directly on the street, or you can start your own Sidewalk Project in your own community!
Jenni: Can you share one or two stories of how lives have been changed because of your organization?
Stacey: We have saved people’s lives from overdoses through our Narcan program. We have also seen a few artists and their shiny stars rise up with their artwork being seen and sold on large scales.