The Journey is the Destination
By Julie Starke
Every so often an organization comes along that defies the norm, takes convention and shakes it by the shoulders. It stands up tall, reaching with an outstretched hand to uplift the people in its path and give resources to those who are called to give voice to the voiceless. Such is the quest of Creative Visions Foundation (CVF) an organization inspired by reasons much different than most.
Motivated by the loss of a son and a brother, who at the young age of 22 was killed while covering a conflict in Somalia, CVF carries on the work of Dan Eldon. As the youngest Reuters photojournalist of his time, this young man was setting the world on fire with his sense of passion and purpose by walking into worlds where a story needed to be told. His core belief, that “within each of us, there is a creative spark that can be used to fulfill our potential, not only for ourselves, but for the world” was one he lived out until the very end.
Dan’s untimely death forced his family to find a way to cope – to both remember and to forget. As a result, they established the Dan Eldon Center, located on the top floor of a landmark building bordering Santa Monica and Malibu, and to launch Creative Visions Foundation, a publicly supported 501(c)3. Each has been designed to help them carry on the work of one who lost too soon.
So, this is the story of that family. Of Dan, the courageous artist and adventurer who believed in the ‘creative spark’ in each of us; of Amy, his sister, whose documentary ‘Dying to Tell the Story’ aired on CNN and ignited her passion for peace; and, Kathy, the mother, who lost so much yet gained an entire movement to fill her heart with love and her life with passion, carrying on the work of a son who held so much promise.
Creative Support for a Changing World.
Established in 1998, Creative Visions Foundation models their work a little differently. They do not focus solely on their own agenda, but focus on supporting those who use the power of media and arts to create ongoing, positive change in the world. It is these ‘Creative Activists’ who are changing things up one project at a time and bringing a voice to people who would, perhaps, never be heard.
Visit the CVF website and one will find countless resources to help those on their journey. ‘The Creative Activist Toolkit’ is a guide created by Charles Tsai, an educator and consultant to social entrepreneurs, that helps change makers learn and apply best practices. There are how-to videos and fill in the blank power point presentations to get one started, as well as a multitude of tools for the journey and examples to follow. It is resources such as these that make CVF a unique source for all who choose to use the media and arts to become vehicles for social change.
While CVF has assisted more than 100 artists, filmmakers, playwrights, and leaders of social movements on five continents their vision contains so much more. Their goal is to foster relationships and build a community of like-minded people all over the world, providing online support in the form of tools and resources. This is but the beginning of their outreach.
So, it is easy to see why Kathy and Amy have chosen to continue on the journey to inspire. Dan Eldon, loved the world and the people within it. He demonstrated this in the countless journals he left behind, each filled with images, art and poetry that capture both the essence and the spirit of people all over the world. During his short time on earth, Dan lived out his art. His family intends to let others live out theirs. It is a powerful combination.
While Creative Visions Foundation pushes forward with its programs of outreach, Kathy has turned Dan’s work into a gallery of its own. Clothes have been designed that boldly display his art and thoughts, the journals have been turned into a book and a gallery displays much of his original work. So, in many ways Dan is still with them, guiding the process and as his family’s foundation says: helping the world to ‘seek innovative solutions to local and global issues by using the arts and media to ignite positive change.’
They are carrying on his work, helping others ignite the creative spirit within, and making a place for themselves along the way. For this family it is all the same, leading them to easily honor Dan’s favorite mantra: ‘the journey is the destination.’
INSET BOX: The Imagination Foundation is one of many who have recently received support in their quest to bring a story to life. Caine’s Arcade is the account of one little boy who used his imagination to create a cardboard arcade. This short documentary highlights the ingenuity of Caine, a little boy without a handheld video device and a heart for building things. Although it really demonstrates what can happen when people pay attention to the smallest detail, Caine’s Arcade brings people together in a unique and inspiring way. (www.cainesarcade.com)