We celebrate creativity of all kinds, but our focus is on the creative contributions of people currently between homes, or those who have been unhoused at one time. Homelessness comes in many forms, but living on the street is the most desperate and challenging way to live. And yet, from these cold, hungry, and painful places — sleeping on the street, waiting for hours for one meal, having no shelter from the bitter cold, searing heat, or storms — comes beauty. I have been honored and awed and deeply inspired by the gifts we’re received from those who go through this daily.
The origin for the idea for under1000skies came from a conversation on Twitter in 2014. I was challenged to “do something about” homelessness by an author: View Link
A young man asked recently,
“What is the meaning of ‘Gem?” Please explain. I think a good quote is a Gem.”
It was great that he asked. In case you’ve ever wondered, here’s what I wrote in response:
A good quote is a Gem. A photo is a Gem. Poems are Gems. The Gems are especially precious because they are given to us out of kindness, and the ones we love the most have been from our homeless artists. Thank you for asking *hugs* ♥.
He also asked
“What do the numbers in the titles mean? Like 5.85?”
I explained that the “5” is for the year since we’ve started, and the number after the dot is for the number of Gems we’ve shared so far this year. So 5.85 is for Year 5, 85th Gem.
Thanks again, TH!
In a nutshell, under1000skies is about connecting homeless creatives to each other and to the world. We are 100 percent not-for-profit, and we will never ask for money. Our only purpose is to bring inspiration and beauty into the world and connect with creative souls.
We showcase daily M-F photographs, artwork and/or poetry on the website, social media and in our weekly newsletters by email. We also have gallery shows about twice a year. As the opportunities present, we interview and honor those who serve homeless creatives (“Spotlight Saturday”).
Some statistics claim that over 90 percent of us are only 2 paychecks away from being homeless. We believe there is no “us” and “them;” only “us.” Connection keeps us strong.
It Begins with Me
This blog began on November 14, 2014, on my personal blog, Niki Flow after a conversation on Twitter with author Laurence O’Brien. It Begins with Me O’Brien shared an article by Christopher Taylor called “Social Cleansing of the Homeless.” This term “Social cleansing” was an unfamiliar one, and the article was horrifying. When I responded to his tweet, O’Brien invited me to do something about it. I’m an agoraphobic with panic disorder.* The irony of my situation was not lost on me, but I wanted to help. I was homeless for a short time. After two days, the pain levels from living and sleeping outside were ridiculous — and I was a teenager at the time. So this has always been something close to my heart. Some of my friends in cities around the country agreed to accept the artist packs my family and I put together to distribute in their area. Each pack includes a disposable camera, a warm scarf (for winter; baseball cap in summer) waterproof notebook, pens, lip balm, gum, and a waterproof carry pouch.
*A panic attack is basically like being throwing into a dark sack and beaten with a baseball bat by an invisible ninja. This was cured (miraculously, I think) last summer. Transformation
From my own trauma and hardship, I learned that our connection to each other is critical to healing our lives and to finding a way back. I believe creativity is where we meet the best, most unfiltered parts of ourselves which we rarely show the world in our daily lives. When we play and create together, we connect deeply and really *see* each other. That was my dream. What grew from that has been a connection to some of the most beautiful people I have ever met.
There are all sorts of ways you can help our work.
☼ Spread the Word!
Share our gems on your blog, through social media, any way you like. The more people who know about Gems, the more heart-connections we make.
☼ Contribute Photos / Artwork / Inspiring Quotes
I would love to feature your artwork or photos. Your creations will be displayed with your copyright info on this site as well as through our email list and social media. “Contribute” means that you always retain full rights to your creative work, but you allow us to use your work in Gallery shows to generate interest and facilitate connections. If you’re interested, please send us a note (contact info below). We’ll add title, copyright info, and your website if you have one.
If you would like to be one of our under1000skies co-creators, please contact us for more information. Any kind of creation you’d like to share is very appreciated! Special thanks to our current under1000skies co-creators:
- Ben Archer – contributing photographer from points all over the USA
- Joseph Raley – contributing photographer (DE/NJ)
- Mike Downs – contributing photographer (DE), IT guy, patron of the arts
- Nicole Huguenin -contributing photographer, talent scout, writer – Honolulu, HA; San Francisco, CA – without Nicole we never would have met Johnny O., our first homeless creative
- John Olander – Contributing poet, visionary and beyond inspirational friend
- Cord X – Contributing poet, photographer, artists and beyond inspirational friend
- The Reagan Family – Germany, USA; contributing photographers, inspirational friends, soulkin
- Jo (Nothingtosee Movealongnow) – contributing photographer and friend
- Chip Haldane – contributing photographer and friend
- Niki Flow – website content creator; social media
- KindSpring.org tribe, supportive friends, contributors of inspiring quotes, mentors, light-bringers
- Needed: Central US
- Needed: Southern US
- Needed: Europe
- Needed: Everywhere
If you have any questions or need more information, please write to us!
☼ Social Media Links: ☼
Recent Update: Gems 5.51: Light Up the Dark. We’re changing but we’ll keep on and keep doing our best to “light up the dark” a little bit, every day.
So Far on under1000skies.org
September 2 to December 7, 2015
Gems 1.1 to 1.81
January 4 to December 23, 2016
Gems 2.1 to 2.82
January 2 to July 31, 2017
Gems 3.1 to 3.86
January 1 to December 31, 2018
Gems 4.01 to 4.184
January 1 to December 31, 2019
Gems 5.1 to 5.221
January 1 to December 25, 2020
Gems 6.1 to 6.229
January 4 to December 24, 2021
Gems 7.1 to 7.185
January 3 to September 2, 2022
Gems 8.1 to 8.140
Sept 5 to December 30, 2022
Gems 8.141-TB** to ~8.127-TB
On the 28th of every month going forward will be a “Gratitude Day” post featuring new content from JohnnyO. And, if you are a contributing artist and want to celebrate a monthly Gratitude Day, let me know.
Next year we’ll start Gallery Shows and if I can find royalty-free music, more theme videos. Meanwhile here’s the page of all the ones created so far on Youtube.
Thanks so much for stopping by!
It is no accident you are here. We are all connected.
♥. Niki Flow
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Niki, I’m crap at social media so even though I’ve been following you for a while now, I just found your homepage. I was homeless too (briefly in my late teens on the street-it sucked, then again as adult when I lived with my boss and once when I was younger and we lived with relatives-there are levels of homelessness, each with different impacts and society doesn’t get it.) I’m also hypersensitive to tactile stuff. I cut all the tags out of my clothes. I like to think of us as Princesses in disguise, like the fairy tale. 😉
Anyway. You’re a Gem. ❤️
E, I’m so grateful to you for reading this especially after the novels I’ve been writing in your comments zomg. Ya know, I like that Princess thing and actually my first name is Sara which (allegedly) means “Princess.” I never liked the name before since r1 bio dad used it exclusively. You’re a Gem too. *hugs* Thanks again for beautiful and kind attention to my ramblings. I promise to work on being brief. Gah. Long one again. I just love connecting with you! ♥.
PS Thank you for sharing your homelessness story, E and for reading the origin story. ☼ We are soul sisters now. ☼ <– *taps your hand 3x and says those words* Now it's official. =) ♥.