Redemption Rises on the Midnight Streets

Like Ulysses, the homeless wanderers of Dogtown Redemption were exiled for years on journeys through a landscape of deprivation and despair — an Odyssey on the streets of Oakland.

A Parent’s View of Homelessness

My son lives on the streets of Oakland. Legs painful and swollen, health compromised by Hepatitis C and heart damage, he pushes a cart full of other people’s trash in the darkest hours of the night.

Recent News

Categories:

Meet Hayok Kay

She is the 4-foot-10-inch fireball pushing a shopping cart down the streets. She has been homeless for too many years to count. She is barely surviving. She loves and loses. In the end, she is the broken body in a Highland Hospital bed, after being beaten in her sleeping bag.

Read More Comments Off on Meet Hayok Kay

A Song for Miss Kay: “Stand By Me”

In a broken and trembling voice, she sings “Stand By Me.” Yet her protector has died homeless on the streets and will never stand with her again. It is a song for Miss Kay, and it reveals the staggering impact of this loss on a fragile heart.

Read More Comments Off on A Song for Miss Kay: “Stand By Me”

The Myth of Sisyphus on the Streets of Oakland

Jason Witt has mastered the art of recycling and the art of the samurai sword. His hands have been toughened into recycled steel and he hauls mountainous loads all by himself. It looks as if he has the strength to pull these impossible burdens forever — yet he faces life-threatening illnesses.

Read More Comments Off on The Myth of Sisyphus on the Streets of Oakland

Amir Soltani: The Dogtown Redeemer

Amir Soltani’s friendship with Miss Kay is the behind-the-scenes story of the film. He cared for her in many ways. As often happens when we give to others without judgment, he received much in return from the volatile, loving, emotionally broken, chronically homeless, but so full of hope woman, Miss Kay.

Read More Comments Off on Amir Soltani: The Dogtown Redeemer

Green Versus Gentrification: The Smackdown

Street recyclers and the recycling businesses that work cooperatively with them are under pressure from skyrocketing land prices, city hurdles, and community perceptions which can make or break the razor-thin margins of even the strongest and oldest of Oakland’s traditional businesses. Community support is crucial.

Read More Comments Off on Green Versus Gentrification: The Smackdown

The Generosity and Good Works of Recyclers in Oakland

“I’ve been so impressed at how hard people work to get their recycling done,” said Joe Liesner. “The thing that impresses me most — and I don’t think I’ll ever get over it — is the older women that go out. You can just see the wear and tear that’s put on them.”

Read More Comments Off on The Generosity and Good Works of Recyclers in Oakland

A Purgatory of Lost Souls and Redeemed Humanity

Through the camera’s eye, I observed grief and laughter, violence and love, addiction and redemption. I saw these recyclers at their best and worst, with all that makes us human. The film will have succeeded if it reveals their humanity, and helps erase the invisible barrier between us and “them.”

Read More Comments Off on A Purgatory of Lost Souls and Redeemed Humanity

Love in Every Frame

In a society that blames poverty on the poor, Dogtown Redemption shines a light on the resourcefulness, complexity, caring, and humanity found in the homeless recyclers Jason, Langdon and Miss Kay — often in greater measure than can be found in those much more fortunate. There is love in every frame.

Read More Comments Off on Love in Every Frame

Treating Homeless Recyclers Like Human Beings

They worked harder than anyone I have ever seen. They took tons of recyclables carelessly thrown in the trash and kept them out of the landfill and put them back into circulation. They saved trees, natural habitat and the energy it takes to make aluminum, glass and paper from raw materials.

Read More Comments Off on Treating Homeless Recyclers Like Human Beings

Street Spirit’s Partnership with Dogtown Redemption

Dogtown Redemption takes us on a journey through a landscape of love and loss, devotion and addiction, prejudice and poverty. The story of the three recyclers—Jason, Landon and Hayok—provides a rare glimpse into the conflicts over race, class and space shaping Oakland and other American cities.

Read More Comments Off on Street Spirit’s Partnership with Dogtown Redemption

Oakland Recycler Discovers New Hope on the Street

When I entered St. Mary’s shelter, I had nothing but the clothes on my back and the desire to change. I no longer wanted that homeless lifestyle, and buggy-pushing. I had to take the time to be reborn from within. I want to show people they have a choice.

Oakland Is in the Throes of a Housing Crisis

Oakland faces a housing crisis that has displaced thousands and more than doubled the number of residents who are homeless and unhoused. While the City struggles to rebound from the recession, redevelopment funds have been stripped, federal HUD money is rapidly shrinking and legislators are struggling to find resources.

Film Reveals the Humanity of People on the Street

In Dogtown Redemption, we learn to care about the lives of recyclers, celebrate their successes, and mourn their losses. The film shows those of us who haven’t had to collect cans to buy food, and don’t have to sleep in a makeshift tent, what life is like for those who do.

Desperate Lives of Scavengers on a Harsh Streetscape

The shopping carts are operated by “drivers” making only a subsistence wage, receiving no health care, sick leave or vacation. Their low wages are a poor excuse for an assistance program. We root for them to thrive at it, at the same time we pray they can escape from it.

A Source of Income to Oakland’s Most Downtrodden

Those experiencing homelessness are viewed as squatters, occupying lands they don’t own. They collect the modern-day gold of the streets — recyclable materials including metals, glass, plastic and aluminum cans — hoping to earn an honest, independent living. Most are being pushed out by forces that are out of their control.

Dogtown Redemption Changes Your View of the World

Dogtown Redemption is an emotional testament to the humanity and perseverance of the recyclers and should enable all viewers to see the people behind the carts. Their personal circumstances are beyond challenging, but their tenacity and sheer strength as they navigate the streets of Oakland demand our admiration and respect.