Creative Guts

Waypoint Mural Project: Yasamin Safarzadeh and Sarah Jones

Episode Summary

In this episode of Creative Guts, co-hosts Laura Harper Lake and Sarah Wrightsman chat with Kimball Jenkins’ director of programming Yasamin Safarzadeh and Waypoint’s program manager Sarah Jones live at the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts Arts Partnership, Fall 2023 conference Woven: Gathering at the Intersections at Sanborn Mills Farm in Loudon, NH. In this interview, Yazamin and Sarah talk about the creation of a mural at Waypoint’s Drop In Center in Manchester, working with unhoused youth and young adults who are clients at Waypoint's Homeless Youth Services. We learn about the program’s process and challenges, the skills youth participants will develop while participating in the mural project, how program organizers build trust and create a safe for homeless youth, and much more. If you’re interested in learning more or supporting the Waypoint mural project, please visit and We’d also like to thank the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts for inviting us to be part of their conference. Learn more about what they do at Listen to this episode wherever you listen to podcasts or on our website Be friends with us on Facebook at and Instagram at

Episode Notes

In this episode of Creative Guts, co-hosts Laura Harper Lake and Sarah Wrightsman chat with Kimball Jenkins’ director of programming Yasamin Safarzadeh and Waypoint’s program manager Sarah Jones live at the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts Arts Partnership, Fall 2023 conference Woven: Gathering at the Intersections at Sanborn Mills Farm in Loudon, NH.

In this interview, Yazamin and Sarah talk about the creation of a mural at Waypoint’s Drop In Center in Manchester, working with unhoused youth and young adults who are clients at Waypoint's Homeless Youth Services. We learn about the program’s process and challenges, the skills youth participants will develop while participating in the mural project, how program organizers build trust and create a safe for homeless youth, and much more. 

If you’re interested in learning more or supporting the Waypoint mural project, please visit and

We’d also like to thank the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts for inviting us to be part of their conference. Learn more about what they do at

Listen to this episode wherever you listen to podcasts or on our website Be friends with us on Facebook at and Instagram at

Episode Transcription



[0:00:00] LHL: I'm Laura Harper Lake.

[0:00:01] SW: And I'm Sarah Wrightsman. 

[0:00:02] LHL & SW: And you're listening to Creative Guts.

Hey, friends. Thanks for tuning in to Creative Guts. 

[0:00:21] SW: On today's episode, we're talking with Yasamin Safarzadeh, who is an artist and the Program Director at Kimball Jenkins School of Art in Concord. And Sarah Jones, the Program Manager at Waypoint. This episode was recorded live at the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. Arts Partnership Fall 2023 Conference Woven: Gathering at the intersections at Sanborn Mills Farm in Loudon, New Hampshire.

[0:00:46] LHL: We have a lot of ground to cover. So let's jump right into this episode of Creative Guts with Yasamin Safarzadeh and Sarah Jones.


[0:00:59] SW: Thank you both for joining us today.

[0:01:01] SJ: Thank you for having us.

[0:01:03] YS: Ditto. 

[0:01:06] LHL: Before we dive into learning more about the collaboration between your two organizations, could you tell us a little bit more about yourselves and your work? And how it relates to this project? And why you're passionate about this work?

[0:01:18] SJ: Sure. I'm Sarah Jones. I am a housing justice advocate. I work with young people who are experiencing homelessness, who are unaccompanied, away from their families. 

What that looks like is I oversee three drop-in centers across the state of New Hampshire and outreach teams to go out into the community to find young people. To connect them to services, to their communities, to meaningful participation. And to helpfully have them move forward in their lives. 

I was a young person who experienced homelessness. I had some social capital that allowed me to move forward in a different way. Part of my work is helping to pass that on. Not everybody comes with that. That's where these programs can be really important.

[0:02:05] YS: My name is Yasamin Safarzadeh. And I am the Director of Curation and Programming over at Kimball Jenkins. I work with a really fabulous team. And we try to, I suppose, decolonize the landscape of art curation and narration. And we also echo those ethics within our programming out in the community. 

And we partner with really fabulous organizations like Waypoint, like Myturn, like Queerlective in order to actually achieve enrichment goals more successfully. We're not trying to reinvent the wheel. There are organizations like Waypoint that are doing outreach for underserved youth far better than. So why don't we bolster that as an arts organization? 

Yeah. And a little bit about myself. I don't know. Poster child for, like, trauma and under-resourced situations. I think, historically, the arts is an incredibly exclusive environment. I've always been the token, send her out to South Central back in LA or work with incarcerated youth, New Americans. And I wasn't allowed to move up from that at all. 

I was like, "Okay, what's going on with these people? What degrees do they have?" I got the degrees. I got like more and more degrees just so that, on paper, I could get through this gatekeeping. And at a certain point, I sort of just set out and did kind of a wild, sort of figure it out myself, sort of mutual aid anarchistic, like really on the ground stuff. And as a result of that, I started to be seen in this community as a consistent individual that was around. Okay.

[0:03:47] SW: That's great. You're working together to facilitate the creation of a mural at Waypoint's drop in center in Manchester. Working with unhoused youth and young adults who are clients of Waypoint's homeless Youth Services. Can you tell us about some of the needs, the challenges, the opportunities that precipitated this project? 

[0:04:06] YS: That's like – 

[0:04:07] SJ: There's so many. 

[0:04:08] YS: There's a lot of needs. I mean, resources. Finances is like, period, the biggest thing. I think, also, again, you're talking about skilled people who can work in these units and not experiencing high turnover rate, which again goes back to actually compensating people. Giving them enough time to breathe and heal from the work. There's a lot of that. 

I sort of, with this work, don't want to be the only person that does it. And so, this opportunity is really interesting. Because part of our agreement is that we continue to bring in new artists to the space. But this isn't just like throw in a new artist. Do something cool. They have to have the training, the experience, the exposure to sustain themselves in a space, and not trigger clients, and not belittle them and not you know make them feel alienated. And so, that's years and years of work. Or you actually work with people who have been in that demographic before.

[0:05:09] SJ: And I think that's part of what's really special about this is the creation of like pure facilitators, right? That's moving it forward with that lens of mentorship with leadership and being able to have a young person in that experience elevate, and move forward and pass it back. It becomes kind of this living, breathing, sustainable thing over time that is like always youth-centric at its core.

[0:05:34] LHL: That's amazing. 

[0:05:36] SW: Yeah, that's so wonderful, truly.

[0:05:38] LHL: And how will Waypoint's youth clients be directly engaging in this project? Can you tell more about the process with that? 

[0:05:45] SJ: I mean, they're engaged at all levels, right? And so, this is like some history here starts with folks just showing up and doing like low-hanging art stuff with young people. And then, over time – this took like a year to get to this point to where trust is built and the sacred space is held. And then young people are now like implementing, designing, doing events coordinating for our unveiling. Connecting with people in their greater community. Going out to places and experiencing the community at large. 

Because when you think about when you're in-house, you're living in a shelter, you are marginalized from the community. You are excluded from spaces in the community. Your voice doesn't matter in the community. And you avoid other places in the community. How do we make those things accessible? How do we bring those things in? And how do we elevate? Because they are creators, leaders, change makers who deserve that platform to be exalted in, right? 

And so, they are integral at every single space of this. Because if we do this, I mean, we – adults do everything, right? And like youth are never allowed to like explore, and play, and create and do all of these things. When youth are the ones that should be – they're experts in their lives. They have the expertise and need to be elevated to do this themselves. And so, we're just the paper pushers behind the scenes teaching some of these skills. Yes, facilitating. And then allowing go forth. Do. Change.

[0:07:10] LHL: Wow. That's wonderful. 

[0:07:12] SW: We've released – this is not on our question list. Sorry to throw a random one out so early. We've recorded, released about almost a hundred full length interviews with artists. And something that comes up all the time is like Creative Guts believes that everybody's creative. Everybody's an artist even if they don't know that they or don't think that they are. And so, topics like impostor syndrome come up all the time. Topics like, "Well, I don't really feel like an artist." Is that something that like the youth and that like you sort of have to overcome? Of course, you are. Everybody's creative. Everybody's an artist. You have that within you.

[0:07:43] SJ: I think the cool thing about young people is they don't have – a lot of us have been hurt, I think, by growing up in spaces where we have to be somebody that we're not. Or we have to let go of magical thinking and we let go of these like wild passions that we have. I think that's something really spectacular about these young people and that you're like, "Oh, that's too much wild passion. I'm exhausted. No, you can't do that." But then I have to ask myself, "Why? Why is it no?" 

Actually, there's – I don't think – I think there are little bits of moments where you're like – and we experienced this with adults, so much of teaching adults is battling their ego. So much of it it's just like, "Oh, God. Nobody cares. You're in the space. Let's learn." 

There are a couple times where they're like, "Well, I don't do art." And it's like, "Okay. Well, we're paying. It's salary." Right? This is exciting. That's compensation. Just do a collage. Or put pieces together. Or do you write? Okay. Writing is also art. Or let's excavate what is your culture such that we can integrate that into this piece. Or if this isn't your jam, let's have you do social media engagement. 

It's a lot of meeting – I mean, you hear this all the time, but you got to meet your people where they're at. And you can't push something on them that isn't their jam, right? It's all secretly art. It's all secretly to take over the world. We don't need to share that right off the bat. 

[0:09:13] SW: And so, you just mentioned social media and a couple other elements. Do you want to talk, either of you, about some of the skills that youth participants will be developing while participating in the project as a whole? And why are these specific skills important for Waypoint youth? 

[0:09:30] SJ: Young people who are experiencing homelessness are creative and resourceful all of the time, right? And so, some of it is honing your resourcefulness and honing your creativity. Because you're in the hustle. And so, how do we transpose the hustle from this to this? Like a skill transposition. 

And then some of it is like learning brand-new skills. Some of it was learning how to prepare historical brick to have paint laid on it. Some of it is learning negotiation skills. This is my vision. And like there's also a client at the end. So we can't just put pot leaves on everything, right? 

Yes. And hear you. And like how do we alter this, or talk about it in secret, or whatever? Those skills negotiation. Skills which serve everybody in every space of life that we have to walk. And then there's like skills that go on a resume, right? Implementation, design, all of those. There's like many different layers to it. 

Everything can be a skill. Some are ones that are already obtained. Some we have to like really nurture in people. But they're all skill-building. And that's not even the central focus of it. Sometimes the central focus is just doing something else and surviving, right? That in and of itself is really like the focus of it. Everybody likes to talk about skills, but the other part of it is just doing something else. 

[0:10:51] YS: Rather, harm reduction is a lot of it. Social capital is gaining it. But also, grant writing. In-kind donations. Let's talk about this. Let's talk about code switching, which this is a lot of what we do with my turn in another internship where we're like, "Okay. So out of popsicles." And everybody's complaining. "Do you guys want to see how we get free popsicles from Hannafords?" 

And so, there's a script of in-kind donations for our 501(c)(3), "Hi, I'm at –" you know? And so, that is – again, we talk about gatekeeping. Again, we talk about these like really expensive degrees that people need to have. But really, if you boil it down, it's code-switching and it's figuring out what this grant language is. So that they can in turn run their own projects and be the leaders in their own spheres. 

[0:11:36] LHL: That's super powerful and cool.

[0:11:38] SW: Yeah, it is. What are sort of maybe the potential like really long-term impact that you hope that this project will have on the participating youth? 

[0:11:46] SJ: I think it's about – for me, my hope is that when the clients see themselves in a different way than maybe they did previously, right? We all come to things like in our own heads with limitations, but then it's about the community, right? I want the community to see young people more than the shadow of their situation. Because oftentimes, young people are excluded from conversations about housing. They're excluded around topics in homelessness, right? They're the forgotten demographic in that. When really, they are the solution makers. They are the ones that have the ideas that can help change our future. They are our now. They're not just our future, but they're the right now that needs to be invested, and uplifted and heard by everybody.

[0:12:32] YS: Yeah. And if you're talking about a narrative, like there's a really dangerous narrative that correlates unhoused individuals to terrorists. They call Manchester Manch-ganistan, which is appalling and repulsive. And a lot of politicians that are coming up now it's like the homeless issue. The homeless crisis. 

When you empower a lot of our young people have now started to publish their own articles through Manchester Ink Link. Carol Robidoux is amazing. And they're getting compensated for that as well. These are individuals. Like a few of them have created a collage that's going to be in our next show up at Kimball – these are not an amalgamation of terrifying acts. These are our brothers and sisters. And you don't speak about your brothers and sisters in that way.

[0:13:16] LHL: Really well said. The mural development process leans on the expertise and inspiration of New Hampshire artists who are queer, BIPOC and differently-abled. Can you tell us more about why this is a critical pillar of this initiative? How does it transform the narrative for unhoused youth? 

[0:13:34] YS: Yeah, I think just seeing yourself as a leader in the space that you're in is really important. I want to be taught by people of color. I want to be taught by queer women. I want to be taught by people who have been unhoused. Who have been incarcerated? Who are experiencing exile from their countries? Because there is an empathy that we all as artists I'm sure practice. But to actually have somebody that knows the experience and is so powerful to know that leadership in your space is the same as you is incredibly invigorating. 

And so, I mean, you can also look at it as it's sort of our civic duty, right? To concentrate our efforts in the most underserved populations. Sometimes because I am a capitalist and because I deal in both the left and the right, I have to talk about things as money. And I don't understand why we're investing so much in general assistance in rehousing new Americans. And then we leave it at that and we don't do entire wraparound services. We don't increase their visibility. We don't increase our presence, their presence, vice versa in each other's spaces. 

It seems like a sunken cost to me to do the bare minimum for our people and not continue to uplift our communities in a very enriching way that look at this space right here. Why couldn't we take a moment to intentionally target a new demographic to be amongst us today? 

It's hard work, but I think we can all do it in our spaces. And it's uncomfortable sometimes to have these conversations. And we're going to mess up. We're going to mess up and do ugly things. That's growth. 

[0:15:21] LHL: Yeah. Growing pains, right? Yeah. 

[0:15:24] SW: Yeah. Logistically, what has the sort of development of the mural looked like? How are you coming up with what are we painting? But also, when is it being painted? It's outside, right? 

[0:15:35] SJ: Yeah, it is outside. Oh, yeah.

[0:15:37] YS: It will be done early November, period. We have no choice. They've been working eight hours a day every day when they can like – yeah. 

[0:15:44] SW: My gosh. 

[0:15:46] YS: Prompts are really interesting, right? And again, not like, "Okay, so we've moved past – let's talk about diversity. And you have the rainbow of skin color." Like, prompts. What's the prompt? Why do we need you is the prompt? What do you mean why do we need you? Well, our city wouldn't be as cool as it is without you, without your inspiration, without your culture, without your – and we know them now after – for me, it's only been a year. But without your DJing capabilities. Without these amazing cupcakes that you make. Without this art. Without – look at your fashion sense. The way that you wear clothes is very specific to you. And Manchester would suffer without this. Why do we need you? This was the impetus for the mural. 

And again, poetry, collage. Just merely the idea is there are three barriers of entry. Three different payment types, right? We're not trying to push anybody out. You show up, you're getting a punch card, right? 

There's a lot of work that goes beyond that. There are drafts. There's editing. Then there's the permitting. Then there's talking to the local businesses that really are not smiling about what's going on. Shaking hands. Introducing ourselves. Being out there. 

And also, this whole time that this is happening, you're having social engagement with young people and their mentors, right? Now you're having really antisocial people perhaps, myself included, as you've seen me today, start to engage. You're having people who one time maybe. Instead of whatever you do, you start a little bit later. Right? Just after the mural making sesh. Right? 

It's slow change. And again, our community is seeing and seeing this mural is massive. It's incredible. And it's true to everything from the notebook scribbles. We do have to present this to the board. We do have to present this. We got funding sources from Queerlective, from the city of Manchester, from the Arts Council. We have to present it and say why does this stand? This is very true to these people's work. That I think is very important, is that it's not – we didn't pick a lead artist that was like paint in my lines. 

[0:17:55] LHL: Right. Color by number. Yeah.

[0:17:58] SW: Right. That's beautiful. How big is it? 

[0:18:00] SJ: It's humongous. It's the entire backside of our building.

[0:18:03] LHL: Wow. 

[0:18:05] SJ: When you're driving down Hanover Street in Manchester going toward City Center, it's there. It's huge. And you can see it. And it says "lift every voice". Right? That is like kind of what ties it all together. Because every single image that's done is every young person's experience and story being told through this mural. And it's a way to kind of – the through line that ties it together. 

[0:18:29] YS: I want to say it's like – no. I'm just making up numbers. 90 by 35. Yeah. It's huge. 

[0:18:37] LHL: We're going to go measure. Yeah. 

[0:18:43] SW: You had mentioned the punch card. Can we circle back to that? Will you explain the punch card? Because it's a really neat way that you're doing it.

[0:18:50] YS: It's consistent showing upness, right? You can't just do a six-week session for an hour and leave. First of all, you have to garner trust, which is like so long. It's the same as the rest of us. How long? It takes me 6 months to go, "I think I want to be friends with you. Maybe. Let's try this out." Right? 

It's the being thereness. And then we have leaders that are in a little bit more of a comfortable place or that are about to transition from being unhoused into whatever is the next step that have a larger capacity for leadership, for supervisorial or for – That's a pay wage that's the same as our young facilitators, right? 

Then you have another – like your base pay wage. It's very interesting. But like the leader has his team. They get a base pay. And then you have your punch cards, which is a very easy barrier for entry. Doesn't matter you show up, you sit down, you hang out. Who cares? Punch card. 

[0:19:54] LHL: That's awesome.

[0:19:55] SJ: Yeah. And there was some real intention around that. Because one, we're a low-barrier shelter. And so, the aim is to like lessen any of the obstacles to be able to participate. And so, when we have young people who have significant mental health issues, who have chaotic substance use, home is so unstable, things are risky. They maybe have trafficking involvement. Whatever it is. Is to be able to create like the least amount of obstacles for you to be able to show up. Hopefully, create, if that's where you're at. And if it's not, you still get paid. Right? 

Because at the end of the day, that's really important to your survival. That is what can feed you. That is what can help you to survive to the next night. And so, all of that kind of encompasses it. 

[0:20:37] YS: I mean, this I learned from – I love Christina D'Alessandro. But we're not giving you a gift card to Walmart. We're not giving you redeemable points. We are giving you cash. It's your money. You figure out how to use it. Because the resources for financial learning and all of this other stuff is available. If you want – you handle your cash. That's not our business. 

[0:20:56] LHL: That's fantastic. It is.

[0:20:57] SW: Yeah. Let's talk a little bit more about challenges. What are some of the unique challenges of working with youth or experiencing homelessness? And really, we've already mentioned a lot of these. You've already mentioned a lot of these topics. How is this project addressing them? And then, sort of what other challenges are you facing in the development or the execution of the project? 

[0:21:17] YS: Okay. I love publicity. I love, love, love, love, love being in the spotlight. That's not what this is about. That's like hardcore. Like some of the clients are in hiding. Some people cannot be seen. It's just about being there and creating. And so, that's a really unique thing to think about. 

I remember, in publishing, we do some article writing too. But there are elders that just want to do a profile on youth homelessness. And that's appalling. Let me take photos of them and just write about them. I'm not letting you in this space. Again, we're putting that power in the hands of these young people. They can choose to write the article. And that's not so easy. You can't just be like, "You do it." 

You have to sit, mentor, trust, love back and forth, edit. Learning to write or having the power of voice is a whole spiel itself. That was an interesting thing to learn for myself. 

[0:22:20] SJ: I mean, I think negotiating within systems is really hard. Anytime that we're like in this mercy where we have like funding that we have to go to, but then we also have like boards that have their own perspective on things, right? And so, that can be a challenge. Because optics are always the game that you have to play when there's public art involved. And it can be really – sometimes. And then to be able to like have to have that dialogue back and forth about like why this is important. Why it matters? Why? And have to like feel like you're always justifying this is a challenge. 

I like want to dispel that the real challenge isn't about like the young people. That's not what it is. The real challenge is the systems that we have to try and operate within and that are young people have to operate within. Those are the real challenges. And those are the real – challenges.

[0:23:12] YS: Absolutely. Absolutely. 

[0:23:16] LHL: What factors are you considering when creating a safe space that people want to come to? Especially in a setting that involves creating public art. You've talked about trust a lot. What are the steps for it to be built? 

[0:23:27] SJ: There's a lot of it. It's like physical space. Because if we have young people who are in hiding, who are trafficking, we have to monitor who comes in and out. Who are the safe adults? There's vetting that has to happen in order for participation to happen. There's that. 

And then, physical environment. And then you have the emotional space that has to be created. It's about showing up all of the time and being there. Good and bad, right? We love you. We love you. We love you. We love you on your good days. We love you on your bad days. We're here. 

And so, there's the emotional space. Psychological safety, physical safety. All of those components kind of go together to create the actual space. And then the other space is like taking our perspective out of it, right? Because like we don't want to adult over or power over. We want a power share. 

And so, that is a challenge especially for adult people to want to do. Because it's always this tendency to go we know what's best for you. We know what's best for you. When young people are the experts in their survival. They keep themselves alive every single day. Who am I to tell you? I'm nobody in this game. I'm here as the shepherd that's ferrying you along. And you're the one that really ultimately should be calling some of the shots here about what our interactions look like. And I'm the one that needs to respect that.

[0:24:47] YS: Yeah. I think, also, you mentioned radical forgiveness, which is an insane thing. Because everybody wants to be a judge. And to quote my friend, Jim, "We have more than enough judges." Working with the DOC. Working with individuals that have been incarcerated. It's not my job. It's not my job to judge whether this person can be out, or in, or whatever. My job is to provide these enrichment activities and safe spaces such that we can have a healthy community and be prosperous for the future of our state and our local neighborhoods.

[0:25:19] SW: Right. This is such a broad question. Why is a program like this important for New Hampshire? 

[0:25:28] SJ: There's so many reasons. Right? I think if thinking about it – and I've already mentioned some of this. But in New Hampshire, we talk about the homeless issue without input of people with lived experience as experts at the table, as leaders shaping this conversation. Young people are excluded from that all of the time, right? We're also a very white state with very homogenized people in it. And I think when we're bringing that lens and uplifting voices who are not necessarily the same as everybody, we are doing a service to this state saying like people are here that have voices that we need to be listening to. Because we're all closing our ears and going la-la-la-la-la and expecting anything to be different. And that's not real that's not real.

[0:26:20] YS: Let's talk about money. My young people are going to literally listen to this and go, "Oh, yes. How's the creative economy going? How's the creative economy?" The creative economy is the fastest growing economic sector globally. We are creating essentially a market. 

A few years ago, there were not as many murals specifically in Manchester, let's look at, since that's where we're at. Now it's coming left and right. There's another mural festival. You know what I mean? And then you have a bunch of hirable, brilliant, young creative people who are getting paid, who are putting money back in. We're creating the sector. New Hampshire is really tough on the arts, right? 

But all of us in this room right now are creating and bolstering this sector. And if you take one mentor into your heart, you can create it in younger populations. I want my job. I like my job. I'm creating a reason for it, I think. I don't know. Maybe I'm making it up. 

[0:27:19] LHL: Amazing. 

[0:27:19] SW: Yeah. It's just so good. 

[0:27:21] LHL: I was curious if you wanted to talk about myths around the work that you do. Perceptions that people might have. You kind of mentioned a lot. Neighbors have perceptions or biases. What are some things you want to debunk that people might not know about as far as the process goes? 

[0:27:38] SJ: In what way? Because there's so many – 

[0:27:40] LHL: There's a lot of ways. I know. 

[0:27:41] SJ: There's a lot of ways. 

[0:27:44] LHL: I guess more for like maybe the neighborhood and the people that are close by, what would that be like? 

[0:27:49] SW: The reactions from the neighbors and how you're dealing with that. And we know both – I work in housing. I work at New Hampshire Housing. That's my full-time gig outside of Creative Guts. Talking about myths and misperceptions about housing is something that I do every minute of every day. But then sometimes on Creative Guts we talk about what is it that you want people to know about arts. Because there's myths and misperceptions in there too. Those two worlds are sort of colliding. What have been the reactions from people? 

[0:28:17] YS: The one that came to mind as you were speaking was that it's not these young people. It's the parents and it's the system. It's really not an issue. A lot of people are like – oh, love it. You probably get this way more than I do, Sarah. But it's like, "Just get them a job. We have jobs. Get them hired." And you're like, "That's not the –" it's their parents. It's the system. It's a whole – it's like so many factors that go into this so. That's a really – it's not an easy just get them a job. Done.

[0:28:47] SJ: Or that should be like the traditional pathway. I remember having a conversation. It was an internal conversation. But it was about like, "Okay, if we're going to pay young people –" it was this internal debate about them having W9s or like this kind of stuff in order to like make this happen. And what a dumb idea. Because how many barriers do you have when you're experiencing homelessness to be able to furnish a W9, right? 

Or I have young people who don't even know their social security number that we can't even get because they've been thrown through the system for so long. How is that making it like low barrier and breaking down obstacles? And so, when we think about doing it in a different way like through direct cash transfer, which is a best practice for youth, it became a best practice in like youth homeless organizations. This is actually like melding a few of those together, which I could get in like the social work weeds about it. But taking that away and actually doing it this way prevents those barriers from being an obstruction for somebody to do the things they need to do. 

Because realistically, if I'm flying a sign on the side of the street, people are going to give me food all day long. And I know because I've been there. People give you food all day long. And you want cash, right? Because food is not going to buy me a toothbrush. Food is not going to do some of the things that I need in order to survive. Cash will. And so, best practice is cash. How do we do that? 

And so, usurping some of that is always a thing. And so, trying to make sense of that too. And so, it's like not just external, but it can be internal too. Because people don't necessarily understand. Especially if you work at an organization as a multi-service organization where this is like real radical for them. What are we doing? And then, so that's a reflection of like the community at large. Yeah. I don't know if any of that made sense. And it's fine. 

[0:30:40] SW: No. It's incredible. And truly, there's so much value in us having this conversation and being here. Because there's so many things that you're saying that I've never thought about before ever. And so, I imagine that's true for some people in the audience too. The idea of W9s. And how do you deal with that issue never probably would have crossed my mind. It's incredibly valuable to bring it to the surface to have a platform for this conversation. I'm really glad you're both here. 

And I think it's time to collect some – look. We have some questions. There looks like a lot of note cards coming. 

[0:31:11] YS: Don't pick up Rochella's card. I see her. I see you. No. We don't need this.

[0:31:16] LHL: She's been writing for a while. It's a really long question. 

[0:31:26] SW: This is always very fun for us too. To read your handwriting and – 

[0:31:30] LHL: Your handwriting. Yes. Fun/big fear. 

[0:31:36] SW: I'm sure we won't screw it up. 

[0:31:39] SW: Is there anything that you sort of haven't had the chance to say yet that you like want to make sure gets said and is out there? 

[0:31:47] YS: I was thinking about the stories of those young people that transition out. I don't know. Whatever. School. Sometimes it's school. Sometimes it's actually getting an apartment. It's nice. It's nice. And then you have a friend. And that's it. You have friends. That's – yeah. 

[0:32:07] SJ: In our services, we only serve young people up until their 25th birthday. And then you age out of our services, right? And so, when we're doing things that are connecting young people to their community at large outside of just the little island that is Waypoint, we're setting you up to be connected to your community beyond us. Because we're not everything and can't be everything forever. And so, it's about that longevity and moving it forward as well. Right? 

People have community that they can go to. And when they're like transitioning out from the shelter into an apartment through like a housing pathway that we've navigated with them and we've walked alongside them for, you're not ending up in an apartment going like, "Shit. I have nobody." Right? 

Because, often, what I've seen and have encountered when I worked in adult services, this was often truth, that people would get into housing, they would be isolated and alone. And so, that is a really difficult challenge for somebody to navigate through. 

And so, what we don't want to have happen is that. We want somebody to go into housing and then for that to be like a platform that they're also still participating in the community and can be for the rest of their life. 

[0:33:20] LHL: Keep sharing a little more. 

[0:33:20] SW: Sorry. We're listening. We also have a thing happening over here. The audience really wants to be called out. This is our first audience question. It literally says call us out on it. What should each one of us in the audience go home and do to support this project and others like it? 

[0:33:33] YS: Give us money.

[0:33:34] SJ: That's it. Yeah. 

[0:33:43] SW: Would you like to drop a link or uh – 

[0:33:46] SJ: Oh, shit. We don't have one. 

[0:33:48] YS: I mean, I think that our names are in the – 

[0:33:51] SJ: We're here. 

[0:33:53] SW: We'll make it happen. 

[0:33:54] YS: Kimball Jenkins and Waypoint. You can look for Yas and Sarah. We're very – 

[0:33:58] SJ: I think it's also about creating – if it's not like just through this, it's about facilitating mentorship opportunities with young people that have longevity and move forward, right? The money piece is like, yes, we all want money. But really, at the heart of it, it's about is this work replicable and scalable like across time? And how do all of us have an implication in that? 

And every single one of us is part of being able to see young people. And so, if any of us in this room are interfacing with young people, we're the ones that are seeing them. And if they're struggling at home or doing those things, we have an opportunity to step in and be an ally for them when they need it. 

Adults often don't do that. And it's really difficult to do. But if we're holding up and showing space the way we should be as adults, then we're connecting in the ways that we can. And so, that's an opportunity as well.

[0:34:51] YS: I think, also you can see the people in politics that are cutting funding for organizations like this. Organizations like Waypoint. Money that's coming – there's usually like we had a really lovely surplus, CEAG, that we also got to benefit from to create public artworks. That's gone. What does the next phase look like when we're done with this? 

And it's exhausting not only to burden the emotional aspects of our clients' lives, ourselves. Work the 40 hours. Do the grant writing and then do like the physical. It's like no wonder there's such a high turnover, right? You have these like beautiful projects. How do we make sure that the individuals involved in that aren't killing themselves in a sense? 

[0:35:37] LHL: Right. This ties into it a bit what you just answered. But beyond funding, how can adults be your best allies besides staying the hell out of your way? 

[0:35:51] SJ: Showing up for young people. That's really like what it is at its essence, right? If a young person – and are there teachers out here? How many of you? Hands. 

[0:36:00] YS: Lots of hands.

[0:36:02] SJ: Okay. Woo. You're probably like seeing young people at more than their families are sometimes and are the stable place where young people are going. When they're tired in school and they have a need for rest that isn't being met elsewhere, and their clothes aren't clean and all of these things, you're the one that's in the position to be able to make a difference and to be able to get services involved like through McKinney-Vento or through us at Waypoint. We with young people within the school systems to be able to provide shelter to minors, 12 to 17. To be able to help bring young people into projects like this that have a transformative power to be able to help connect to other places and spaces in community that are important for them. You hold keys to that. And so, I throw it to you as community members. Because young people are everyone's responsibility. 

[0:36:53] YS: Right. But I think, also sometimes it's really difficult. I have this complaint from our elders, which is always like I don't know how to find it. Right now, in this room, Richella Simard throws incredible events for young people at West High in Manchester. Amber Nicole Cannon is a disability rights activist and always involved in work like this. 

You can follow us and we'll lead you to other people. You can send a message and go, "Dude, I'm interested in drag shows. I want to be more involved in X, Y and Z." Okay. I guess it's also our duty to be like, "Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. We need you. We need your eyes. We need your support." We need you to also like lean in on this language so we can change this narrative that we're fighting." I don't think it's alone. I think we just need exposure. 

[0:37:34] SJ: Totally. 

[0:37:36] SW: Right. This question is really sort of similar to some of the others. There's lots of thirst from the audience clearly for like calls to action. For people not familiar with this work, what's an action item for people to put their hands in the work? For example, for art educators in their spaces and art organizations, how can we truly make it get community full circle? 

[0:37:59] YS: Man, I'm tired. You know what I mean? I'm tired. I think – 

[0:38:04] LHL: It's been a very full interview. 

[0:38:08] SW: It's been a lot of talking. 

[0:38:08] YS: I mean, I think we talked about it. It's like voting correctly. Supporting local events that are catering to this. And I think the individual who spoke earlier today, get uncomfortable and do something different for once, or twice, or four times a year, right? 

What we do at KJ or Kimball Jenkins is we look at the calendar year and we go, "What are the events that we always do? What are the ones that we want to be involved in? And what's the experiment stuff?" And that's for the next year what we're going to do so that we don't spend our energy everywhere, but we can have a strategic, "All right, this is what we're going to bolster, and look at and check out."

[0:38:42] LHL: Awesome.

[0:38:42] SW: I think it's perfect. I think getting uncomfortable is just really good advice. 

[0:38:46] LHL: Mm-hmm. This is a little bit more of a logistical-type question. How do youth work with gain transportation to work sites? 

[0:38:55] SJ: Yeah. The work site itself is actually at our shelter. Young people who are living at our shelter are there. They live there. And then our drop-in center is actually in Manchester. And so, most young people, if they're not staying at the shelter are staying outside kind of around us. And we have a good sense of that. And so, they're usually there in the morning. 

And then we provide transportation for any other young person. I have one young person who's like couch surfing. We'll go and pick them up and just bring them to the center. And the same would be true for any other young person. We have a van. We just fill people in a van and come on over. 

[0:39:32] YS: We've also worked with the courier before. We have a partnership with them where we can just take our young people there all the time to explore. And that's highly beneficial yet again to be in areas like this. We've taken them to Dancing Lion, to Hop Knot. It's like making friends with the local community. And our community is very supportive. And so, they meet more people. 

[0:39:55] SW: I love that. I love that. 

[0:39:56] YS: The Nature Conservancy has a bus? They all took the bus to Bear Brook. 

[0:40:02] SW: Oh, cool. 

[0:40:03] YS: Yeah. And that's like money that we, again, compensate. I'm like make a Google form. Fill it out. Get people there. I'm going to pay you for that work. Handle it. Yes. It sounds like a great idea. You should be compensated.

[0:40:13] LHL: Oh, full circle. That's so awesome. 

[0:40:15] SW: I'm going to edit this question slightly while I ask it. Because I'm thinking about the conversation that we had earlier about physical safety and psychological safety. And what are you thinking about like people want to see mural? What are you thinking about in terms of an unveiling, or an event, or some other way where you can safely invite people into the space to see the mural while not being invasive or putting that safety at risk? 

[0:40:39] LHL: Or putting one at risk. Yeah. 

[0:40:41] YS: The mural unveiling is a semi-closed event at this point. I think you can take a walk in Manchester and check it out. But for now, we have to have an invitation list. 

[0:40:51] LHL: Yep. Makes sense.

[0:40:53] SW: Yeah. That's totally fair. 

[0:40:54] LHL: Yep. 

[0:40:56] LHL: Amazing conversation. Both of you.

[0:40:57] SW: Truly. 

[0:40:58] SW: Truly. We want to give you a little bit of time between sessions to network/collect donations. 

[0:41:06] LHL: To our guests as well, a round of applause. Thank you both so much for sharing everything you've shared today. Yeah. I Echo Sarah's thoughts, that it has opened up a lot of things to me and it's going to stay with me for a while. For a long time. 

[0:41:26] SW: Yeah, thank you so much. Thank you. 

[0:41:29] LHL: Thank you again, both of you. And with that, show us your Creative Guts. Great job, everybody. 

[0:41:37] SW: Good shouter over there. 

[0:41:42] LHL: You all succeeded. Good job.


[0:41:49] LHL: Another huge thank you to Yasamin and Sarah for joining us on Creative Guts. This was a very powerful interview. Their work is a great example of how the arts can uplift voices of marginalized individuals, bring together a community and empower youth. 

I not only thank Yasamin and Sarah for doing the work to make this program happen, but for sharing it with us and with the audience. I appreciate learning more about the program and some of what our homeless children and young adults face daily. I'm glad their voices are being heard through public art. 

[0:42:27] SW: I feel so honored to have had the opportunity to talk with Yasamin and Sarah and to be a platform for them to share about the work that they're doing. The work is clearly so carefully planned and personally meaningful to both of them. And their approach is appropriately sensitive and thoughtful. And it takes a lot of time to build trust and create a safe place. This work is neither Speedy nor easy. It's just incredible to see the arts being used as a tool in this way. 

If you're interested in learning more or supporting this work, please visit and Of course, we'd also like to thank the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts for inviting us to be part of their conference. Learn more about what they do at 

[0:43:11] LHL: As always, you can find those links and more in the episode description and on our website, You will find us on Facebook and Instagram at Creative Guts podcast. 

[0:43:22] SW: Thank you for tuning in. We'll be back next Wednesday with another episode of Creative Guts.