Hoodies for the Homeless: Where art meets activism

Tavis Eaton and Pushmethod use art – and a commitment to freedom of speech – to challenge inconsistencies and support Hoodies for the Homeless initiative.

On Feb. 8, Tavis Eaton and his band Pushmethod hosted ~600 people in a warehouse-style space in downtown NYC. The likes of Nyck Caution and Kirk Knight took to a central 360-degree stage over the course of the night. Large scale murals created on-site by urban artists covered the walls. Meanwhile, mannequins painted in a wide variety of styles and tones adorned the space. With lights flashing in a borderline immersive artistic environment, it would be easy to believe this was just an interesting party. However, the cause bringing each of these artists and activists together remained at the forefront of the night.

Eaton is a veteran, artist and a man on a mission. This event was only one chapter in an ongoing project to keep homeless individuals warmer and safer. Over the course of two years, Pushmethod collected over 30,000 hoodies during live shows. At times, the band even traded in ticket sales for hoodie donations. Why would a group on the rise opt for this method of entry to their performances? We decided to ask the man himself.

 

Mannequins for auction at Pushmethod's Hoodies for the Homeless event.
Mannequins for auction at Pushmethod’s Hoodies for the Homeless event.

 

Tavis Eaton and an artist’s responsibility

A few days after this big event, Eaton sat down with TheCelebrityCafe.com’s Erin Huestis to talk about Hoodies for the Homeless – past, present and future. Eaton explained that he has been struck for years by overwhelming stats associated with the homeless population in New York City. According to the Coalition for the Homeless, in Dec. ’16, the measureable homeless population was ~62,674. This number does not account for individuals outside of NYC, nor does it include those who do not make it to the safety of a shelter. Of this total number, approximately 24,076 were children.

Hoodies for the Homeless
Hoodie donations pile up at the Hoodies for the Homeless event.

In addition to the pull these striking statistics had on Eaton, the ongoing issue of homelessness among veterans hit close to home for him. Despite the city’s stance that chronic homelessness in this subpopulation has been eliminated, some organizations are not so sure.

We asked Eaton if it is the responsibility of artists to use their voice for the greater good in these scenarios – even if it is seen as dissention or labeled subversive. He replied: “Yeah, absolutely. We will definitely speak the truth. We’re not going to hold our tongue. We’re going to let you know that what you’re saying is BS.”

This attitude is reflected in Pushmethod’s music, actions and a bold statement on Facebook:

“I humbly swear to seek all opportunities to make my name heard. This may mean risking bodily harm, including bending or possibly breaking the law and utilizing my freedom of speech to its fullest extent.”

When a thought turns to a movement

Pushmethod takes these ideals a few steps further than mere statement. Musicians have long since carried the banner for freedom of speech and human rights. However, for many, the action stops in lyrics. By accepting donations – and now actively seeking to change the playing field – Pushmethod hopes to make real change. This is evident in the Good Hood, which was unveiled at their recent event.

 

The Good Hood
Good Hood, unveiled at the Hoodies for the Homeless event.

The Good Hood is slated to include a range of features that combine comfort and technology. Eaton described solar fabrics to keep people warm, hoods that expand into pillows and internal water bladders as some of the ideas at play in this new design. Among the various collaborators bringing this project to life is The Coalition for the Homeless. Hoodies for the Homeless will continue to work with this organization as the Good Hood nears distribution. Eaton’s aim is to donate one to the homeless for each hoodie commercially purchased.

Pushmethod maintains momentum

Fans of Pushmethod and Hoodies for the Homeless alike have a lot to look forward to. The band’s new album is scheduled to come out in March. Meanwhile, they plan to keep up momentum on the streets as well. Eaton indicated that he would like to see Hoodies for the Homeless expand. He is setting his sights on involving other bands in a nationwide tour to benefit this cause.

In the meantime, Eaton will continue to turn his ideals into action through Pushmethod and Hoodies for the Homeless:

“Freedom of speech is something we practice. Creating this movement is something that we have the ability to do… if you have a voice, you have a choice.” –Tavis Eaton

 

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