It was out of a great loss that Kathy Eldon founded the Creative Visions Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports “creative activists” who use media for change. Her son, Dan Eldon, was a self-taught photojournalist, artist and activist who took compelling photographs of the drought and Civil War in Somalia in the early ‘90s. News about the conflict wasn’t registering at that time in international media until Dan’s images began circulating via Reuters.
“There was a public outcry,” said Jacob Devaney, an artist, journalist, activist and one of the people Kathy Eldon took under her wing. “The United Nations got involved and they went to bomb some warlords. They killed some respected elders in the village,” Devaney told atombash.com.
Dan Eldon, 22, along with three of his colleagues, was stoned to death by an enraged mob as a result of the bombing. When word reached Kathy Eldon, she was devastated. According to Devaney, as she tried to cope with her trauma, she had a dream that would prompt the creation of Creative Visions. Her son appeared in that dream and told her not to mourn his passing but to instead make it possible for other young people to use art and media to raise social awareness about important issues.
Kathy went to work. Fueled by this new mission, she searched diligently for creative activists and reached out to them personally. Early on, Creative Visions awarded small grants to emerging filmmakers who produced films like the Academy Award-winning documentary “Born Into Brothels.” More award-winning films were created as a result of Creative Visions’ efforts: “Dying to Tell the Story” (TBS), the television series “Global Tribe” and “Soldiers of Peace” (PBS) and “Extraordinary Moms” (OWN) were some of those mention on Creative Visions’ history page.
Creative Visions Foundation has become a successful organization, helping many adventurers and creative activists amplify their messages via whatever medium they use. In many cases, the organization helps creative activists hone skills they didn’t even know they had. Through encouragement and support of artists, filmmakers, playwrights, leaders of social movements and more around the world, Creative Visions’ more than 200 projects and productions have impacted more than 100 million people.
Devaney was just one of those who had been supported and encouraged by Creative Visions. He was referred to Kathy Eldon through a friend because of the work he was doing on reservations, using art as a way to educate and communicate across cultures. Eldon suggested that Devaney share his work through media geared towards educators as a way to amplify his methods. “She asked me to develop a project that Creative Visions could get behind,” Devaney explained.
With her support, Devaney got the idea to put together a YouTube channel called Culture Collective. The video channel highlighted art and education projects that focused on bringing people together and making social change. “At that point, I was really just making video and talking about culture, but Kathy contacted me and said “I love what you’re doing, I’ve got you a spot writing for the Huffington Post.”
“I had never thought of myself as a blogger or writer,” Devaney says. “But writing for HP began to shape my voice. I went on to write for many different sections including arts/culture, politics, environment, spirituality and more.” He also went on to found and direct very large media platforms such as Culture Collective and Unify.org.
“The world of social change and media making is intimidating, and a difficult one to navigate at that,” relates Creative Visions’ webpage. That is why the organization supports emerging creative activists and actively seeks them out through its multiple programs.