The explosion of viral GoPro videos has ushered in the wild world of adrenaline junkies and thrill-seekers, all viewed from the comfort of Americans’ living rooms.
But now some sociologists in San Francisco want to use the easily mounted, high-definition cameras to illustrate their city’s continuing problem with homelessness.
By strapping a camera to Adam Reichart, homeless for 30 years, the group hopes to bring awareness to a different extreme: life on the street.
Project co-founder Erika Barraza said it was borne from a need to hear directly from homeless people on their daily struggles. “We’re trying to build empathy, letting people see a first-person perspective and day-to-day challenges,” Barraza told ABCNews.com.
Reichart is wearing the camera on his chest voluntarily. The organization, called “Homeless GoPro,” says Reichart’s insights have helped him be promoted to “creative producer.”
“A lot of the people that are homeless are just a product of society,” Reichart said in the first “Homeless GoPro” video, posted onto YouTube Sunday.
The videos are edited pieces, and feature Reichart voicing his frustration with modern society while asking passersby for money.
“In the last five years, I probably, without exaggeration, have known 100 people that have been normal, everyday working people that have become homeless,” Reichart said.
Reichart, who was unavailable to speak to ABC News, has struggled with addiction for many years, but says he has been sober for four years. The organization said he sees its work as a way to help turn his life around.
One of the people behind the project, Kevin Adler, has faced homelessness before: his uncle Mark lived on the streets for 30 years.
“Like Mark, there are many people on the streets who suffer from mental illness, or drug addictions, or severe disabilities. Many people who have problems, just like the rest of us,” Adler wrote on the group’s website.
Barraza said the organization has even bigger goals than awareness. It is hoping these videos help service agencies in the city better understand what homeless people need. “By collecting these stories, it’ll get better insight to the people that provide these services,” Barraza said.
The organization says California-based Woodman Labs, which owns the GoPro brand, has donated one camera to them for the endeavor. It also hopes the project grows in the coming years.
“This is a community project, we want it to grow with community consensus,” Barraza said.
Homeless GoPro will continue to roll out videos this week, and is encouraging city residents to share their own videos of conversations with homeless people.