On Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011, Street Sense partnered with One Common Unity for an evening of poetry and discussion for a great cause.

In the inaugural Open Mic Night of One Common Unity’s Voices of a Movement series, poets, artists and community activists braved the snow and gathered at Busboys and Poets to discuss the topic of the evening: poverty and homelessness. Street Sense vendors Jeffery McNeil, Franklin Sterling and Chris Shaw presented original poetry as part of an event to promote discussion and discourse around issues of poverty alleviation. Special guest Joel Segal, a legislative aide in Congressman John Conyers Jr’s office and a tireless advocate for the homeless, shared his personal experience with homelessness, as well as his perspectives on how public policy can affect change either negatively or positively.

One Common Unity’s HawaH hosted the event and talked extensively about his experiences backpacking across Africa, a journey that shaped his views on peace, equality and the human experience. The evening was concluded with a call to action- a wish list for Congress developed by the audience and participants that One Common Unity will develop and share with elected officials. One Common Unity is a D.C.-based organization whose mission is to create and nurture sustainable communities through innovative peace education, arts and media. They are an international and intergenerational network of peacemakers, artists, educators and planetary stewards. It was founded in 2001 following a series of violent incidents in the D.C. area. What began as a peaceful response to violent activity has grown into a much larger arts-driven movement that is gaining visibility and making a difference in the D.C. community, especially in the lives of the youth. The “Voices of a Movement” events take place the last Sunday of each month at Busboys and Poets at 5th & K NW location from 7 to 9 p.m.