The Sammy Bear Home Free Project is an example of how storytelling births real-world solutions for hard to face systemic challenges. In 2009, a player in Manchester, UK offered us his favorite childhood toy named Sammy to begin the journey of helping solve issues of homelessness. The toy literally traveled around the world collecting stories and ideas as it made its way to the US and across the Western United States. Dozens of people contributed to Sammy’s quest to discover the best solutions for homelessness.
In 2012, a homeless man in Colorado brought Sammy Bear to life after we cut the toy apart and turned it into a bear costume. He lived on the streets exploring the public's reaction to the bear costume. It was one of the first characters to “come to life” from toy form to human performer. That’s when Sammy Bear became a Community Character performed by people who have experienced homelessness or being "home-free".
Dan, one of our most dedicated Global Peace Train volunteers suddenly became homeless in 2016. He lost his retirement fund and house in the 2008 recession. His pure heart and dedication paid off when our community rallied for his well-being in a gift that would keep on giving! We raised $65,000 to buy a trailer home in Boulder Colorado for Dan. He is now housing himself there and has also provided shelter for 8 other players in need, operating the first Sammy Bear home of its kind. To add to the story, Dan will gift the home forward once he is finished with it so it continues to create benefit within our community.
In 2018, we began the second Sammy Bear Home Free campaign. This time with Dave Swallow, a Lakota Medicine Man and one of the Headsman for the Lakota, Nakota, and Dakota Tribes. Dave lives in extreme poverty on Pine Ridge Reservation and works tirelessly to lift his people out of intergenerational poverty caused by cycles of injustice, racism, addiction, and abuse. He is one of the core contributors to the Tribal Traditions Project and a leader in preserving the Lakota teachings.
The 2nd Sammy Bear Home for Dave incorporates modern eco-building techniques using aircrete to construct a 900 sq. ft. house in the shape of a teepee. Intended to serve as a prototype for future affordable new-housing construction on the Pine Ridge Reservation, this Sammy Bear Home is designed with traditional Lakota wisdom and the mission to bring systemic solutions to the Pine Ridge housing crisis.