photos & interview by Nina Hans
Tell us a bit about Falling Whistles?
Falling Whistles is a campaign for peace in Congo. Four years ago we walked into Congo and learned of children sent to the frontlines armed with only a whistle and forced to fight. We wrote about it in a blog that was forwarded around the world overnight. Readers wrote back asking – what can we do? How can we help?
We have been working to answer those questions ever since.
The Whistle became our symbol. It showed why we cared. We hit the road asking other to join us and began building a coalition for peace in our world’s deadliest war.
Now, three years later, we partner with seven Congolese visionaries rehabilitating over 600 war-affected women and children. Our coalition includes 40,000 whistleblowers, over 200 retailers, 35 Congressmen, and 16 Senators.
Why did you guys choose to move your organization to Downtown LA?
We started with no home, no office and no plan – just $5 and a dream worth our everything. I hit the road, hitchhiking for four months from Austin to New York City stopping in living rooms and coffee shops, asking individuals to join us in the pursuit of peace.
Back in LA we pulled desks out of dumpsters, built a ramshackle office in our garage, and began building a coalition toward a goal most call impossible. Eight interns came from across North America to join us.
Soon we outgrew the garage. A friend had just moved in on Traction Ave and was building out an old space where he was gathering a small collective of DJs, artists, magicians, and entrepreneurs.
The creative energy was so deep. We couldn’t stay away.
We had to come.
What do you think is special about doing what you are doing in Downtown LA?
Well, first thing is that the people are amazing. I love dropping by the Daily Dose or Handsome and bumping into friends on coffee break. Everyone is coming off of their own little island. The south side of the Arts District is like that. And every island has it’s own culture. Out of all of the old warehouses that are getting revitalized further and further south, each is it’s own canvas. But none of them are blank. Every building bares the mark of somebody and something that came before.
A lot has happened with Falling Whistles in the past year, we would love to hear a bit about what’s next?
On November 20th, the rebel army M23 took over Goma, a major city in eastern Congo. M23 has executed children in the streets and as a result of the fighting, 800,000 people are displaced. They must be stopped, so we launched a platform to push back. Go to Stopm23.com learn more, and to join us in asking the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, and the White House to respond.