Called from Darkness is a six part documentary that explores the spiritual dimensions of addiction recovery with an emphasis on finding community and recovering one’s own meaning and purpose.
Home Boy Joy Ride
Home Boy Industries is a living model of community and transformation. It is the starting point on a joy ride that takes people suffering from addiction, isolation, and marginalization to community and connection. Home Boy is where individuals come together to heal themselves and connect with their lives, their families and the community.
“This place want to stand against forgetting that we belong to each other. It’s at the root of all the things that are wrong with the world. It’s born of the notion that there might be lives out there that matter less than other lives and we stand against that notion.
Fr. Grey Boyle
Founder Home Boy Industries
Harriet Rossetto and her husband Rabbi Mark Borovitz run a treatment center where they treat addiction as a spiritual malady and turn to the Torah as their big book. People come into this center feeling hopeless and filled with self-hatred. They are offered a sanctuary and a sense of belonging. Miracles happen over time as residents get reattached to their soulfulness through music, community, and the opportunity to reflect. They are introduced to the Jewish concept of t’shuvah which is a daily accounting of their actions. As they discover faith is an action, a daily action. Faith is not a noun, faith is a verb!
Since 1988 homeless Veterans have found their way to Stand Down which is a three day event that provides legal, medical, dental, optical, and a sense of belonging. Dr. Jon Natchison calls it a drug free Woodstock music festival combined with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The event is the love child of Vietnam Vets who saw other veterans languishing on the streets. Today the San Diego Stand Down includes over two thousand volunteers and a thousand homeless men, women and children. Now there are over 300 Stand Downs in cities across the country.
Of the 1 percent who sign up for the military have a disproportionate numbers of individuals experiencing trauma, PTSD, substance abuse disorders, and homelessness. This event offers a way for former participants to come back and volunteer to give support to those who need to feel the connection and find a way to get the services they need to recover their life. Here the mission is to leave no one behind
Recovery Café is an island of sanity in the midst of an ocean of indifference. Killian Noe and Ruby Takushi the founders know that addiction, homelessness, and trauma is what makes people seek the refuge of the café. But it is the compassion, gratitude, and humility that they find here that makes members keep coming back. To be known and cherished is an emotional need of all and for those that become part of this they find a sense of belonging and becoming that promotes emotional and spiritual growth. Here members have established relationships called recovery circles, there is a running club, a writers group, book club, and a hearty lunch. But more importantly the antidote to the depressing effects of isolation are community and connection.
Journeys on the Red Road
NW Coastal Indians refer to the Journey as their Red Road as healing. After lives of generational trauma, racism, and substance use disorders people are looking for a way back into a life of meaning and purpose. The psycho-spiritual path is the red road and for these coastal tribes the annual canoe journey is a way to commit to a method that brings them closer to Creator and in touch with community through chanting, sweat lodges, and recovery meetings. We have been filming with community leaders who have shared with us how recovery has changed their lives and the lives of those around them.
What is the correction response when your community is awash in a glut of heroin and methamphetamine?
Pedro Herrera is a community organizer and a former EMT on disability who has dedicated his life to raising awareness and healing the wounded. Pedro is spiritual warrior. He gives comfort to the afflicted by distributing food, clothing, shelter, overdose kits, and emotional support. He is frequently called on the houses of people who are dying and leads prayers at their funerals.
We have followed him as he marched on the governor’s office to demand that a state of emergency be declared. He has organized marches to Chimayo to make the public aware of how their culture is being wiped out in this valley of death. There are no detox facilities in the area, few job prospects, and a high volume of drugs that pass through hwys 25 and 40. Here is a man crying out for justice who is making every attempt to comfort the afflicted but to the corrupt officials and politicians he is out to afflict the comfortable.
It was a chance encounter with Sheila Raye Charles the daughter of renown musician that set me on the path of this set of documentaries. After years of addiction and three trips to prison she surrendered and had a transformational experience that led her to form a prison ministry. After 40 years of making informational films on addiction I wanted to produce films on transformational healing. Before i could start the film with Sheila Raye she was diagnosed with cancer and several months later she passed.
Thank you Sheila for lighting the torch! It has been a personal journey. Finding stories of transformational healing put me on the road to Albuquerque to interview Richard Rohr of the Center for Action and Contemplation. Then many opportunities to meet and film at Home Boy Industries with Greg Boyle. On the journey with the NW Coastal Natives, in the cross hairs of the overdose zone in Northern New Mexico, with the homeless Vets who are struggling to overcome trauma and with Killian Noe who is setting up a a network on Recovery Cafe’s and in the Soul Sanctuary of Rabbi Mark and Hariett who help people to recover their purpose and discover their passion.
We have now been working on this documentary for over three years. We have listened to the least, the left out, and the locked up. Those who have lost everything realize the value of belonging and community. The people at the margins are the best witnesses to teach the rest of us. Our films will take you to these margins because that is where the joy is. These films bring hope to addicts and those who love them. With 30 million people experiencing a substance abuse disorder and with 3-5 people who care about them that accounts for over one third of the population of the country that is impacted by this disease. IT is a disease the flourishes in isolating. Over the past three years and hundreds of interviews i have come to believe that the opposite of addiction is not sobriety, the opposite of addiction is community and connection.
peace and good health
Paul J. Steinbroner
Paul has produced and distributed 50 films on the neuropharmacology of addiction and published eight editions of the textbook Uppers, Downers, All Arounders.