A moving exhibit to fight homelessness

Who: Tiptap Foundation (the charitable arm of contactless giving/payment company Tiptap), with Wunderman Thompson.

What: A new awareness campaign to raise funds for A Better Tent City, a Kitchener-Waterloo region project that uses tiny homes to provide better shelter for some of the area’s homeless people. The program is aimed at educating people about homelessness and its root causes, while raising $500,000 for A Better Tent City—which will be used to fund the construction of new homes and support the program’s operations.

When & Where: The campaign is a hybrid of a travelling educational roadshow and a donation drive in the form of a tiny home. It will be making its way through the region until the end of August, with stops including the Kitchener Market, UpTown Waterloo and TheMuseum, as well as schools and churches in the area.

Why: Tiptap Foundation has aligned itself around three key causes: ending homelessness, restoring the oceans, and supporting reforestation. This year, it has made supporting endeavours dedicated to tackling the homeless problem a priority. Established last year, A Better Tent City currently provides shelter for more than 50 people using tiny homes made by the neighbouring Mennonite community.

“There are a lot stereotypes that exist about the homeless, and we wanted to dissuade people from jumping to those conclusions and educate them about this problem,” said Wunderman Thompson’s executive creative director, Ari Elkouby. “We think this is a really powerful piece that’s coming at an interesting time.”

Tent cities are one of the most visible manifestations of how the pandemic has exacerbated the homeless situation over the past year, springing up in communities across the country as people fled shelters over fears of contracting Covid.

How: The touring tiny home features an artist’s depiction of life inside one of the tiny homes, accompanied by facts about homelessness in the Waterloo region. “We wanted to depict a scene that was accurate in terms of what the homes’ intended uses are,” said Elkouby. The exhibit also uses Tiptap’s technology to allow people to make a contactless donation of $2, $5 or $10.

Wunderman Thompson recruited Mexican illustrator Roberto Parada—who has also produced work for marketers including Allstate Insurance—to create exterior art that presents a cutaway view of the inside of one of the homes and the benefits for residents. Messages on the home’s exterior read “This is not a shelter. It’s a new chapter,” and “This is not a shelter. It’s a home.”

And we quote: “Communities like A Better Tent City are a springboard to a better life. Our role at Tiptap Foundation is to fuel those on the frontlines who are already making a difference. The team at A Better Tent City are making a real impact in the lives of the residents who choose to call that community their home.” — Mark Jordan, managing director, Tiptap Foundation

Chris Powell