Musicians, students and concerned community members will have a chance tonight to gather under one roof to benefit those who live throughout the year on the street.
The plight of the homeless will be the focus of "Streetwise," a concert first conceived by Harvard students more than three years ago, that will be held in the Old Cambridge Baptist Church in Cambridge, this evening from 5 p.m. to midnight.
While the several hundred people who are expected to attend some part of the marathon concert will not be charged admission, concert organizers will ask for donations for Project Bread and the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, according to Clark M. Pratt '87, supervisor of the University Lutheran Homeless Shelter.
"We're hoping to get people who wouldn't be able to attend something if there was an admission charge," Pratt said.
Organizers added that they hope the concert format will convey their message effectively.
"We're interested in a sort of cultural approach as opposed to a simple tell-about approach," said Dan P. Buchanan '90 of Dunster, who works on the Harvard Homeless Committee.
The University shelter, along with Harvard's Freshman Urban and Hunger Action programs, has been planning the event since late September. More than 20 Harvard students have been involved in the project.
After approaching several street entertainers about making an appearance at the benefit, Pratt said he, "found out right away that a lot of the people we spoke to would be heading South as soon as it got cold."
The performers, many of whom have been homeless themselves, agreed to remain in the area until after an early November concert date.
"Blue," a musician in the group "Two Hippies and an Armenian," which Pratt booked after they had performed an act on Brattle Street, said he believes in the cause and does not feel the group will be going out of their way to appear.
"This guy [Pratt] is putting this on, and all he's asking from me is a little bit of time," said Blue, who said he has been homeless.
Rob Salafia, a magician scheduled to emcee the show has spent the last 10 years performing on the streets, primarily at Fanueil Hall.
"Being on the street a lot," Salafia said, "I got to get a glimpse of what it is to be on the street. There's a whole sub-life out there that people just don't see."
Stewart Guernsey, founder of the University Lutheran Homeless Shelter and a fifth-year student at the Harvard Divinity School, will be among the speakers at the concert.
"Housing is a matter of justice rather than charity," Guernsey said. "We so frequently view people on the streets as being somehow morally inferior rather than remembering we could, in fact, wind up on the streets ourselves."