For the past thirty years, Father Greg Boyle has made it his mission to heal those afflicted by the epidemic of gang violence. As the founder of Homeboy Industries, the largest gang intervention, rehab and reentry program in the world, Father Greg has been instrumental in turning the tide on violent crime in Los Angeles and beyond. The secret to his success begins with reframing the question typically posed by well-meaning social servants. Instead of asking “how can we serve gang members?” Father Greg asks: “how can we stand with them, in awe of the pain they carry, and allow ourselves to be reached by them?”
Most folks get discouraged. But If you’re faithful to an approach you believe in then it’s all possible.
Father Greg, began his journey as a pastor of Dolores Mission Church in East Los Angeles, where he sought to provide an alternative to gang membership by launching an employment program with the motto: “nothing stops a bullet like a job.” In 1992, Father Greg expanded upon the success of that program by founding Homeboy, an organization which has evolved to provide a full spectrum of social, therapeutic and educational services to the 10,000 gang members it supports annually.
But Father Greg, a Jesuit Priest, who affectionately refers to his flock of recovering gang members as his “homies,” would argue the centerpiece of what homeboy does is provide the resources necessary for healing from trauma.
The organization’s journey from treating the symptoms to the cause of the problem was an iterative one, which he attributes to getting to know the gang members. Father Greg chronicles this personal and professional evolution in his two bestselling books: 2010’s Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion and 2017’s Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship.
Change Lab host Lorne Buchman was deeply captivated by Father Greg’s wisdom and achievements. So he sat down with Father Greg at Homeboy HQ in Downtown LA to discuss the striking parallels between Father Greg’s innovative approach to healing and the design process at the heart of ArtCenter’s curriculum. The result is an inspiring and illuminating conversation about the distinction between content and context, the notion of ‘exquisite mutuality” and the inextricable relationship between creativity, kindness and enduring change.