CONCRETE ROOTS: a film examining Black Education

Fundraising: PHASE ONE

We are THE COUCH - a diverse, multidisciplinary documentary film team based in Southern California, preparing to shoot our feature film: CONCRETE ROOTS. In a moment when our nation is chillingly aware of the longstanding conspiracy against black life, CONCRETE ROOTS focuses on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), which have long been a home for black belonging and a haven for black thriving. HBCUs are integral to the American story, yet much of America is virtually unaware of their existence and vitality. 

In 2017, in the wake of the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Sandra Bland, we began hosting and filming conversations on a literal couch that we carried from campus to campus across sixteen HBCUs. We made these interviews into short films, which we screened in cities all over the nation as part of a discussion on race and American history. In the process, we saw how few people knew about the institutions that have been a vital part of the cultural and intellectual infrastructure of America. Yet, as Ta-Nehisi Coates has written of his experience attending an HBCU, “Through [Howard] I saw that we were, in our own segregated body politic, cosmopolitans. The black diaspora was not just our own world but, in so many ways, the Western world itself.”
In making this film, we’re calling all Americans to sit with us on our proverbial Couch -- whether it's posted up in the middle of The Yard or in front of the Natatorium at Wilberforce University – and learn about a facet of the Western world that is too often given short shrift in American history books.

We need your financial partnership to create this documentary. 

We invite you to invest in this film. Join with us in amplifying black voices and celebrating black excellence.

Your donations will be used directly toward production of the film: Pre-production research | Documentary Production costs | Cinematography | Sound Design | Travel to and from film locations | Post-production expenses | Editing | Sound mixing

We've dedicated ourselves to rigorous, thoughtful research and preparation, and we plan to begin shooting by: AUTUMN, 2020. 

We need our film funded by: SEPTEMBER, 2020.

Our PHASE ONE $100,000 crowdfunding goal will help us cover initial development and pre-production costs. In subsequent fundraising phases, we will continue to fundraise through grants and larger donors to meet our projected overall goal of $1 million. 


John Paul Howard
is the Director of CONCRETE ROOTS, the Founder of The Couch, and the son of two alumni of Tuskegee University. John worked in the nonprofit world as an event organizer and public speaker before directing his first documentary film in 2018. John attended the Boston Architectural College and is the lead developer for The Couch art installations and “Off The Record,” a podcast produced by The Couch. 

Josiah Sims
is the Director of Photography, Art, and Culture, and the grandson of alumni from FAMU. Josiah graduated from Washington State University with a degree in Graphic Design. He is the founder of HEAVY Artistry Clothing Company, a painter of cultural art, and he is the Cinematographer and Editor for CONCRETE ROOTS.

Lisa Muloma
is the writer of the CONCRETE ROOTS team. She is a rising third year at Stanford Law School where she is studying indigent defense and civil rights law. She holds a B.A. in Literature with a concentration in Creative Writing from Vanderbilt University. An avid storyteller, Lisa has been known to host open mic nights in her home, edit literary and legal journals, and ask pointed questions.

Hailey Patrick
graduated in 2017 from Michigan State University with a Degree in Media & Information, minoring in Documentary Productions. She has created media content for nonprofits and major sports teams. In January of 2019, she joined The Couch as the Producer, Cinematographer and Associate Editor of CONCRETE ROOTS. 

Emily Timmer is the Assistant Director of CONCRETE ROOTS. She also develops the emotional arc for Couch Installations, as co-curator, as well as collaborating with John for "Off the Record." Emily was Director of the Ekballo Project - directing 8 international documentary films over 5 years. She's currently completing her Masters in Film Production with an Emphasis in Directing at Chapman University.

Christa Mindling is a producer for CONCRETE ROOTS. She also oversees the day-to-day operations of The Couch. She coordinates Couch events: from Couch-hosted film screenings to The Couch Art Installations. Christa is currently completing her business degree and has worked in the nonprofit world for the past five years developing people, strategies, and more.

Christina Gonzalez Ho is a cultural/creative consultant and producer for CONCRETE ROOTS. Christina holds a B.A. in comparative literature and creative writing from Stanford University (2010) and a J.D. from Harvard Law School (2014). She is the co-founder of n/A, a creative and cultural consulting firm (, and co-author of the book Los Angeles: Mestizo Archipelago (Pinatubo Press 2018). 

Christian Gonzalez Ho is a cultural/creative consultant and producer for CONCRETE ROOTS.  Christian holds a B.A. in American Studies from Fordham University (2004) and a Masters of Architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design (2017). He is a co-founder of n/A, a creative and cultural consulting firm, and co-author of the book Los Angeles: Mestizo Archipelago. From 2005-2010 Christian worked off-Broadway as a writer and director and began working in documentary filmmaking in 2012.

We are a team of filmmakers, activists, writers, lawyers, architects, artists, and cultural theorists. And we're asking YOU to join us.

THANK YOU for your willingness to link arms with us.

-John, Josiah, Hailey, Christa, Lisa, Emily, Christina, and Christian


Long Beach, CA

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