The Rapidian

Local videographer's Kala Project highlights beauty, strength in adversity

The Kala Project, a Grand Rapids-based charitable organization, searches and shares stories with hopes to inspire those around them.
Editing the next project for Kala

Editing the next project for Kala /Kendra Vanderlip

Kyle Venhousen, Director of the Kala Project

Kyle Venhousen, Director of the Kala Project /Kendra Vanderlip

Bradley Productions, a Grand Rapids videography studio, has created The Kala Project, a videography based charitable organization with a desire to tell stories that connect, provoke and inspire in the community around them. The goal behind The Kala Project is to highlight that focus on individuals who find a silver lining to any situation even though they they are in unfortunate circumstances, such as cancer and chronic illness. Even though the subjects of their films are suffering from some ailment or handicap, there is still an element of joy in their life, and that joy is what The Kala Project attempts to capture in their video stories.

Some stories that they have taken on recently include a profile on an Army veteran, Colonel Champion, who served 27 years in the Army and survived seven Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blasts, only to return home and have her sight stolen by a virus she caught in Iraq. Another one of their first stories is about Holly Veurink, who interviewed with The Kala Project when diagnosed with stage four cancer. Their most recent project enabled them to go to Honduras for several days and film different aspects of the country and people.

“There is a lot of brokenness, but then there is also a lot of potential for beauty,” says Kyle Venhousen, director of The Kala Project. “That brokenness can serve as a transformation into something truly beautiful.”

The word Kala (pronounced Kah-lah) means finding the good in the sense of beauty, order and rightness in the world. Finding the right word to define their project was of great importance. Bradley Jansen, the founder of The Kala Project, wanted to find the word that would spark the most interest.

“The word encompasses what we do. And it’s a word that will hopefully make people stop and wonder what we are about,” says Jansen. His hope is that when people discover the organization, it will motivate them to either share their stories or find other ways to inspire those around them.

“The sky really is the limit with not only what The Kala Project can do, but what anyone can do. By telling our own stories, finding stories or just being a part of stories that change the world, big or small," says Jansen.

Jansen’s aspirations for The Kala Project have always had one basic goal: to tell better stories that have deep impact and thought provoking change in people’s lives.

Tyler Doi, a boy with autism, was recently showcased with The Kala Project. The video profiles Doi’s savant skill of being able to identify a Woodstock chime simply by hearing it. The story is currently being shared on Upworthy and he and his parents have received several requests for interviews since the video was created. His parents, Sean and Allison Doi, are impressed with the level of professionalism exhibited by The Kala Project during the filming.

“An amazing experience- we had never done anything like this before. They were just so professional. It made for an enjoyable weekend of filming,” says Sean Doi. The Dois also talked briefly about how the story wasn’t created: that it was just The Kala Project capturing this point of time in their lives.

“They were really good in terms of the filming. It was very natural; we didn’t have to prepare or do many retakes,” says Allison Doi. They’ve received some positive feedback from people reaching out after having seen the video of Tyler Doi.

Feedback is one of the motivating factors for Venhousen as well. He can’t identify a specific story The Kala Project has done as a favorite, but he is ecstatic for the feedback he gets for any of their videos.

“Feedback [is that] certain videos really hit people in the heart, and that’s what we are trying to do,” says Venhousen. The Kala Project is currently looking for more stories to tell, stories that can’t be done justice by just word of mouth. Their website offers a chance to volunteer your time or donate to their cause.

The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.