In a gripping new memoir, Kathy Eldon, founder and chair of the Malibu-based Creative Visions Foundation, traces how a terrible personal tragedy flowered into an organization that supports creativity for hundreds.
“In the Heart of Life: A Memoir” follows Eldon’s life journey across three continents, a great loss and the formation of her foundation.
In 1977, Eldon moved to Kenya with her husband and two young children from England, finding a vibrant country and an escape from her confining former life. But 16 years later, Eldon saw her world crater when her 22-year-old son Dan—an artist and photojournalist on assignment for Reuters—was stoned to death by the same people he was trying to help in Somalia.
Following her son’s murder, Kathy published a series of his illustrated journals, which became best sellers.
Her bio on the book flap says that she and her daughter Amy founded Creative Visions Foundation after Dan was killed, but in her book she explains that she received the vision three years prior.
“In 1990, I awakened with a vivid dream of what I was supposed to create: It was called Creative Visions, and we would use the power of media for people to help themselves and the planet,” Eldon writes. “I described all aspects of this organization; I drew the building where we could be—I only realized a year ago when I found the notebook that I was in the building I had drawn.”
Over the past 14 years, CVF has served as an incu bator for more than 150 creative projects. CVF helps provide documentarians, artists, photographers, jour nalists and creative types with the means to get their projects off the ground, through connecting them to mentors, funding and distribution channels, strategic partnerships and other resources. The aim is to cultivate a community that allows for creativity for a purpose.
Sylvia Browne, an American psychic whom Kathy interviewed in Kenya, said to her before Dan died, “In many cases people don’t finish their work on earth and have more they want to accomplish. Then they have to use those of us who are still living to help them. And you will be one of those people.”
In the years since, Eldon came to agree.
“I personally believe, and I’m not being an evangelist of life-after-life, that since Dan’s death his energy and that what he once described through a medium as Team Spirit, they fuel me and ignite the spirits of others through me, and through the work we’re doing,” she said. “I take zero credit for what has happened, which is extraordinary. I think that when you focus on things that are outside of yourself, there is tremendous help along the way.”
Creative Visions is headquartered in Malibu, on the second floor of the American Apparel building near the intersection of Topanga Canyon Blvd. and Pacific Coast Highway.
It was in Malibu that both Kathy and her daughter Amy found love. Kathy and her husband Mike Eldon had split up in Kenya prior to Dan’s death. It was on a Malibu beach that she met architect and designer Michael Bedner, whom she later married. Meanwhile, Amy married film director Jon Turtletaub, with whom she now has two boys, Jack and Daniel.
The mother and daughter team continue to do the work of CVF together, here in Malibu.
“So many people have discovered this place [the CVF headquarters], but I don’t think Malibu has discovered it. I want Malibu to be rebranded: There are more creative activists per square inch, people who have made their fortune and fame and now they are giving back,” Kathy said. “Malibu is a very philanthropic community and we need to claim that, and I want Creative Visions Foundation to be able to help provide the services and connective tissue so that actors, writers and filmmakers who want to be involved in good projects, have an outlet for creativity and to serve. And we are here to serve. So drop in any time and people will be amazed at what is happen ing.”
Knowles Adkisson contributed to this article.