At the moment, the Falling Whistles team is without a physical office space. Their team of six is divided between their individual homes, with one person currently in Congo. Even so, they’re united as ever, campaigning for peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
It began in 2008 when founder Sean Carusso took a five day trip to Congo. While there, he met five different former child soldiers and listened to their stories of abuse. Children were being sent to war wearing only whistles around their necks, with no protection. He returned home and told their stories to anyone who would listen, appalled that such crimes were happening, yet no one seemed to know about them. A friend gave him and old vintage whistle, which eventually became the symbol for the organization as Sean and his team are acting as “whistle blowers” for peace.
Their cause is remarkable and we’ve been spotting whistles around the necks of many LA residents, but it’s taken a lot of Joey, the current Marketing Director for the organization, recounted a story that demonstrates their humble beginnings.
Before working at Falling Whistles, Joey had a background working in nightlife and hospitality. He was the only one in that industry at Summit Series, so was given the responsibility of hosting a card game with David Blane. The game of choice was Werewolf, with the team divided into “werewolves” and “villagers.” We don’t know all of the rules, but if you’re picked out as a werewolf, you’re kicked out of the room for the night.
At some point during the course of the game, Joey pointed at a guy across the room and said, “you’re a wolf.” Since he was correct, the guy reluctantly left the room and remained outside until the game wrapped up. “I wanted to meet the guy who may have kept me from making life changing connections,” he said to Joey when he stepped outside. It just so happened that he worked in the Department of Public Engagement at the White House and ended up hitting it off with Joey over a few glasses of scotch.
As Joey explained it to us, “It was a card game to scotch to bowling to a meeting at the White House.” Long story short, they ended up attending a bowling birthday party with the werewolf and were also part of the Next Generation Leadership Conference. At that conference, he met our founder Neil, who arrived with just a Home Try-On box of frames.
At the time, Sean and CEO David Lewis were sharing a suit. For meetings, either only one of them would attend and where both the pants and jacket, or they’d end up dividing the pieces between the two of them. That meeting was one of the first that allowed them to start trying to change public policy. The LA-based trio that we met is united by the Falling Whistles cause. Their Art Director, Mario, dropped everything to join their team on the road. Monique, a lawyer by training, joined the team in Washington D.C. to officially get the team into meetings—no card games or sneaking in required.
Of course, there’s always more work to be done! We’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for more of their signature whistles as we continue our travels.
Photos by Collin Hughes