Our latest photo class assignment here at UNC is to follow a local high school sports team, and I’m thrilled to be working with the Hillside Hornets football team out of Durham. The Hornets have a record of 23 straight conference wins heading into the season, and head coach Antonio King says they’re ready to dominate again this year. Thanks so much to Coach King and all of the coaching staff and players for letting me come along for the ride. I never imagined I’d be this excited about going back to high school. Go Hornets!
This week I spent some time with sisters Lucero, left, and Estrella and their family in their mobile home near the Eno River State Park outside of Durham, NC. The girls babysit while their parents prepare the house for their mother’s birthday party.
This week I’ve been working on a story at a mobile home community here in Chapel Hill with four-year-old Melanie (pictured) and her family. One thing I’ve noticed since moving to North Carolina is what seems, to me, like a lot of trampolines in people’s yards, something I definitely don’t remember from my time growing up. Is this a phenomenon that somehow escaped suburban New Jersey?
For this week’s photo story, our assignment was to find “pageantry.” I headed 2 hours west of my new home in Carrboro to Troutman, North Carolina, where I found the Star Family Circus and Thrill Show performing at the Iredell County Agricultural Fair. The family circus is made up of just eight performers, all of whom were born into the circus life and travel nearly year-round performing. Oscar Garcia, the circus owner, says the show has its roots in the Mexican carnival tradition; Garcia moved to the U.S. from Mexico in 1981 and since then has continued to take his circus all across the country.
As with all these weekly stories, I had just a couple days to shoot, but I definitely had thoughts of dropping everything to follow the mystique of the circus life! You can see more selects from this story here.
Just wanted to post a quick image from this week’s photo story about b-boys, or breakdancers, in the Raleigh area. This scene is from a practice session with the Break-fast Club (get it?) at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. As always, I love shooting hip hop culture, and it’s amazing to see these guys and girls defy gravity with their bodies. And of course the best part is the amazing music! Hoping to shoot more of them soon.
I’ve recently made a big move and am happy to announce that, for the next two years, I’ll be working on a masters degree in visual journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I’m thrilled for the opportunity to be here working with some fabulous mentors and talented classmates and pursuing stories with the support and resources of the university community. I’m most grateful to the Park family and the Triad Foundation for their generous support of my work here through the Roy H. Park Fellowship program.
For my first weekly photo story, I spent some time at the New Greater Zion Wall House of Miracles in Durham. I really loved the community feel of this small congregation, who were celebrating a youth revival during the weekend I spent there. The church will soon celebrate its 63rd anniversary and many of those who worship there, including the church’s Senior Pastor Apostle Dr. T.L. Peaks-Cash, were born and raised in the church. I hope to be able to spend more time there as I continue to explore the communities of Durham.
I’m excited to congratulate my friend and collaborator Renessa Ciampa-Brewer over at Ciampa Creative who just won a 2013 American Graphic Design Award! Renessa did a beautiful job on this report for The Innovation Fund of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, reporting back on how their grantees are meeting the needs of the uninsured. I was really lucky to be able to partner with Renessa and her team on this and photograph the great work that’s happening at the Lowell Community Health Center. (A shout out to Marilyn Humphries as well, who provided beautiful photography for the other sites featured in the report.) Check out the full report here — and congrats again Renessa!
This spring I had the opportunity to partner with an incredible worker-owned coop called CERO. CERO stands for Cooperative Energy, Recycling & Organics, and they are a source separation waste, recycling, & organic compost business serving restaurants in Roxbury, Dorchester and East Boston. In addition to providing an important service, CERO worker-owners are creating sustainable, green jobs, helping build local food networks, and working hard to keep resources in the community and promote broader development.
Today CERO launches their IndieGoGo campaign (featuring the video I made for them) to raise the seed money that will help them set up the structure for local investors to be part of the company. This has been a really broad effort involving lots of community partners and we’re confident it will be a great venture & a great vehicle for green community development. Check out the video and support them on their IndieGoGo campaign page before September 13, or contact CERO directly if you’d like to talk to them about investing in the company.
I’m happy to announce my latest video project (watch it here) that came out of an exciting new partnership with Community Labor United (CLU) and the Green Justice Coalition (GJC).
Public Transit–Public Good, a campaign of CLU and the GJC, brings together workers, riders, and communities in pursuit of a more affordable, sustainable and equitable transit system. This fall, I worked with CLU and the GJC to tell the parallel stories of a bus rider and a bus driver as a way of illustrating how good public transit benefits whole communities and cities. Chris Fanous lives and works in Springfield, MA, and depends on the bus system to get around. Michael Haughton has been driving for the Springfield Area Transit Company for 13 years and cares about the needs of his riders. Watch the video to meet Chris and Michael and hear their stories.
For more on the campaign, visit www.publictransitpublicgood.org.
Planet Takeout is: Crab rangoon. Dollar plates. Lucky cats. Charming delivery men. Late night drunken indulgences. And neon. Lots of neon.
Producer Val Wang and I spent the last few months steaming our buns, if you will, in the simmering kitchens of Chinese takeout restaurants around Boston. Val is the creator and director of Planet Takeout, a participatory multimedia documentary project about the role of Chinese takeouts as vital cultural crossroads in Boston and beyond. Together, we’ve been collecting images and stories from both sides of the takeout counter, exploring themes of neighborhood history, family relationships, cultural clashes, and unexpected connections through the lens of the humble Chinese takeout.
Today, we’re happy to launch the Planet Takeout website! Pop on over and check it out at: www.planettakeout.org
We worked with the internet wizards at Zeega and graphic design mavericks at Golden Arrows to create an immersive, interactive website that features the stories we’ve collected and invites users to submit their own photos, stories, and locations (you can add your own takeout to our Delicious World map). We hope you like it and we especially hope you’ll send us a photo of your favorite takeout, a lucky fortune, an amazing neon sign, your loyal deliveryperson, or whatever captures your experience with Chinese takeout. We can’t wait to hear from you.
Planet Takeout is a project of Val Wang, WGBH 89.7, and Zeega. It is part of Localore, a national initiative of the Association of Independents in Radio (AIR).