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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.
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.
Recently I was invited to speak at our local TEDx event here in Somerville, and it was such a great experience! From the organizers to the other speakers and artists to the participants, I met a ton of great people and had so many inspiring conversations. Big thanks to all of the staff and volunteers who put so much energy and enthusiasm into creating such a great day.
If you’re interested in what I had to say about how stories can create social change, you can see my talk here, or watch it on the TED website.
If you’re not familiar with TED, it’s a nonprofit dedicated to “Ideas Worth Spreading.” They have a really great collection of talks on their website on a huge variety of topics. TEDx is the local version of TED, “designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue…at the local level.” Check out their site and look for upcoming TEDx events in your area.
Whew! This year’s Independent Film Festival Boston (IFFBoston) was a whirlwind, with so many amazing feature films, shorts, and appearances by filmmakers, cast, and crew. It was really inspiring to meet so many talented people and hear them answer questions about their craft, their creative process, and current and future projects. The festival had great energy, with screening rooms packed with enthusiastic audiences and an incredible staff of volunteers to keep things running smoothly.
The Ortiz family is just one of three families at the rally who are facing eviction by Chase even though a nonprofit lender has offered to facilitate the repurchase of their homes at current market value. See more pictures from the rally here.
Gerardo and Blanca Ortiz bought their 2-family Framingham home 8 years ago. In 2008, due to temporary loss of income and family medical problems, they were at risk of falling behind on their mortgage. They hired a lawyer to help negotiate a modification, but the most they were offered was a reduction of $12 per month on their payments. In the end, their house was foreclosed on September 8, 2010. In November 2011 Boston Community Capital made a market rate offer to purchase the house, but Chase has turned down the offer and is moving to evict the Ortiz family. They will go to housing court on May 3 to fight the eviction.
Tonight was opening night at the 10th annual Independent Film Festival Boston! I’m excited to be working with the Festival to help document this year’s movies and events, and tonight was a special treat: opening night featured Mike Birbiglia’s hilarious new film, Sleepwalk With Me, followed by a Q&A with none other than Ira Glass! Stay tuned for more images from the Festival over the next few days — can’t wait!
Last Saturday I was invited to help document Feast Mass, a micro-granting dinner party coordinated by my friends and studio-mates Nerissa Cooney and Alex Hage of the graphic design collective Golden Arrows.
From their website: “Feast Mass is a recurring dinner party in Boston. During the night, people present proposals for creative, community-based projects that need funding. Everyone votes, and the winner receives a grant funded entirely from the night’s ticket sales.”
Feast #6 was hosted at 549 Columbus, our new studio space in the South End, and it was a full house and a great night, with over 100 people and 11 proposals for awesome community projects. I had fun putting together this quick video to give you a taste of the evening; check it out, and check out Feast’s website to learn more about them and come out to a future event!
The big winner of the night was Alaina Gurdak who presented about the Big Class Boston project — hoping to post more on that soon, so stay tuned…
Recently I was asked to help tell the story of a new community doula project based out of Elizabeth, New Jersey. I spent two days shadowing the doulas-in-training, sitting in on their classes and visiting clients with them. I had a great learning about what it means to be a community doula and watching the relationships develop between the doulas and their clients. For those who don’t know, a doula helps coach a mother through pregnancy and childbirth; a community doula is trained to work specifically with women from disadvantaged communities who may face a variety of different social and economic challenges.
I’ll have a video coming soon that will fill in more of the story, but in the meantime, you can check out some photos from the project in this gallery. Stay tuned!
Some great news: Susan Cassidy of The Lamp Project recently ran a really great profile on my work — you can read it here!
The Lamp Project is “a website and organization dedicated to spotlighting and supporting socially engaged artists and the causes they champion.” Thanks so much to Susan for coming out to meet with me and for her thoughtful review of my work on the foreclosure crisis in my on-going project We Shall Not Be Moved. Check out the Lamp Project for more on socially engaged art and artists.
The fall issue of Shelterforce is here! I’m excited to be collaborating with Shelterforce for the first time and was thrilled to receive my print edition of the issue today, featuring my candlelight vigil image on the front cover! The issue includes a great article about my project partner City Life/Vida Urbana that you can read online here. The print edition also includes a photo essay of my work from We Shall Not Be Moved; so if you see it in print, grab a copy and check it out.
For those of you not familiar with Shelterforce, it’s a great housing and community development magazine put out by the National Housing Institute. From their site: “For more than three decades, Shelterforce has been a primary forum for organizers, activists, and advocates in the affordable-housing and neighborhood revitalization movements…We are dedicated to providing the tools (information, analysis, resources) for advocates, activists, and community members to organize their communities, rebuild their neighborhoods, and create decent housing and living-wage jobs for the families who live there.”
Some exciting news: ArtCorps just chose me as one of their Creative Activists of the Year for 2011! ArtCorps is a great organization that works to promote art as a tool for social action; if you’re not familiar with their work, check them out. Thanks so much to ArtCorps for this kind recognition of my work and for all you do to support arts and social change.
The article does a great job of illustrating the ground-breaking work CL/VU is doing to keep people in their homes by fighting evictions after foreclosure. Check out the article, and to learn more or get involved with City Life/Vida Urbana, check out their website: www.clvu.org.
This month I’m partnering with Springfield No One Leaves/Nadie Se Mude to transform a vacant commercial space in downtown Springfield into a community-inspired gallery. In addition to work from my on-going project We Shall Not Be Moved, this collaborative exhibit will feature images and video by local media-makers who have been documenting the growing anti-foreclosure movement in Springfield and western Massachusetts.
Where: 176 Worthington Street, Springfield
When: November 21–December 18
Gallery hours: Wed 11-2, Sat 12-5, and by appointment
Opening Reception: December 2, 5-8 pm
The reception will feature testimonies from members of the Springfield No One Leaves/Nadie Se Mude Bank Tenant Association. Program begins at 6 pm. Join us for a great evening!
I was glad to spend Labor Day this year with the folks from SEIU Local 615 and UNITE HERE as they marched through Cambridge with an amazing brass band and beautiful larger than life puppets, not to mention hundreds of workers and community allies. The unions are in the midst of contract negotiations this year for many of the janitorial, security, and food service workers at Harvard, so here’s hoping for a good contract that promises good working conditions and fair wages for all.
OPENING RECEPTION: Thursday, September 29, 2011, 6 to 9 pm
Please join us on Thursday, September 29, for a great evening. Come out and hear from the bank tenant activists and organizers behind the grassroots struggle against foreclosure in Boston! This event is being hosted in conjunction with the Right to the City national assembly, so this will be a great opportunity to mingle with community organizers and activists from around the country.
ON VIEW: September 26 through October 22, 2011
Gallery hours: Monday through Friday, 9am to 6pm
VENUE: Joan Resnikoff Gallery
Media Arts Center, Roxbury Community College
1234 Columbus Avenue
Boston, MA 02120
Recently I had the incredible opportunity to participate in this year’s
Creative Change Retreat. Creative Change, sponsored by the Opportunity Agenda, is “an annual retreat at the intersection of arts and social justice which brings together a diverse group of leaders committed to transformative social change.” This year’s retreat, hosted at Sundance in Utah, was an amazing gathering of artists, media makers, advocates, funders, and people from across disciplines committed to the idea of using art and culture as a force for social justice. It was a great opportunity to present some of my own work from We Shall Not Be Moved, but I was especially inspired by so many of the incredible cultural producers who shared their innovative and engaging approaches to tacking issues of immigration, racism, and economic inequality. The week was filled with great conversations about how we can harness the capacity of art and culture as tools for organizing and social change work, and I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to continue the conversation. Many thanks to the Opportunity Agenda and all those involved in sponsoring and coordinating such a great event!
I was glad to have the opportunity this past weekend to be part of a fundraiser for Colombia Vive, an organization based here in Boston that does great work for human rights in Colombia. The organization holds a yearly asado, or barbecue, to report back on the current situation in Colombia and raise some funds for the continued work. And of course the afternoon includes lots of great food, drinks, music and dancing! Thanks so much to the organizers and supporters for all of their great work — check out their website for more info, www.colombiavive.org.
As part of my on-going project We Shall Not Be Moved, I spent most of the day yesterday in front of the Barzola family’s home at 7 Canessa Street in Randolph. The family has been fighting foreclosure and eviction over the past two years, attempting to negotiate with the bank to pay rent or repurchase their foreclosed property with the help of Boston Community Capital. Now, having received yet another 48 hour notice of eviction, the family was surrounded by about 50 supporters who came out to call attention to the family’s situation and attempt to block the eviction. For several hours, the crowd linked arms and held their ground in the face of the constable, police, and moving company. Ultimately, late in the afternoon, four people were arrested and the eviction was carried out, with the family vowing that they will keep fighting to get their home back.
I’m excited to report that I’ll be on tour for the next two weeks with two fantastic musical groups from Pacific Lutheran University: the Choir of the West and the Kammermusikk Chamber Orchestra. I’ll be documenting their days as they travel through Germany and France and perform for a wide variety of audiences. You can follow the tour through my daily audio slideshows at the Opus Performance Tours website. Looking forward to a great trip!
I’m so excited and honored to have been invited by Artists in Context to be part of a panel discussion about my
on-going project about the foreclosure crisis, We Shall Not Be Moved. The evening will start out with a facilitated panel discussion, led by Susie Husted of AIC, with participation from Curdina Hill and Steve Meacham of City Life/Vida Urbana, my main partner organization on this project, Reggie Fuller, one of the participants who is profiled in the project, and myself. The panel discussion will lead into a more informal conversation with the audience. I’m so looking forward to being a part of this conversation and learning from the insights and experiences of my project partners and others who are doing this work. I hope you can join us, it should be a really interesting evening!