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Justice for Janitors Subway Ads

This month, thousands of janitors who clean the office buildings throughout the city of Boston are negotiating a new contract that will carry them through the next five years. SEIU Local 615, who represents the workers, say they’re fighting for good, full-time jobs. Many cleaners currently work multiple part-time jobs, meaning that they can’t access health insurance or other benefits for their families.

I worked with Local 615 recently to create a series of portraits of cleaning workers for their subway ad campaign (see a couple of the finished ads below!). The ads stress the role of janitors in keeping the city running, and the importance of good jobs for keeping communities strong.

The ads will be up all month on Boston’s Red, Orange, and Blue train lines — keep your eyes peeled and let me know if you see them!

Tomasa Castro and her daughtersAngel Sanchez

Momasana

Recently, I stopped by to take some pictures at Momasana, a class for pregnant ladies and new moms (and babies!) over at Be in Union yoga studio. The teacher, Monica, led the class through a slow, gentle vinyasa flow. I’ve never seen pregnant ladies look so graceful. Check out more images from the shoot here.

I’m a big fan of all of the classes and teachers at Be; it’s a super friendly, welcoming, and warm (literally!) studio for people of all yoga levels. If you’re in the neighborhood, try them out! Learn more and check out their schedule: www.beinunion.com

Momasana

Families Connecting with Families

Last weekend, I wore myself out (and had a great time) running around after an enthusiastic, energetic group of kids as they kayaked, played baseball, made music, climbed jungle gyms, and shook their tail feathers on the dance floor. The kids, from toddlers to teens, were attending Camp Abilities, a day of activities for blind and visually impaired young people. The camp was just one part of the Families Connecting with Families Conference, an opportunity for families of visually impaired youth to connect with and support each other, talk with professionals in the field, and find the tools and resources they need.

I was invited by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) to document the activities of the day and was really inspired by the energy, warmth, and positive attitude of the kids and their families. And I’m so glad to have the opportunity to help highlight the important work AFB and their partners are doing; to find some great resources for families of blind and visually impaired youth, check out their Family Connect website.

What a great event — I’m so glad I was able to capture some of those smiles. Check out some images from the day here.

Hula Hoop

My talk on the power of stories at TEDx Somerville

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.

Mothering Mothers: The Elizabeth Community-Based Doula Program

My latest multimedia collaboration is up (watch it here)! I was thrilled to be invited to spend a few days with the women of a new community-based doula program in Elizabeth, New Jersey, documenting the stories of the newly trained doulas, their clients, and the emerging relationships between these women. The program aims to offer support, education, and resources for pregnancy and early motherhood to low-income women in Elizabeth and the surrounding area.

As I followed the doulas through their training and client visits, it was easy to see how passionate these women are about improving the experience of pregnancy and motherhood for women in their communities. Watch the video to hear their stories.

Mothering Mothers

IFFBoston 2012

Coolidge Corner Theatre

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.

I had so much fun documenting the festival, not to mention getting to see lots of great films. Some of my personal favorites: Sleepwalk With Me, by Mike Birbiglia; Julia Delpy’s 2 Days in New York; One Night Stand, a documentary about the 24 Hour Musicals project; Lauren Greenfield’s Queen of Versailles; and the incredible short film Mondays at Racine by Cynthia Wade.

Check out a gallery of my images from the week here; and make sure to come out to next year’s IFFBoston!


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Crowds line up outside the Brattle Theatre Lauren Greenfield

Foreclosed homeowners demand answers from Chase

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Gerardo Ortiz (left) and Isaac Hodes refused to leave the Chase Homeownership Center on Wednesday evening, demanding to talk to a Chase representative about Ortiz’s case (more on the Ortiz case below). Outside, a crowd of around 100 from Lynn United for Change, the Chelsea City-Wide Tenants Association, Springfield No One Leaves, City Life/Vida Urbana, and community allies rallied in support. Both Ortiz and Hodes were arrested.

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.

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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.

Independent Film Festival Boston!

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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!

Feast Mass: A micro-granting dinner party

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…

Mothering Mothers: The Elizabeth Community Doula Project

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!

Kenny