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Latest

Public Transit–Public Good

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.

Public Transit, Public Good

Planet Takeout launches

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).

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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!