Getting our Legs!

The week that I just passed through was magical, end of!  It began like any other but I decidedly chose to expect “the magic” and started looking for it.  I haven’t been disappointed, the signs are everywhere.  I don’t want to be all Polyanna on you, but sometimes it is nice to take a proverbial break from slumming it in the doldrums, you know what I mean, we’ve all been there.

I am in my building phase again, as many who work in this arena are.  I need to secure many things to move on to the next bright light project.  We build speed, go off and get more work done, then repeat.  I am grateful for the many things that happened this week, the opportunities that were given and created.

Two major exciting things happened.  No actually many more than that but lets begin here.  Cameras4Change was given a boost of confidence.  Through a proposal on Give Meaning, we achieved our 100 necessary votes (actually last count was 105 as peeps are still voting!) to go from proposal to project.  I am joined by 2 talented and experienced individuals, Barb Briggs and David Kiwanuka, that want to work with Cameras 4 Change and that is exciting too! 

I also recieved a call from OWN this week!!  Yup thats right, the Oprah Winfrey Network!!  This was very incredibly exciting to me, but as I said, I was expecting the magic this week, so the universe was delivering.  More on this later, but suffice to say without getting all Charlie Sheen on you, Magic!

Sunday Cameras4Change will have a table at BLIM COMMUNITY ART MARKET at HERITAGE HALL on MAIN ST in VANCOUVER.  We will be selling photo art cards and meeting all kinds of folks.  So if you are in Vancouver tomorrow between 12-5 please come and see us!

Image caption:  This week I spoke about Christine Jefwa, an inspiring woman and mother to 4 of her own children and 3 stepchildren in Waresa Kenya, an area near Mombassa in rural coastal Kenya. Here she is with her inlaws who have been married for over 40 years!

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message for Earth Day 2011

Today I am expecting magic, and because of that I know something miraculous will happen.  This is how I want to begin all of my days.  No matter where I may find myself, working in any way, in any place, I want to see the magic.  As April 22nd, Earth Day 2011 draws near I wanted to write a love letter to the earth in the form of visual poetry and so of course I was thinking of what imagery I would also give. 

 

In our world of social connectivity, responsibility and all, we are more than ever becoming aware of many of the shortcomings we as humans have injected onto ourselves, and the earth.  If you are like me, at times it can be difficult to justify the not so pretty parts with the beauty, or perhaps because of them, it is even more important to acknowledge them.

 

Recently I watched a documentary about the work Brazilian artist/photographer Vik Muniz did in Rio de Janeiro with the people working and living near the world’s largest landfill.  Wasteland” chronicles a 3-year period of time where Vik works with the “pickers” making art.  The chord of the doc that resonated with me begged the question, “are we doing the right thing by going into the lives of some of the people of this community, showing them something different and then just leaving? Is this a positive impact or are we harming them?” 

 

Posing the question to himself, Vik reconciled that if he was given the choice to experience something beautiful, or amazing, something out of the ordinary, and yet for only a short period of time, would he choose to do it despite the fact that he would return to the same set of circumstances afterwards?  He answered with “yes” my friends, yes because that experience would change him and who knows what he would do after that.  Yes is a good answer, it is possibility, transformation and all that it is meant to be.

 

When I first began my journey as a humanitarian/documentary photographer, I often wondered the same thing.  Should I/we be rolling into these lives, making connections, asking for them to give to me their stories, their faces for photos, and then just leaving?  What am I doing here?  Somewhere deep within I had a sense that I was doing something positive; that a simple connection, even a small positive experience does make change.   One woman that I spent an amazing few hours with, walking around her village, meeting her family, children, inlaws, nieces and nephews, I found myself inspired by her.  She walked sometimes for 15 km to access water.  Her husband’s siblings had left the world due to HIV leaving her with the responsibility of more children to look after. She was an example to her village, she was positive and looked for solutions towards a better life.  When it was time to leave we both felt a tug.  She asked me if I would remember her, Christine Jefwa, I will never forget you.

 

Our answer is in the earth herself.  Small things can make great changes.  Drops of water alter everything, small movements can make sweeping changes, and yes there is beauty and magic everywhere, it just depends how you look at it.

Happy Earth Day, if you too see the magic and beauty, take the opportunity to give to an org, a not for profit or charity that is working to make change.  It doesn't matter how much you give, how small a donation, it is the act, the intention, and the change it will create in you and in the world. 

Some organizations I support:

Project X Impact my heartbeat, I am currently working to bring awareness to FGM and other issues in Kenya with Sol Garcia of Project X

SOIL – Sasha Kramer is doing phenomenal work in Haiti, transforming waste into magic!

CAWST – bringing change through access to clean water internationally with the bio-sand filter

Blood Water Mission – another amazing organization doing work with HIV and water

CSDW working with Dr Greg Algood and the CSDW team was an amazing experience, Children's Safe Drinking Water is so much more than the name implies!

La Goutte D’Or

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La Goutte D’Or translates from French to English as “a drop of gold” and it couldn’t be more true. I first heard about this area of Paris while here working as an assistant this week on a print campaign for a cell phone company from China. Our fixer, the amazing Sidney Kapuskar spoke about the community near Montmartre filled with Africans and Muslims, well known for it’s hustle & bustle, a fantastic mix of ethnicity, Bohemia and Culture, but also for coming to a virtual standstill Fridays between 1-3 pm during traditional Muslim prayertime, the streets taken over by prayer mats and Muslims bowed towards the East. A veritable combination of different spices ground together by the mortar and pestle of life. Ahh Paris, irresistible! My desire to visit was met with all kinds of reactions from Parisians and ex-pats alike. Everything from raised eyebrows, to be careful and watch yourself. Once we found ourselves there after winding through the narrow streets it couldn’t have been more worth it, I felt completely at home spying African women in a shop full of Kitenga fabric adjacent to a quirky Parisian boutique full of Moraccan and South American trinkets and an old school Parisian upholsterers. All this on a cobbled street so old that if you subtracted the cars from the view you could easily imagine A musketeers in full regalia darting out from an allyway.

The mood here is susceptible to darkness too. On one hand it can be seen as a gleeful melange of diverse social, religious, political and economical co-existence. The recent sting President Sarkozy sent into the Muslim Community by outlawing the covering of a woman’s face with a Burka as a sign of religion has been felt. Other outward signs of religion such as prayer mats on the street are also illegal, and although I was not there on a Friday afternoon, my sources tell me it still occurs much to the chagrin of many local proprieters whose businesses become inaccessible due to the closing of the streets. I myself was amazed at the sheer number of people, many locals, colorful characters, tourists and Parisians alike honing in on the area, the Metro was like a beehive swarm.

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La Metro at Barbes on Rue de Chapelle in the heart I’d La Goutte d’Or, the image belies the crowd and the sheer number of people

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No I am not in India, Montmartre on the edge of La Goutte d’Or signifies the cultural diversity of the area. There were crowds of tourists as well as young men hoping to sell illicit substances lurking on the periphery.

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A lone Muslim woman prays amidst the opulence of the Champs Élysée

As I am posting from my iPhone I will edit and add more images when I have access to my computer

Xxxx from Paris with love

Sent from my iPhone