We have been in Mexico City for less than 48 hours, and we are keeping a pretty busy pace!  Our first day was used to settle in and get basics taken care of, capping it off with a team meeting in the evening.  The four women we will be working with come from 3 different NGO’s, Renata Fenton and Carmen Hernandez of Isla Urbana, Rachel Smith from Sistema Bio Bolsa, and Liliana Riva Palacio of Proyecto ConcetrArte, are all formidible forces in terms of the work they do here in Mexico.  The Mexican ground partners all collaborate on interdisciplinary projects around natural resources and education, through the NGO platform IRRI Mexico (Instituto Internacional de Recursos Renovables AC) and C4C is collaborating on the Agua Nuestra Vida project funded by the Porticus Foundation.  Being involved with so many partners can be a tricky road to manoeuvre but working with these ladies is proving to be fantastic, their knowledge and experience is amazing, but so are their hearts!  It is so great to be able to work and learn from them, see all that they are doing and share our process too.

QUILTEPECa_0004 Carmen Hernandez lilililiana Riva Palacio

“Quiltepec”, the name resonates with the romance of the Aztec language; tepec actually means mountain, and the informal community we will be working in is literally on the top of a mountain on the south end of Mexico City. Today our meeting took a different turn however, as the road we needed to access the community was peppered with high security swat team police, who told us we would be going up at our own risk and we would have to walk up.

Driving towards Quiltepec

QUILTEPECa_0002 QUILTEPECa_0003Carmen Hernandez speaks with three very serioso police, who told us that the army was about to arrive and the road was blocked!

Carmen decided that it was too risky, and so we will wait until tomorrow when hopefully the whole sting operation is over!  Thank goodness for ground partners that know the score, and when to make the right decisions!

In the meantime we are taking the time to fully organize ourselves and get more background info on our community!

Quiltepec is a small informal community nestled high up (around 8000 ft) amongst 8 other pueblas in San Miguil de Xicalco in Distrito Tlalpan, one of the 16 Delegacions of Mexico City (DF).  Beside and behind it are homes that are recognized by the delegacion of Tlalpan, and so they have water, electricity, sewage and other infrastructure, but not so Quiltepec.  The children of the community however do attend school down the mountain, but as far as the policy makers are concerned, they do not exist, and so therefore they do not need to provide any infrastructure in the way of basic needs.

Isla Urbana decided a few years ago, that they do have the right to water and to begin installation of their Rainwater Harvesting Systems whenever they had some extra resources to do so.  So a relationship began and has grown tremendously which has been wonderful thing for this community, because now, the community has numerous rainwater harvesting systems, as well as two water treatment systems, 5000 liter water cistern, 4 hydroponic systems and 4 biobolsa bio digesters.

Our goal tomorrow will be to meet with the 15 chosen participants and dig right into our program. Tomorrow we fully expect to come home with many photos of the kids as they get their hands on the Nikon Cameras and run with them!! Stay tuned!  Hasta Pronto!!!

QUILTEPECa_0001Preciado = valued

Xicalco, DF

Chicalco_CC_2013_11_002                                      Ahhhh… DF, Mexico que linda!

Chicalco, DF

Xicalco, an informal community high up above Mexico City


San Miguel Xicalco, Tlalpan, 14490 Ciudad de México, D.F., Mexico


This June C4C will be running our next international workshop in collaboration with IRRI’s Paz Paz Bus in Xicalco, an informal community in DF (that’s Mexico City y’all!).  The Paz Paz Bus is a colorful bus that travels to the communities that IRRI has programs running, in this case Isla Urbana and Sistema BioBolsa have been installing rainwater harvesting  and renewable energy systems in this small community through an HCBC grant.  It will be exciting to return to Mexico and work with these organizations as well as Proyecto ConcentrArte to bring cameras and photography into this neighborhood.  I was lucky to visit Xicalco last year with Jennifer White as part of a tour with Isla Urbana to view communities that we could potentially work in.  You don’t have to go far to find people with a lack of access to water, even though Mexico City has an annual rainfall of over 27″.  As always in Mexico, the locals have an abundance of hospitality and we were welcomed to see what it is like living above the city, what an amazing view!  We will be taking cameras provided by NIKON Canada!  Please stay in touch on this website and on our facebook page for updates during mid June!!

Chicalco_CC_2013_11_012a large water cistern on the right side of this home provides water collected from the rooftops, then filtered and used for laundry, cleaning, cooking and bathing.  There is no other water infrastructure for the members of this community. Chicalco_CC_2013_11_018 Chicalco_CC_2013_11_023 Chicalco_CC_2013_11_033 Chicalco_CC_2013_11_055 Chicalco_CC_2013_11_057 Chicalco_CC_2013_11_063 Chicalco_CC_2013_11_022Chicalco_CC_2013_11_016Adios!  Hasta Luego!


Haven’t We Learned that already?


Today is a beautiful day here in Vancouver, it is easy to feel grateful for life when you live in a seemingly clean, green city with a world of opportunities at your doorstep.  Last night I helped my teenage daughter with an essay about the Women of WWI and II and how they began making strides forward for women’s rights by taking over the many and varied roles of men in the workforce that were away fighting in the Wars.  We have come a long way, but it brought to light the capacity that still exists to treat women as chattel in our world, when  234 Nigerian school girls are kidnapped from their dorms while at a school to write their end of year exams, taken from their families and communities,  and a government stands by and is unable to find them as these young girls are likely sold into the sex trade or forced into marriage.  It is infuriating that in this day and age this can happen on such a huge scale.  It is outrageous as a woman to be witness and hear about it.

Yes there is media and yes there are petitions that must be signed, it seems like an innocuous  step but governments here and abroad need to know that we the people will not accept actions like this.  The girls themselves will hopefully at some point need to know that something was attempted, something was done to try and save them, try to find them.

I sit here not knowing what else to do, but wanting badly to do something.  We are sometimes fooled into thinking that an invisible world consciousness has moved forward, has changed, that progress has been made in gender equity, there are so many agencies and organizations doing amazing things.  But when things like this happen it is a huge reality check.  So please talk about it, sign petitions, ask questions. and do not forget about them until they are found, do not forget.




Rolling Forward – Spring Update

1620496_799999856696040_1133228257_nAs spring fast approaches we are gearing up for upcoming programs both here in Vancouver, and in Mexico.  It is an exciting time as plans begin to take more shape and we move closer to dates.  It has been a little quiet on our blog, but we have been busy with a few things.  In February Cameras 4 Change collaborated with Gallery Gachet in Vancouver’s Down Town East Side by providing our digital cameras so that participants could use in a Digital Skills Workshop.  This is the first time we have worked in this way, but it was great to make use of the cameras, and share information on experience!

This June we will be running a Cameras4Change program in conjunction with IRRI.  We will be working with The Paz Paz Bus, a community art bus in Mexico City!  This is an exciting collaboration for us and we will be sharing lots of photos etc so please stay in touch!

We have a few more goodies up our sleeve in development but will keep you abreast as they roll forward.



Just Do It, with a good heart!

ind_9392Women doing laundry in Tamil Nadu India.

In just one day, more than 200 million hous of women’s time is consumed for the most basic of needs.  The lost productiity is greater than the combined number of hours worked in a week by employees at Walmart UPS McDonalds IBM Target and Rogers according to Gary White, cofounder at Water.Org  Millions of women and children spend several hours a day collecting water from distant often polluted sources.

Today is #WorldWaterDay, I am urging people to give any kind of donation to a water charity.  This brings to light that I am often asked, how can I get involved, I want to help but there are so many organizations and I don’t know who to choose.  My advice is always the same, take a few minutes next time you have access to a computer, instead of Facebook, take 5 to find a few organizations.  If it is water, education, health etc.  I give frequently to many different organizations, $25 -$50 here and there.  I have a few repeats and love the following:

KIVA – helps you match to a country, person and cause

Isla Urbana – working in Mexico, be part of their water revolution!

Charity Water – a fun group doing great work bringing water to those that need it

PIH – making great strides in healthcare for TB and HIV/AIDS internationally

The Olive Tree Projects – working towards Maternal Health in Haiti

You can find your own, these are just a few to get you started.  Be spontaneous, have fun and enjoy it!

GO ASK ALICEAlice makes several trips daily and walks for hours everyday so her family can have water


Going Global

Remember that phrase, “think global, act local”?  It really gave people the standard that there was no excuse for not taking action.  Today as the Sochi Olympics broadcast the opening ceremonies, the meaning of humanity and the connection we all feel resonates throughout the world for many of us.  We can truly, despite all of the hoopla, politics and nay-saying actually feel the possibility of what can happen when we all come together!  There has been controversy with these Olympics, much as there has been and always be some level of it at any and all Olympics, can you remember one where there hasn’t?   At the end of the day when you see the faces of the people there, watch it on TV, the sense pulls you into that same feeling, whether it is the seeming purity of sport, the prowess of the athletes converging at the same time, or the proud feeling of ones sense of place and country, it is palpable.

I wish that everyone could have the same opportunity to connect, but we know this is not the case as there are many that just do not have access to TV and computers.  Although we work in a very small way at Cameras4Change, that is part of the premiss that we ensue as our cause, we want to open doors to those that would not normally have the chance to use cameras, to offer that experience as part of a new way of thinking that will move them forward.

Last week I visited communities in Santiago de Anaya, in Yolotepec, Hidalgo State Mexico where we are planning to work with our ground partners Isla Urbana, Sistema Biobolsa and Proyecto ConcentrArté.  At the end of the day despite the infrastructure of our partners and our own workshops, it is always about creating a human bond, which can only help to strengthen all of us, it is as simple as that, no matter where you are in the world!Hidalgo_20140129_018

The Team:Hidalgo_20140129_026

So much beauty in this part of Mexico, from the architecture,Hidalgo_20140129_027

local garden centerHidalgo_20140129_028


Amazing vistasHidalgo_20140129_044

Alex surveys the best spot for a biodigester with the first familyHidalgo_20140129_052

The bio digester will provide a renewable energy, the family of Elias León LeónHidalgo_20140129_057

Art is everywhere!Hidalgo_20140129_059

this area is very arid and yet the natural beauty aboundsHidalgo_20140129_065

Hours old when we arrived!Hidalgo_20140129_072

This may be “poop” to you and I, but it is a form of energy that can be used in the biodigester to provide gas for cooking and machinery!Hidalgo_20140129_078


Silvia Perez Pérez has names for each of her 10 cows!Hidalgo_20140129_100

She also provided a delicious lunch for us, yummy salsa, with hot tortillas, and an abundance of fresh fruit.Hidalgo_20140129_112

Liliana of Proyecto ConcentrArté shows the painted story plates she uses to tell the story of the “Dragon Azul”, a story of how the biodigester works, a beautiful combination of science, technology, the arts, and mythology used to connect with the community.Hidalgo_20140129_117 Hidalgo_20140129_118


At the last stop of the day this local woman was cooking a huge pot of “arroz rojo”, red rice!Hidalgo_20140129_128

Irene of Sistema Biobolsa talks to community members introducing the projectHidalgo_20140129_141

Alexander Eaton, one of the founders of SBBHidalgo_20140129_153

Always time for the local dogs!!Hidalgo_20140129_161

Hidalgo state representatives spearheading the project say goodbye at the end of the day!Hidalgo_20140129_164Adios!

Roll on 2014

Time never stops for us to catch up, and it is high time that we caught up with everyone!  2014 is looking great for C4C!  Our Fundraising Events  “Walking In Their Shoes” at Fluevog in Vancouver and Calgary in 2012 succussfully raised 10K for our upcoming endeavors this year and we could not be more excited!  This February we are partnering with Gallery Gachet to run an open set of photography workshops for residents of the DTES, and we are in the planning stages for a larger program mid year in Mexico, again partnering with Isla Urbana, Sistema BioBolsa and Proyecto ConcentrArte.  The Gallery Gachet program will be run by Cara Seccafian, who will be leading community residents interested in weekly dropin camera, computer and technology workshops. The workshops in Mexico will be run off of the Paz Paz Bus, an old converted school bus being used for arts based programs in the communities that our Mexican partners currently work in.  We are also making plans for another summer program here in Vancouver and have strong potential for a summer workshop in Calgary too!  It feels like we are growing in leaps and bounds and are increasingly thankful for all the support we have received over the past 2 years!

It is so exciting to be partnering with these amazing organizations, all believe that creativity is an integral part of life and strive to share that with everyone!  We love the work that they do and we are honored to be working with them!


1. Fluevog Event in Vancouver

2. Student work on display during the event

3. The Paz Paz Bus, Mexico City

4. Cate Cameron in Chicalco, DF overlooking Mexico City with Jennifer White and Antonio Cervantes of Isla Urbana

Yup, it’s more powerful than you know!

This is a huge week for all of us at Cameras4Change. This Saturday November 30th we are running our second annual Vancouver event WALKING IN THEIR SHOES to fund raise for 2014. We are also hosting a similar event in Calgary on Dec 5th, the events are being held at the fashionable and funky Fluevog stores in both cities. The event anticipation is building and it will be exciting to see what the next year will bring! It is a huge amount of work but we already have a great turnout registered for Vancouver and lots of support from old and new friends.

We are also in the final couple of weeks of the IndieGoGo campaign to fund the post production of our Doc Film “Weta Pichu (Our Picture)”. This little doc is very powerful, and we are super proud of it and everyone involved. We have been releasing some new clips here and there, but today’s clip is super special, and I want to share it here on our blog as it speaks 100% about the capacity that photography has to make others think in a new way, which is really the essence of what we want to offer at Cameras4Change. Here is the clip of Imgaard, an intern at Heshima Kenya the time we were filming in Nairobi. We could not have asked for anyone better to be with us and talk about photography and what it means to her!

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/79843461″>Imgard</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user21487644″>Weta Pichu</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>

meet the team!

-1This end of November and into December is turning out to be a very busy and productive time for C4C.  Cate has just returned from Mexico City where C4C worked again with Isla Urbana and Sistema BioBolsa, and we are running our 2nd fundraiser on Nov 30th in Vancouver, and our premiere event in Calgary on Dec 5th.  On top of all of this we are winding up our Indiegogo campaing to raise specific funds for our Doc project Weta Pichu.  Above is one of our updates and we will be rolling out some great student imagery., introducing some of the main Weta Pichu cast and new film clips!  We appreciate any size of donation for this, and there are some great incentives, so join our campaign and become a part of the film and its’ journey!