Home is Where athe Heart Is


This is El Hulk, I met him last week in Hueyapan Morelos. An unlikely custodian of human faith, but his calm certainty as to the activity in this home helped to ground me. Hulk is lying in The morning sun, not unusual, but the cement pad he is lying on was once surrounded by four walls and had a roof. Only 4 days prior to this photo it was a family home and had been for years. unfortunately thousands of homes were lost in the September earthquakes. This week I will be visiting other areas in Chiapas and Oaxaca to see firsthand The situations There. I have been impressed with the resiliancy of those affected and the civil Response. Me encanta Mexico.

PS thankyou to Hertz Mexico For assisting with Transportation on My Part of The trip!

 

 

#islaurbana #TallerLUUM #ProyectoConcentrarte
#HaTaTukari #Temblor #FuerzeMexico
#Hertz

Walking in the Rain

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“Caminando en la lluvia” foto de Paulina, San Francisco, Xochimilco June 2015

 

The past 2 weeks spent in Mexico City were enormously rewarding.  Walking in the rain for me can sometimes be a meditation, and so are giving these workshops, there is so much to do that you really need to get into “the zone” and keep moving forward, one step at a time.  I loved this photo above taken by one of our students in San Francisco Xochimilco.  Paulina was obviously in her zone as she was walking with the camera, really in the moment, that is exactly why photography and cameras are such a great tool, they truly teach us to see exactly where we are at any given point in time!   We worked with 2 very different communities in Mexico City.  Each community arrives with eagerness and appreciation, and ends with pride and alot of joy! Although this time there was a large range in ages (from 5 – 72) it was wonderful to see a diverse slice of each community taking part together, and see the program work this way too, delivering to all ages at the same time!  Facilitating these programs takes a good amount of organization, as well as energy, not only do you work during the delivery, but there is a huge amount of tasks involved in prep for each day.  Cameras4Change also hosted a Facilitator Workshop for 5 of our Mexican partners from Isla Urbana, Proyecto ConcentrArte and Camaroni Produciones!  It is so wonderful to know that the program is in a replicable format and that it is happening throughout the year!  That is a big step for our little NGO!!!  Thank you to all that came out, and please check in our newly formatted Student Galleries to see the work from the two communities; San Francisco Xochimilco, and Milpa Alta!

 

 

A Community Celebrates through “Nuestro Foto” – “Our Picture” Camera Workshop!

Cameras –> Education –> Community –> Connection –> Action!!  Oh ya, and a lot of FUN!

So happy to post the photos from the final day of the first Cameras4Change workshop in San Francisco Xochimilco, a lovely community high in the hills above Mexico City.

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This was a large workshop with over 20 participants ranging in age from 6 -72!!  They all amazed us with their enthusiasm, wisdom with the camera and some absolutely beautiful photos.  The workshop took place over 6 days and ended with a public exhibit in the center of the community at the church of San Francisco.  Thank you to all that came and all that helped us from Isla  Urbana, our collaborative partner in Mexico and the community members in San Francisco!  The party started around 11 am with a special theatrical performance by Leo, and ended with sharing the work of the students along with their creative writing about water in their community – “Agua es Vida”.  It was an honor to work with you all.  At the end of the program all participants received all the images that they shot.  This week we will be meeting a new group in the community of Milpa Alta! We will be creating a special gallery of all of the students best work from these workshops, labeled with the community name!  Thanks again to Nikon Canada, Lowepro Bags and Sandisk for helping with the camera equipment, and to John Fluevog Shoes and all of our supporters for getting us here!

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Xochimilco Workshop with Isla Urbana

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Today was the first of 2 workshops here in different communities in Mexico City with our partners Isla Urbana!  Late this afternoon, Jennifer White of Isla Urbana and  I headed to a wonderful community high in the hills that flag the edges of DF  San Francisco is a community of needs within the delegacion of Xochimilco.  Isla Urbana are implementing a rainwater harvesting project here to satisfy the needs, and part of the overall process is to also provide cultural experiences within those communities.  This helps to solidify a bond with their clients, and also assists in solidifying the success of their programs.  We are delighted to provide creative experiences through photography.  When I asked the 20 participants ranging in age from 5 years to 72! ( yes there was a delightful 72 year old woman that came to our workshop) who had held a camera before, not one put up their hand.  They were so excited to get the cameras and we couldn’t help but smile.  One small boy who was going to share a camera with his mother had huge tears in his eyes and so of course we gave him his own camera to use!

Today was all about getting to know each other a little and introducing photography and cameras to the group, then we let them take the cameras to the streets for the first time.  Tomorrow we will be focusing on portraits.  I will be posting more as I can, it is a very busy workshop as there is only myself and one assistant with 20 people!!

Many thanks towards all of our tribe of supporters, from all of the individuals who have participated in our funding events, to our corporate partners, Nikon Canada, Fluevog Shoes, Sandisk, and Lowepro.  We couldn’t do it without you!

 

Below:  20 cameras tagged and ready to go out into the world, that would be 20 Nikon Coolpix point and shoot housed in some sweet little Lowepro bags and holding 8gig cards from Sandisk, thank you!

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Our Partners are making us Proud!

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Our lives expand in so many different ways, whether we tend to them or not, things will change.  So it is with the seeds that we have planted through Cameras4Change too!  We could not be prouder of the many accomplishments that have taken place in the past couple of years since we began this journey.  Our last workshop in Mexico City in June was the result of an ongoing collaboration between C4C and three different partners there.  Sometimes we don’t always know what will happen when we begin working with a new partner, but we are sure that the experience and work we do in these initial projects will be worthwhile in itself.  To our delight however, the partners in Mexico have taken things to an all new level, using our photo workshop model and incorporating it into their programs and proving the sustainability and legacy of what we envisioned from the beginning is possible!  Since the original workshop in June, Proyecto ConcentrArte has utilized the cameras gifted to the Paz Paz Bus for a number of different workshops in other areas in .Mexico, Huamantla and incorporated them into a longterm annual project they participate in every September in Cuatro Cienegas, a Mexican biological reserve.  This past week we learned that the cameras will now be used in a very interesting eco-project in Balancán Tabasco Mexico. Cameras4Change friend Shiara Gonzales, a veterinarian will be giving guided tours to groups of 9-12 year olds, touring them into the jungles where the Saraguato Monkey lives.  The Saraguato Monkey is an endangered species and the children will photograph the monkeys and their habitat as a way to explore their importance and where they live.  We love how the cameras continue to be utilized in new and creative ways, but more importantly that they continue to live on in meaningful projects, and others continue to experience the art and joy of photography, and tell their own stories in their own ways.

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Segunda Semana Internacional del Mono Saraguato Negro – Balancán, Tabasco, México

This is the ethos of cameras4change, community, learning, changing and growing!

…and so it grows!

These are some serious new photographers!!!

This is the exciting part of what we can do.  Making a connection and running a workshop is only the beginning.  What happens afterwards has the potential to be even more rewarding, and ultimately it is what we strive for at Cameras4Change.  Giving people that have never had the opportunity to use a camera is an amazing experience.  It is invigorating, soul defining and gives meaning to and for everyone involved.  Workshop participants usually take the camera and run with it, to take photos, to have the experience to define their world, to look back on who they are, where they come from, and then where they want to go!  Photography has the potential to offer all of this.  Our June workshops in Mexico were just that, and now our partner organizations are continuing an even deeper and rich legacy with the cameras we left behind!  We love these photos of the budding new photographers in Huamantla eager to take photos!!  Thank you to Liliana Riva Palacio of Proyecto ConcentrArte working in conjunction with Sistema Biobolsa and Isla Urbana.  Lili is creating a living legacy with the cameras from the workshops!!  It is fantastic that they are continuing to be utilized and introducing photography to whole new generations that would otherwise not have touched a camera yet!!


Cameras4Change a year in review

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Here attached is a pdf document we want to share with our friends, it is a year in review recently presented at our AGM in June.  It has been a busy year for our C4C volunteers as you will see.  We will have a more in depth newsletter coming out soon, and look forward to sharing a short video from our Mexico workshop!  More photos in the attached PDF!

 

C4C 2014 AGM – A Year in Review V4

Day 2 at a glance – or “The Beauty of Quiltepec”

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The second day of the C4C program in Quiltepec took place on Sunday June 8.  It was rewarding to see the participants return with as much or more enthusiasm.  Two girls had to race to be on time, coming from a function at their school, their mother came later to sit and talk with us, she wanted us to know how much they were enjoying the program, and how they were running to get there as soon as possible!

Working in informal communities can often be catch them if you can!  Members have so many challenges to life, and Quiltepec is no stranger to this.  So you know that you are doing something right if they come back!  They are however, fiercely proud of the paradise that they live in, and many of the participants photos showed just that, the beauty of Quiltepec.  Quiltepec is nesteled high above the south end of Mexico City, the community members have an astounding array of gardens, plants, trees and flowers, along with an equally large assortment of animals: sheep, cows, horses, dogs, cats, rabbits, ducks, and chickens.

But the heart of this community lies in the way they live, work and support each other together.  This is the familiar way in Mexico, values are deep for family and community, you make things happen together.  So apparent in the way our workshop came together, we needed a tarp up, and electricity, we asked Silvia one the community leaders, and of course it happened!

We are so fortunate to be welcomed into this incredible community, this place of beauty!  Thank you to all who are making this happen from the participants, the community leaders (especially Silvia, Maura and Elena) our ground partners (IRRI, Sistema Biobolsa, Isla Urbana, ConcentrArte) and our partners Nikon Canada, Fluevog Shoes, and  Porticus!  Un Buen Dia!

Thea Grivakes distributes a file to each of the students with their photos from the first day! Always exciting.

PPBWS DAY 2_0003Elena looking at her portrait and shots that she took on day 1.

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Lalo, Maura, a community member and Guillermo pose for a shot.PPBWS DAY 2_0008

Lily reviews and gives tips from a prepared slideshow.

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Students chose themes to work from for the dayPPBWS DAY 2_0038Off they go to shoot!

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Reviewing and editing work with the studentsPPBWS DAY 2_0045 PPBWS DAY 2_0062

The end of the day group shot!!PPBWS DAY 2_0015

Nely and Carlos, two of the young adults that attended – both very talented!PPBWS DAY 2_0019

Silvia brought some beautiful flowers to us to take home.PPBWS DAY 2_0021

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Rachel with Silvia, a strong community leader and pretty great photographer too!PPBWS DAY 2_0086 Lily says goodbye to Silvia, we form such strong bonds working in these places.

Quiltepec

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.

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“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!!!

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Xicalco, DF

Chicalco_CC_2013_11_002                                      Ahhhh… DF, Mexico que linda!

Chicalco, DF

Xicalco, an informal community high up above Mexico City

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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!

 

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