Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Chicago Project

As promised, I am giving you an update of opportunities that came my way at the Filter Photo Festival portfolio review in Chicago in October. Today my self portrait project, Falling Into Place, has been added to The Chicago Project on the Catherine Edelman Gallery website. This project is described as "an online gallery devoted to new and established photographers in the Chicago area who we feel deserve recognition."

During our portfolio review, Catherine asked if I had heard of her Chicago Project. I said I had, and when I'd heard her say in a panel discussion the other night that she had opened it up to photographers across the Midwest, I had decided to submit this project as soon as I got home. Catherine, who is known for speaking her mind, replied. "I'm not asking you to submit anything, you're already IN!"

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Occupy Detroit

Patience facilitates the daily camp meeting at Occupy Detroit on November 4. There had been a violation of the Community Agreements the night before and the community was making a consensus-based decision on how to handle it. Click on image to see it larger.

I first started photographing Occupy Detroit on October 23, Day 10 of their encampment. My original intention was to find images to add to a project on Detroit’s people that I had been working on for some months. But after eight hours with these amazingly committed folks, I was hooked. For the next three weeks my camera and I spent every free minute down at Grand Circus Park where Occupy Detroit made its home.

I knew that history was being made and I wanted to document it, mainly for the occupiers themselves. That was why I started making 8.5 x 11 inch prints of selected photos and, with the help of Todd and Bob down at the camp, put together an ever-expanding photo album. It eventually contained 127 prints. Todd and Bob kept the album at the Info Tent so the occupiers could see a tangible record of what they were contributing to this worldwide movement for economic and social justice.

It was only this week that I found time to post a portfolio of images from Occupy Detroit on my website. A nasty cold and the fact that the encampment is in the process of moving to an inside location helped me see that my part of the project was coming to an end.

What had especially interested me was the encampment itself and how they created an inclusive society that met the needs of its people like any small city, while expecting mutual responsibility and accountability. This was not an easy task as the encampment included homeless as well as homed, young and old, diverse races and religions, students, the employed, underemployed and unemployed. But they did it through hard work, listening to every voice and making all decisions using a consensus model. And unlike most other big city occupations, Occupy Detroit has had a good working relationship with the mayor, city council and police. All sides deserve credit for that.

It is clear that Occupy Detroit is as much a cultural as a political movement. What started as an encampment has become a deeply connected community that will continue to forge new ways of living and working together as equals. I feel honored to have documented its origins. As history tells us, change always comes from the bottom up.