Category Archives: Poverty

Creativity is a Human Right: Community Art Center

BY ADIA WHITE

“Creativity… is a human right,” says Eryn Johnson, Executive Director of the Community Arts Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Neighborhood families first founded the center in 1932. To this day the center has remained loyal to its initial mission “to cultivate an engaged community of youth whose artistic voices transform their lives, their neighborhoods and their worlds”.

Yet the pursuit of self-expression is often hindered by want of other needs. Johnson admits that maintaining the arts program in a community where many residents do not have their basic needs met is a huge challenge. In addition to art classes the center provides meals, transportation and counseling free of charge. “We have to make sure they are getting what they need, in order for them to be able to participate as fully as they really are able to.”

Watch the interview with Eryn Johnson to hear for yourself how arts education transforms far more than the life of just one child.

Listen to the podcast below:

Published July 11, 2013

Unique Voices, Shared Visions: Meena Nanji and GlobalGirl Media

BY OLGA MOSKVINA

“GlobalGirls (L-R) Ariana Seymore, Andrea Reyes, Wendy Garcia, Yasmeen Abdullah, Imani Crenshaw

GlobalGirls (L-R) Ariana Seymore, Andrea Reyes, Wendy Garcia, Yasmeen Abdullah, Imani Crenshaw

The idea that we cannot trust the images that saturate our everyday lives is cliché. We suspect the delectable vanilla ice cream in that commercial is really mashed potatoes; we know the actress making eyes at us from the cover of that magazine in the checkout lane is radiant with the grace of Photoshop. Bitter footage delivered to our screens by the news media seems to be a welcome antidote to the cloying wine of those other, clearly misleading, images. At times we still forget that the camera lens ceases to be neutral the moment someone decides where to point it, even as we rely countlessly on such decisions to give us a faithful picture of the most significant issues and events in our communities and beyond.

In the U.S., that “someone,” the average journalist, is white and male. Women and minorities continue to be vastly underrepresented in the media, especially in managerial positions, and there has been little progress toward greater diversity since the 1990s; indeed, there has even been a decline in some categories over the past few years. This incongruity hardly guarantees a panoramic view of the world. Enter GlobalGirl Media.

GlobalGirl Media is a non-profit organization working to put cameras, along with other tools of the journalistic trade, into the hands of young women from underserved communities in the U.S. and around the globe. While still in high school, program participants receive training in new media journalism, learning to speak out about the issues that affect them and their communities, and preparing to be leaders in a world that is changing rapidly with the proliferation of digital technology and social media.

One of the founders of GlobalGirl Media, award-winning filmmaker Meena Nanji, spoke to The Lamp Project about the organization, as well as her work as an artist with a commitment to finding common ground wherever she goes. Nanji has directed a number of short films, including Voices of the Morning, an experimental telling of a young woman’s coming-of-age under Islamic law, and the award-winning full-length documentary View from a Grain of Sand, which follows three Afghani women who fled the violence in their homeland to live as refugees in Pakistan. These personal stories are presented as part of the larger narrative of the violence and injustices suffered by Afghani women over the past several decades and even to this day. The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) gradually becomes a fourth character in the documentary.

“Afghani girls in a Pakistan refugee camp in 2001

Afghani girls in a Pakistan refugee camp in 2001

“Still from View from a Grain of Sand

Still from View from a Grain of Sand

According to Nanji, the best part of traveling and engaging with people of different backgrounds is “finding shared visions in places or people where you least expect them.” In her most recent film, Here and Away, Nanji draws inspiration from different, and diverse, sources. She made the film “on a whim” while in India, after reading “Children on a Country Road,” a short story by Franz Kafka. “I was inspired by that story to transpose it into an Indian setting, and make a short film, that is shot in documentary style, though it is fiction,” Nanji explained. “I feel it captures a certain mood of a village in India, the pace of life perhaps… the many sounds that make up an environment.” However, despite the variety of projects that she pursues, Nanji’s work is unified by her ethical and intellectual commitments, her artistic vision. “I think my works are pieces of a larger, coherent ethical project, even though they may not appear that way,” Nanji said. “For the last little while I have been more open to doing projects that were not originally conceived by me, or doing work-for-hire, but I have found that if I don’t agree with their basic concept or ethics, or values, I just cannot do them. I do sometimes pursue ventures that might be sudden leads, but these always fit into my larger conceptual/ethical framework.”

Nanji’s work with Global Girl Media is an extension of the filmmaker’s ethical project; indeed, Nanji came to co-found the organization in part as a response to her experiences while making View from a Grain of Sand. “Amie Williams, who originally conceived of this idea, had actually just been in Kenya during the 2007 elections and had witnessed some horrifying violence and a girl she had been sponsoring for years was a victim to this violence,” Nanji recounted. “And so she came back wanting very much to empower girls somehow to tell their own stories. I too, after Afghanistan, felt that instead of taking people’s stories away, why not give them the tools to tell their own stories. So these ideas coincided and GGM was formed, with the idea to train girls in digital media and other low cost methods of storytelling, of so that they could have a direct voice to digital global platforms. We decided on girls as they are the most marginalized in terms of creating digital content, or even having their perspectives listened to in any way, so we thought it was a great place to start.”

At the moment, GGM has branches in Los Angeles, Chicago, South Africa, and Morocco, but the organization hopes to expand to Kenya, Mozambique, and Brazil, as well as other countries in Latin America and the Middle East. On the GGM website, one finds young women sharing their experiences and reporting on a variety of topics, including women’s rights, sexual violence, street drugs, and living with HIV. One also sees how excited they are to discover their voices and be part of the global conversations on these and other issues.

In the few short years since its founding, GGM has built an impressive record of achievements. A series on reproductive health created by the GGM participants in LA last year was distributed by PBS online. This year, GGM held its first world summit in Chicago. A number of the young women who have been a part of GGM have won prestigious awards, gone on to study film and journalism in college, and have been hired by NGOs to continue pursuing their passion. Over the summer, the LA participants worked on a series of webisodes tackling the issue of food justice, which aired in September. Meanwhile, the Moroccan branch of GGM recently produced a documentary on sexual harassment, which premiered on November 25th. These videos and many others created by GGM participants are available on the organization’s YouTube channel.

“GGM LA 2011 training: Nanji with GlobalGirls Denise Peralta and Imani Crenshaw

GGM LA 2011 training: Nanji with GlobalGirls Denise Peralta and Imani Crenshaw1

​Without diverse and unique voices, we cannot get the whole story. At the same time, we cannot understand the whole story without an appreciation for how interconnected all the parts of it really are. This makes a program like GGM indispensable, not only for the participants, but for all of us, as we try to learn the truth and make sense of this world we share.

Published January 23, 2014

Giving Form to Invisible Connections: visual artist Lisa Carroll

BY OLGA MOSKVINA

Investigating the intricate relationship between human beings and their surroundings has been a lifelong passion for artist and designer Lisa Carroll. Carroll brings this passion to bear on her artistic practice, incorporating a variety of media to create abstract pieces that evoke the organic world, probing the boundaries between the manmade and the natural, the individual and the world at large. Her work discloses just how imperfect and provisional such categories are: our sense of opposition or belonging to a broader context can shift dramatically when we are placed in situations—or before works of art—that preclude or, conversely, encourage our contemplation and participation.

"Western Sector" by Lisa Carroll. Mixed media installation.

“Western Sector” by Lisa Carroll. Mixed media installation.

Carroll grew up on the coast of Massachusetts, in a place that she describes as “full of cranberry bogs, marshes, pine forests.”

“For my brother, sister and I these were our playgrounds,” Carroll said. “We would run and explore for miles and lose all sense of time until someone would hear someone’s mother calling to come in for dinner.”

Eventually, Carroll relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where she has been living for 22 years. An avid runner and camper, she spends much of her time in the remote places of California.

“My understanding of the West is that of both place and spirit,” she explained. “It is my ideal vacation to get myself to a remote lake in the mountains, hike to a hot spring, set myself down on a mesa in the desert, tuck away into a pocket in a canyon and feel myself in the middle of everywhere out there in the middle of nowhere. There is a perfect spot at 8,000 feet in the White Mountains (Eastern CA) where you can look across Owen’s Valley toward the Eastern slope of the Sierras; it is a pleasure to sit there for hours watching the light change and shape that endless space. That is the West in an external sense. There is also the West in an internal sense, the mode of quest, engaging one’s curiosity.”

It is the landscape of California that has had the most decisive influence on Carroll’s artistic sensibility, suggesting materials and motifs for her gorgeous paintings, sculptures, and installations. One of the recurring forms in Carroll’s work is lichen, which she became interested in over time, through her repeated encounters with it in her athletic practice.

“For years I had been running the trails in Redwood Regional Park finding my eye drawn to the lichen encrusting the Bay Laurels,” Carroll said, “And then it just built to a point where the only possible next thing to do was to make that connection and create artwork that expressed my sensorial ritual experience of taking in that lichen for all those years.”

This motif was featured prominently in Western Sector, an installation Carroll created as part of a group exhibition at Inhabit Gallery in Oakland. Walking into the room, viewers found themselves surrounded by clusters of large, delicate lichen-like shapes framing the room’s functional elements and spilling onto the floor, their organic exuberance not so much at odds with the simple geometry of right angles as complementing it, transforming the gallery space so that it might be experienced with the body as well as with the eye. Inviting the viewer to explore and inhabit a temporary space, the work functioned as a reminder of the continuity between nature and human activity, and the simultaneous ephemerality and repetitiveness of their processes.

“It is an acknowledgement that our impact on our environment is a pattern,” Carroll explained. “The action of making each individual part is a repetitive act, a meditation, an act of devotion, embracing the merging of the divine with the mundane. The action of installing and de-installing continues the process. We are nature.”

Carroll has also carried her sense of belonging to a broader context beyond her creative engagement with the mountains, forests, and coastlines of the West. Among other things, she has channeled her love of running into an effort to aid some of the most vulnerable members of the global community. In 2010, Carroll joined her longtime running partner Deidre (Dee) Williams on a 40-mile run to benefit Run For Congo Women.

The situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been a humanitarian crisis for years, and women have paid the heaviest toll for the unending war. Many have lost homes, friends, and family members—including children, many of whom perish before the age of five from inadequate nutrition and medical care. Moreover, the bodies of women have long been treated as part of the battlefield. Horror stories of torture and gang rape abound, and survivors have to live with the physical and psychological trauma, as well as the stigma that rape inevitably carries, usually subsisting below the poverty line and without access to resources that might help them start over.

Run for Congo Women is a grassroots effort to raise awareness and funds for women affected by the continuing violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo through running and walking events. According to Carroll, her running partner had been inspired by Lisa Shannon, the organization’s founder. When Williams first discussed the idea with her, Carroll recalled in a phone interview, “It brought tears to my eyes… I had no idea that there was something like this out there and that I could be involved.”

They called their run the 40-40-40 Project, dedicating each mile to a specific Congolese woman. Carroll worked out the logistics and designed their route. On the day of the run, they took part in a drumming ritual, establishing a connection with the women to whom the run was dedicated. The grueling nature of a forty-mile run deepened this connection.

“[When you run for long distances], you tap into interesting places in your mind,” said Carroll. “By mile eighteen I was in pain, but the thought of stopping was not possible because these women were on our minds… We have a refrain: ‘Pain is just a sensation.’”

To date, Run for Congo Women has raised over $1 million for Women for Women International, an organization which enrolls women in war-torn regions of the world in yearlong programs that offer counseling, education, and job training. The goal of the program is to provide women with skills and confidence they can put to use in starting businesses and building better lives for themselves and their children.

So far, over 58,000 women have benefitted from the organization’s work in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Almost all of the participants in the region have first-hand knowledge of the miseries and deprivations of war, whether through seeing their homes destroyed, surviving rape or the loss of loved ones, or being unable to receive necessary healthcare. Graduates of the program report an increase in confidence, and most are able to find jobs or even start businesses of their own, contributing to the growth of their economy and the healing of their nation. The Women for Women International website reports that “[o]n average, graduates nearly double their income over the course of the yearlong program.” Additionally, 98% of the women who finish the program report knowing their rights, compared to 5% of those who are just entering the program. These are encouraging statistics. Amidst the wreckage of war, the strong, courageous women who can support themselves, their children, and one another may be the surest sign of hope for the future.

TeAda Presents “Delicious Reality: The Immigration Experience”

By Mackenzie Farrell

Delicious Reality

Leilani Chan’s voice fills with enthusiasm as she describes the inspiration behind TeAda Productions upcoming show Delicious Reality: “The stories coming out of these (immigrant) groups are so exciting and raise such important issues.” TeAda partnered with two different groups, ROC-LA (Restaurant Opportunities Center-Los Angeles) and SEACA (Southeast Asian Community Alliance), to create workshops for immigrants. These workshops became a place to share stories and engage in important discussions, including dialogue about work conditions. Delicious Reality portrays these immigrants’ stories in a common immigrant job setting—the kitchen of a restaurant. Delicious Reality’s tagline has become, “who really cooks your food?,” encouraging California locals to attend the play at Miles Playhouse in Santa Monica to learn more about a kitchen culture that is lively and rich with history. The play runs May 10th-19th, and more information can be found at www.teada.org.

The Artist Who Believed No Dream Impossible

BY ADIA WHITE

Inocente.

Inocente.


Who says we are defined by our life circumstances? Certainly not fifteen-year old artist Inocente. Despite living homeless and undocumented in San Diego since the age of six, Inocente faces the world with bright spirals painted on the corners of her eyes and large flowers adorning the crown of her head. She paints on whatever canvas she can get her hands on—jeans, tennis shoes, sweatshirt, face.

“Out there in the world, usually things aren’t very colorful, so maybe if they were a little bit more colorful, they’d make people just a little bit more happy,” Says Inocente in the recently released documentary of the same name.

Yet despite her relentless effort to make the world just a little bit brighter for all of us, homelessness and lack of legal documentation have pushed her to the darkest margins of society. Thanks to filmmakers Sean and Andrea Nix Fine, whose documentary, Inocente, follows the journey of this young artist, we can enjoy Inocente’s vivid colors and unique shapes. Their documentary paints a portrait of the challenges faced by homeless and undocumented youth living in the U.S., a portrait as vivid, but not nearly so bright, as Inocente’s paintings.

"If Only They Could See" by Inocente.

“If Only They Could See” by Inocente.


According to the Inocente documentary website, there are 1.5 million homeless youths and 1.8 million undocumented youths living in the U.S. today.  Twenty-five percent of homeless youths witness violence within in their families, a statistical category from which Inocente is not exempt.

Although Inocente’s home life has been bleak, her paintings are anything but.  The colors she paints reflect her passion for life despite the obstacles that come with waking each day. Her optimism comes from a determination to start the day with what makes her most happy, painting.  Each morning she applies her makeup with a paintbrush. Black and red triangles, spirals, or dots accentuate her eyes. Her makeup is a totem of her relentless commitment to pursuing her dreams.

Inocente credits her untamed imagination with the uncanny vibrancy of her art. “I like to look out the window and imagine, what if the trees could talk, or the people had super powers… I have a lot of impossible dreams, but I still dream them.”

Some would have considered Inocente’s appearance on stage at the Oscars last Sunday an impossible dream. Nevertheless, the film her art inspired won the Academy Award for best Documentary Short of 2013. Dressed in an elegant white dress, Inocente entered the stage along with filmmakers Sean and Andrea Nix Fine to receive their Oscar.

While Inocente’s optimism and imagination have prevailed, her success still remains exceptional. Inocente was fortunate enough to belong to A.R.T.S., a program designed to give homeless youths access to the arts. A.R.T.S—an acronym for A Reason To Survive—gave her a place that felt like home and allowed her to fill an otherwise grey world with color. Still, millions of youths endure struggles similar to Inocente’s, and without access to such programs. Funding for public arts education, which gave Inocente a life when she felt she had no other, is often an early target for budget cuts.  Even private, non-profit arts programs struggle to find funding needed to provide their services to youths. For Inocente, arts education allowed the beautiful world she dreamed of survive in her imagination when it could not manifest in her life.

My personal favorite of Inocente’s paintings is entitled “The Lost Planet.” In this piece, multicolored stars glimmer behind mountains garnished with glitter. The Lost Planet is meant to represent a land where children’s dreams reside after they are forsaken. When I see this painting I imagine how many dreams wind up there, dreams abandoned by children whose life circumstances forced them to give up dreaming far too early. Most of all I imagine how so many simple dreams, dreams like having a home, could be prevented from ending up on the lost planet in the first place.

"The Lost Planet" by Inocente.

“The Lost Planet” by Inocente.

Our World in Numbers: Tracking the Live World Clock

BY ARIEL CHU

A woman contracts malaria. A man suffers his first stroke. A war robs a family of their lives. As much as we lament these misfortunes, we still feel detached from them—keen on viewing disasters as hypothetical scenarios rather than as distinct daily possibilities. How differently would we react to these events if we could fathom their yearly impact? Daily impact? If we could pinpoint the escalating rates of births, deaths, and disasters by the minute?

Spreading awareness of global trends is the aim of the Live World Clock. A counter developed by Poodwaddle, this embeddable widget illustrates the scope of global events by projecting their quantitative impact in real time. Users are able to toggle between durations—years, months, weeks, days, and even time from the present moment on—and scroll through live statistics, including those measuring global population, death rates, the spread of illnesses, and human environmental impact. Among the most striking of these findings are the death tolls from disease, the staggering amount of carbon dioxide emissions, and our multiplying national debt: numbers that continue to escalate tremendously, even as our lives seem to continue independently of rapidly evolving global factors. Though the Live World Clock functions merely as a mathematical, research-based projection of these statistics, it serves as a staggering illustration of misfortunes, deaths, and harmful human trends that continue without a foreseeable end—numbers that will only continue to rise if we fail to offer immediate aid.

Interfaces like the Live World Clock emphasize the need for quick collective action. The old maxim states that time stops for nobody—but when it comes to the global problems we have the power to control, it’s now easier than ever to inform ourselves about these trends, take a stand against escalating issues, and stop the clock on war, disease, and other calamities in our world.

The Live World Clock is also available here.

Raechel Running: Light in the Shadows

BY Deborah K. Hirsch

Raechel Running © Cris Mitchell

“The Borderlands is a place that inspires those of us who look for the light in the shadows.” — Raechel Running

Raechel Running’s life is a river winding through contiguous regions, braiding currents from each to create multicultural art. A photographer, she assembles images from throughout the American Southwest, Mexico, and South America, incorporating textiles, paint, and small objects to create multimedia experiences of people and places. Her compositions astonish; their beauty is original, sometimes iconic, and always bold.

Much of Raechel’s portraiture and other compositions capture popular culture in an at once desolate and vivid part of the world: the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. There, everyday elements of cultures combine, even as the politics of national identity–Mexican, Anglo, Indigenous–contrast acutely. Raechel’s lens interprets everything from borderland cowboy culture, farm life in the valley, and small town relics to the wild places of rivers and deserts, and does so by blending artifacts of the old and the new to be found in all of these places.

“I believe words and images are stronger used together,” she says. “Since I was twelve years old, I’ve kept journals and notebooks. I integrate the journaling process into my photo illustrations. Sometimes a quote or an image I’ve found inspires a new way to tell the stories.”

Photo by Raechel Running

Leaving her home in Flagstaff, Arizona, Raechel spent five years in Northern Mexico’s Sierra Madre Range and in rural villages throughout Chihuahua and Sonora. She has lived in the Casas Grandes Valley, an archaeologically and agriculturally rich area only 100 miles south of the US-Mexico border. About this, she says, “As I learned more about the history of the region, my work changed. I went into the fields and deep into The Sierras. I visited ranches and rodeos, cock fights, spiritual ceremonies and documented everyday life.”

Paquimé, as the Casas Grandes Valley was called in Pre-Colombian times, was a trade and cultural hub among indigenous peoples who arrived from all directions. It’s still a place of migrations and fertile valleys, and home to a center for artists who are reviving the distinctive ceramic art of the village of of Mata Oritz.

Photo by Raechel Running
A photo collage honoring the rain symbols from Mesomerica and the Greater Southwest, and the friendship between US anthropologist Spencer MacCallum and Mexican master potter Juan Quezada.

More than 450 potters now work in Mata Oritz, a village that was on the verge of desertion just thirty years ago. This renaissance began with an inspired friendship between native resident and master potter, Juan Quezada, who experimented with local clay and pigments, and US anthropologist, Spencer MacCallum. They have worked together for nearly four decades. Today, Mata Oritz potters are world renowned.

In 2006, MacCallum invited Raechel to be an artist-in-residence, to live and work in Mata Oritz, in an 1870 adobe house. The dream was to create a center for travelers, artists, and researchers interested in the region. Today, the village is home to a renaissance in the Mata Oritz (Paquimé) ceramic arts and the development of contemporary iterations of that ancient style. Raechel has since contributed numerous photographs, as well as website design and writing to the success of this dream, known as the Center for Casas Grandes Studies.

Photo by Raechel Running

Most recently, Raechel helped organize an exhibit in partnership with the Flagstaff Cultural Partners, Borderlands Sierra Club, Northern Arizona Univeristy, and volunteers from No More Deaths. The dynamic community exhibit is titled “BEYOND BORDERS, The Fence, The People, The Land” and explores the cultural and land connections of the Southwestern U.S. and Northern Mexico Borderlands.

The sister exhibit, Raechel’s third exhibition of her visual odyssey in Mexico, is titled “NEPANTLA: Tierra Entre Medio/Between Worlds”, and is at the Flagstaff Photography Center through the end of November. It is a response to the hardships and tensions in the region, and the survival of beauty amidst it all. Raechel says, “In my art and activism I try to overcome despair and to make visual connections for people to foster kinship and hope in these times of change. Borders exist between people and countries but it is also the place where we can unite.”

Raechel is now collaborating with author Craig Childs on a project that combines words and images. The work is supported by The Better Bombshell, a publication project that aims to generate insights into emerging female role models.

Photo by Raechel Running

Raechel uses her work to advance many non-profit organizations that serve social and environmental needs. Among them is the Mexico Program of One Heart World-Wide, which trains community members and outreach workers to provide obstetrical and neonatal care to indigenous women in Mexico’s Copper Canyon region. These women, called Tarahumara (or Rarámuri in their own language), represent only 3% of the Mexico’s population but account for 38% of all maternal deaths.  Most live in small settlements at least three hours away from the nearest health post and a least a day away from the nearest facility equipped to handle deliveries.

One Heart President and Founder, Arlene Samen, says, “Raechel has done so much to highlight the plight of the Tarahumara women in the Copper Canyon, who die needlessly at home due to lack of access to care. Through her photography, Raechel has brought much-needed attention to the cause.”

As Raechel puts it herself:  ”What I have learned from my time in Mexico is, it’s not about being afraid but about the spirit of resiliency and courage to dream against the odds. ”

Raechel Running’s works can be seen online at raechelrunning.com and issuu.com/rmrunning, as well as on websites of some of the organizations she supports.

Organizations Raechel supports with her work:

One Heart World-Wide | www.oneheartworld-wide.org
One Heart World-Wide improves maternal and neo-natal health among indigenous, Tarahumara communities in Mexico.

Somos La Semilla | www.somoslasemilla.org
Somos La Semilla is a grassroots organization that works in Southern Arizona and Mexican border towns to create healthy food networks.

Rancho Feliz | www.ranchofeliz.com | One Heart page
Rancho Feliz is a residential-educational community in Agua Prieta, Mexico.

The Amazon Aid Foundation | Raechel Running bio
The Amazon Aid Foundation is a non-profit that raises awareness about environmental issues in the Amazon through creative collaborative art, music, and science projects.

Published July 11, 2013

Anne Harris performs “Lullaby”

Singer-songwriter-fiddler Anne Harris was kind enough to play a song for us and let us share it with you. Here she is performing “Lullaby” with just her fiddle and her voice.

Supporting Anne means supporting an artist who is giving the world more than just wonderful music. She works with a number of good causes in addressing important social issues. In our interview with her she talks about her involvement with Coat Angels, who are working hard to provide winter coats to disadvantaged school children in Chicago.

VISIT
Anne’s site
BUY
Anne’s music
VISIT
Coat Angels
DONATE to
Coat Angels
VOLUNTEER with
Coat Angels

Watch our interview with Anne Harris.

CREDITS

Jeremy Scott Olsen post audio

Jason E. Johnson editor

Dalton Gaudin director / director of photography

Lauren Thorne producer
Ryan Metcalf supervising producer
Jeremy Scott Olsen executive producer

“Lullaby”
music and lyrics by Anne Harris
performed by Anne Harris
album version performed by Anne Harris (vocals, fiddle), Chris Siebold (guitar), Greg Nergaard (bass), Rich Stitzel (drums)
copyright 2008 by Anne Harris

with great appreciation for our entire all-volunteer crew—and their talent, dedication, professionalism and time

© copyright 2012 by The Lamp Project
all rights reserved

A WARMING EFFECT: MUSICIAN ANNE HARRIS

BY JEREMY OLSEN

In music and in speaking out for a cause, it helps to have a voice backed by passion and conviction. It’s not so much that the voice carries further, but rather that its impact is felt more deeply. Ohio-born, Chicago-based Anne Harris puts this into practice for both music and great causes. And she does it with not one, but two voices: the warm, soulful crooning of her own vocal cords and the exuberant wail of her fiddle.

Don’t miss Anne Harris in an exclusive live performance of “Lullaby” for The Lamp Project.

In 2006, friends of Harris launched Coat Angels, a non-profit organization to provide warm coats for disadvantaged school children in Chicago. In the years since, they’ve helped over a thousand kids thanks in part to Anne’s own involvement, which includes donating her time for benefit concerts.

Please, enjoy this interview with Anne by filmmaker Dalton Gaudin. You’ll hear more about her and about Coat Angels, and you’ll be treated to some of her music. You can hear more of her music in this exclusive live performance for The Lamp Project. And if this cause moves you, please follow the links below to visit the site, donate, or volunteer. Or buy Anne’s music and you will be supporting a musician who is truly putting her powerful voices to good use.

CREDITS

Felix Lau music editor
Jeremy Scott Olsen sound editor / re-recording mixer

Jason E. Johnson editor

Dalton Gaudin director / director of photography

Dalton Gaudin interview written and conducted by

Lauren Thorne producer
Ryan Metcalf supervising producer
Jeremy Scott Olsen executive producer

Aigars Lapsa, Simona Capaldi, Susan Ryan photographs
used with permission and gratitude

“Lullaby”
music and lyrics by Anne Harris
performed by Anne Harris (vocals, fiddle), Chris Siebold (guitar), Greg Nergaard (bass), Rich Stitzel (drums)
copyright 2008 by Anne Harris

“Leaves Turnin’”
music and lyrics by Anne Harris
performed by Anne Harris
copyright 2001 by Anne Harris

with great appreciation for our entire all-volunteer crew—and their talent, dedication, professionalism and time
 

© copyright 2012 by The Lamp Project
all rights reserved

Unmovable: Photos by Kelly Creedon

BY SUSAN CASSIDY

Kelly Creedon ©Stephanie Ewens

There’s an intimacy that comes from seeing people in their homes, surrounded by their possessions. And when people are struggling to hold onto those homes, every detail becomes even more revealing: family photos hanging slightly askew on the walls; a cat curled up on a carefully made bed; household items scattered on countertops—the particulars of day-to-day life that anyone with a roof securely over their head might take for granted. Boston-based documentary photographer Kelly Creedon captures these details in her current project, “We Shall Not Be Moved.” The website and traveling exhibit tell the stories of people in Boston’s working-class and low-income neighborhoods facing foreclosure and eviction in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis. In partnership with community organization City Life/Vida Urbana, Creedon brings these stories to life in color photographs, supplemented by text, audio, and video, capturing the moment in which embattled tenants and homeowners become activists and community leaders.

©Kelly Creedon

In exhibiting her work, Creedon hangs portraits of people in their homes, alone and isolated, followed by images of them meeting with neighbors, sharing their stories, and eventually taking to the streets. The arrangement of images mirrors the journey many of her subjects take as they move beyond their own personal struggles to join a larger movement.

Before diving into the work of photographing this journey, Creedon sat in on weekly meetings at City Life, at which as many as 80 to 100 people gather to share their stories and learn how to help themselves and each other through collective action. She notes that people come to City Life looking for a way to pay an affordable rent or mortgage to stay in their homes—they’re not looking for handouts.

“I don’t think people are dismissing the question of personal responsibility,” Creedon says, “but they come to realize that there was an entire industry that was behaving irresponsibly.”

©Kelly Creedon

When she started creating images for the project, Creedon talked with City Life members like Reggie Fuller and Louanna Hall. As the only remaining tenants in a foreclosed building that has suffered both a fire and a violent assault on the premises, they were at a loss for what to do when neither the landlord nor the bank would take responsibility for the property. Through their involvement with City Life, they have become outspoken advocates for themselves and for others facing housing displacement, taking part in organized protests throughout Boston.

Marshall Cooper, 75, followed a similar trajectory from hopelessness and frustration to inspiration and a sense of purpose. As the primary caregiver for his ailing parents, he was unable to keep up with the rapidly rising mortgage payments on his house, which went into foreclosure in 2010. But Cooper has refused to leave his home. Working with a legal defense team, he’s fighting to stay there. He has also become a community leader through his collaboration with City Life, which he refers to as his family. Creedon says that even members who lose the fight to keep their own homes often continue working with the organization, because of the relationships they’ve built with others in the community.

“We Shall Not Be Moved” has traveled throughout Boston and New York, providing further opportunities for people to get their stories heard—many of the individuals who appear in Creedon’s work attend the exhibits and speak to attendees. Creedon says this is one of the most rewarding parts of the project.

“I really enjoy watching people see themselves on the wall in a gallery, or hear their own story in a presentation,” she says. “In seeing themselves reinterpreted that way, through someone else’s eyes, they have a different understanding of the power that they have, that their story has and their voice has. It’s a powerful thing to witness the way people transform through that relationship.”

©Kelly Creedon

Creedon is looking to take “We Shall Not Be Moved” on the road to cities in the South and Midwest, and she’s also at work on new projects that will explore the faces and stories behind issues like workers’ and immigrants’ rights.

“The majority of people I’m documenting aren’t in the mainstream narrative we’re seeing in the media and the press,” Creedon says. “They appreciate that someone would take the time to ask them to tell their story and to lift up their story in a public way…and I really like being the person who gets to show up and ask those questions.”

©Kelly Creedon

We Shall Not Be Moved | http://weshallnotbemoved.net/