Matthew McCue and French Garden Farms

file under: hope, photojournalism, unpublished work, war

This is the very first part of a story on war vets who take up farming for a myriad of reasons upon returning from conflict…  

Matthew McCue is a 26 year old war vet, who now works as the foreman at French Garden Farms. He’s been a farmer for seven months.

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I had so much fun hanging out with him today- if you want to see more photos, click here.

 

Last Day of First Exposures

file under: hope, mentoring, youth and photography

Sadly, today was the last day of the semester for First Exposures, until next fall. It crept up so fast! Since I’m going to be in NYC by August, it was the last time I’m probably going to see most of the youth in the program- that is, unless some of the younger kids are around in two years, when I come back to Cali. The morning was spent furiously helping to prepare pieces for the show, matting, cutting, and dying photos and splicing text.

If you’re in San Francisco, come check out this year’s First Exposures show on June 14th, at the pubic library! Every youth in the program will have at least one print up, and the work is pretty rad- from cyanotypes to c-prints to collage to regular old B&W fiber prints. 

Naomi, Marianna, Bethany, and Shantel

Frankie and Marcio

Back Up & Running

file under: hope, unpublished work

Whew, OK, the heartache is starting to fade, helped by the presence of a kind distraction. 

This week I’ve been in the land of audio editing, which means lots of possibly unwarranted facetime with my computer screen and Final Cut Pro. The interviews from Short Creek are long and unwieldy, and it’s been a bit tricky whittling away at the narrative. A new batch of promo cards are also about to go out… if you want one, get in touch!

World Press Photo has added an amazing feature to the site: interviews with each award winners. (Give them each a few seconds to load). To me, it’s always incredibly fascinating to get a chance to see what makes each photographer tick, what draws them to their stories. How their own realities collide with those which they seek out. Those who are comfortable away from the shield of the camera, out in front, and those who are not. The varying strains of visual articulacy.

In other news, Cornell Capa passed this morning. I’ll leave you with this quote, used in the Magnum slideshow commemorating his life.

“…”The idea that any photography can’t be personal is madness! … I see something; it goes through my eye, brain, heart, guts; I chose the subject. What could be more personal than that?”

-Cornell Capa

Taking the Pledge

breaking news!, file under: hope, government, Politics: race, class, gender

I just heard really exciting news from Melissa Hope Ditmore, who with the Network of Sex Work Projects was my co-producer on the video project Taking the Pledge that I shot, edited, and helped produce with the the Urban Justice Project.

On blip.tv, the short has been viewed 16,345 times! It’s been online for about a year, and over 900 DVDs have been distributed to outreach groups, NGO’s, aid organizations, and government officials. The short will be shown as part of the cultural program at the biannual International AIDS Conference in Mexico City in August.

Melissa estimated that over 20,000 people have seen it! Let’s hope that someone with some power will take notice and take action against the insane stipulations highlighted in the film.

Here’s Melissa, Meena Seshu, and Hazera Bagum speaking at the OSI forum on “Update on the “Anti-Prostitution Pledge” and Its Global Impacts” in New York last June. Click here to listen.

Both Hazera and Meena are interviewed in the film. Here’s a little more about my fabulous co-conspirators:

Hazera Bagum directs Durjoy Nari Shangho, a sex worker rights group and UNAIDS best-practice program that lost its funding when the international NGO that funded them signed the anti-prostitution pledge. This resulted in a reduction from 20 to 4 drop-in centers for street-based sex workers, which the group has run since 1998. Bagum shared how the pledge has impacted the sex worker rights movement in Bangladesh.

Meena Seshu is Founder & Secretary General of Sampada Grameen Mahila Sanstha (SANGRAM), an HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and support organization working with socially marginalized populations in Maharashtra State, India. Human Rights Watch honored her in 2002 with the Human Rights Award, its highest recognition. She is featured in the film Taking the Pledge and discussed the impact the pledge has had on her efforts to help sex workers in India.

Melissa Ditmore, PhD, author, and Coordinator of the Network of Sex Work Projects, spoke about organizing and advocacy efforts undertaken since the pledge requirement was passed by Congress in 2003. She showed Taking the Pledge, a 13-minute film about how the anti-prostitution pledge has affected sex workers around the world. The film features interviews with sex workers from Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, Mali, Thailand, and other countries. 

If you want to learn more about how the anti-prostitution pledge hinders HIV prevention, click here.

To watch the film, click here.

Back in Cali… too soon.

file under: hope, unpublished work

I really don’t want to be here. I’m dying to follow all the leads back in Short Creek, wanting to talk to more folks…. I think I’ll be going back in a few weeks. 

In the meantime, I’m going to rewatch Banking On Heaven, the documentary that made me think I was undertaking mission impossible with this story. I’m interested in seeing how differently I see the film, now that I’ve been to Hildale and C.C.

Splitting headache… no more computer! Good night world!

Ross & Laurie, and the annual Town Hall Meeting

photojournalism, Uncategorized, unpublished work

Today I spent my morning interviewing Ross Chatwin and his wife, Laurie, about growing up in the Church and their current excommunicated status.

At a special annual event in St. George, there were all-day training sessions on polygamy, followed by an evening Town Hall meeting with both the Attorneys General of Utah and Arizona.

My interview with Ross went way longer than expected, so getting to St. George was a little rushed. Thanks to the Hurricane, Utah police for the speeding ticket.

Polygamist wives from Centennial Park, a fundamental Mormon community that broke away from the FLDS, listen to Deseret News reporter Ben Winslow moderate.

The Wylers

gender, unpublished work

What was supposed to be an hour long interview morphed into a day spent with the Wylers. This is Marvin, and his second of four wives, Charlotte. The family has 34 children and over 100 grandchildren.

Marvin’s story, like many excommunicated FDLS members, is long and tangled. Though almost everything he told me was on the record and recorded, it’s too difficult to appropriately abridge and convey here. In a nutshell, his life and some of his choices would seem immoral to much of mainstream America. But again, in terms of FDLS relations, it’s all relative.

On an odd note, he told me much more than he did to the NYT reporters who talked to his family for this story. In fact, some of what I learned actually makes information in that article factually incorrect. I understand and appreciate why Marvin didn’t tell more to the Times reporters- it’s too easy to misconstrue, and our sensationalistic American media beast would simply chew him up and spit him out.

Short Creek

gender, photojournalism, unpublished work

Short Creek is the old name for the sister cities of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona. As seen below, members of the Priesthood (alos known as the FLDS) were instructed by their prophet, Warren Jeffs, to erect fences around their homes. The purpose of the fence is twofold: to both keep “outsider” eyes out, and children in.

When Jeffs moved the “best” members to the YFZ ranch in Eldorado on 2004, he ordered those left behind to cease construction on all homes and projects back in Short Creek. The result is a smattering of unfinished buildings, throughout the towns.

I have no idea why this home has castle gates in front of it.