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Making an Exception for Tradition…

This is my extended family. Every year we all meet at my Grandparents’ home in Carbondale, Illinois. This year for our family portrait, I wanted to emphasize how far we all travel in order to continue our Christmas family traditions. And to summarize for you: the total number of the miles traveled by all of my 17 relatives and their spouses in order to get to Carbondale, Illinois is: 31,327 miles (32,025 if you count the dogs’ journey) and 64,050 for a round trip.

Those are a lot of miles and that is a huge carbon footprint… and that doesn’t include all of the presents, and wrapping paper, and trips to the mall.

Being a person who cares a great deal about the environment… the crazy amounts of consumption that occurs in one week is embarrassing… but at the same time… I feel incredibly lucky. I feel lucky because:

  • I have an amazing family, and we have wonderfully bizarre family traditions that we have carried out for as many years as I can remember…
  • I know not many people have such a strong extended family, especially one that is so spread apart…
  • and because I know that these traditions will not last forever, so I better enjoy them while I have them.

So, for the spirit of Christmas and for the love of family, I try and contain my environmental gripes, and I wholeheartedly throw myself into the crazy seasonal consumerism as much as possible. But I still do little things to try and make myself feel a little better, such as shopping at the local Carbondale stores, instead of the big box stores and chains, and wrapping all my presents in newspaper and reused paper, and preventing my paper-plate-loving relatives from adding to the overcrowded landfills, just because they do not want to do dishes.

And in the end… traditions make it all worth while. Thank you Grandma and Grandpa for bringing us all together for all these years, and for teaching us the value of family. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I HATE THAT PHOTO…

That’s the voicemail my mom left on my phone after she saw my last blog post with her photo on it. Her message made me laugh because she can be really funny, even when she isn’t trying to be. But she really wanted me to take that photo down… but… I didn’t.

I didn’t take the photo down, partly because she is my mom, and not a client, but more importantly because I LOVE THAT PHOTO, because it is my real, uncensored mom, and because it was a great day with a great hike, and because that is a look that I know and love so well.

I was a little nervous though, because she said that I could never take another photo of her again, and I do have some family members who mean that. So I thought I should at least try and take a photo that she might not hate, because to take a photo of her that she would love would be impossible. So on our hike in Pt Reyes, during her Thanksgiving visit, we happened to stop in a spot where the light was just perfect and I talked her into trying one more time. Hopefully this time she won’t hate the photos… we’ll soon see.

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Most people do not like photos of themselves, even really good photos of them, and that is one of the hardest parts of being a photographer. Before the shutter is ever pressed, the protests come… “I am not photogenic,” or, “Your camera might break.” And sometimes the offensive body parts are listed, one-by-one.

But if I want to be a photographer then I have to ignore all protests, because if I didn’t then I would never take another photo of a person again. So I say,”You won’t break my camera. You probably are photogenic, but you may not have had a photographer who understands what makes a good photo.” I promise them that we will end up with photographs they will like… and I won’t put any photos that they don’t like on display to the public… (as long as THEY are not my MOM… sorry mom… I love you. Thank you for being a beautiful, trusting, understanding, supportive and a patient model/mother!!)

And… here are a couple more from the hike that I love too.

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The Album is Ready…

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Remember the album I was talking about a few weeks ago?ah_fllier3

The sound editing is finished, the cd’s have been printed, the cd covers have been screen-printed and cut out by hand, and after their first weekend of gigs with their new cd’s… they have sold 20 so far.

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The whole package is definitely an organic work of visual and audio art. No two cd’s are alike… sounds like a good Christmas present to me. You can get a sneak peek of what it sounds like here:

http://www.myspace.com/greenstringfarmband

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30 + 1

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I was in London last year for my 30th Birthday, which was absolutely wonderful, but it meant that I didn’t get to celebrate with my favorite friends back home in Northern California.

And this year I was so busy that I almost dismissed the whole birthday celebrating thing altogether. But my dear friend Rebecca said, “No way.” She wanted to celebrate since I was not here last year, and that was a really nice feeling.

So here we are at a wonderful hidden little beach in Pt Reyes in October. And my new Birthday tradition… formal portraits with the Rollei.

A list for Santa (Rosa)….

Both my brother and one of my best friends recently made requests for prints to decorate their homes. Their requests turned into a fun project for me… it’s like cleaning out the closet and trying on a pair of forgotten pants and realizing you love them, and suddenly they become your new favorites.

But the fun part about photos is that not only do they become my new favorites, but I get to share them with other people too. I am making my list and sending my order off to Santa (Rosa,) so if you see something you like… it’s not too late to share the photo spirit this Holiday Season.

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LA Cowboy.

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Oak Hill Farm, Sonoma.

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Behind Mia

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Farm Art.

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London Graffiti…. above and below.

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Dallas: their words with my photographs…

I was hired by Re:Vision to go to Dallas and find people to tell the story of Dallas. Re:vision is hosting an architectural contest to build a community in one city block of downtown Dallas. Their premise is, “building community one city block at a time.” So Re:Vision wanted to show the architects a multimedia piece that would help them design a community that will fit the wants and needs of the people of Dallas… and they hired me (insert huge smile here) to do so.

Just in case you don’t know me… this is exactly the kind of documentary work I want to do in life!

The multimedia piece is still under construction, but because it has been such a long time since my last post,  I wanted to at least share something from my amazing journey. And because the Rolleiflex photos don’t work as well in the multimedia piece, I thought I would let them shine on their own here.

So, below you will find a series of photographs and quotes from many different Dallas residents. The photographs do not necessarily line up with the quotes, meaning the faces might not match the voices. This is just an experiment, so please feel free to leave your critiques in the comments below.

I hope you enjoy getting to know Dallas as much as I did.

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“How does the rest of The World see Dallas? Nobody knows how The World sees Dallas.”

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“We’re going from a typical American 1950’s city, where people went to work and everyone lived out and around. We are trying hard to create a downtown area where people can live, work, and play… a dense, urban, vibrant, fun downtown.”

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“Having a place around which the community meets is enormously important and you don’t realize it until you get to a place where it doesn’t happen.”

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“Nobody walks here, so you don’t meet people and share a sense of space and community.”

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“That is why community is around church, high school football and The Cowboys.”

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“You’ve got all that space. You can take any one of a number of thoroughfares and it’s amazing how far out the Dallas Area Metroplex goes. And then when you finally get out there and it is The West in the movies.”

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“Community in suburbs is tough because the architecture creates islands. You close your door at the back and you don’t see each other. You come and you go, and it’s just classic.”

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“It’s just a big old sprawling, sunbelt, southern, western, nutty, consumer, crazy… it’s just classic. It’s the best of the best and the worst of the worst in this genre of community.”

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“The question is, do you need a core anymore? Does the core matter? I think it should. For density. We’re supposed to get 5 million people over the next 25 years, where are you going to put them?”

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“Dallas has the largest amount of open land. To be efficient and good stewards of the environment, we have to work on density. We can’t move people up the highway further and further.”

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“Today there is the economic segregation that was brought about by racial segregation. Now the Black middle class is gone.”

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“This city will not be successful until it talks about education. Over 90% of kids in the Dallas Independent School District qualify for free or reduced lunches.”00930004

“So, the number one problem facing Dallas, is reducing poverty.”

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“I think a lot of people have a good life here and are real happy about it. Happy to take their kids out of Dallas schools and put them in private schools or suburban schools.”

madison-martin

“Other people who aren’t doing so well, they find joy in their lives, but they would find more joy with better opportunities. If we could get together, we could create a community that would work better for everyone.”

eric-centraldallasministies

“This project could be the rallying point. By saying, “This is what it means to be community. This is what it means to come together, and to have access to the tools we need, and define our own values and goals, to execute this as a group and a neighborhood.””

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“Dallas is a minority majority city with one third Black, one third White, one third Latino… and the Latino population is growing. We’ll be more than 50% Latino in 20 years.”

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“Most people here aren’t from here. A lot of the ideas here came from other places, but it’s still Texas. It has that real quality.”

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“It’s a lot more cosmopolitan than people give it credit for. When I travel everyone thinks it’s a backwards hick town because of that stupid show in the 70’s. People get past that and its an OK place.”

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“Dallas is playing catch up. It’s a vibrant city that doesn’t know it is vibrant. So much culture, but so little comes to the surface, you have to find it.”

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“Downtown Dallas made a mistake when it decided to bury its pedestrian life. We have underground tunnels with businesses, as a result you don’t see people, they are all moles underground.”

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“I fight The Underground everyday of my life. You can spend the whole day in the air-conditioning without ever going outside. My opinion is that it’s the downfall of downtown. But slowly people coming up to the street level.”

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“We all sort of live in a bubble and we don’t see the rest of the world. We certainly don’t see it through the eyes of people that live there, or work there, or pray there.  Sometimes we don’t even know it exists and we make a lot of judgements thinking we know the world, when we don’t.”

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“I think 80% of Dallas cares; there has just never been a way to get involved to bring it together.”

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“Because of the cost of fuel, people are coming back downtown, so we have an opportunity to plan development and new pockets of life. It will be interesting to see what happens downtown.”

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“Dallas needs to start to figure out what we can do as a city to make life better for everyone… easier, less expensive with green building and mass transit. Dream bigger.”

paul-wetbrook

“Things change. Maybe they will revert back to being more compact, to where people exercise more, save energy, start walking, and say, “hello,” to people.”

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“We are on the cutting edge of some things, and we are behind the times on some things, but we are going to get there.”

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“Dallas knows where it needs to go.”

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“It’s one of the World’s great cities. It is only going to get better because the people I know who are involved are all working on it. There is not a person here that doesn’t want to work on it. There’s lots to be done and it’s promising.”

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