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Celebrating Family in Petaluma…

To see the Celebrating Family exhibit grab a map and scavenger hunt form at Copperfields or the Petaluma Arts Center and head downtown Petaluma. Share your thoughts about the exhibit and your favorite photos on social media with #celebratingfamilypetaluma

During the summer of 2020, at the peak of the racial reckoning across the United States, I photographed a protest in my town after the murder of George Floyd and other unarmed Black people by police. At that protest I met Maude and her five-year-old boy, who was the same age as my son. I couldn’t escape the significance that her Black son was leading protesters in chants as we marched down the street, while my white son watched quietly by my side.

Shortly after that protest Maude’s family found someone had written the N-word on their car in front of their Petaluma home.

Heartbroken by that news, I reached out to Maude and asked her if I could photograph her family, as a gift to honor their love and humanity. She accepted my offer and we scheduled our photo shoot. When I arrived, her son raced to greet me and gave me the first non-family hug I had received in three months since Covid lockdown. That hug dissolved my heart.

After that photo shoot I reached out to a couple of other Black and biracial families in my community and offered family portraits. I was unsure of what, if anything, I would do with the photos, but I felt compelled to do something and this is what I could do.

Three months later, as I was speaking with Faith Ross, the president of Petaluma Blacks for Community Development, I learned that the national theme for Black History month in 2021 was going to be Celebrating Family. I told Faith I had started this portrait project and would love to contribute portraits for her annual Black History exhibit. She was excited about the idea but told me she wanted to include all families, not just Black families, because PBCD has always been open to all families since they started in 1978. And because the Petaluma History Museum, the home of the annual Black History month exhibit, was likely going to be closed due to Covid, we needed to find another way to display the photos. Faith suggested we use the vacant buildings downtown, while I wondered why not all the businesses downtown. With our plan in place, now we just needed more families.

Knowing I wanted to reach as many families as possible, but unsure how to photograph multiple families efficiently and safely, especially during a pandemic, I reached out to Kinyatta, an inspiring community leader and activist, for advice. She gave me the good idea of picking a date and location and allowing families to sign up for photo shoot slots, while also asking them for quotes about what family means to them. That plan worked perfectly until the stay-at-home order was put in place. But with permission from the health department and with very careful Covid restrictions established, the photo shoots continued.

After days and days of scheduling, emailing, and texting families, I held six all-day photo shoots, with the help of generous volunteers, who graciously gave up their weekends to stand in the cold parking lot with me at the wonderful Maria Do Ceu’s Outwest Garage.

And after several editing all-nighters, and multiple calls and trips to Bill, the patient printer at The Digital Grange, and after very careful planning of which portraits should go where and at what size, with the museum problem solving master Heather Fordham, only to have to ditch that plan and start over many more times during the week of hanging enormous paper prints in the rain with Molly Best, my superhero business outreach manager, and her talented installation expert husband, Danial Moorehouse, and the friends, who answered my last minute desperate call for more installers, the Celebrating Family exhibit is finally up in over 46 businesses in downtown Petaluma for the month of February.

To see the Celebrating Family exhibit grab a map and scavenger hunt form at Copperfields or the Petaluma Vistor Center and head downtown Petaluma. Share your thoughts about the exhibit and your favorite photos on social media with #celebratingfamilypetaluma

Thank you to…

• Faith Ross and Gloria Robinson for all you have done in this community for 43 years. You are an inspiration.

• The uber talented Christine Walker at The Design Guild, who jumped in and took on the whole design process, creating a beautiful logo, map, scavenger hunt, posters and website with enthusiasm.

Keller Street Co-Work for being the perfect lifesaving basecamp for our print distribution.

• The City of Petaluma for believing in and sponsoring this project.

• All the businesses who generously allowed us to fill their valuable window space for this exhibit.

• All the community members who donated, showed up, offered their time, talents and words of encouragement.

• My family, my reason for being.

And finally, a HUGE thank you to all the families who trusted me, during a pandemic, to take their portrait and share their family stories.

My motivation for this project was to build relationships and strengthen community. And my hope is that together we heal, together we close the divide, together we celebrate differences and together we make Petaluma a safe, welcoming place for ALL families to live and thrive.

If you like this project and would like to support this and future projects to strengthen Petaluma, please join Petaluma Blacks for Community Development and TIDE, Team for Inclusivity, Diversity and Equity.

My own blog doesn’t recognize me…

It has been so long since I have logged on to my blog that I had to generate a new password.

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I used to think in blog posts…. Now I think in facebook captions, although Instagram is slowly creeping up behind.

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But I miss my blog, just like… I miss reading books (that are more than 20 pages long and consist of a topic other than cars and trucks,)

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I miss seeing friends…

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I miss walking my dog…

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And I miss going on dates with my husband (damn, I should have put that first.)

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Somewhere along the way life got busy and I just don’t have enough time in the day for it anymore, hence I am starting this post at 1:40am.

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But, as it turns out, I also need the blog. I get so lost in the forest of making new work that I forget to look back and see which trail I took and how far I have come… And then the insecurity vines creep up and block my path forward.

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That is where I was today, lost in an editing forest, until the mail arrived (meaning: Arann walked in my office and flung a Priority Mail envelope at me.) When I opened the envelope, I got to see some of my portrait work in print, in Bike magazine. A magazine that hired me to take one portrait…

vanessa(Executive Director of NorCal High School Cycling League, Vanessa Hauswald)

And then because they liked that portrait they hired me to take another portrait…

strava(Strava Co-founder and CEO, Michael Horvath.)

And then they hired me to take another portrait…

paigegreenCharlieKelly62713-2001_1s(The Godfather of mountain biking, Charlie Kelly)

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It made me so happy to see photos of PEOPLE published for once that I remembered I had a blog and that I could actually record my excitement in a blog post. While I was digging for photos for that post, I found other portraits that I am proud of…

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(Chef and Restaurant Owner, Charlie Hallowell)

and then more portraits that I am proud of…

paigegreenBryantTerry72213-309(Chef and Author, Bryant Terry)

…and suddenly the forest was a little bit brighter.

paigegreenJelly72313-096(Co-founder/co-inventor of Twitter and Jelly, Biz Stone)

And the path forward was a little more clear.

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While I really enjoy all the other side projects I have been so lucky to work on… I really love photographing people the most.

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Taking really good portraits of people is very, very hard. And I still have a long way to go.

paigegreenTonyLagunitas42213-006(Lagunitas Founder, Tony Magee)

There are so many things to think about… not only the light, the exposure, the composition, but also making people feel comfortable, especially after they have just finished telling me how much they hate being photographed. (Food never tells me it hates to be photographed. And flowers just beg me not to stop taking photos.)

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Photographing people makes me nervous and sweaty… not in a bad lighting-fireworks-illegally-kind-of-way, but in a good exercise-my-brain-kind-of-way.

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It means I am being challenged. It means I am doing something I really care about. And that is the goal: Do more projects that challenge me and that I really care about.

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My other goal is to hire an office assistant, so that the editing and book-keeping forest do not get over-grown and swallow me whole anymore. And so my blog can once again have a place in my life.

paigegreenChrisGruener41213-024(Publisher: Chris Gruener)

So if you know anyone looking for part-time work…

I need a very organized, hardworking, self-motivated, left-brained person (sorry no photographers please) who can help me for 10 hrs per week (hours are flexible) with: data entry, organizing files, returning emails, updating social media etc.

If you are interested, please send me an email detailing your approach to organizing and attach your resume to paige(@)paigegreen.com

Artists & Farmers… October 3rd… Come!

When you visit a new town, what is the best way to get to know that new town and community? We think the best way to get to know a community is through the food and the art.

So we want to celebrate the Artists and Farmers who make our community unique by sharing their faces and stories. I am working on this project with a very talented team of people, including Beau Bouverat who made this film:

ARTISTS & FARMERS: *the SHEPHERD & the DOLLMAKER…,

We are just now getting started with the documentation of Sonoma County, and we still have a long way to go to tell the story of this one county. But we want to share what we have so far with other people who are interested in celebrating community through our Artists and Farmers.

So we are throwing a free Artists & Farmers event at Cornerstone Gardens on October 3rd from 11-4 pm. There will be:

Live music by Arann Harris and the Farm Band, The Easy Leaves and David Luning.

Food to taste and buy from some of our local farmers.

Art demonstrations, as well as finished art pieces to admire, made by some of our local artists.

A photo booth for you to take your own artist and farmer portraits.

And some of the portraits that we have taken so far will be on display.

So if you like food and art. Or if you grow food or make art… then please come and celebrate with us on October 3rd.

If you are an artist or farmer in Sonoma County and you would like to be a part of this project then please leave a comment or send me an email.

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