street photography performance

“It takes a second to look, a long time to see.”     ~Teju Cole  Yesterday I had the pleasure of leading a workshop on street photography at the East Side Institute:  “The Art of Photography: Improve Your Lens.” We … Continue reading

Marching in Glens Falls

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On Saturday,  I joined the Women’s March in Glens Falls, a small city in upstate NY with a population of about 15,000 situated in Warren County.

I marched with dear friends, author Jon Katz, artist Maria Wulf and their friend, Jackie Thorne , a nurse and poet.  

I loved this march, organized by Planned Parenthood.  We met at their offices, on Warren Street with the smoke stakes of one of the last big paper mills behind us.  You got the sense of how embedded in the community Planned Parenthood is here and everywhere.  To kick us off, one of the directors of Planned Parenthood said that this was a march about love.

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Organizers expected 150 people at most, but there were closer to 1,000 folks of all ages who marched. People marched for all kinds of reasons, mostly to make a positive statement in support of women.

I marched as a woman standing with women.  I marched in support of Planned Parenthood. I marched as an independent, giving no allegiance to the two parties and with hope that the American people can find ways to fix our broken system.  It was a joyous, mostly positive march with lots of conversations and connections. I was happy to be there.

Here are some of my favorite photos and signs from the march—

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willow lake

This weekend I was in Prescott, AZ.  I came to speak at a meeting of independent voters organized by Kim Ames-Wright.

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Kim is a leader of Independent Voters for Arizona and a national leader in the independent movement. I have known Kim for several years and love having the opportunity to work more closely with her in AZ in the Open and Honest Elections Coalition.  She moved to Prescott about a year ago and has found her special place, a place that speaks to her soul.  After our meeting, she took me to Willow Lake and we walked in the amazing rock strewn landscape….

untitled-65It was very refreshing to walk and climb among rocks marked and painted by time and water over hundreds of years.

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This heart has been there for a long time, many many months. It appeared one day.  Kim always pauses a moment to take it in…

Kim recently filmed a commercial for our reform package that we are petitioning to put before the voters in Arizona this November.  She took the camera crew to another gorgeous spot in Prescott.  Have a look.

An invitation to meet LaToya Ruby Frazier

I am an independent political activist and community organizer in the community of independent voters, now 45% of Americans. I am the Vice President for National Development with Independent Voting.  Several years ago I founded a book club for independent minded Americans, Politics for the People.  It is an unusual book club in several ways: we have members from all over the U.S.; we meet via conference call and read a wide range of selections and talk about them on the blog.  Best of all, each book club selection culminates with the author joining us on the call for an in-depth conversation.

Our current selection is The Notion Of Family, the gut wrenching, achingly beautiful and evocative photobook by LaToya Ruby Frazier.  I am a passionate lover of the photobook as a way to tell stories, give the viewer a new set of eyes, an entry to a new world or a look at something that is hard to comprehend and this book is among the very best!

I first met LaToya Ruby Frazier when I was taking a class at the International Center for Photography.  My professor, Carrie Schneider brought the class to a group exhibit where LaToya had several pieces in her Braddock, PA series. We spoke briefly, I loved her images for their intimacy and their demand that we own Braddock and see what has happened to the African American community.

When I saw The Notion Of Family, I knew that I wanted to share this book with the Politics for the People membership.  For 12 years, LaToya worked on this project, bringing the camera into her family and hometown of Braddock.  What was once a beacon of hope and a thriving milltown…now is yet another city of economic decline and abandonment of the African American community.  In her images, LaToya not only asks the viewer to see Braddock and the impact of environmental racism, poverty and the lack of health care; she also gives us her family, and the beauty of forbearance and creativity.

It is also the story of LaToya, her mother and grandmother.  Her mother became her collborator in making many of the photographs in the book.  There is a daring honesty in their work together.  And they played, they created together, they told stories.  I fell in love with them, could not wait to turn the page to see where next they would take us. I can’t wait to talk with LaToya on our Dec 6th conference call about how this process changed and impacted on their relationship.

The images below, Momme Silhouettes are among my favorite in the book.  They are a break from the harshness of poverty and the slow abandonment of Braddock…LaToya and her mother create a beautiful play for us, asking questions, showing attitude, grace, longing and all behind the sheet.

Hope you will join me in conversation with LaToya this Sunday at 7 pm EST.  And I hope that you will visit the Politics for the People blog and read what our members have written about the book.

The Notion Of Family by LaToya Ruby Frazier. Pg 129: Momme Silhouettes, 2010

Politics for the People Conference Call

With LaToya Ruby Frazier

Sunday, December 6th at 7 pm EST

 C ALL IN NUMBER

641 715-3605

Code 767775#

The Metropole

A highlight of our visit to Hanoi was dinner at the historic Metropole Hotel, it was like taking a step back in time.

At the Metropole

At the Metropole

This is where Joan Baez and Jane Fonda stayed when they were in Hanoi. We had a wonderful dinner at Le Beaulieu Restaurant and walked the grounds.  Underneath the hotel there is a bomb shelter that was used during the war.

through the eyes of our waiter

through the eyes of our waiter

 

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parting glimpse

parting glimpse

 

Kismet in Hanoi

    On our last day in Hanoi, we headed out to the Art Vietnam Gallery to see Catherine Karnow’s show, Vietnam: 25 Years Documenting a Changing Country. I had read Andrew Lam’s review of the show in the Huffington … Continue reading

Operation Conversation: Cops and Kids

Operation Conversation at the Apollo Theater

Thursday night at the historic Apollo Theater, I joined 1200 police officers (new graduates of the academy) and community members at a demonstration workshop of Operation Conversation: Cops and Kids.  The program was established by Dr. Lenora Fulani in 2006 after the tragic police shooting of Sean Bell.  The program is run by the All Stars Project in partnership with the NYPD and brings young people together with police officers using a performance based model to help them see each other, empathize and create a new conversation.  Dr. Fulani told the audience that she has conducted 102 workshops to date in every borough in the city.

Also with us from Ferguson, MO was Ferguson police chief, Thomas Jackson,  a minister and community leader, Reverend Dinah Tatman, and Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ronald Johnson.  I was very glad that they were there.

At one point in the evening, Dr. Fulani said that two of the hardest things to be in this town are a police officer or a young person of color.  She told NYPD News, “We believe that we have tapped into the humanity of young people and the officers and helped them to exhibit it in the workshops and to rely on it in the streets. If these two groups can create a new way of relating, it would broadly resound.”

While these photos (shot from my seat) cannot begin to capture what was an emotional and hopeful journey we all took together, I wanted to give you a glimpse.  There were many poignant moments: when a young person shared what it was like to watch his family struggle and not have enough food at home or when a police officer shared that he spent time in a shelter as a young person.  And there were wonderful moments of hilarity and awkwardness.  At one point Dr. Fulani asked the young people and police officers to create a skit together about a family that wants a pet, but what pet?  You saw how the act of performing together changed the environment and the capacity to see each other in new ways.

Cops and Kids perform at the Apollo

Cops and Kids perform at the Apollo

Playing the performance game, “pass the clap”

The evening ended with Dr. Fulani instructing us all, community and police officers to turn and speak to the “other” behind or in front of us and create a five minute conversation together.  Wow, very impactful. I spoke with a new police officer who grew up and lives in Baldwin in Nassau County and is assigned to a precinct in BedStuy, Brooklyn.  He said that he did not know what kids lives were like there, it was very different from where he grew up…  and we talked about the things that impacted on us both in watching the performance.

Bravo!

Bravo!

Thank you Dr. Fulani and the All Stars Project for creating this program and thanks to the NYPD for partnering with the All Stars in this important effort! And thanks to the officers and young people for their willingness to create something new.

The next demonstration workshop will be in July and I hope that you will come take a look.