Sunday, July 6, 2008

Photo meditation

On July 4th I grabbed my notebook and JP's camera and headed to the Peace Pagoda in Leverett, MA. I've been there a few times before with traveling buddies, but this was my first solo trip.

A few weeks ago I did a walking meditation there with a friend. We walked up to the crest of the hill together in silence, stopping to pick up rocks or examine tree branches or sunlight or shadows along the way, and then parted to explore the temple and gardens for a while. It was powerful to share that quiet time with someone else.

This time, I shared silence with a Nikon D70 SLR. I appreciated my journey's treasures in a new way by capturing them with photographs.

Some say photography gets in the way of being really present. And sometimes it does. But snapping photos on my slow, playful walk up the hill made my heart full this time.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

My first official photo shoot!

Meg is a good friend of mine from grad school. She and her partner, Sara, are farming in Maine for the summer, so they invited me up for a visit.

These two lovebirds are getting married in August (woohoo!) and asked me to be their photographer. I'm super excited, and super nervous, too. This will be my first wedding!

Lucky for me, my good friend and photo mentor JP is loaning me his awesome DSLR so that I can get used to it by August, and Meg and Sara agreed to let me do a practice shoot with them on the beach. As you can see, they're a lot of fun to work with!

One thing I learned from that evening was that I need to think up some clever stuff to say while shooting. Apparently "Uhh... ok guys... do a thing..." doesn't really work.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Chicken and the Delicious Egg

"I was thinking about why people decided eggs would be good food. Which I'm happy they did, but still... If I was hanging out with a chicken, I wouldn't see an egg pop out and be like, 'I could eat that'."
- Eddie K.

photo by someone else... maybe even Eddie himself?

Thanks for that thought, Eddie. I've often wondered the very same thing myself, yet have never been able to articulate it as profoundly as you have here. You're hilarious and a great friend!

Friday, April 4, 2008

(Pasty) White Privilege

One of my dreams is to be a documentary film maker. Today's world is a fast-paced one, with little time for meaningful conversation around issues that matter to us. In my experience, documentaries slow down that pace for a moment, creating an opportunity for dialogues that can change the world.

The documentary that inspired me to make films is called "The Color of Fear." I saw it for the first time as an undergraduate student, and was so moved that I've watched it five or six times since. Each time I hit "play," I learn something new. I go another layer deeper into racism in the U.S. ... and into my own process of uncovering the pain and confusion I experience as I attempt to unlearn my role in this racist system.

This week is the 9th annual White Privilege Conference: an event established by a young black man named Eddie Moore, Jr. who wanted to create a family-like atmosphere to host difficult conversations about race, white privilege, and social change. I've always wanted to go to this conference, and this year, it's hosted in part by my grad program!

After walking into my first workshop on Thursday, I saw Victor Lee Lewis - one of the men in "The Color of Fear." When I saw his face, feelings of warmth and gratitude washed over me and my mind went back to the roots of my journey as an anti-racist activist. I never thought I'd be in the same room with this inspiring man!

I tried to say hello after the workshop, wanting to tell him what an impact the film and his role had on me, but he was pretty much swarmed. Luckily, he hosted another dynamic workshop today around internalized dominance and oppression with Peggy McIntosh and a few other inspiring speakers. I stayed after and was able to chat with both Victor and Peggy. What a great day! It was like an social justice activist's version of Disney World.

Victor was very gracious and asked that I email him the photo - he likes to collect them. Very cool, Victor Lee Lewis. Very cool.

This is me and Peggy McIntosh, author of "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" and other works on white privilege and race.

Peggy: "Can I see the picture?"
*looks at the picture*
Peggy: "Oh dear... we look very pasty."
Me: "Well, that's what happens when you're... you know... white."

Peggy is awesome in person and a delight to talk to! She really gave everyone the time of day.

You know how some say that activists have that "fire" within? Well, sometimes my fire can get a little low if I'm feeling defeated, challenged, or without allies... This week, I gathered kindling for my fire. Thank you to all of my brothers and sisters out there doing this challenging work. You are an inspiration!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Airport Duo

Ahh, how I love airports. There's something really lovely about being the practically invisible observer of so much tension, affection, and energy. I saw this father and son sitting by the window yesterday, just hanging out in some adirondack chairs. Serenity amongst chaos.

I'm visiting Dad and the fam this week in DC. Sarah and Andrew are such cuties. I'll be writing more soon, undoubtedly with photos of their adorable selves.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Heath Ledger Memorial Bars

Yesterday was a spectacularly quintessential "university" day.

First I went to University Health Services (UHS) for a check up. One of the cool things about UHS is that they do pretty much everything in that one building - there's an emergency room, a clinic, and every type of doctor you might imagine. As I waited for a doctor, I was seated right next to the research lab, where I saw medical practicioners in white lab coats walking around importantly. I'd never seen this type of "backstage" to a medical office before, so I was pretty excited.

As I headed back up the hill to my building, I noticed a man seated casually on a bench, shouting... all by himself. Then I noticed that he was looking up into a nearby tree. My gaze shifted to the branches high above, and I saw that there was another man pretty far up that tree, climbing gear and all. This guy was serious.

I had a nice chat with the two men - Damien and Dave - and it turns out the one in the tree (Damien) wasn't the typical arbor culture student (those guys are always up in random trees around campus). He's a political science major and was just climbing for fun.

I continued on my way to prepare for that evening's SJE potluck. I whipped up a batch of Michael's "Heath Bar Delights" or some weird name like that. I'd tried them a few weeks earlier at a staff Cranium party, where I dubbed them "Heath Ledger Memorial Bars."
I took the conservative route and labeled them "Chocolate Toffee Crunch Bars!" for tact's sake.

Around 6:30 I arrived at Ximena's house, treats in hand, and enjoyed an evening of conversation, running around the kitchen preparing food, and snapping some sweet photos.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

What does liberation mean to you?

Tonight in our Historical Foundations class we talked about liberation - what it means to us, whether or not it's possible... We have this type of discussion a lot. As social justice educators, we can narrow ourselves to only talking about working against oppression, but then what are we working for

My favorite liberatory statement for today is a spin on one of Paolo Freire's concepts: "Liberation means living in accordance with our full humanness." Ah, yes. The idea that we already are fully human.

I had some fun today at work documenting the full humanness of some of my colleagues.


Lissa and Justin are regulars in the Cluster Office (attached to my office). Lissa, star RA, is the social glue that holds the staff together. Plus she cracks me up more than most people do. Justin, the Cluster Office Manager, is brilliant, caring, and on top of every aspect of his job. Today Justin and I talked about how to host a dialogue about the violence and threats on campus lately. Chatting with him gave me one more reason to feel hopeful about the future - and, of course, liberation.