Adj Marshall

Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Reconsider Columbus Day

In Education, History on October 10, 2011 at 6:34 pm

“Commemorations sanitize further the messy history lived by the actors. They contribute to the contentious myth-making process that give history its more definite shapes: they help to create modify, or sanction the public meaning attached to a historical events deemed worthy of mass celebration. As rituals that package history for public consumption, commemorations play the numbers game to create a past that seems both more real and more elementary. “

~Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Last year I was inspired by this beautiful video asking people to reconsider Columbus Day by engaging in a critical view of the contentious holiday.  While the video urges us to visit ReconsiderColumbusday.org, a website that is no longer in operation, I will further challenge you to conduct your own research to learn more about this complex narrative.

Today many celebrate Columbus Day with little thought of  its origins. While there is much media attention given to why we should reconsider our celebration little attention is given to the historical construction of the holiday.

So how and when did Columbus Day come to have so much sway in the United States? The answer is an unlikely source.

The Tammany Society incorporated in New York 1789 consisted of gentlemen who’s taste for public attention via parades and lavish banquets inspired their celebration of any date that fit their calendar. Columbus’s landfall as they referred it was listed on their calendar as early as 1790. By what seems a historical accident the Tammany’s most lavish celebration occurred on October 12, 1792; 300 years after the initial first landing. Despite the societies promised to continue the celebration for years to come, the holiday all but disappeared again for nearly another 60 years, where it found a new cult following by the recently immigrated populations whom needed an icon to legitimize their importance within the American narrative of stodgy WASPS.

Both the Spanish, who has sponsored Columbus’s travels and the Italians, which Columbus was by birth latched on to the Columbus Day celebration sponsored by Sharpshooters Association of New York and spread it across the nation.  While 1866 marked the rebirth of the holiday and launched similar celebrations from Philadelphia and Boston to New Orleans and San Francisco the cult following was still minuscule with only 3,679 individuals claiming Italian heritage in 1850.

Silencing the Past

An unlikely population also took up the cause, the Irish American, which numbered 962,000 by 1850. Many Irish became parts of the Knights of Columbus by way of their Catholic association.  The Catholic religion which crossed national boundaries allowed these groups to find common ground outside their immigrant status in this Catholic male fraternal order. The Knights of Columbus which promoted the concept of citizen culture was just the right group to help these marginalized individuals find a home within the WASP nation.

The Catholics felt vindicated by their hero’s national recognition at the Chicago Worlds Fair in 1892. By the 1890’s the US’s appropriation of Columbus had became a national phenomenon. In 1892 one of the 400 year Anniversary celebrations held in New Haven Connecticut attracted 40,000 people including 6,000 Knights of Columbus and was deemed a celebration of holiness and patriotism. As Columbus became a national icon he also became more white, this new white status  lent itself to those who claimed his history as their own including the marginalized  Italians, Spanish, and Irish Catholics.

This story holds particular importance for Rhode Island as it is the most Catholic state in the nation and the ethnic identity claimed by more people than any other is Italian.  This little bit of history I have provided was lent to me through Michael- Rolph Trouillot’s book Silencing the Past which documents the holes in the Haitian story of Revolution and Independence. The cliche “history is written by the winners” should serve as a continual reminder that history needs to persistently be reevaluated to determine the complex nature that makes up our current conceptualization of the past.

In 2009 Brown University chose to rename Columbus Day to Fall Weekend a protest to the nature of Christopher Columbus’ conquests and treatment of Native Americans. This was decayed by national icons such as Rush Limbaugh and the then Providence Mayor David Cicillini who stated ” it diminished the accomplishments of explorer Christopher Columbus, an important historical figure for Italian-Americans and As an Italian-American, I take particular offense to this decision”.

As Columbus day is reevaluated and actions taken to reconcile the new knowledge offenses are sure to be voiced.  We must remember what is true for you may not be true for me. The Columbus day we all learn about in school is one devoid of the negative repercussions that resulted from Columbus’ interactions with the Taino natives who were all but wiped out by the arrival of Columbus and his men on Hispaniola. As Columbus has become a national icon his image has been sanitized and his myth like status is all that remains.

I challenge you to complicate your own understanding of the days history take the plunge and learn more.

Interesting Articles

A 1770’s Education + A 1970’s Education = ?

In Art, Education, History on September 1, 2011 at 2:08 pm


“Goodness without knowledge is weak…yet knowledge without goodness is dangerous”

~Phillips Academy 1778 Constitution

Many of you were with me at the beginning of my journey… that is when I officially decided I was going to document my LEAP (Liberal Arts Education Plan) through the articles here on Learned Curiosity. If you were not, I have probably met you somewhere along this journey and would encourage you to check out its beginning. While I must admit I have all but ignored the documentation these past few months my learning continues to prevail. In journeying, my physical and cultural awareness has been tested inspiring my intellectual and spiritual centers. I have made it across the country and back twice by train, plane and buss, for trainings, radical marching band events, rock-climbing adventures, hiking, adventures, back packing adventures, family history research quests and of course… to share my wealth of knowledge by serving as an educational facilitator.

When I first began contemplating my LEAP over 8 months ago I was grappling with the questions of “What does it mean to be educated?” “What is a valuable education?” and “Where does one find such an education?” In choosing my LEAP I was eschewing the Americentric educational view which values concrete classrooms with credentialed instructors and standardized outcomes. Instead I was choosing community, collaboration and creativity to serve as my guides. Sir Ken Robinson, a leading thinker in the field of educational reform, states “We have to think differently about human capacity, we have to get over this old conception of ours about academic, nonacademic, abstract, theoretical, vocational” and recognize that “most great learning happens in groups, and that “collaboration is the stuff of growth”. Check out the animation below Changing Educational Paradigms.

Choosing my LEAP over graduate school last year was essential in staying true to my values. I learned long ago that by serving as an active participant in my own education rather than a passive one I could come to a more in depth understanding of our global community. Education for me, has always extended beyond the confines of a classroom, necessitating a deep-rooted engagement with community.  So when I chose to look at graduate programs this year I only selected ones that valued the expertise of community and creativity as much as I did.

I applied to two institutions neither program having exactly what I was looking for… and the truth be told I don’t believe any one program could. Each was uniquely skilled in their field of expertise and allowed enough freedom for students to explore varying interests. I felt I could be comfortable at either. Being accepted to both programs allowed me the freedom to choose the educational program best fit for me… only I couldn’t.  In the end I decided that only by creating my own blend of the two programs would I be able to delve into the issues I hope to pursue.

Which leads us to today the day before I begin my studies at both World Learning’s Graduate School for International Training (SIT) in Conflict Transformation (Brattleboro VT) and Brown Universities M.A. in Public Humanities (Providence RI).  Combined, these two institutions will give me the international perspective on the positive use of arts in conflict situations while  allowing me the resources and knowledge to understand arts impact on social interactions.  As the year moves on I will be pursuing studies focused on how marginalized communities (most likely international ones) utilize the arts in their personal struggles for justice.

HONK A History of Musicianship and Community

In Art, History, Music on March 15, 2011 at 9:06 pm
HONK TX !

No Noise is Illegal !

~Bread and Puppet Theater

In only one city in Texas would you expect to find 20 alternative, radical, activist, community, brass, marching bands. This year marked the first annual HONK TX festival held the weekend before SXSW March 11-13th in public spaces across Austin.

A Combined Effort !

While this year marked the first Annual HONK TX festival, the concept of gathering activist marching bands to celebrate the community-centered union of art, activism and music finds its roots here on the east coast.

The very first HONK! made its debut on Columbus Day weekend of 2006 in Somerville MA, a community just outside the city limits of Boston. The concept of HONK was envisioned by local activist band, The Second Line Social Aid and Pleasure Society Brass Band (SLAPS), who “saw the need for a gathering of like-minded souls interested in applying the joy of music to the work of promoting peace, social justice, and civic engagement.” That year a dozen socially conscious street bands from across the US and Canada descended upon Somerville and Cambridge to perform in Davis and Harvard Square.

The ERB in TX!

HONK Fest 2006 signaled the beginning of a tradition that would spread far and wide across the states. By HONK Fest 2009,  more than 29 bands were overflowing the streets of Somerville spreading the message of music, community, and access to public space. Between 2006 and 2010, HONKS! arose here in Providence (PRONK!), Brooklyn (BONK!), Seattle (HONK! Fest West), and now Austin (HONK! TX).

While each HONK! Festival and further each HONK Band’s structure mission and goals can vary widely, they all share a commitment to core values including the:

  • Creation of inclusive communities valuing diversity of all forms: not just the conventions of age, gender, class and orientation – but background, upbringing, and for many, level of musical experience.
  • Transformation of everyday locations into organic stages where the line between audience and performers is dissolved.
  •  Demonstration of the potential for the creative use of our public spaces without the need for amplification or artificial stages.
  • Celebration, serving as the soundtrack for community gardens, public school yards, puppet shows, pride parades, worker rallies, peace marches and neighborhood fundraisers.

Celebrating sleep with my Canadian friends

The shared values of the growing activist marching band moment are central in creating the environment that is HONK! Regardless of the city each HONK serves as a space where we as individuals learn and grow from each other musically, personally, politically, socially, and culturally.

This years ERB appearance at HONK TX represents the bands 6th HONK event. With 2 HONK, 2 PRONK, and 1 HONK Fest West under our belt we headed south of the Mason Dixon Line to make our appearance as part of HONK! TX. As the closing band of the entire weekend we were given the monumental task of bringing together the many elements that represent HONK! Staying true to the inclusive communal nature that is the HONK! experience we invited all 20 bands in attendance to join us on stage for our closing song Deep in the Heart of Texas. Carrying the message of hope, unity, and social change in our hearts and music we closed the weekend together on stage as One Band with One Sound conveying to our audience and ourselves the transformational nature that is HONK!

Sites of Interest:

The Big Adventure

In Art, Education, History, Physical Pursuits on March 4, 2011 at 9:40 am

Monkey Face part of my adventure in Oregon!

Artists are magical helpers. Evoking symbols and motifs that connect us to our deeper selves, they can help us along the heroic journey of our own lives.

~ Joseph Campbell

While taking a lunch break from my welding project  last week I found myself in a discussion with a fellow band member of our need to not be tied down to one kind of work. This year has allowed me the the opportunity to search out a bunch of differnt kinds of work all of which I find fulfilling. I have facilitated community building and leadership trainings, taught rock climbing lessons to high school students and special needs individuals, designed and welded bike racks and trash cans, and am now about to head off to lead a service learning course on Health Policy at Berkley in CA.

Around this course and training I have built a 6 week adventure that will take me across the country and back. It starts in Chicago, Illinois  where I will participate in a training for the Health Policy Class and meet my co-facilitators, I will then head down to Austin Texas to meet up with my band the Extraordinary Rendition Band to participate in HONK TX for a week, from there I am headed to Bend Oregon to Rock Climb at Smith Rock for 2 weeks.

Charting a Hero's Journey

After my time camping and climbing I will head back to civilization to meet my with my co-facilitators in San Francisco, one from nevada and the other from Israel, to teach the Health Policy Class. Upon the completion of the class I will move on to Charlotte North Carolina to visit with a friend who works in the Arts field there and was instrumental in the beginnings of my artistic stirrings and questionings. My adventure I hope will open me up to many new insights and allow me to continue on my path of growth I have set out for myself this year.

I first encountered the work of David Campbell in Lina Chisholm’s Charting a hero’s Journey. The book is a publication of the International Partnership for Service Learning and Leadership and was utilized as part of my studies in Ecuador . The book serves as a guided journaling prompt for those traveling for the first time, most often abroad. While my travel to Ecuador was not my first time abroad I still found it’s content quite useful in dissecting my experience while there. It gave me the space to be reflective about my intentions and the ability to recognize the personal conversations and changes that traveling was having on me.

Campbell speaks of the Monolyth, the basic elements common amongst all myths that chart a the heroines journey, a sort of rite of passage, in which the heros undergoes separation, initiation, and return. Linda Chisholm applies this structure to the experiences of the reflective traveler. From the following description you can see the parallels that can be drawn between Campbell’s story and that of a traveler in search of understanding their sense of self and their purpose and contributions to the world.

The Basis for Hero's Journey

“In laying out the monomyth, Campbell describes a number of stages or steps along this journey. The hero starts in the ordinary world, and receives a call to enter an unusual world of strange powers and events (a call to adventure). If the hero accepts the call to enter this strange world, the hero must face tasks and trials (a road of trials), and may have to face these trials alone, or may have assistance. At its most intense, the hero must survive a severe challenge, often with help earned along the journey. If the hero survives, the hero may achieve a great gift (the goal or “boon”), which often results in the discovery of important self-knowledge. The hero must then decide whether to return with this boon (the return to the ordinary world), often facing challenges on the return journey. If the hero is successful in returning, the boon or gift may be used to improve the world (the application of the boon).”

Traveling for me opens my horizons it allows me to see the world in ways I that expand my small city nature. As a life long Providenceite I feel comfortable in the city and often times attempts to find ways to challenge myself. Climbing is a major component of this but so is just getting outside Rhode Island. As I embark on this 6 week adventure I look forward to the insights I will gain and the new found knowledge of myself and the world I will bring back with me.

Pt II- Metals Contamination!

In Art, Education, History on February 11, 2011 at 10:06 am

“Mashagaug Pong is Sick – El Lago Mashapaug Está Enfremo-

For the nearly 100 years it operated, Gorham used the pond and land around the factory as a dump for wastewater polluted with carcinogenic chemicals…

-Environmental Justice League of RI

The Gorham Silverware facility located in the Reservoir Triangle neighborhood of Providence passed many hands from 1967 to the present. The Gorham Site passed from the Texton Corporation to the Winoker Group to Adelaide Development Corporation to Seaman Equity Group, and finally on to the City of Providence when the Seaman group defaulted on its taxes in 1992.

In 1987, a 55 Gallon waste drum was found at the bottom of the Massaugug pond by the Providence Police who reported that contact with the pond water was causing rashes. This prompted city, state and national agencies to conduct a variety of evaluations which found a number of industrial pollutants at the site, such as TCA, TCE, heating oil, PCE, toluene, xylene, ethylbenzene, PCBs and metals including barium, cadmium, copper, lead, nickel, silver, and zinc. Article 1 In 1995, groundwater plumes contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), pollutants that can become gas that people may breathe, and heating oil were discovered on the Parcel A site. Article 2

These substances are known/ suspected to cause the following:

Perchloroethylene (PCE): Is an industrial solvent that has been linked to liver and kidney damage and is a known human carcinogen. Found in groundwater around Gorham site.

Trichloroethylene (TCE) : Is a solvent and metal degreaser which is linked to unusual cancers of the kidneys, liver, cervix, and lymphatic systems. TCE is also found in the groundwater near the Gorham site.

Lead:Is linked behavioral problems, learning disabilities, hearing and speech impediments as well as seizures and death.

Ethylbenzene and Xylene: Are industrial solvents that can cause respiratory irritation and neurological effects as well as kidney and liver damage over time.

PCBs: Are banned by US Congress in 1979, PCBs are part of a class of organic pollutants known as endocrine disruptors, meaning they disrupt hormone functioning in the human body. PCBs can cause rashes, birth defects, and cancer in humans.

Barium: Barium compounds can be poisonous, affecting nervous system function in some individuals.

Cadmium: Is classified as a probable human carcinogen, cadmium is known to cause kidney damage. Article 3

ADD

Despite the sites designation as a brownfield by the DEM, and knowledge of the sites contaminants, the City of Providence proposed and built Adelaide – now Alvarez High School upon this land which opened its doors in 2008. Currently over 500 students attend this school daily. The high school is located on Parcel B of the brownfield site, just  14 feet from the unremediated Gorham production site, which features an uncovered stockpile of contaminated soil. Dust and dirt from the site’s mound of pollution blows across school grounds and throughout the neighborhood on a regular basis. Article 4

The DEM subsequently sued the city of Providence, which is now under court order to maintain a well-signed barrier around the non-remediated parcels. Even this task however has proven difficult for the city.  It took 2 months, after community requests, for holes in fences to be mended and missing locks to be replaced on the site. The signs which the community had also asked be replaced were not and as a result the community took the matter into their own hands creating hand made signs warning of the lands contaminated status.  Article 5 With the work of the DOH (Department of Health), and Artist Holly Ewald organizer of  UPP (Urban Pond Procession)  new permanent and visually appealing signs (See the header photo of this article) in the three main languages of the community have replaced the old signs which were written solely in English despite the communities diverse constituency.

The former signs that disappeared

 

Since my humble and naive beginnings in a tiny 6ft x 4ft garden bed at Paul Cuffee School my research on metals contamination has taken me across across the city’s many neighborhoods and connected me to a variety of local environmental and community based organizations while reinforcing the essential place art holds within social justice movements.

Silverware’s aesthetic beauty and delicate design were always a fascination of mine. Who came up with this pattern, what inspired them, what were they hoping to convey in the design or the name? Now this same silverware I once revered also holds an ugly side, one which is wrought with the environmental implications wrecking havoc on our community today. To raise awareness about the this issue and quench my thirst to find artistically creative solutions to local issues I began to design jewelry from silverware, giving new life and value to these lost artifacts of our past.

Stay tuned for next weeks article on the creation of Silverware Jewelry and Environmental Awareness and my new initiative to connect  the two more concretely.

Material Referenced in Above:

1 EPA Article: Waste Site Cleanup and Reuse in New England :Gorham/Textron Disposal Area

2 RI Future Article: Still Contaminated Gorham Site Frustrates Residents

3 EJLRI: CARE Environmental Health Assessment

4 EJLRI Article: City’s Nonchalantness to Contamination Frustrated Residents

5 EJLRI Article: City Slow to Warn Neighbors of Toxic Contamination

Additional works of interest

Department of Environmental Management’s Document Index for the Gorham/Textron Site

Textron Newsletter: To Inform Public About Remediation Activities

Brown Student’s Environmental Blog on UPP

Pt 1-Environmental Justice

In Art, Education, History on February 4, 2011 at 5:23 pm
The Gorham Manufacturing Company 1897

Art is indeed all around us.  We just need to take the time to do three things, stop, breathe and open our eyes to see.

-The Society for Creative Sustainability

Last week in my article the Creative Impetus I spoke of my interest in upcycling, the act of taking something with a well worn past and giving it a new life through reincarnation as something new. One of the major elements in my upcycling work is silverware. Often times I am asked Why silverware? Most times I say Why not? But the truth is my fascination with silverware is a long and involved  story which requires so much context that It will be a 3 part article.

Paul Cuffee Namesake of the School

My interest in the material emerged from my work at Paul Cuffee Maritime Charter School where I was in charge of implementing an environmental art project incorporating, recycling and gardening and crafting. The School’s small stature is overshadowed by a matrix of industrial revolution mills including the ALCO Mill buildings, a steel transfer station, the local Coca Cola distribution plant and the Woonasquatucket River former dumping grounds for many of the local mills.

While meeting with the South Side Community Land Trust to gain insight into their community gardening initiative I was informed that due to the location of the school we would not be able to eat any of the vegetables/plants grown on sight. The vegetables  would be contaminated with the hazardous chemicals they absorbed from the ground in their growth process particularly lead, an already pervasive issue for the youth of Providence.

As I began to research this issue further I came across the term Brownfield referring to an abandoned or underused industrial and commercial facilities available for re- use.  Paul Cuffee was formerly a old bus depot maintenance facility for the city. A Brownfield is a  property for which the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of is complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant” via EPA website. In order for brownfields to be turned into viable land use spaces they either need to be capped with concrete to prevent further groundwater infiltration as Paul Cuffee did or re-mediated as The Steel Yard a neighboring local arts organization did.

Gorham an Empire Disappeared

Providence prides itself in its industrial history particularly its metal work. Remnants of this history are left behind now mostly in deteriorated facilities and name sake only. The jewelry and flatware factories of the Jewelry District have all but been replaced by medical administrative/research facilities like Brown Med School and Woman and Infants Hospital.  The Steel Industry of the Valley, where Paul Cuffee is situated, is still slowly gentrifying with various mills turning into upscale condominiums each year. While not all the buildings remain the contaminant metals surly do. Most industrial revolution revolutionary companies like Gorham Silverware Manufacturing have skirted their responsibilities by leaving the state before the time of environmental laws or selling their property to others who pick up the burden of the contamination.

Since my project with Paul Cuffee in 2005-2006 I have come to work with various educational, community and environmental institutions throughout the state, each in some way struggles with the chemical legacy our industrial history has left behind. Currently I am working with the UPP the Urban Pond Procession which began in 2008 as a collaboration between Rhode Island State Council on the Arts and the Department of Health to create new signs around Mashapaug Pond warning local residents against eating the fish and swimming in the water.

Providence Public Library Archives Gorham

Mashapauge pond area is the former site of Gorham Manufacturing which began in 1890. As one of the premiere silver and bronze flatware facilities for most of the 20th century, it gained both national and international recognition. The company situated on the banks of the Mashapaug Pond was composed of 30 buildings on a 37-acre facility which ran three shifts of 1000 workers each. Gorham’s manufacturing processes used “heavy metals, cyanides, corrosive stripping agents, lubricants, solvents, lacquers, thinners, and metal degreasing solvents”. Some of these are responsible for the pollution the pond and community is facing today.

Stay tuned for next weeks article on these chemicals impacts on the environment and local community.

The Ethics of Photography

In Art, Communication, History on January 21, 2011 at 11:57 am

My Mother at Age 4 Procured from Aunt Joan's Collection

Life for a photographer can not be a matter of indifference, it is important to see what is invisible to others.

-Robert Frank

In the fall of 2008 at a family gathering, my great aunt Joan, simply known as aunt Joan amongst us older grandchildren, was downsizing her collection of photos to clear some of the clutter from her now smaller living space. As we began to scour through the books and boxes of photos she had come to collect in her 70+ years I became fascinated by the concept of historical reconstruction through photography. If each photo tells a story then a collection of photos tells a lifetime of stories. When we cease to exist our likeness is carried on through the visual representation of our image in the photographs left behind.

In my mind I began to gauge my life’s story as told through photography. In doing this I realized that this story although true would be quite fractured and unrepresentative of my real existence. My own early childhood photo collection was marred by a housefire that destroyed everything we owned except a small book of photos my mother was able to save.  The VCR would be the next element to influence my own photographic story, followed by a lack of funding to put toward developing photos that were taken. At one point while in high school my mother developed a roll of film that had sitting in her draw for years to find pictures of me getting on the school bus for my first day of head start. Often times our lives, represented through these images, or lack there of, come together to construct what is termed our life’s story.

Looking At Photographs

This past week I started in Introductory Class to Photography at RISD. One of the suggested readings for the class is a book titled Looking at Photographs: 100 Pictures from the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art. John Szarkowski the books author uses the Modern Art Museum’s Photographic collection to tell the story of photography since its creation in 1839. ” When Daguerre announced his great invention to the public in the summer of 1839, he explained how it worked but not really what it was for.” The purpose of photography to this day is still a topic that is is debated quite heavily amongst academics and individuals alike.

In its early days photography was almost exclusively a means to visually record information. People’s portraits, and landscapes were most common and the photographer served only as an extension of the equipment. Szarkowski states Photography as an [artistic] medium has received little serious study.” and  Photographs, “although often admired have seldom been seriously collected.”

For me the purpose of photography, beyond recording ones on life story, is to bring light to the social ills of our time and to use photographs for the betterment of humanity. William Henry Jackson was one of the first people to photograph  the Yellowstone area under the US geological Survey in 1870. “It has been said that Jackson’s pictures were instrumental in persuading congress to set aside the Yellowstone area as a preserve” becoming  the nations country’s first national park in 1872. Mr. Jacksons story is one what in which photography has been influential in bettering the world around us.

As a photographer concerned with brining light to today’s social ills, I am often confronted by the ethics of photography, especially when it concerns the photographing of individuals. I have had the opportunity to travel far and wide from Cape Verde, to East Timor and Ecuador to Tanzania. Here I have taken photographs of individuals with whom I have little to no connection in attempts to convey the basic element of child creativity and resourcefulness in the face of poverty. As I begin the local portion of my project which will draw comparisons between childhood poverty in Providence and that of the “developing world” I am again faced with the question of ethics. What is my responsibility as a photographer to the people I photograph?

In my research for this article I came across the following guidelines or code of ethics written by Chitrabani, a Christian communication center in Calcutta, India. While I do not agree with all the guidelines I find them to be most sincere their attempts to balance the needs of the individual with the need to bring to light the social ill that person will come to represent.

My photographic life story will be filled with images of not only my life but that of countless others who I have photographed.

The highlighted guidelines I find particularly interesting.

What to Photograph

  • What you shoot and how you shoot is determined by why you photograph and whom you photograph for.
  • When photographing people do not treat them as if they were things.
  • Do not take people’s pictures or give images to the imageless.
  • Never depict people as useless or inadequate. It is their helplessness which has to be shown.
  • Do not invade anybody’s privacy except when it is necessary for depicting certain social situations.
  • Yet, boldly reach into personal life, bearing in mind that the photographs you take are your brothers’ and sisters.

How to Photograph

  • Never photograph for art’s sake, just try to make the best possible picture.
  • There is no need to prettify people and objects; they have their beauty, and a good photograph exudes beauty.
  • Sensationalism diverts attention from the essential.
  • Shun extra long lenses. A short lens draws you near your subject.
  • Try to establish a rapport with the person you photograph.

Social Concern

  • Let not your photographs drift away from context.
  • Earn the right to see what you wish to show.
  • Your social concern is to document life with empathy.
  • Be true to the image people want to have of themselves, but at the same time do show what you believe is their real image. The dignity of the poor, in particular, demands that their situation be known.
  • A documentary coverage can never be total. Complete a biased image by another biased image.
  • Be an iconoclast – a destroyer of established images.

Your Public

  • Photos should not be used to exploit the persons portrayed.
  • Refrain from showing a photograph if undesirable manipulation cannot be averted.
  • Your photos have no place in art shows.
  • Lending your photographs for “illustrating” articles that have hardly anything to do with the persons photographed is like lending your voice to somebody else’s speech.
  • Destroy the myth that photographs are duplicates of reality.
  • Ethical documentary photography is not your sole responsibility. But your photographs encourage certain responses in the viewer.



Where Do I Begin?

In History on January 2, 2011 at 10:49 pm

History is understanding the relationship between the past and the present. -unknown

Recently, while sailing with a new friend I was asked, ” Tell me your history”. The question, originating from a deeply authentic place of interest, caught me a bit off guard.  My friend noting my silence followed up by saying “For us to be friends I need to know you, and in order to know you, I need to know where you come from”.  As I mulled the question over, I thought to myself Where do I begin? and  How much am I willing to share with this new individual?

In that moment I was given the reigns to define my history, allowed to pick and choose the elements of my past I found most essential in defining who I was. It was refreshing. Often times those with means are given the power to define others history especially if you count yourself among the marginalized. While my past is static and unchangeable my history is ever evolving. With every new life experience, conversation, and interaction I am given the opportunity to redefine my history- the relationship between my past and my present.

Determining what I share about my past is always directly proportional to the sense of comfort I feel with a certain individual in a particular moment.  Determining where to begin however is often times more problematic.  Where does my history begin?  In the hyper individualized western culture I live in, history is often limited to ones own personal existence or possibly that of themselves and their parents. This concept made me question the relevance of ancestors  in our own personal history and the ways in which our individual history becomes a part of the larger fabric of a families’ history.

To determine my ancestors’ relevance, I had to first  determine who my ancestors were. With only one living parent and grandparent, my access to information was limited. This brought me back to ancestry.com For over a year I have been leisurely imputing information into a free ancestry account with no agenda or purpose other than to create a record.

Using the public library’s subscription to Ancestry I was able to access records my free home account could not. Each time a family member is added to your tree Ancestry informs you of records that may match your ancestors including, census records, military records, church records, community records and much more.

With the assistance of the data base and some prior research I was able to find records for:

Nellie Worthley my Fathers Grandmother

Nellie Worthley Age 5 1930 Census

 

Nellie O’Mahoney my Mothers Great Grandmother

Nellie O'Mahoney Age 10 Months 1910 Census

I also found the WWII Enlistment Record for my Fathers Father Charles Marshall

Charles Marshall WWII Enlistment

And a record of Mothers Grandfather  and Great Grandfather Floyd and William Kelly as boarders with the Mac Farlane family.

William and Floyd Kelly as Boarders 1930 Census

Each document I stumbled upon gave me more insight to my families past.

On my mothers side I learned that my Great Grandfather was born in Canada emigrating to the United states in 1909 and that my great great great grandparents were the generation to emigrate from Ireland.

On my fathers side I learned that my great grandmother was 108 upon her death and her parent my great great grandmother and father were married at 30 and 33 a bit late for their time period and unconventional as my great great grandmother was almost 4 years older than her husband.

So these were my ancestors… the generations that came before me. When I began my research I wasn’t sure what I was looking for but I know what I found will change the intersection of my past and present. Learning about our past allows for us to grow in our understanding of connections to others  and the world around us. This growth allows room for positive change to take place.

My research has changed the way I view community. I no longer see myself as an individual that exists in the present alone, but as part of a larger community that extends back generations into the past and extends forward generations into the future*. Communal family history is cyclical and I live somewhere along its continuum.

*That is of course if we don’t destroy it by then.

Websites of Interest:

Ancestry Website

Providence Public Library Subscriptions

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