WHAT I LEARNED FROM MAKING THIS PROJECT
THE NEIGHBORHOOD - 003
If variety is the spice of life then Mirehaven is the community where it all comes together. The people here are unique .. different from each other but curiously similar where it matters.
These are some of the things I learned about them .. things that you will sense in the videos.
They are smart, educated people.
They are active, fun, up for nearly anything.
They are generous beyond words.
They care about each other. There isn’t one person who I could not call at 3 a.m. for help.
I have been many things in my life .. photographer, journalist, computer scientist, geographer, educator .. and each one of these is important to me. I have been a photographer continuously since I was 12 years old, working in both film and digital; I earned a journalism degree in college. Both of these come together today in my work and through them, throughout this project, I learned some things about myself.
I have traveled the world as a photographer, telling stories in images about the landscapes that I encountered. I would not trade those experiences for anything. But, in the last year I made a commitment to staying home to solve a health issue and now, of course, going outside is dangerous because of the coronavirus so I am even more confined than I expected to be. In the course of this I found that many of the best stories are right in my own backyard. The people who told these stories live within 3 blocks of me. They are not just neighbors, they are valued friends.
I have always been a landscape photographer, focusing on both the natural and the cultural landscape, especially sacred places. This will always be a love of mine but now I am focusing on being a photographer of people. I have learned that I am able to connect with people better than I ever thought I could .. or maybe it is the people that I love connecting with me.
Perhaps one of the greatest things I learned is that I am not too old to learn a new skill, and learn it well. When I first discovered that my eyesight is declining, I decided that I needed to learn another art form that might have to replace photography in my practice. I settled on audio as that form. I took a course in how to do it and that has been the foundation of this project. Audio is another way of telling stories, another way of bringing the world to you.
Lastly, I have learned that when I know more about a person, I like that person more. There is something about knowing something intimate about my neighbor that connects me to that neighbor with stronger threads. I care more; I am more interested; I want to spend more time together. Just knowing one story about one person makes such a difference. So here is my suggestion, my call to action. After you watch a video and you learn a neighbor’s story, contact that person. Tell him or her how much the story meant to you. Then go for a (socially-distanced) walk with the person. Meet in the park with your cup of coffee. Offer to pick up a few groceries on your next run. In other words, connect to your neighbors at a new level. Trust me, it will be more special than you can imagine.