No Justice, No Peace

25 Aug

Sometimes I don’t feel proud to be American.

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Then other times, I really do.

Saturday was one of those days, and a good reminder of what freedom of speech looks like and how good it feels when it comes from a place of honesty, seeking-justice and peace.

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On a cloudy late summer day in Staten Island, thousands of people gathered peacefully (amongst the hundreds of bored riot police) to take part in the  “We Will Not Go Back” rally organized and led by Al Sharpton.  We stood in solidarity for police accountability for the recent deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, while not forgetting Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Ramarley Graham and the slew of other unarmed civilians whose lives were cut short violently by the choices of some police officers and their bystander-colleagues.

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a untied theme was justice and safety for ALL people, regardless of your race, where you live, your gender or any other face-value perceptions …

it sounds so simple, but we are still so far away.

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“are my grandchildren safe?” ericgarner-8 ericgarner-9

these words should never have to come out of our children’s mouths, especially to an officer.
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ROADS BX- PROP was there and you were repped in spirit! Proud of y’all. <3L
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Masters.

25 Jul

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I’m writing and editing these photos at a wine bar/ restaurant, starting to gush about this man in the photo above, who was at Squero the other day.  All I knew of him was that his name is Mauritzo, is is clearly skilled around a workshop, and I’m pretty sure all he knew of me was what he saw- a woman with a camera spending a lot of her time in a boat garage.

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I find it really, really hard to be photographed.  It’s not about looking flawless, it’s about exposing yourself to the lens, the person behind it, and then anyone who will later see that photograph.  When someone let’s me “see in”, it’s magic.  Sometimes I get this deep exchange with my beautiful brides, but it’s hard to get it with a stranger for a prolonged period of time.

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But this was one of those times, and I’m so, so grateful. Mauritzo danced with me.   As my intensity increased, his did too.  As I got closer, his movements got more refined- look at that pinky up!  Dude was fluid.

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And the language barrier is both a blessing and curse.  I would love to be able to get to know the guys, pick the guys’ brains, find out more about their personal stories, the history of Squero, the tales of Venice passed down…but we can’t, which sucks.  But at the same time I realize that since we can’t talk, we really only have the option to focus on what we are doing- making.

And then the chef comes out of the kitchen and looks over my shoulder and laughs.  He worked under this guy for a couple of years at another site, and Mauritzo is the oldest living/working master gondola maker in Venice. What!? Chef’s direct quote, “Maybe after this guy dies, gondolas get made out of plastic.” Damn.

Humbled and honored.  And toasted Pieroni’s with this man at 2:00 on at Wednesday,  Tutto Bene!

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There was also a dog there this day.  He’s cute too, but I think Mauritzo wins in this department. post2-3 post2-10post2-4 post2-9

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Back home: Squero San Trovaso

23 Jul

Do you remember this place?

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The craft-worn hands with the remnants of hard work stuck underneath the fingernails.

squero_7.22.14-4The silver noses of the whale-like gondolas frying in the sun.

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The posed scrap wood pieces, outdated nudie calendars (garage standard), trinkets of travel, and stuff that’s floated to shore curiously placed around the shop. 

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The tattoos on the bodies that mirror the carvings of the gondolas.squero_7.22.14-5

squero_7.22.14-12And most importantly, Claudio & Luca. squero_7.22.14-83 years ago (literally, to the DAY!) while in grad school, I started photographing at Squero San Trovaso for over a month. With some planning “fingers crossed” pieces, I returned to Squero yesterday, unsure if the guys had received all/any of the ways I had tried to reach out to them to ask if I could come visit once again.

I tried to creep up on Squero. I went up the canal on the other side to get a distant peek with the other tourists, and saw Luca. I had no idea if he or his brother would remember me, and if they did, if I’d be welcome to come spend time there again- if this was going to be a moment of disappointment or excitement. He saw me and stopped what he was doing. He just stood there with no expression. I stood frozen, trying to read his face from across the canal. “Ciao Luca” I said quietly and waved. He smirked, then smiled wide, “Ciao Lisa!” and motioned me to cross the bridge. I cried. (duh). I was so happy. These guys have no clue what a gift they’ve given me in my life by allowing me into their space to let me play, document, meditate, create, watch and just be. I pulled myself together, and crossed over.

squero_7.22.14-13squero_7.22.14-14I walked in the back entrance to Squero, and the scents of fresh sawdust, sweet and sticky black lacquer, gasoline and salt immediately brought me back to the first time I walked in the Squero and they told me to get lost.  

Right then, Luca appeared with a big smile. He submitted to the big hug which I forced upon him. Claudio resurfaced later in the afternoon- small smile, and an even more reserved hug then his brother . When I returned in the afternoon light to photograph, they let me in as if no time had passed, returning to our old habits. Luca, constantly aware of the camera unless in a task that requires full concentration, and Claudio, not giving a shit what I did or where I was as long as I wasn’t in the way. I was so happy.

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If you are still looking/ reading this journal entry then bless your heart. Thanks for your time, interest and help in remembering these moments I never want to forget. More to come soon. For real. (not like in 8 months).

❤ L

The New York City Marathon

8 Dec

Yesterday I went for my first run since the NYC marathon, which happened over a month ago. While running, I remembered that I promised a few folks, and myself, that I’d blog about the experience.  Most of this writing is taken from my journal entry the next day.  It’s long, but the synopsis is, I had a blast, and I am so thankful to each of you for the ways in which you supported me.  I hope you enjoy my story.🙂 xo L

Saturday night, a thousand doubts and fears kept me staring at the ceiling.  Despite training faithfully, raising money and being part of team Sanctuary for Families, and the hype created by my amazing support group, I could not imagine running 26.2 miles the next morning.

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Somehow, I slept. I coffeed. I ate a fakin-bacon and cream cheese bagel, and journeyed by train, ferry and bus with my neighbor Chris and her sister Kat to the Staten Island “Villages” located just below the Verrazano Bridge.

marathonpost-2 marathonpost-3This “village” was surreal- some sort of runner-zombie wasteland.  Wearing ripped pajama pants and sweatshirts their cats had attacked, people toddled around in slow motion, their bodily movements slowed by the chill of the wind.  Through giant, hidden loudspeakers, voices in various languages filled the village, looping directions and rules.  I felt like I was in the Hunger Games, waiting for something really bad or really triumphant to happen.  Needless to say, I was not relaxed.

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The voice called my corral and told me to approach the starting line. I took out the iPod Nano Heather gave me the day before, and pushed play, as instructed.  I recognized the voice in my earbuds.  It was the marathon man himself, Greg, telling me to take a deep breath and look around me…to savor this moment.  That I was prepared and capable.  And that it was time to loose my mind because that’s the only thing one can do before running 26.2 miles.  His message was one of over 15 personalized voicemails I received on a playlist complied by my besties since middle school, Kelly and Heather.

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I paused the playlist and took off my earbuds as we huddled towards the starting line.  The zombies were awake now, jumping around a little and grunting a little in a huddle of goosebump-filled legs and arms.  The loud speakers were now Frank Sinatra, blaring “New York, New York” and the we approved and sang along.  The cannon blasted and we shouted.  We kept singing, waiting our turn to cross over the starting line and activate our tracking devices.  I took a deep breath in.  Pushed it out.  Felt ready as I’d ever be. And told my legs to go.marathonpost-5

The cold and windy Verrazano Bridge dumped us into the embrace of Brooklyn.  Up 4th Ave in Bay Ridge, where children cheered and commanded high fives through their mittens, and grown ups danced in the block party that extended for miles.  The diversity of ages, ethnicities, musical samplings, food smells and languages flooded the route as we ran along, and made the time fly.

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People held ridiculous signs (Hurry up!  Beer misses you!) And motivational signs (Your body does what your mind believes!) in support of family runners and stranger runners.  A fellow ‘thon-er ran up beside me and squeezed my shoulders, “I believe in you and your cause” she said say after seeing the back of my shirt, which read “Running to End Domestic Violence”, Sanctuary’s running creed.

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I saw a brother and sister runner pair, and shortly after “No Scrubs” came on my playlist.  4 years ago, my big brother Erik and I ran a ten-miler together in Philly, which until this day was my longest race.  On that run, I thought I was going to die in the heat at mile 7, and almost quit.  Erik said, “No way, we are finishing this together” and put one of his earbuds in my ear.  It was TLC’s No Scrubs- and if you know this song, and you know my brother, you will understand why this made me laugh then and every time I hear that song. (We both finished that race).

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I was feeling pretty good until I saw the man in the blue coat, face hidden by a giant camera lens.  It was Larson, and next to him was his dad, Gene and one of his brothers, Michael.  This is when the pocket of joy began to erupt in my body and set me into “float” mode.  Now, I was feeling great. Quick squeezes and kisses and a baby food pouch and I was onto the next stretch. I saw our neighbors just steps down, and 3 miles later, Abbas and Melissa jumping up and down with a heart Lisa sign. There’s that joy-burst again!

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Leaf piles of green Gatorade cups and Cancer-Free running shirts.  Stuart’s proud smile at Bedford.  The sleepy Hasidic neighborhood and hipster Williamsburg where there was obviously some marathon drinking games occurring.  Live bands and dj’s.  Inspiration coach Kelly R sprinting to catch me with a big pink sign.  People giving out orange slices for energy and vaseline scoops on popsicle sticks for chapped faces.  As I ran, I marveled.  I didn’t know anything could make New Yorkers slow down OR get along in a giant crowd, but I learned that a wave of 46,000 runners can shut down shop, turn this mother into a party, and make friends out of strangers.

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Then came creepy Big Bird, the faces holding faces, and the Pulaski Bridge to Queens.

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  The  Queensboro Bridge  was by far the hardest part of the run for me.  It was steep, cold from the water’s breeze, and silent.   But Manhattan was right there, just over this hump, and I was ready for more.

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1st Ave roared quietly in the distance and I was greeted off the bridge with “BARNSHAW!!”.  It was a friend that I hadn’t seen since high school, Mike Mangano, who randomly spotted me in the crowd.

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On 1st Ave, the spectators were looking for specific people.  This was really different than BK, Queens, and the BX, where people were going crazy for any runner that made eye contact or looked like they needed a boost.  I luckily had my cheer squad on 1st looking for me.  The Harley boys provided more baby food, more hugs, and more questions about my mental and physical state.  Larson looked so concerned but so happy. “You look great but are you feeling okay?” My left toe was throbbing (bizarre), my right IT band was feeling tight and pretty terrible, but the physical pain didn’t matter.  I was 17 miles in and I was feeling on top of the world.  “I feel amazing.” I took 4 Advil and 3 kisses and continued up 1st.  Some kiddos had their hands out, slapping runners 5’s.  “Finally,” I thought, “random acts of cheering in Manhattan!”  Wait…was that last little hand Maia’s?!  I turned back and saw Geoff beaming and cheering me on.  I saw coach Kelly one more time in el Barrio.

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Onto the Bronx, where the infamous “wall” hits most runners, but not me because I knew I had some beautiful faces waiting for me there.  Running over the  Willis Ave Bridge, I reclaimed my shitty daily commute from Brooklyn to the Bronx, and put my feet on the very pavement where I sit in traffic every day.  It felt liberating.

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Then, around the bend, there they were- my students!!  I first saw Jashibel, and Patricia with her son Matthew.  Patricia’s strength was one of my inspirations on this journey.

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Then Jamin, Sam Sam, and Lisa beaming at me around the corner…

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Then there was teacher friend Ann, holding a giant “YES, You Can!” sign.

My only regret of the marathon experience is that I missed a bunch of my students who had come out…thank you Dixon, Aaron, Taylor, Dania, Jefferson and Team Leader Ezzie for coming out to try to see me! I felt you in spirit- because there is no other way I could have floated through the “toughest” part of the race unless I had you as my wings.

I crossed back into Manhattan for the last stretch.  Harlem gifted me two marathoners- Jessica and my 3rd Kelly R sighting, and both of them said I was in the clear.  Up the final climb and into Central Park.  marathonpost-25

At Mile 24, I saw her.

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Mama’s little frame, jumping up and down with her bright red gloves waving in the air.  Tears of joy came as we hugged. It was mile 24 and I was still smiling, and we both knew I’d be okay.

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Behind her was my big bro, sister in law Karen, Gene, Michael and Larson.  Everyone was smiling so much, and I couldn’t help but do the same.  I ran to Mile 25. Holy shit, I’m almost there!  I knew who was waiting next and I felt my body racing to them.  Kelly, Heather Noelle, Joy, Rich and Laura cheered me on as I entered the last mile of the race.  They went crazy when they saw me, and my adrenaline spiked in my body in a way I’ve never felt before.  They were my finish line.marathonpost-28 marathonpost-29Heather handed me a water bottle and told me to hold down the top very tightly…I ran home.  marathonpost-31

The Mile 26 flag came…then 400 yards…then 200…then the finish line.  I crossed it and smiled. “Huh.”  I  thought. “I just ran a marathon”.  It took me 5 hours and 6 minutes, and  I somehow picked up an extra 1.3 miles according to my running watch.  I had to laugh…I literally went the extra mile (‘Sup, ROADS?)  They medaled us, took our photos, and we all returned to that zombie state, in a daze about what our bodies just did.

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There was one more little surprise though.  The container from Heather, which happened to be filled with beer, which happened to be extremely pressurized from all the shaking of the final mile, shot ten feet from it’s container when I opened it, spraying a follow finisher in her face.  Oh. my. god.

I was mortified.  I went over to her and apologized profusely, and begged her for her contact info so I could pay for her dry cleaning.   She said it was okay, but then  slowly smelled the liquid on her fingers. “I know this smell…is this beer?” she said. “Yes” I said sheepishly. Wincing. Her face twisted into confusion. “Do you want some?” I said offering her the container.  Her confusion turned into a smile, then laughter. “Why not.”  She said chuckling, and we drank the beer together, then went our separate ways.

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The volunteers swaddled me in a giant orange poncho and I walked out of the Park, following the sea of limping parking cones.  Kelly Jennings found me and I’ve never seen her look more proud.  We walked over to the bar where we met up with my family, Larson and his family, and Jashibel, Patricia and Matthew.  I drank a lot of beer, and ate a lot of everything.

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This experience was one of the most exciting things I’ve accomplished and lived through.  I will be forever grateful for all of the love and encouragement I received along the journey, and to have crossed this one off my bucket list.

http://www.crowdrise.com/lbarnshaw/fundraiser/lisabarnshaw

 

Sam & Aaron are married!

11 Oct

Do you believe in soul mates?
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If you are aren’t sure such things exist, let me introduce you to dear friends Sam & Aaron.

On the 29th of September, in the heart of Brooklyn, they beamed, they kissed, they cried.  They said repeatedly, “I get to marry my best friend today.” They laughed so much.  And they found out a little more about who their baby is!  We all reveled in the warmth of their deep love and partnership, in one of the most beautiful celebrations of union I have ever witnessed. Sam n Aaron Web-1

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Wedding day footwear decisions. Sam n Aaron Web-3

Sam n Aaron Web-4Sunning the baby bump.

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Sam n Aaron Web-12About to see each other for the first time on their wedding day…

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Sam n Aaron Web-40Check out the foreshadowing reflected in the knife…

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It’s a boy!  Dad might be a little hype…Sam n Aaron Web-43Hottest soon-to-be grandmas EVER!

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Sam n Aaron Web-45Congrats Sam & Aaron, and lucky son-to-be on your beautiful wedding day and budding family!

We love you!! L&L

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Krissy & Matt tie the knot!

6 Sep


On August 24th, Krissy & Matt committed to love each through excitement, successes, and crankiness due to State Testing.

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Matt and Krissy are inspirational educators who met at a character development charter school in the South Bronx.  Their shared passion for progressive education built mutual professional respect in each other, which over time grew into a deep love and partnership.  In their vows, they referenced their growth as they lovingly teased each other and shared happy tears.   Throughout the night, they celebrated with their close knit family and friends, yet always found the time to exchange kisses and squeezes and of course, wobbles.😉  Krissy was so relaxed the entire day, her striking beauty and grace captivating everyone with whom she came in contact.  And Matt was constantly beaming, so proud of his wife and clearly so happy to be sharing the celebration with the important people in their lives.  Such a beautiful event.krissy&mattblogpost-1 krissy&mattblogpost-3 krissy&mattblogpost-4 krissy&mattblogpost-5 krissy&mattblogpost-6 krissy&mattblogpost-7hello, gorgeous.

krissy&mattblogpost-8 krissy&mattblogpost-9 krissy&mattblogpost-10who are the bigger trouble makers…these girls or these boys?

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proud poppa.

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the new Mr. & Mrs!
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the loving and lovely mamas.

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Congratulations!  We had a such a blast with you (and your awesome families and bridal party!)  Thanks so much for sharing your day with us.

With love,  L&L

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Joy & James are engaged!

29 Aug

joy & james hate fun.

joy&jamesengagement-1Ok, I lied.  :) Joy & James LOVE fun- dancing, all things 1920’s, carnival games, winking, hat show, open-container fun! We spent the balmy summer Sunday on Governor’s Island at the Jazz Age Lawn Fest & Parisian Carnival enjoying the throwback spectacles and their deep love for each other.   J&J exchange glances and squeezes like new lovers, and have the ease and demeanor of old friends.   What a gorgeous love, from the inside out.

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While photographing j&j nuzzled together, I said, “You two are getting married!”  These sweet faces were their responses.🙂 joy&jamesengagement-5

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xo L

I was…I am…I will be…

10 Jul

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On Tuesday June 25th, 50 students and staff members worked together to install large scale black and white portraits of ROADS Bronx High School students. “I was…I am…I will be” was the idea that drove this project, as well as the drawn portraits students created earlier this year in art class.  This statement encourages reflection and goal setting, connected by the significance of our present day choices. Today can separate us from our past, and propel us toward the futures we want for ourselves.   You can listen to some of these statements from the creators themselves in this video.

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First, the wheatpaste.  Ellie was the queen of this task!

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Then, the photo comes.

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Placing and smoothing…

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The installation took a lot of dedication, energy (it was 90 degrees and sunny!), physical strength, a willingness to get dirty, encouragement, music and laughs.

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insideout_brookpark-10so. excited.

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Our last step was to ziptie these to the fences that surround the inside and exterior of the beautiful community garden of Brook Park, an active center of the Mott Haven neighborhood of the South Bronx, NYC.

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Our project is one of over 600 group actions of the Inside Out Project , a global art movement created by artist JR.  The project encourages participants to make portraits and publicly post them to create curiosity, conversation, community, beauty and more.  Two years ago his TED Talk Video rocked my world and moved me to act.  I feel my strongest and most inspired with my students, and I am deeply grateful that I got to see this dream come to life with them, through them.

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The immediate feedback from neighbors was overwhelmingly positive. One woman said to me, “These are so inspiring hanging up here. You look at (the students) in the eyes and you feel like you can be someone too.” Another person said to me, “I don’t know who these young folks are, but they look like our neighborhood’s next graduates!”  To us at ROADS, that means everything!

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With deep gratitude…

To the students and staff at ROADS for active participation in the entire process, start to finish.
To Harry Bubbins, the director at Brook Park for allowing us full access to space and the freedom to make it meet our vision.
To Carolyn, Jason and Carlos for their volunteer work all day!
And to Larson Harley for helping me bring this project to fruition, and his endless support in this and all I do.

PROP 2nd Annual Citizen of the City Award

9 Jun

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On Thursday evening at Riverside Church in Harlem, PROP (Police Reform Organizing Project) presented 4 upstanding citizens of New York City the Citizen of the City Award honoring their dedication to justice and fair treatment especially in regards to abuses of governments, police and other institutionalized powers towards individuals and groups of people in New York City and around the globe.

As part of the Urban Justice Center, PROP is a working hard to help make public and reform unjust police practices in NYC, including (but not limited to) the targeting of young black and brown men, LGBTQ people, Muslim men and women, street vendors, sex workers, and beyond-when in questioning or custody of police. For me personally, this event was a reminder that our battle as a nation and world for human rights is far from over, but also infused me with strong hope that deliberate change continues to brew and happen…and no one is resting yet. The event was informative, powerful, and did I mention, a damn good time? Here’s a few favorite photos from the evening.

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Chi Mgbako, one of this year’s Award Honorees, with PROP director, Robert Gangi

prop2013blog-5Recipient of last year’s CotC Award, Robert Pinter with Rev. Pat Bumgardner, recipient of this year’s award.

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A room full of passion, love, energy gathered and moving forward in solidarity.

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PROP Policy Advocate, Rosa Squillacote with one of last year’s honorees, Ivie Koy Gordon.

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A beautiful performance by Lavender Light Gospel Choir

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Rosa, Bob, Honoree Imam Talib and his presenter,

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Bob, Rosa, 2013 Honorre Alex Vitale and his presenter,

Read more about this year’s Honorees here.

Education is our greatest hope in change…spread the word about PROP!

Abstract Dunes of Death Valley

1 May

hi!!! I’m SO happy to see you here and SO happy to be back!!

While my love for photography is bottomless, for  9-10 months every year my passion, practice and craft shifts to the art of teaching.  Recently, my students have reminded me of how fun it is to get swept up in art in really visceral, curious, and imaginative ways.  So to kick off the rentry to the blogosphere, I have selected some images that inspire me to be playful from one of the most mesmerizing places I’ve ever been-the Mesquite Flat Dunes of Death Valley.

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When standing at any point of the Dunes they seem endless.  The peaks look like dinosaur spines and the walls of the vallies look like they should be sledded down.  The dunes love mischief.  The shifting sands dust over your new footprints and play little (or big) games on your journey back to the mainland.  They whistle and sing and reverberate the sound of  fingers carefully tracing the rim of a wet wine glass- then stop, silent.  Similar to the ocean, they enchant, seduce, terrify and bring peace.


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