"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." - Dorothea Lange

Monday, September 26, 2016


On September 23, 2006 (almost ten years ago to the day) I started this blog. At the time, I was busy planning my first trip to Uganda and wanted to keep my friends and family informed as I made my way. It was important to me that my father, 85 back then, could read about my journey without having to worry each day if I was OK or not.

On of my first posts was about a pair of red shoes. I bought them for the trip, but they became symbolic to me. They were about stepping outside the box, stretching myself, moving into exciting and unknown territory - just like to the trip to Africa that lay ahead of me.

My love of writing and sharing photographs led me to continue the blog after I returned home from that trip. It became a disciplined exercise in journaling; there were many days when sharing what was on my mind helped me better understand the world around me, the people around me... and ultimately, myself. The fact that I actually had readers who followed my musings made me feel connected in a really positive way. I led those readers through the twists and turns of my life, revealing, questioning and learning more and more as I went. I shared a healthy dose of photography, and I wrote about a lot about Change the Truth.

Now it's time for me to step outside this box, stretch myself and move in a new direction, a new unknown territory. After all, not being stuck in the same place is what keeps us vital... and able to move forward.

So, here I go.

Many of my readers have been with me from the very first post; some have gotten on the bandwagon for a while and left, and others are relative newcomers. Thanks to all of you for devoting a few minutes of your day to see what it is I had to say or show. I've really enjoyed this chapter of my artistic life; I hope you gleaned something useful from it every now and then.

If you are interested in keeping up with all things related to Change the Truth, please follow along on Facebook. My photography Facebook page is here.

Friday, September 16, 2016

three more volunteers head to st. mary kevin children's home

Change the Truth is thrilled to announce the next group of volunteers that is now making its way to Uganda!

Andrew Musgrave is a father of two young girls and works full time as a Social Justice Director. He will be making his first trip to Uganda. He is very excited to experience firsthand the wonderful things happening at SMK, and he looks forward to sharing his love of sports and computers with the kids. He also plans to visit some of the schools that CTT/SMK students attend to gain some perspective for his work in Padibe and Gulu, Northern Uganda. 

Joining him will be Erin Alexander. Erin has traveled to Northern Uganda twice before, but this will be her first visit to SMK, and she is thrilled. As a former English teacher and now owner of All Souls Yoga, Erin plans to do yoga, journaling and creative story-telling that will help students tap into their innate courage during her time there. 

Suzanne Garr will be making her fifth trip to SMK to spend time with her kiddos, introduce some new art projects, tour various schools of CTT sponsored students and simply have fun playing games, reading, having a movie night and a few other fun-related activities. She will be splitting her time between SMK and some schools in the North where she will travel with Andrew and Erin to continue their collective work, which includes helping students with their educational dreams. The team travels September 16th and will return home October 2nd

Stay tuned for posts and pictures!

Saturday, September 10, 2016



One of the most wonderful people I've ever known passed away last night. His name was Isak. Read his obituary, and you'll see that this was a man who was extraordinary in every sense of the word. A survivor, a man of conviction, a gentle and caring soul, a loving family man, a kind and dear friend. He was funny, charming, slightly irreverent and always generous. Next week, he and his lovely wife Ann would have celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. (I took this picture of him at the celebration of their 65th.) They don't make 'em like this any more. Rest in peace, sweet Isak. The world was lucky to have you in it, and I am blessed to have known you.

Isak Federman came to Kansas City in 1946, the only member of his family to have survived the Holocaust. He was a successful businessman, a loving parent, and a generous supporter of the Kansas City Jewish community. He was a character, a dramatic and humorous storyteller who could take over a room and make friends instantly. He died on September 9, 2016, at the age of 94.

Isak was born on March 14, 1922, in Wolbrom, Poland, the third child of Boruch and Ruchla Biala Federman. His father died before Isak was a year old, and his mother eventually remarried Herschel Kalisz with whom she had a fourth child. Encouraged by his mother and stepfather, he left home at the age of thirteen to study at a Yeshiva (a school for Jewish boys), but returned home in the summer of 1939 amid rumors of a German invasion. After his village was occupied he was picked up on the street by the German SS in the fall of 1939, and ordered to help build a forced labor camp nearby. Eventually, he was forced to do slave labor in eighteen camps, including Rzeszow, Plaszow, Flossenberg, and Sachsenhausen. He built roads and barracks, worked in salt mines, and “pretended” to operate a lathe machine. He was also forced to clean up rubble from the German invasion of Russia, and later, he and other prisoners were marched into Berlin during bombing raids, and forced to clear rubble there as well. In 1944, he was shot in the head and wrist while escaping from the concentration camp at Bergen Belsen, near Hamburg, and survived in the forest for several days before being captured. He was liberated by the British Army on May 3, 1945, weighing about 80 pounds, and sick with typhus. 

After Isak had spent about six weeks in an army field hospital, he went back to Bergen Belsen, where a displaced persons camp had been established, in hopes of finding information about his family. He found no surviving family members, but he met Anna (Chana) Warshawski, who remained lovingly devoted to him for the rest of his life, as he was to her.

In December 1945, he heard a radio translation of a speech in which President Truman announced that 100,000 displaced persons would be allowed to immigrate to the United States. He encouraged Anna and her surviving family members to apply. In June 1946, they traveled to New York under the sponsorship of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. When they arrived, the Joint representative suggested they move to Kansas City. In Yiddish, Isak asked him if Kansas City was in America; upon being told that it was, he said that they would go. That September, he and Anna, now Ann, were married, the first survivors to do so in the Kansas City area. Five hundred “strangers” attended their wedding, and they were embraced by the Jewish community in Kansas City. They were immediately invited to join Kerem Israel Synagogue, now Kehilath Israel. Over the years, Isak and Ann made a number of lifelong friends with whom they shared a commitment to Kehilath Israel. Isak served the synagogue in a number of ways, including as its President. He was actively involved in B’nai Brith and Jewish Federation of Kansas City, and was both a Mason and a Shriner. While he referred to himself as a “newcomer” (“green-ah” in Yiddish) he was bold and self-confident, a salesman who was hard to resist, genuinely liked by his customers, and a hard worker.

In 1948, while still learning the English language, he co-founded Superior Upholstered Furniture Company. He sold that company in 1976 and after being retired “for a weekend” became restless and started K.C. Textile Company, which he eventually sold in 1996. While he would point out that his secular education stopped after seven grades, he was an astute businessman, a dealmaker whose handshake was his bond. Indeed, he was a founding director of Lenexa National Bank, and was the Board Chair who led the negotiation of its sale to Commerce Bank.
In 1993, along with his good friend Jack Mandelbaum, he co-founded the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education, which teaches the history of the Holocaust as a means to counter indifference, intolerance and genocide.

Isak had always been reluctant to discuss his wartime experiences; despite that, he decided to share those experiences to help raise funds for MCHE. None of his friends were spared his pitch, as he and Jack worked to help build and finance an organization that continues to serve the entire community. He loved reading about and discussing current events and history, attending sporting events, and traveling with Ann. He was a patriot, proud to be a citizen of the United States and grateful to Kansas City for welcoming him when he had no home to return to.

In addition to his beloved wife Ann, he is survived by three children, Rachel Altman (Avrom), Arthur Federman (Diane), and Lorie Federman, by five grandchildren (Rebekah Altman, Audrey Federman, Carla Federman, Elijah Knight, and Maya Knight), and by seven great grandchildren. The family thanks the staff of Suites 2 and 3 at Village Shalom and that of Kansas City Hospice for their devoted care of Isak during the last years of his life. Special thanks to Sonia Warshawski for her love and support of Ann.

Friday, September 09, 2016

gloasters now at a store named stuff

I'm really excited to announce that my Gloaster coasters are now available at STUFF, a wonderful store in Brookside in Kansas City. Years and years ago, the dynamic sister duo at Stuff, Sloane and Casey, did my very first book signing/release party. It was for my book Convergence. I'll never forget how wonderful that night was. Sloane and Casey made me feel like a million bucks, and the crowd that assembled did, too.

I'm thrilled to be back in the fold at STUFF. There are 60 other artists represented in this store stuffed with wonderful stuff, so do yourself a favor and check it out.

Here are some of the new Gloasters you'll find among the 39 designs now available.

Bowed Head

Colorful Leaves

Handful of Leaves

Head in the Clouds



Pears on Hair

Tulip Tree

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

sunflower field

Ted Grinter's Sunflower Field is 40 acres of huge, splashy, smiley flowers. The farm is between Tonganoxie and Lawrence, Kansas. I went there yesterday and made some photographs.

Father and Daughter


Waving Sunflowers

Quick Trip Cup


Monday, September 05, 2016

news from natalie

The Disney film, Queen of Katwe, starring Lupita Nyong'o and David Oyelowo is scheduled to be released in just a few weeks. Based on the book of the same title by Tim Crothers, it's the true story of a Phiona Mutesi, a young girl who defies the odds of growing up in one of the toughest slums in Uganda to become an international chess champion.

The story itself seems a little unbelievable from an abstract perspective. What are the odds that this young girl who is struggling to survive, would happen upon a mentor, who grew up much like herself, and he could arm her with the skills to discover a talent that would enable her to change her circumstances? The unlikelihood of it all is perhaps why it will make a great movie.

The thing is, it's not that unbelievable. In fact, I know a lot of Phionas--children who have defied the odds and found their passions in music, art, dancing, and academics. 
This past week I invited five of these young people to join me in reading the Queen of Katwe as part of a small book club. We met after they read the first half and they have already identified so many parallels between their own lives, and the lives of the two main characters, Robert and Phiona. 

As a visitor in their lives for only a few weeks a year, I have struggled with finding a balance between being a role model, and encouraging the children at SMK to find the role models that surround them everyday. This book, and the conversations that have arisen from discussing it, has helped strike that balance. We have been able to talk openly about the challenges they have--and continue to--face, and the pride they should feel in working to achieve their goals. Despite the fact that Change the Truth has been there to help along the way, their accomplishments are a result of their own hard work. Nothing our volunteers can provide can do the work for them, and what they dare to achieve is a result of their own dedication to their dreams.

Friday, August 26, 2016

post from brittany

It has been proven that music incorporated into schools improves the overall academic achievement of students. With a quick google search, you can find study after study that links music classes to improved brain function and increased test scores. Offering opportunities to the children at St. Mary Kevin to study music is just one of the ways CTT volunteers are able to encourage future success. Not to mention it is just a really good time!

For the past week, the younger students at SMK have received an immersive musical experience thanks to the ladies of Uptown Violins. Here's a brief update of their activites:

We finished our first week of music camp with the younger children! The children are so cute and high energy! Their creativity and innovative spirits shine through each day.

Some highlights were: a call and response clapping song titled "Flee, Flee, Fly," a musical painting craft, learning note names and Rhythms incorporating them in a spirited game of basketball. However, performing a song from the movie Tarzan using rattles, boom whackers, violins, and clapping was the ultimate in fun!

                                                                                                                          --Brittany Peterson


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

first impressions

First impressions can be a tricky thing. Sometimes they are totally wrong. Other times they are spot on, like they have been for Sherèe in her first days at St. Mary Kevin. In her own words, here is what she has to say about what she has observed so far.

We have been at SMK for two days! We are living, breathing entertainment. From our violins, our funny names, Ben's extreme height, and the color of our hair, we almost seem from another planet! However, what perhaps has been the subject of greatest interest is that we are family. Family—what a loaded word for many of us. Be it one that brings to mind pride, love or possibly trouble, it is something many of us understand. At SMK family isn't a known entity but rather an intellectual concept. How can we even begin to teach it? We are here all together—a father and mother, who are also simultaneously jjajas (grandparents in Ugandan), sisters, a brother. This does not even include our other three sisters, brothers, niece, 11 uncles, 10 aunts, and 30-some cousins. That is simply unbelievable! But there is also family at SMK. The kids demonstrate there love for Melissa and pride in their matron Josephine. The older children help the younger with their English, their washing, etc. Family is something not to be overlooked, be it the one you are born into, or the one that you form. We are very blessed to be here and help share the love of family while also witnessing a very close-knit Ugandan one.
                                                                                                                          --Sherèe Lutz

                                                                   Ben and new friends. 

                                                                               New hair-dos.

                                                                                New music. 

                                                                                             New experiences. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

chapter 11 begins

Change the Truth chapter 11 officially begins!

It will be launched right here featuring blog posts submitted by some very lovely volunteers who'll be traveling to St. Mary Kevin Children's Home in just one week. The Peterson/Lutz family of five will be in Uganda until September 3rd, and their visit will overlap with Natalie's (who will be there until the 12th).

Stay tuned for their journal entries and photos.

*** Now it is possible to subscribe to this blog and receive a notification whenever a new post is published. Simply enter your email address in the little window to the right at the top of the page.

Thanks for hanging with us all these years, and welcome to those of you will be following along for the first time!

Saturday, August 06, 2016

an old dog jumps through a new hoop

As most of you know, I enjoy dabbling in pastels and have done so for a couple years. I've never taken a drawing class (until now), and I really only started playing around with the colorful chalk sticks as a diversion from photography. When I had shoulder surgery last year, drawing with my non-dominant hand (I couldn't use my right arm for six weeks) provided such a challenge and such an incredible amount of joy that I realized I was hooked on a new medium.

As most of you also know, I am now turning these naive drawings into little coasters and have started a small business called "Gloasters." My bestie Gail came up with the name, combining "Gloria" with "coaster." I've been promoting the gloasters on Facebook and have opened a store on Etsy. Friends have been so nice about making purchases, and I feel grateful that no one has laughed at me yet!

This past week I did my first art street fair. Eddie and I bought a tent canopy, two 6' folding tables, a receipt book and a few cardboard display stands and offered the coasters to the public on First Thursday in Portland. At $5 a pop, I figured we could sell a few, though I really no idea. Luckily, people did seem to enjoy them, and we sold at least enough to cover all the supplies we'd purchased! (I'm also selling beautifully printed 7" x 7" signed prints of each drawing for $25.)

did i mention we also brought chairs and a bottle of wine to the street fair?
here's my sidekick, taking a break from selling

Yesterday I sold the 150th gloaster to a friend who come over for a visit (it's hard not to see them when you step into our small apartment, as they are front and center on the only table!). In honor of the sale - and the fact that I've signed up for a second street fair - I drew all evening till I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer.

My Kansas City friend Greg Azorsky is manufacturing the gloasters for me. He's the nicest guy, does a fantastic job and is a great cheerleader. I am grateful to have him in my corner!

When I was a kid I sold greeting cards door to door. I represented the Wallace Brown Card Company. I loved the challenge of making sales, loved keeping careful records and was always so thrilled when customers liked their personalized orders.

I've always had an entrepreneurial streak, I suppose, so becoming Ms. Gloaster (as Eddie likes to call me) suits me just fine.

Here are some of the new additions to the Gloaster family. I love making them, and I am just happy that others are enjoying them, too! (They couldn't be more different from my black and white photos.)



red dress

hanging the moon

happy hour


I mentioned that I'm taking my first drawing class. We work with charcoal only, and I am absolutely loving it! Here is a drawing I made a couple weeks ago. Probably not Gloaster material...

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

post from natalie

CTT’s dear friend Natalie will be traveling to Uganda for the 5th time later this month. She’s been very busy preparing for her visit with the children at SMK, and that has had a lot to do with ripples. Please read her missive to see what I mean:

Every wave starts with a ripple. Or, so they say, I suppose. When you think about it, that gives an awful lot of power to one little drop of water. It ignores all of the other drops that join with that bit of energy and start moving forward. It's in that transference of energy that the magic really happens. It’s what keeps the surfer on his board, moves ships across the ocean, and even maintains the temperature of our atmosphere. 

Making positive change in the world starts a lot like a wave in that way. It takes one person to put their toe in the water and splash around a bit to get things going. But it is the efforts of many that create real movement. Preparing for my return to Uganda has reminded me of this simple truth--our efforts are a result of who we bring along with us.

For the past month, my mailbox has been filled with packages containing supplies that will support the academic, artistic, athletic, and health needs of the children at St. Mary Kevin. Gifts have arrived from all over the country--from people I know well, and some I have never had the pleasure of meeting in person. All told, I will be carrying the energy of over 60 people with me across the ocean.  And just like the drops of water that start a wave don't always make it to shore, the people I bring along with me will probably never have the privilege of knowing these great young people personally. But, the energy they have generated will be felt for years to come as a giant wave of love. 

On behalf of all of the students at SMK, I thank each and every one of you who selflessly gave of yourself to ensure our students are supplied with the tools they need for school. I thank those of you who invested in our artists. And I thank those of you who provided our kids with a few things that allow them to just be kids for a while. It is because of you, CTT has been able to do all it has for our kids. I am honored to be carrying your hearts with me. 

- Natalie

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

bringing on more music for our children in uganda!

The Peterson/Lutz family is beyond excited to be traveling to St. Mary Kevin this August facilitated by Change The Truth! The team members include Dr. Stacy Peterson, Allison Peterson, Brittany Peterson, Ben Lutz, and Sherèe Lutz. We are members of Uptown Violins, a performance/teaching group comprised of family members. The primary aim at SMK will be to offer a fun-filled, week-and-a-half of instruction to the 28 violin students currently taking lessons. Some students have received weekly instruction since 2012 with the establishment of the Strings for Uganda program. Others are relatively new to violin! 

We hope to apply teaching methods used for our U.S. violin students adapting them to fit the needs of the SMK students. This will include individual tutoring, group lessons, music theory/history instruction, as well as fun with games, crafts, and lots of love! The workshop will culminate in a final concert where the students can demonstrate what they have learned to the rest of the school and community. Of course, we know we will learn just as much from the students as they will from us!

As a part of the experience, the SMK violin students and some of our U.S. students have been paired together as pen-pals, seeking to foster the shared experience that music can provide across the globe. We have also received generous support and have been given violins that we will be able to donate to SMK for students’ use as well as music, stands, cases, rosin, teaching tools, and so much more! We want to thank everyone who has been so supportive especially to the CTT family who is making everything possible! We cannot wait for August to get here!

- Sheree Lutz






Monday, July 18, 2016


My pastel drawings have recently morphed into 4" x 4" cork-backed hardboard coasters, which my friend Gail suggested I call Gloasters (Gloria + coasters) and now they have found their way into the world and are for sale.

There is a whole family of these quirky characters and even a little wooden stand to display four at a time. 

Please check out the Gloaster website!

In the meantime, here are a few members of the clan. The gloasters sell for $5 each. 

starry night

falling leaves

red daschund

henry's airplane

five o'clock shadow

calla lilies