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

Monday, July 30, 2007

what we eat

Click here to see an interesting photo essay from "The Hungry Planet."

Sunday, July 29, 2007

MO-KAN project

I love being on the road. I love making pictures on the road. (Here's a snapshot Max took of me being very happy on the road!) And since I have always been a proponent of photographing in one's own backyard, I have decided to make this road trip/photography thing a "project."

Kansas City straddles two states: Kansas and Missouri. In fact, my house is just a few blocks from State Line Road, which is the dividing line between the two states. I can hop in my car and head east to explore Missouri, west to explore Kansas. That's kind of what I have been doing this summer. I am excited about the adventures I've had thus far, the fact that I am getting better acquainted with my home turf and - I even like some of the work I've made. So, I'm planning to do more of it. In a couple of weeks I intend to go to the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia.

For now, I'm calling this the MO-KAN project. Here are a few more images to throw into that pile of pics.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

what's in a name?

Drum roll, please. Time for the unveiling of my first big break into the world of book covers. The good folks at Random House sent me an advance copy of Death of a Murderer so I could get a jump on feeling good about the use of my photograph on the cover.

It was indeed exciting to see it, to run my hands over the slightly stippled paper, to realize that 37,000 copies of my photo would be out in the world soon – on shelves in bookstores, on lounge chairs at the beach, on nightstands in bedrooms and in libraries. When I opened the jacket to spend a few moments soaking up the joy of seeing my name in print, I saw that my name had been misspelled.

Now, this does tend to happen from time to time. Not GLORIA, of course. Van Morrison made sure no one would EVER misspell that name. You remember:
I'm gonna shout it all night GLORIA
I'm gonna shout it every day, GLORIA
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah.

FEINSTEIN gets messed up a lot. I have received mail address to Feinstay, Finsterwald, Feinburg, Feingold, Frankenstein and Finestine, just to name a few. I’ve gotten used to saying on the phone: it’s F as in Frank and yes the E goes before the I both times. (And, no I am not related to Diane OR Michael.)

But misspell BAKER? How in the world could that have happened? It’s a common word, for goodness sake. We have all spent time or at least know someone who has spent time in the kitchen making cookies and cakes, haven’t we? It’s only five letters, frequently used ones at that. It’s even a word that is spelled pretty much the way it sounds.

How does it become BACKER?

The photo on the jacket of Death of a Murderer was taken by her: Gloria Backer Feinstein.

My father tells me this was actually our name before someone at some immigration point either took it upon himself to simplify the spelling or a relative decided to do it first.

The butcher, the backer, the candlestick macker.

Friday, July 27, 2007

still on the road

Max joined me for the final leg of my current road trip. His sense of humor and adventure and his endless supply of great music made the day a blast. We drove through western Kentucky, then across the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers into Illinois - just for a few minutes- and then on into Missouri. Here are some photo highlights from the day. The personal highlights of being able to spend this special time with my eighteen-year-old son are definitely mine to keep and savor.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Monday, July 23, 2007

shot of the day

I'm snaking my way toward Kentucky to visit my father. Today I stopped in towns like Syracuse and California, Missouri. I made this picture at the beauty shop in Otterville, Missouri.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

ferguson: finale

Watching Ferguson work at the wheel was really something. Here was this big, lumbering man, his clothes disheveled, his hair unkempt, his language fairly foul, his voice loud (usually grumbling about something) and he sits down as if he’s about to conduct a symphony, transforming into something of a proper and graceful person.

I was floored to see that, against the clay, his hands were actually soft and pale and delicate and tapered.

Ken paid me the highest compliment by coming to the opening of my concentration camp photographs, Among the Ashes, when it was at Image Point here in Kansas City. He and Gertrude held court that night in the main gallery; he was seated in his walker, she was standing at his side. He said the work was powerful, and that meant a lot to me. He reminded me to be careful not to drift over to the dark side of commercialism and to continue being true to myself in my work. Of course, as soon as he finished with the compliments and kind advice, he quickly turned his attention to Eddie and insulted him about something or other. Just wanted to remind us whose company we were in, I suppose, and that it would never be easy being there.

I finished the Ferguson assignment just as the irises were poking through the soil at Ken and Gertrude’s place. I was surprised one morning when he called me (booming voice: “Feinstein, is that you?”) to see if I would come by in a couple of weeks to get some pictures of him with the irises. I must say when I looked through the viewfinder to see this man, suddenly tender with his beloved Gertrude and his beloved flowers, I almost cried.

The following is adapted from the eulogy Ted Rowland gave at Ken’s memorial service:

“Ken liked to punctuate the conversation with quotations or questions. One of his favorites was, ‘Will you be asked to leave something behind?’ This wasn’t just a rhetorical question. To Ken, this was the challenge to guide each day: this was the standard everyone should be held to.

There is a temptation, with any artist’s passing, to list the collections that hold his work as physical proof that something has been left behind. With Ken, that response fails to recognize his intellect, his complexity, his curiosity, his contradictions, his energy, his insecurities, his passions. Ken changed what we saw; he changed how we saw it; he changed us.”

Saturday, July 21, 2007

ferguson: part two

The first time I went to Ferguson’s place, his wife Gertrude greeted me kindly at the front door and ushered me into his office. Ken left me waiting for a good fifteen minutes.

The word was that he was a crotchety guy. He lived up to my expectations of crotchety pretty quickly – within our first few minutes together he was complaining about this and that. I remember him immediately calling out to Gertrude for a cup of tea. After she delivered it to his desk, he proceeded to give me a ten-minute lecture on how a mug handle should feel in one’s hand. Most mug handles were dismal failures, according to Ferguson.

I could tell after about an hour that he was testing me. He said a few not-so-nice things about some people we both knew, railed against various politicians, used a lot of profane language and scrutinized me fairly intensely by asking a lot of hard-hitting and direct questions about my work, my family, my religion, my education and my feelings about the way things are in the art world, the world at large, etc. With a harsh edge to his voice, he wanted to know about books I read, music I listened to, movies I’d seen and artists I admired. He challenged my opinions and tastes and wanted to see if I could back up my stances. I guess he wanted to know whom he was dealing with… where I stood. More accurately, I suppose he wanted to know if I KNEW where I stood.

I think he also wanted to see if I would leave in tears. But I didn’t. I held on and calmly just started making pictures.

Ferguson was a big man. And he didn’t just talk – he BELLOWED. It took awhile before he looked me in the eye. He called himself a “blue collar potter.” He took pride in the fact that he didn’t come from much and that he had worked hard his whole life doing what he felt was significant. When we went out to his studio, he showed me a couple of pieces he was working on and said, “Not bad for a potter from Kansas, eh?”

He had an old beat up TV in the studio. I learned that first day that he never missed an episode of Jeopardy, and that if I planned to come out to make pictures during the time Jeopardy was on, well, I would just have to wait.

The walls of the studio were plastered with postcards and snapshots people had sent him over the years. There was an amazing assortment of images and messages, and as I pored over them, he spoke proudly and affectionately of his relationships with good friends, artists, collectors and students and of his love of art in general. There were notes and phone numbers scrawled on the walls. Here and there were sketches and photos of pieces in progress. The phone was caked with clay.

The more time we spent together, the more I could see past that rough exterior of his. It turns out that he was a kind man who cared deeply about people, art, politics, nature, music, friends and family. It took us a while to get on the right track with each other, but I think that’s just how it goes with a guy like that. He wasn’t about to let it unfold easily. To Ferguson, every encounter offered up a puzzle to be sorted out, an occasion to mentally wrestle, a chance to teach something and a chance to learn something.

When I first showed him the contact sheets of the stuff I’d been shooting of him, he seemed pleasantly surprised that this soft-spoken GIRL had indeed created some decent work. He raised his wild eyebrows and actually tossed a couple of compliments my way. When I responded with “Not bad for a photographer from Kentucky, eh?” he finally looked me in the eye and smiled, and I think it was from that moment on that we had some sort of an understanding of each other.

After he had spent some time looking at the contact sheets, he cast a look that could kill towards Gertrude and huffed, “Dammit, Gertrude, why didn’t you tell me I’d gotten so old?”

Thursday, July 19, 2007

ferguson: part one

“Ken Ferguson believed in the pureness of pottery, the ability to take a lump of clay and, using only your hands, turn it into something beautiful.

Ferguson's ability to do so earned him national and international recognition, both as an artist and as a teacher of other artists. His life's passion was summed up by his son, Charles: ‘Wreathed in smoke and fire, he pulled clay from the earth and made works of art to challenge the terrifying abyss of time.’

He loved nature, jazz and going to the movies, but his greatest love was his pottery. Russell, his eldest son, described his father as an incredibly hard worker who created at least 10,000 pieces of pottery in his lifetime.

‘He said that clay is one of the only things that you can look at an object that someone has made and know directly that their hand was on that material,’ Russell said. ‘Everything else is created with a tool, a chisel or a brush, but clay is formed directly from the human hand.’

Ferguson loved to pass on his knowledge of ceramics. For thirty-two years, he served as the chairman of the ceramics department at the Kansas City Art Institute, building up the department from nothing.

Milton Katz, humanities professor at the Kansas City Art Institute, worked with Ferguson for many years and knew his abilities in the classroom. ‘He was a consummate teacher,’ Katz said. ‘He really, really loved his students; he loved mentoring them and seeing them grow and develop.’

Katz said his colleague may have had a tough exterior, but on the inside, Ferguson was a very sensitive and generous man.

‘We called him a Promethean figure, because he was truly larger than life, not just physically but emotionally and spiritually,’ Katz said.”

These paragraphs were taken from an obituary that ran shortly after Ferguson’s death in late December, 2004.

I knew OF Ferguson, of course, because he was an iconic figure in Kansas City - and back in the day he used to come into my gallery. But I didn’t REALLY get to know this man until the spring of 2004, when I was hired by a book publisher to make pictures of Ken at his studio. There was a coffee table book in the works, and they needed some current photos to supplement the vast array of images they already had.

It is difficult, at best, to describe this man. Many have done it well, and their essays will be included in the book (which is finally at the printer in China and will be titled Ken Ferguson Talking With the Wheel). All I know is that for several weeks, I was treated to one of the most colorful, stubborn, talented, curious, gruff, smart, sentimental, honest, crusty, generous, passionate and brash souls with whom I have ever or will ever have the pleasure/challenge of spending time.

Over the course of a couple or three posts, I will share some of the photographs we made and some of the tidbits of conversation we had. Needless to say, I got a real education hanging out with Ken and his wife, Gertrude. I learned a lot about him, his love for pots and for Gertrude, and I ended up learning a bit about myself, as well.

I felt lucky to get to know him and to be involved slightly in the making of the book, especially considering that he died just a few months later.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

photographing as a parent/ parenting as a photographer

Several women photographers have asked me how I manage to work as a photographer and still be a good, attentive and available mom. It seems almost like a moot point for me now, since my youngest is eighteen years old, but I find that I still try to incorporate my philosophies of photographing/parenting even now, just as I did when the kids were little. You must also remember that Max was already six by the time I recommitted to making photographs (after a fifteen year hiatus). Even so, I feel like I can throw a few thoughts into the ring.

From the minute they were able to hold a small camera somewhat steadily, look through its viewfinder and squeeze the shutter all at approximately the same time, I bestowed a point-and-shoot upon both my children. In Abbie’s case, she was about the same age I was when I found a Rocket Brownie in my hands, three. As soon as I gave it to her, we took her on a trip to Spain and France. Abbie took pictures constantly on that trip, wrote a bit of a journal, then proudly pasted the photos and her writings in a scrapbook. (This is a scan one of the pages of the treasured three ring plastic binder we gave her to use on that trip.) Photography instantly became a shared passion for the two of us. She and I could talk about our snapshots with one another, share them with friends and family together and hang out as a duo, a camera hanging from my neck and one from her little wrist, pursuing similar missions! When she was sixteen and I was seriously back into photography, we even went to Mexico together to do a workshop with Mary Ellen Mark.

(Luckily, both my kids liked photography from the start; I can honestly say, though, I haven’t met many kids who weren’t instantly intrigued and fascinated by it.)

As a little squirt, Max was in the darkroom with me, standing on a chair and helping me rock the trays. Both kids learned darkroom skills and attended photo workshops in Santa Fe and Rockport once they were old enough. Max got a photograph published in a cycling magazine (and got a check for $150.00!!) around the time I was first struggling to get things in print. Abbie’s portfolio was accepted into the international juried competition, Current Works, when she was just in high school, way before I ever succeeded in getting work into that exhibition. Indeed, we were all in this thing together! (And a little healthy competition added some spice and fun.)

I think that by sharing photography, the kids never felt that it was something that took me away from them. In fact, it actually brought us closer together. In my darkroom are two enlargers so that we could/can work in there together. To this day, I show them new pictures I've made, asking for their input and opinions.

Abbie continued on with her work, getting a degree in art/photography in college. Max abandoned it for other interests, so with him it was a bit more challenging. In his case, I decided to make pictures of whatever he was into. By bringing along my camera and making serious pictures at his horse-shows, of him and his friends, the concerts he played, and then… his races at the drag strip (!!) I showed him not only that I wanted to learn more about what he was doing, but that it was worth documenting on film, the importance of which he fully understood given the fact that he had been a photographer at one time.

(A drag strip is an improbable place for me to end up. I made the best of it by photographing Max racing, then wandering around trying to make my own meaningful pictures, demonstrating to Max that I was interested in what he was doing while also keeping myself satisfied. Best of all, he LOVED the images I made those nights!)

Alec Soth had an interesting thread on his blog about this very subject. He posed the question: what well-known photographers managed to be good parents as well? Scroll down to the post from 9/26/06. It, as well as the comments, is worth reading. (By the way, if you are not a reader of his blog and you are a photographer or photo entusiast, I urge you to bookmark it.)

Of course, none of this would have worked out so well if I had not had the unwavering support of my husband, Eddie. During all those countless hours I was in the darkroom and now at the computer, he stepped/steps up to the plate. When I pack up and hit the road for Poland, Mexico or Uganda for photo trips, he is the one who stays behind and keeps the fires burning. Whenever I attend a workshop, review or seminar, he’s here at home to hold down the fort - 100%.

It’s definitely a group effort, but then, what about having/being a family isn’t?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

change the truth update

There are so many exciting things that have been happening in the world of Change the Truth lately! Time to bring you all up to date.

I told you about JJ’s very generous donation. Well, I called Rosemary (founder, director) of St. Mary Kevin’s in Kajjansi and gave her the good news. She was floored that such big help was coming and that it was coming from a 13 year old!! A few days after our conversation, she sent me the names of the five kids who will be able to now attend secondary school this year because of JJ. Their names are Joseph, Daniel, Habibu, Michael and Billy. JJ may not grasp it quite yet, but he did something that could prove to be life changing for these African children.

Because of the continued support of so many, we were able to send next term’s school fees for the eight students we began sponsoring this past winter: Shamim, Florence, Edward, Emma Vincent, Henry, Gloria, James and Catherine. Rosemary has promised to send grade cards, progress reports and a letters written by each of them in the next few weeks. I would like to think that we will be able to sponsor these children all the way through their secondary schooling. And, if we can add more to our list, that would be great!

Kate, a thirteen-year-old Kansas Citian and tennis player finally heard from her 15 year old pen pal, Solomon. He wrote a beautiful letter and even enclosed a photo of himself. Here is an excerpt: “I like playing football but not as competitive as you do play tennis. Tennis is pretty good, but I don’t really play it. I like making friends, but what I wouldn’t like is to part company with friends, especially those that are my close friends… During school time, I stay at school for about two or three months. It is really good when you sleep at school because you learn very many things that you did not know… My best subjects are basically the Sciences (Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry and Agriculture)."

As many of you know, I am involved with Operation Breakthrough here in Kansas City. The mission of Operation Breakthrough is to help children who are living in poverty develop to their fullest potential by providing them a safe, loving and educational environment. Operation Breakthrough also strives to support and empower the children’s families through advocacy, referral services and emergency aid. I am trying to figure out a way to build some sort of relationship or partnership between the children and teachers at Operation Breakthrough and the children and teachers at St. Mary Kevin’s. Two very different worlds, half a world apart, but so much to learn from one another and really, so much in common.

When Michael, manager of the orphanage, was in Kansas City in May, I took him on a tour of OB. He was surprised to see the level of poverty that exists right here in the good ole U.S of A. It is easy for Africans, even those who are well educated, to imagine that all of us on this side of the ocean are living high on the hog. He was, of course, duly impressed with the magnificent work being done at OB, but he was also astonished at the extent of the poverty he saw.

I realized that we could all stand to learn a lot more about one another. And that by doing so, eyes could be opened, hearts filled up and lives empowered. I started to imagine a handful of kids from the inner city here going over with me to Uganda at some point and spending a week learning about the lives of African orphans. Then, I started to see these kids figuring out ways they can HELP! How powerful would that be? And then, I pictured a handful of African kids coming to KC to dance and drum and sing with the African drum and dance corps at OB, the ones who performed at my opening at the Leopold Gallery. And then, well…

I am getting ahead of myself.

The first step I am hoping to take is this: there are a couple of social workers at OB who are doing groundbreaking work with play therapy and with school age activities. I want to bring them with me on a future trip to Uganda so they can work with the teachers of the children who have been traumatically affected by witnessing the atrocities of war, being surrounded by death and disease and ending up on their own – either on the streets or passed around to various extended family members. Some of these children are unable to articulate what they have experienced and how it has felt for them; therefore, they are slow to make any progress at all once they arrive at St. Mary Kevin’s. These social workers feel that they could be helpful by working with the children and, most important, by teaching play therapy skills to the teachers at the orphanage.

In order for the two women from OB to come with me, we will need to find sponsors to pay their way. Realistically, it will cost about $3000 each. If you know of an organization or individuals who might be willing to help with this first step of building a bridge between these two worlds and empowering children and teachers on both sides, please contact me. We have tentative plans to go a year from now – that will give us time to organize the trip and raise the needed funds.

In the meantime, I am longing to get back there. My mind keeps turning with all the possibilities of things we can do to assist these 150 children, children who really want to break out of the dire straights in which they have been placed and discover all the good things life might be able to offer them.

Friday, July 13, 2007

hearing aids revisited

My phone started ringing and emails began arriving soon after my June 9 post about hearing aids.

“My, um, FRIEND sure could use one. What company makes that really cool one with the Bluetooth connection?” “My elderly father can’t stand his old hearing aid and refuses to wear it anymore, should we check into one of these groovy new ones?” Or… “You know, it’s true, I do seem to turn the TV up really loud now, and going to a crowded restaurant for dinner on a Saturday night, well, forget it.”

Too bad I’m not getting a commission from the company that makes these cool devices, although my audiologist did get a huge kick out of my post and said he was going to show it to the sales rep. The company is called OTICON. They make several models, but the one that I am sporting is called EPOQ and it just came on the market the end of May (like the day before I got mine, thus making me the first person in Kansas City to have one!) I am really pleased with the way they work, the way they look and the way I can hear now. (Warning: they are expensive.)

But here’s the burning question everyone kind of danced around: Gloria, did you get that, um, big blue fish hearing aid or was that just an illustration of what’s available and you know, if you did get that big blue fish one, that’d be cool, if you really want to make a statement about yourself or whatever.

Sorry to disappoint, but I didn’t get the fish.

My “personal communication assistant” is not even aquamarine or sunset gold.

Here’s what it looks like.

The first picture, expertly taken by Eddie, shows pretty much what it DOESN’T look like – that is, my hair covers up the amplifier that sits on the back of my ear. The only thing you might possibly see is the little piece of clear tubing that runs into my ear canal. The second photo, also expertly taken by Eddie, features me pulling my hair up and out of the way to reveal the said “hearing assistive device.” (I haven’t quite decided yet which high tech, boomer-esque, soft sell term for hearing aid I prefer.)

Now, if you are interested in reading more, by all means check out this article from yesterday’s New York Times (Fashion and Style section, by the way). It’s chock full of interesting information. Thanks, Linda, for sending it my way.


Thursday, July 12, 2007

road trip - day three

I headed out onto Highway 4 and followed it all the way to Topeka. This two-lane beauty took me through several small towns and then wound its way into the Flint Hills. I passed Lake Wabaunsee, which was the only body of water I’d seen besides a lot of flooded wheat fields.

I spent some time in Hope, where most of that is gone. The one and only grocery store recently closed, and there is no doctor in town. Most of the stores on Main Street have closed and are now boarded up. I saw some older folks walking around, and one told me that you need to have a millionaire relative somewhere in order to get started or stay in the farming business these days. Plus you’d be crazy to do it anyway with the way the economy has affected the industry and the fact that the weather has gone mad. Nowadays, once a kid graduates from high school, he/she makes a quick exit from a place like Hope.

Not one person passed me without waving or saying hello.

The sky started to cloud over and get pretty dark at one point. I commented to an elderly woman that it looked like it might rain.

She looked me squarely in the eye and just said, “You git what you git.”

I spent a lot of my time doing what I enjoy most – making pictures of people. The girls at the lemonade stand are all sisters. The boys in the park – one of their moms is in the army, waiting to go to Iraq.

Hope, Kansas

Gypsum, Kansas

Gypsum, Kansas

White City, Kansas

White City, Kansas

White City, Kansas

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

day two on the road

Yesterday’s travels took me west on 54 to Greensburg, Kansas. This is the town that was basically ripped up and thrown off the map by a tornado in early May. There used to be 1600 people living here. Word is maybe half will try to move back; most of the older folks have already permanently relocated. Only when I was in New Orleans after Katrina have I seen such destruction. House after house was leveled to its foundation. The tops of trees were shorn off.

I checked in at the volunteer tent to see if there was anything a woman passing through town for a few hours might be able to do to help. Turns out they could have used me for some heavy manual labor; it sounded like more than I could really handle. So I wandered around what was left of the place, my jaw basically on the ground, my camera raised to my eye only a few times.

From there, I meandered north and east toward Lindsborg, Kansas, where I settled in for the evening. The deep green prairie of the Flint Hills that I experienced the day before had given gave way to expanses of corn, wheat and, if I was lucky, sunflowers.

Greensburg, Kansas

Greensburg, Kansas

outside Greensburg, Kansas

Kinsley, Kansas

Macksville, Kansas

Macksville, Kansas

near Sterling, Kansas

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

the prius takes on highway 54

Yesterday morning I decided to take a little Kansas road trip.

I gathered up my camera, my laptop, a pile of CDs (“I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning” by Bright Eyes is my current favorite) the excellent book I’m reading (28 Stories of AIDS in Africa by Stephanie Nolen) some sweet tarts (a must for any road trip) and our beat up but well loved road atlas.

Climbed into the car and off I went.

I headed southwest, then due west, through small, sun soaked, sleepy towns. The highway I traveled was straight as a pin, the fields on either side impossibly green. There was a storm hanging in the sky by late afternoon. Rain fell in thick, heavy sheets as I pulled into Wichita for the night.

Greeley, Kansas

Yates Center, Kansas

Welda, Kansas

near Eureka, Kansas

Rosalia, Kansas

Rosalia, Kansas

Monday, July 09, 2007

practicing daily scales

Just as an athlete needs to work out every day, and a writer needs to write everyday, a painter paint and a singer sing, the same goes for a photographer.

It’s hard to pull off, especially when you’re not working on a specific project or assignment, traveling to some exotic place or even have a lot of time on your hands. It’s essential, however, to exercise not only the trigger finger, but also the heart, brain and eye – those body parts that fuel and inform the whole process of picture making in the first place.

For me, it’s usually a walk around my neighborhood. There are walks when nothing great takes place, photographically speaking. It’s hot and I’m sweaty. No one is outside. The light stinks. Too many dogs are barking and I can’t think. I’m in a lousy mood. But still a lot can happen on those treks. Just learning to “look closer” and to “pay attention more” is usually what happens for me. Even if I come home empty handed or with pictures that are dismal failures, I’d like to think I’ve made some progress. Like maybe today I learned to “see” a little better.

When I was working on the series “One Square Mile” - you can view some of that work here - a couple of years ago, I mapped out an area surrounding my house that was indeed one square mile. Within these confines I made images with my plastic toy camera, Diana. I placed the camera by the front door and usually picked it up each time I took the dog for a walk or each time I just felt like wandering and/or working. At that point, I felt like I was truly getting the daily “exercise” I needed. Since then, I have not been nearly as diligent.

Recently I decided to get back to practicing what I preach. Here’s a picture I made on my trek through the neighborhood this past weekend. Not saying it’s important or even successful, but it’s a picture that won out over all the others that day.

On another note, one of my photographs is on the cover of the current issue of the on-line magazine Ensemble Jourine. The mag contains an interesting mix of poems, essays, plays, artwork, etc. by women. It’s published four times a year. Check it out!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

uganda - take two

Blog post from November 2, 2006
Kampala, Uganda

“At one point during the return trip to Jinja, I realized that we were listening to ‘Islands in the Stream’ by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers on the radio, that the gas gauge had permanently settled on emptier than empty, that the chicken in the trunk must surely have expired by now due to sun stroke and suffocation, that the chicken I had eaten for lunch was starting to remind me of its presence in my digestive system, that I was having trouble breathing due to all the dust on the road, that I was sitting next to a very black man named Moses in a dilapidated car in the middle nowhere in Africa, and I just had to smile. How cool is it to be able to be transported to something that is so far removed from your own reality.”

It’s official! I’m returning to Uganda to be transported once again. My trip is scheduled for early December. I can hardly wait.

Much more to follow.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

bar mitzvah boy pitches in

There has been a big increase in the readership of this blog lately. Many of you are new to it, and I’d like to welcome you! Some of you are new enough that you may not be aware of the foundation I started soon after I returned home from Uganda last fall. It’s called Change the Truth. Please feel free to go back through the Uganda archives to read more about it. Occasionally, I will post updates on the progress of our fund raising efforts.

Like this one:

JJ read an article in the KC Star about Change the Truth a couple of months before his Bar Mitzvah. He read about children his own age who had lost their parents to HIV/AIDS and who could not afford to attend school. He decided to do something to help.

After contacting me, speaking with me about the needs of the kids in Uganda and actually meeting Michael, the manager of the orphanage when he visited Kansas City in May, JJ set a goal for himself. He wanted to raise enough money through his “mitzvah” projects to be able to send five kids to secondary school for a year. He left my house one afternoon armed with the beaded jewelry the kids at the orphanage had made and set out to accomplish his goal.

Over the course of the next few weeks, JJ raised $1,425 from jewelry sales, solicitations, 10% of his cash from Bar Mitzvah gelt, and working in a warehouse. At $285.00 per year for each high school student in Uganda, he hit his target.

JJ will be given the names of the five kids he’s assisting and will be able to follow their progress through the school year. The difference he will make in their lives will be huge.

PS – A “mitzvah” is a good deed!