“A person’s work is nothing but a long journey to recover, through the detours of art, the two or three simple and great images which first gained access to their hearts.” ~Albert Camus

26 April 2013

Super excited to be a part of Collaborations for Cause with other photographers, NGOs, activists and communications professionals to discuss the collaborative future of storytelling at Blue Earth #C4C13

"Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean." - Ryunosuke Satoro

15 April 2013

Greetings, it's been awhile! Life has whirled me in multiple directions, to include all things Amazonian. I'm determined, however, to get back on track sharing with you visual stories and photojournalisms on Site & Site. Thanks for bearing with me and for stopping by!

Here's a recent talk I gave at the The Annenberg Space for Photography as part of the phenomenal 'no strangers: ancient wisdom in the modern world' exhibit.

*Prezo disclaimer! I was super sick and high as a kite on sudafed for this one, but determined to deliver these important stories of the Amazon and what it is to be a 'photoactivist'...Check out the trailer for the exhibit below, then hear my talk "words, pictures, action!" 

22 February 2012

Days with the Bacajá Xikrín

A glimpse into the life and culture of the Bacajá Xikrín, deep in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon. Perhaps contrary to my better judgment, some rambling (photo)journal(isms) pasted below the gallery. Hope you enjoy and thanks for stopping by...

Bacaja Xikrin of Brazil - Images by Caroline Bennett

Tears swirled with drops of sweat as smoke spiraled up the corner of the dusky hut, its inner walls pierced by a cascade of golden rays shooting through the structure’s cracks and casting a warm glow on her crimson painted face.

“For strength!” she gestured me to follow, continuing on in her native Kayapó chant-like tongue. She took my hand with her own, weathered and black with fresh paint, curiously twirling a lock of my blond with the other. I sat down, cross-legged on the earthen floor as her wise eyes caught mine and softened as I smiled. She began to paint my body.

I had read that in the Kayapó myth of the Star Woman, a legendary heroine, the metamorphosis from a star to a human being is realized through the use of body painting and decoration. I closed my eyes and envisioned her, a goddess wrapped in the same intricate pattern emerging on my right bicep. Red and black insect and animal like markings zigzag and speckle the tanned skin of Xikrín men, women and babes, who believe that painting their bodies allows them to more easily connect to the spirits.

We had made it to Potikrô, navigating the vast waters of the Volta Grande to the heart of Xikrín territory on the bank of the Rio Bacajá, an affluent of the Xingu south of Altamira in the northeastern Amazon of Brazil. The Xikrín are a subgroup of the Kayapó, the westernmost group of the Northern Gê. The Kayapó—who call themselves "Mebengnôkre," meaning "people of the big water”—is divided into 15 autonomous groups, each with its own name and distinct cultural characteristics. Our invitation would come from the Bacajá Xikrín, scattered about the river’s lofted clay banks in eight communities.

Scrambling up a grassy hill from the river, the village is a central plaza encompassed by spacious thatched huts leading to the surrounding forest. Homes create a nearly perfect circle around a central “Men’s House”—a political, juridical, and ritual meeting space where issues are brought about and said to represent the center of the universe. I paused here, realizing the irony of the physical threat posed on the very pulse of the Xikrín by the looming potential construction of the Belo Monte Dam.

Just yesterday I was standing on the bank of a newly constructed coffer dam, a precondition to permanent damming, its menacing red clay wall barricading the life flow of the mighty Volta Grande. Already communities were facing flooding to the east, fleeing their homes as water creeps up through floor cracks. Southern tributaries like the Bacajá would soon suffer opposite effects as the dam sucks them dry.

Healthy, clear rivers are said to be replaced by impassable creeks and stagnant puddles of malaria-birthing mosquito larvae and dying fish. Rural riverine communities who rely on fish for nourishment and livelihood would be forced to the shanty outskirts of nearby Altamira, an industry boomtown already alarmingly overcrowded and taxed by a rapid influx of migrant workers. It is likely that the Xikrín will no longer be able to navigate the Bacajá river to the city, cutting off access to a world they’ve become dependent on and making medical help unreachable. Having pushed indigenous peoples closer to dependency on the outside world, the government now plans to cut them off, assuaging the region with meager gifts and misleading promises.

“Caroh-lee-não,” she whispered, seemingly surprised at the way the sound of her rendition of my name sliced through the quiet with a melodic Kayapó accent. My mind was buried deep by inflated senses provoked by rainforest sounds and smells, the methodical stroke of a wet reed on my skin as she painted, visions of the Star Woman. With projects like Belo Monte looming, I wondered if the Xikrín ever wished they weren’t trapped in these human bodies faced with a physical world deteriorating around them; take me back to the sky! Again present, I opened my eyes to find an intricate network of celestial constellations dancing down painted arms.

04 November 2010

Live interview today on Irish Newstalk Radio

Newstalk Ireland did a feature on my Born Behind Bars story this morning. You can listen to the live interview here, just keep in mind it was 6am San Francisco time :)

22 September 2010

littleplaces.org...Coming Soon!

Little Places goes beyond fairly traded goods to take you into the lives of artisans and producers from often forgotten nooks of the planet, and provide a market for socially just, environmentally conscious, hand-created quality products. A fine and changing selection proves you don't have to sacrifice ethics for quality and style.

It's the stories "good stuff" is made of!                 

26 July 2010

A rose is a rose is a rose...

1/2 day shoot seeking "romance" in the flower industry (which is typically not romantic at all!) at Nevado Rose farm in Pujili, Ecuador.

06 July 2010

Featured NGO Work: ChildFund Bolivia

ChildFund International is inspired and driven by the potential that is inherent in all children; the potential not only to survive but to thrive, to become leaders who bring positive change for those around them. 

I'm reminded that no matter how tough conditions may be, kids don't forget to have fun.

I read that children laugh as many as 400 times per day; I've gone entire days without laughing out loud. When do we lose our sense of fun? Claim it back!

26 June 2010

Inti Raymi: Summer Solstice on the Equator

Los Juanitos in Calera village preparing for the "Taking of the Plaza" in Cotacachi

"If there aren't at least two dead by sun down, it wasn't worthwhile this year." (from Cotacachi community member as villagers faced off in traditional dance/stone throwing & whipping, just before the policia went nuts with tear gas)

21 June 2010

¡Viva la Republica!

Surprise encounter with Ecuador's President Rafael Correa in the Plaza Grande this morning while working on a story

...never too early to ¡Viva la republica!

16 June 2010

Making Panela

Panela is an unrefined food product, typical in Ecuador and South America. It's basically a solid piece of pure sucrose obtained from the boiling, evaporation and cooling of sugarcane.
 Fresh hot Panela is molded into solid cubes at a family farm in Nanegal, Ecuador.

10 June 2010

Behind Café Veléz

A visit to Nanegal, where Ecuador's Café Veléz grows & purchases select coffee beans. Tried a special limited edition boutique roast from la Doña Magda's farm La Perla Negra- perhaps the best cafecito I've tasted in Ecuador! We're hoping she & Veléz will join Little Places as an exclusive feature product in this fall's Story Baskets!

06 June 2010


Oil in the Amazon

"BP’s calamitous behavior in the Gulf of Mexico is the big oil story of the moment. But for many years, indigenous people from a formerly pristine region of the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador have been trying to get relief from an American company, Texaco (which later merged with Chevron), for what has been described as the largest oil-related environmental catastrophe ever."

 “As horrible as the gulf spill has been, what happened in the Amazon was worse.” NYT Op-Ed

For over four decades indigenous peoples of the Ecuadorean Amazon have witnessed multinational oil companies devastate their ancestral lands in search of petroleum. While drilling from 1964-1990, Texaco- currently owned by Chevron Corporation- is said to have dumped more than 18 million gallons of toxic wastewater, and spilled nearly 17 million gallons of crude oil, left hazardous waste in countless open pits dug out of the rainforest.  The result is one of the worst environmental disasters known on the planet, with obvious lingering contamination of soil, groundwater, air and streams that has caused severe health problems in local people for decades. According to Amnesty International and as set forth in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, their basic rights to a standard of health, adequate standard of living and to water and sanitation have been and continue to be gravely violated. 

See more at www.carolinebennett.com