“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

06 June 2010

New Project! LittlePlaces.org

 Fair Trade, Fair Story. 
 Unique, handmade designs from far-flung corners of our planet; the stories 'stuff' is made of. Socially conscious, Earth happy, Sexy too. Littleplaces.org, original prints & special preview orders to come in July...
After years of working with communities as a photojournalist, I have decided to go a step beyond and become involved. I am creating something different, innovative and exciting: Little Places. The mission of Little Places is to tell the story of peoples and their communities- the issues and triumphs they face- through their products. LP seeks to provide a market for socially just, hand-crafted, environmentally conscious, high quality, unique products created in fascinating and often forgotten nooks of the planet.
Little Places Story Seekers are professional journalists who already know the communities from which goods come from well. They live in or go into places that produce products to create a photo/multimedia documentary telling the story of the people and region they were made in. How was this bag made? Why are the women of this Amazonian village making a seed necklace?  How does this item represent the cultural traditions of the region and its peoples? What do the Amazonian women do when they aren’t making a necklace, how are they working to maintain traditional culture, what issues do their families face? Little places links the products and in-depth stories about producers and the regions they live in.
Little Places will first introduce communities in Ecuador, where I’ve lived and worked for over three years. Currently, I’m working with an indigenous Quichua family high in the Andes who make stunning jewelry out of natural local materials and have participated in a decades-long fight against miners. A group of Colombian refugees displaced by the paramilitary who are now designing fashionable eco-friendly handbags. A Kichwa women’s collective deep in the Amazon who have taken traditional concepts and merged them into sleek modern designs. A cooperative of indigenous Shaur who provide plant bases found only deep in the jungle for luxurious soaps and massage oils. Cacao, coffee and Guayusa tea producers who are challenging traditional agricultural practices; and independent artisans throughout Ecuador.
Eventually I hope to bring the project full circle to form a unique platform for the exchange of both goods and ideas, with physical locations in the US that include interactive gallery/store/café hubs that serve as both a marketplace and interactive platform for intercultural exchange. This could include: a “modern day pen-pal” network, where fifth graders deep in the Amazon set Skype dates with fifth graders in the Bay Area; hip world culture nights featuring global dinners & documentaries from the regions where products are produced; and trips to the far-flung and fascinating regions where goods come from. Profits  will fund  projects in the represented regions, and push for sustainable "sister community" relations. Little Places seeks to be a node of convergence, a platform for the “stories good stuff is made of,” and a voice for producers of nature friendly, socially just goods who through their work show it is not necessary to sacrifice ethics for quality and style.


"There is no use trying, said Alice; one can't believe impossible things. I dare say you haven't had much practice, said the Queen. When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."