One rainy afternoon in February, I find myself driving down a highway, exhausted, rationalizing how the next 20 miles will be a piece of cake.
But I don’t make it home. Instead, I pull off at the next exit, wander into a cafe, and sit in the front window, hot coffee in-hand, watching the rain fall. I begin to pray, and I let my mind reflect on the city of Detroit, the children who live there, and why I love the city of Detroit and its people so much.
Then, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the thought crosses my mind: Why not do photovoice with Bezalel Project this summer?
20 miles later, I’m refreshed, caffeinated, and Photovoice Arts Project has a definite pulse on a scrap sheet of paper, and I can hardly wait to share with Ellen Sellstrom, the Bezalel Project director, about Photovoice Arts Project.
Photovoice Arts Project: A Way for Youth to Speak Out
“Empowering a community of individuals to share their stories through photography, when language, cultural factors, education, or other topics might be barriers for a community to expressing their concerns, their dreams, and themselves.” - photovoice.org
For the past several years, since being first introduced to the city of Detroit, I have had a desire to help the youth in the city share their stories, let their voices be heard.
Detroit, and each of its residents, has a unique and special story to tell, each has a unique voice, perspective. Today, sadly, many of these stories and voices are not about positive but negative events happening in Detroit. Additionally, the stories people know of when they think of Detroit are not being told by youth in the city.
Sharing stories means sharing life. Sharing life means building relationships. Building relationships, community, is what enables us to build other things together - even the ongoing collective effort to rebuild the city of Detroit.
The Road Map
1. Youth take pictures of Detroit.
Using generic, disposable cameras, youth will go throughout the city of Detroit and will take pictures of anything that speaks of beauty, of life, to them. Using such cameras, the kind of equipment that would normally be accessible to these youth, is an important aspect of this project. Also, only visiting places that would normally be within these youths’ means of accessing, is important. There is beauty, truth, and hope in the everyday, present conditions of these young people’s lives.
2. Individuals are invited to view photos the youth have selected, which will be posted on this Tumblr.
3. Individuals respond to photos.
The responses can be poetry, stories, prose reflections, songs, videos, clips, posters, images - truly anything that you can submit through the tumblr site. We are collecting submissions here:
This submission page is also accessible via a tab, on the left of the front page of our tumblr site.
4. Celebrate & Finish the Conversation
The youth will sift through all the responses, choosing ones that notably resonate with them. The most notable responses will be rewarded.
At the end of July, we’ll celebrate together - we’ll come together to share our photos, stories, and meet and greet, in downtown Detroit, in a festive way.
Your Voice. Your Turn.
These youth have important stories to share. And so do you. What’s your side of the story?
If you have questions and/or comments about the project, feel free to submit them as comments on this blog post, and I will respond to them.
Thanks for stopping by. I and the rest of the Photovoice Team look forward to hearing from you and hope to see you in Detroit this summer!
-Lynne May, YouthWorks-Detroit enthusiast, MSW Candidate, University of Michigan