Dr. Monica Patrice Barra – Barra_2021 – The Lower Delta landscape and the rebalancing of power. What is restoration? How can you define the practice separately from who it’s for? So, who is it for? What value is information compared to autonomy?
FYS_Fall 2021 – UMass Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences (SPHHS) The Intersection, The Neighborhood and The City: Health Inequity, Infrastructure History and the Built Environment in Flint, MI
This seminar contextualizes the drinking water crisis that occurred in Flint, MI in 2014 through examination of the crisis’ basis and background. Contamination of the municipal drinking water supply in Flint, MI surfaced following an economic and political decision to switch the water source and has resulted in thousands of children (as well as adults) being exposed to elevated concentrations of lead (Pb) in city drinking water. We will examine the overlapping and often negatively reinforcing issues of infrastructure history, legal redlining and segregation, the regulatory framework for managing water quality and the social consequences of economic racism in political decision making, as well as, most fundamentally, the resultant inequities in the distribution of health impacts associated with lead (Pb) as well as other acute and chronic chemical stressors. We will approach these topics from the foundational vantage that technical training does not supersede lived experience and that socio-technical discomfort – either real or perceived – should be addressed within engineering.
Mapping Inequality – the intersection | the neighborhood | the city – to see inequity requires seeing the forces – socio-cutural, administrative, and legal – that create(d), sustain(ed) and (continue to) perpetuate(d) unequal access to resources. To see inequity requires seeing infrastructural history: waterways, bridges, canals, highways, pipelines, harbors, depots, rail yards – what got made where? When and how? On the scale of the intersection, what lies buried and what gets built? What grows? On the scale of the neighborhood, who gets walled in or blocked out? What got razed to the ground and rebuilt as something else in the name of (someone else’s) progress? On the scale of the city, what gets done now with what got left when (and where) what was made back then got closed up, filled in, shipped out or moved along? Who lives there and who doesn’t? Then and now. || For a time in the early 1990s I lived and worked out of New Bedford. This was where I really started thinking about infrastructure × history × social justice and how the pieces of the stories we tell ourselves fit (or don’t). This is where I still orient back to. Healthy Neighborhood Research Study_2016 | Groundwork Southcoast – Greater New Beige.
Foreground the invisible: this is problem zero. Ferguson_2012
Pipes | Joints | Lead (Pb) – Engineering is a tool box for specifically answering technical questions. The first step in answering technical questions is identifying what you need for tools to understand the question. The second step – once you’ve identified what you need to know but currently don’t – is building the tools themselves. The third step is turning the crank. This is the chart as currently provided and navigating by it can tell you whether you are over or under a specified threshold (example: 15 micrograms of lead (Pb) per liter of water in drinking water). In the decision-making space in which rules are made regarding municipal water quality, this is an important number to know and turning the crank until the gumball that represents our solution space drops from the gumball machine that is our federal regulatory framework has value. As an answer to the specific questions then of whether and how the lead (Pb) concentration in water responds sensitively to changes in ambient water chemistry, this approach will get you where you need to go. As an answer to the questions we need to be asking as engineers, though – including the why for the defining of regulatory limits distinct from safe exposure limits – this approach is nowhere near sufficient. This is problem one.
Julie Mehretu – [https://www.mariangoodman.com/artists/51-julie-mehretu/] – the psychogeography of space. Not just the space itself, but the embodied experience – 1,2,3D – over time – 4D – of being within it. Our conceptions of space and time are a quickening (or not) of the metronome (or not) of our environment. Add in that tick tick tick and your heart reels to escape the atomic clockwork; take away the marching hand and the bowl of your body fills to overflowing with (what to me, at least, has been my experience of) the islands. We are a mesh that moves within a mesh that wraps along and around a mesh, each distortion in the intersection of those grids, a storehouse of human energy. This is piezoelectricity made manifest on canvas – feel the potential within it hum away beneath you. Feel the choice – as someone offered up to me once – between implosion and internal explosion. Julie Mehretu’s work is explosion. Stadia I (2004); Black City (2007); Epigraph, Damascus (2016); Think of her work as maps; think of her work as riffs and scores; think of her work as the compass half-destroyed and gone haywire by the gravitational well of history. Think of her work as the palimpsest of human experience: the closer you look, the more you see; the more you see the deeper you feel the strain in what the map – laid down by whom and for whom – was ever intended to help you find. Or not. [https://www.wmagazine.com/julie-mehretu-interview-whitney-museum-retrospective-denniston-hill]
Yes! Transforming Wastewater Infrastructure in the United States – Background (as per link below – it’s long, but there’s a lot to this): While most cities and urban areas in the United States are served by centralized wastewater treatment systems with sewers for waste collection, nearly 25% of the U.S. population is served by on-site, decentralized systems such as septic tanks. Some areas unserved by centralized wastewater treatment facilities also lack access to septic tanks and other systems that treat wastewater on-site, due largely to household economic constraints (these systems cost between $3,000 to $30,000 per home) and unsuitable soil conditions. In areas including the Black Belt region of Central AL, wastewater challenges are acute, as raw sewage and pathogens are being discharged onto the ground and into local watersheds because there are no public sewers or functional septic systems. Effective, single-home, wastewater management systems (often septic tank systems) have a significant first cost and no institutional management (such as a public utility) which results in costly service and repairs, creating a significant financial burden for low-income, rural households. To address these barriers, clustered, decentralized wastewater treatment – in which collection, treatment, and disposal or reuse take place near the wastewater source – offers a potential solution for many underserved communities. New technologies for monitoring, treatment, communication and control have the potential to address wastewater challenges at different spatial scales and population densities, and under differences in climate and both the availability and quality of water supply. This project aims to demonstrate the applicability and feasibility of this new, clustered, decentralized technology; to measure how such solutions can improve the health of surrounding residents; and to offer a path for other communities facing similar challenges to improve wastewater treatment and the environmental, economic and health conditions in their communities. https://worldprojects.columbia.edu/transforming-wastewater-infrastructure-united-states
Merritt_Viewpoint_0321– This is how I’ve been thinking about the intersection || Next up: Thesis and Practicum (2021) – Thesis: Racial Inequalities in Water and Sanitation Services Provision in the U.S.: Persistent Challenges and Legal Frameworks Applied in the post-Civil Rights Era; Practicum: The Curriculum || Turn the crank.
Just released (March 2021): Confronting Disproportionate Impacts and Systemic Racism in Environmental Policy [Lee_2021]
Science, Technology, Engineering, Environment and Math – https://www.hearstfdn.org/culture/funding-priorities | Right on. | Step One, he said – find somebody who believes in your vision who has money to support it.
Mbuya and Humphrey_2016 | Why do high rates of malnutrition persist for children even as economic advancement and food availability increase? One answer: because shortfalls in sanitation create endemic, persistent diarrheal diseases which physiologically short-circuit the ability of a child’s intestines to function in absorbing nutrients from food. This right here is the overlap in praxis that is one answer to that why. This field study also offers up a how. As the authors write: “We suggest that a package of baby-WASH interventions (sanitation and water improvement, handwashing with soap, ensuring a clean play and infant feeding environment and food hygiene) that interrupt specific pathways through which feco-oral transmission occurs in the first two years of a child’s life may be central to global stunting reduction efforts.” That this programmatic suggestion is simple doesn’t mean that it’s easy, but it does provide one route forward.
Daniel Minter – https://danielminter.net – The first time I experienced his work was in a museum biennial – the sectioned curve of that hull high on the wall and the geometry of commerce all stacked and shelved. And curled inside that ordering – the black and holy seeds of human spirit. If you find yourself in tears in a public space, pay attention to the why. This man’s painting – all full body under and that rising – the blue of baptism veined with light and those eyes all watchful knowing. His work makes me hold my breath and listen back to the cradling of history.
Catherine Coleman Flowers – Environmental Health Advocate and all around powerhouse – 2020 MacArthur Fellow – https://www.macfound.org/fellows/1060/ | Reading: 2018_ACRE Title VI complaint_LowndesCoAL [2018. The Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise (“ACRE”) submits this complaint against the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and the Lowndes County Health Department (LCHD) for violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) implementing regulations, 45 C.F.R. Part 80, on behalf of James Jackson, Yolanda Peoples, John Jackson, and other Lowndes County residents. ACRE requests that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) promptly and thoroughly investigate the allegations set forth in this complaint and take all actions necessary to ensure that the agencies comply fully with the law. ACRE requests that the OCR investigate and ensure that the policies, programs, and activities of the ADPH and LCHD comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.] Reading: McKenna et al._2017 | Carrera and Flowers_2018.
Merritt_P | T Fevers_EPI633 – Typhoid fever, cholera, dysentery. This is the unholy Trinity of waterborne diseases. The numbers globally are too big to feel their meaning. The challenges are unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and limitations on the ability to practice good hygiene. If we don’t see that this practice that we think of as Global Health and this tool kit that we think of as water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) are every bit as relevant inside this country as they are outside of it, then we are blithely allowing a perception of equality to aggregate across a reality of significant disparity. One statistic: in terms of average net economic worth, for those who responded to the 2000 census, if average net economic worth is divided into steps of 20% (quintiles), the overall average net economic worth within the lowest quintile (the lowest 20%) in the USA was $10,000. If this ‘overall average’ is disaggregated by race, the average net economic worth for white respondents in the lowest quintile was $24,000; the average net economic worth for Black respondents was $100. This isn’t a typo. In what may be one of the more significant understatements of reality I’ve read in recent years, Harling et al. (2013) note: “income quintiles may therefore not reflect the same socioeconomic circumstances for each race/ethnicity, and thus, steeper gradients for blacks may reflect [a] greater depth of poverty.” There is no ‘out there’ with respect to challenges with water and sanitation service provision that isn’t also happening within this country too. | LaVeist_2006 | [plus, While we’re disaggregating: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/05/well/family/my-quest-for-pure-water.html]
Water/Color: A Study of Race and the Water Affordability Crisis in America’s Cities (2019) – The report is too large to post (~ 13 MB), but it can be downloaded here:
And the who, when, what, where, why and how? I think that’s going to start here: Dowdell v. City of Apopka, Fla., 511 F. Supp. 1375 (M.D. Fla. 1981) – As stated: This is an action filed by black residents of the City of Apopka, Florida (`City’) against the City, its mayor and council members alleging that municipal services have been discriminatorily provided to the black section of town. Seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, plaintiffs claim that defendants have violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d, and the State and Local Assistance Act of 1972 31 U.S.C. § 1242. https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/FSupp/511/1375/1429718/
Some additional context – Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States: A National Action Plan [http://uswateralliance.org/initiatives/water-equity/explore-water-equity-resources] and some legal background – Beyond The Wrong Side of the Tracks: Municipal Services in the Interstices of Procedure [6HarvCRCLLRev441_1971]
Beach et al._2018 – Segregation and the Initial Provision of Water in the United States. The authors write: Results … indicate that white mothers were less likely to lose a child following the construction of a waterworks and this effect does not vary with the degree of segregation in the city. For black mothers, however, the declines in infant mortality were particularly pronounced in integrated cites, and the benefits diminished as the level of segregation increased. Now why? Follow it down: Study data from 1500+ cities suggest that water service infrastructure was built earlier in cities that were larger and more racially segregated versus in cities that were more integrated. But why? Keep right on going: Water infrastructure is costly, typically financed locally and its construction has never served as a progressive means of creating, demonstrating or improving access. The result? The more segregated the city the greater the disparity in the quality of water and sanitation service provision. Do you see? White people in segregated urban districts hired White engineers to build services for themselves; if you were Black and legally prohibited from living near those districts, you and your family were on your own. This conclusion that the de jure (meaning, legally sanctioned) practice of 20th century segregation directly impacts access to safe drinking water and sewer services is a statement of what should be so obvious that the folks who ask the ‘how’ questions – the engineers and the public health professionals – should have it front and center in thinking, teaching, and practice. But this way of thinking: that the where we are now is (just somehow) the result how things (happened to) evolve – is instead still allowing reality to drop invisibly into the space between disciplines. And if you can’t see that these problems were actively created and that they persist, how do you marshall the resources to fix them?
Years ago I worked for a time as a research assistant. My job – read the Birmingham Times from 1960 – 1969 and find, annotate and organize articles on zoning, infrastructure development and sanitation in that city for that decade. It was microfilm and microfiche back then – reels and cards. The job was incremental and it was profound. If you don’t know the name Fred Shuttlesworth, read about him and consider what bravery and resolve looks like [https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/shuttlesworth-fred-lee]. If you don’t know the name Bull Connor read about him too and sit with how that worldview makes you feel. On the day I reached the 16th Street Baptist Church I sat in that library and cried. On the day I walked in knowing I would reach April 4th, 1968 I could not stop my hands from shaking. The story of the 20th century urban south is the story of lines drawn purposefully to maintain segregation while speaking the language of progress and of planning. If that sentence feels anywhere between viscerally abhorrent and nonsensical to you, re-read what you read about Bull Connor and that worldview. It is important to see this clearly: cities are neither created nor do they evolve by accident. There is no history that was ‘then’ that isn’t directly connected to the reality that is ‘now’. Here is a good place to start reading: https://placesjournal.org/series/the-inequality-chronicles/
http://www.trustyourstruggle.com – Trust Your Struggle Collective. Information is good. Understanding your context is better. Centering up your visual storytelling on the images that motivate your world is all kinds of the best of all.
https://features.propublica.org/diabetes-amputations/black-american-amputation-epidemic/ Dr. Foluso Fakorede. “How many of you know someone or know of someone who’s had an amputation?” Almost everyone in the church that day raised their hands. There are layers to this: Poverty can double the odds of developing diabetes, and poverty significantly increases the odds of an amputation. Diabetic amputation rates can be as much as 10× higher in lower-income areas versus more affluent areas. But why? Part of the reason is attempting to survive in environments that are not conducive to health: too ready availability of fast-food and too little availability of equally priced alternatives, infrastructure that hinders physical mobility, inferior medical facilities and non-existent medical specialists, a legitimate distrust of the medical establishment born of very real and very damaging historical experience; Part of the reason is structural racial bias. The bias goes like this: neither hospitals nor insurers require angiograms prior to ordering amputations. Vascular screenings, including angiograms, are not required prior to ordering amputations because there is not enough evidence that the test benefits the “average asymptomatic American”. Evidence-based requirements for whether vascular screening is required prior to amputations come from clinical trials in which African Americans are significantly under-represented relative to their representation in the US population. Although African Americans represent fewer than 10% of registered participants in clinical trials, the rate of peripheral artery disease is almost twice as high for African Americans as it is for other racial groups. And this: general surgeons have a financial incentive to amputate. Do you see? A surgeon doesn’t get paid to operate if they recommend saving a limb. A recommendation to save a limb would come from the results of a test a surgeon is not required to perform. That absence of a requirement to perform the test is based on a bias as obvious as this hypothetical one: the average asymptomatic American does not have PTSD. Engaging in active military combat significantly increases the odds of developing PTSD. A hypothetical clinical trial assessing the extent to which PTSD screening would result in improved mental health treatment outcomes does not enroll soldiers returning from active combat. Based on the clinical trial results, PTSD is not a problem worth screening for. Do you see?
this is what matters: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanplh/article/PIIS2542-5196(20)30057-7/fulltext. this is why I keep getting up early and putting my shoes on. [more context: CMAJ_2017; https://www.theguardian.com/global/2018/oct/16/canada-first-nations-ojibway-warrior-society]
HPP620 [Fall 2020] – Merritt_HPP620_Health Access Challenges_Migrant Labor Communities – This is what I was working on last fall when my dad died. Context for this paper: according to the National Center for Farmworker’s Health (NCFH) there are an estimated 3 million migrant and seasonal farmworkers in the U.S. and approximately 50% of these workers are undocumented. That ~ 85% of migrant and seasonal farmworkers in the U.S self-identify as Hispanic means that the physical burdens associated with the work (in terms of illnesses, exposures, and injuries) as well as the significant stresses associated with undocumented status, fall disproportionately on those who self-identify as Hispanic. It is obvious to say, but I’ll say it anyway: the majority of individuals in this demographic do not have access to health care and are attempting to provide for themselves and their families in an environment in which the terms ‘undocumented’ and ‘illegal’ are misconstrued as synonymous. What is lost or purposefully ignored in this shuffling of terms, is, of course, the reality that the economic vacuum, social instability and violence that many immigrants seek to avoid through entering the U.S. is the direct result of contemporary and historical U.S. policies and practices ‘South of the Border’. It bears mentioning that nobody actively ‘chooses’ to become an undocumented migrant laborer; for those for whom this becomes their reality in the U.S., this reality is the direct result of larger socio-economic and geopolitical destabilizations within which they are simply seeking employment to support themselves and their families. As long as the U.S. continues to create and maintain legal frameworks that permit the undervaluing of the work, safety, health and lives of undocumented migrant workers (in agriculture or otherwise), broad social changes in how the ‘deservingness’ of this demographic is perceived will not easily advance. The problems in this case are structural, and to the extent that Federal policies and regulations continue to actively penalize and passively limit protections for undocumented farmworkers, both workplace and personal safety, with all that that should entail, are unfortunately distant goals for migrant and seasonal agricultural laborers and their families. [Thank you for all that you showed us of what courage looks like in this world, Dad. You are the reason for so many things.]
Riders for Health [https://www.riders.org] just because it makes my heart sing that they’re working on this reality. Same goes for these folks – World Bicycle Relief – for the very same reason.
None of this is to preach, although any of it could be the subject for sermon. None of this is to instill guilt, although I have seen the response to this reality crystallize in individuals as something like strategy for arranging your life in pursuit of one of the simplest of goals. This is a statement of reality: here in Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in a city of 2 million people, there is very limited access to clean water. There is and has been Ebola in Congo. There is and has been active conflict near here. There are ongoing challenges with politics that make it easy to point fingers knowingly at corruption as the source of the problem, as though somehow knowing what the problem is brings you any closer to solving it. There are children in this city who have never seen running water. This smallest of details will unfurl in you with meaning if you allow yourself the time to think about everything it implies. https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2019/10/18/770963345/a-city-in-congo-dodged-ebola-but-residents-have-another-big-worry
Vengan las Colombianas! I ❤ Erre – [photos: Getsemani, Cartagena, Colombia; Bogota, Colombia] –https://www.facebook.com/erre5erre/ and http://www.instagram.com/erre.erre and everywhere now that distinctive teal&red is starting to appear.
And Doris Salcedo – https://art21.org/artist/doris-salcedo/. #AquiFaltaAlguien. Los Desaparecidos. In the conflict years between 1958 and 2015, an estimated 83,000 Colombians were forcibly disappeared. In a country of ~50 million people, walk the zeros down: 50,000,000; 5,000,000; 500,000; 50,000 and then roughly × 1.5 = 0.15% of the population. In the United States, that would represent approximately half a million people – something like the population of southern Maine. Gone. How do you honor the Disappeared? By doing what you can and making art. This piece (or this installation or this I’m-not-sure-how-you-describe-something-this-profound) by Doris Salcedo is so far beyond beautiful that i’m just gonna sit here and keep bearing witness to genius: https://www.npr.org/2018/11/06/663473304/in-colombia-artist-renders-tons-of-rebel-guns-into-floor-tiles
[here’s more information if you’d like some context for the numbers:
Ralph Eugene Meatyard – https://www.icp.org/browse/archive/constituents/ralph-eugene-meatyard?all/all/all/all/0 – Bates College Museum of Art – October 25, 2019 – March 28, 2020. Maybe everybody gets his work, I don’t know, but if you grew up at all in the rural South, that queasiness of ghosts and God and madness that he explores is inside you too and you feel it babble. His finest images have that shatterstruck to the light – somehow all angels in the hollows and the dusty silence. Those images are a memory of a time and a place in U.S. history too violent to evoke nostalgia. When you drive that landscape now you still feel the terror.
Dominga Torres Teherán y Ruby Rumié – https://www.nohrahaimegallery.com/ruby-rumie.html – Tejiendo Calle – I am drowning in their faces. ‘Weaving Streets‘ – such a lovely slanging for that back and forth and around. And for what is made of race and class and gender and the visibility of what – of who – are so present and so vibrant in their costume as to be invisible. And so the inversion – the women in the dress – not the dress itself. And a presence that is louder in the autonomy of silence than in any technicolor shout of a backdrop collective. Gorgeous.
Alison Hildreth – https://www.alisonhildreth.com – I first saw her work one night coming home across Portland – I’d passed the public library lost in thought and just idly watching my own feet walking and had suddenly looked up into a falling water alchemy of angels.That cascade – amulets and puppet-winged spirits and steampunk treasures -found me when I needed it and isn’t that what art does better than anything else the spirit creates? Her work was and is and remains gorgeous and intricate and so marvelously and wonderfully strange.
Dior Vargas – People of Color & Mental Illness Photo Project –http://diorvargas.com/poc-mental-illness/ – Centering up. As she writes: “This photo project stems from the lack of media representation of POC (people of color) and mental illness. There are tons of articles that list people with depression and other mental illnesses but you rarely see someone who looks like you. We need to change the way this is represented. This is not something to be ashamed about. We need to confront and end the stigma. This is a NOT a White person’s disease. This is a reality for so many people in our community.”
Open letter to Mayor Strimling. Between January 2017 and January 2018, 407 individuals died of drug-related overdoses in Maine. This number – as reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – is likely conservative, meaning the actual number of Mainers who died of drug-related overdoses during this period is even higher. Safe injection sites won’t solve the opioid crisis, but they – along with needle exchange programs (https://www.portlandmaine.gov/866/Needle-Exchange) – are a significant step in the right direction of evolving our thinking on injecting drug use.
IDU_HRM_Merritt_HPP-507 – Injecting Drug Use (IDU) and the Harm Reduction Model (HRM). Conceptually, one of the more significant impediments to the introduction of harm reduction programs is the challenge these programs pose to social constructs regarding the ‘costs’ of behavior. In many countries, drug policies are developed and enforced from the vantage of protecting society from drug addiction (or, more specifically, from behaviors associated with the pursuit of addictive drugs) rather than from the vantage of protecting people who use drugs from associated harms. The HRM insists, in contrast, that an individual who injects drugs has as much right to protection from HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C (HVC), and other blood-borne infections as an individual who does not inject drugs. Where the harm reduction approach intersects with street policing there is often a tension between the human desire to attribute social blame and the ability to place social discomforts associated with a set of behaviors within the appropriate context of structural power imbalances. Put simply, although it may be their reality, it is not the drug user’s fault that they experience more police violence than non-drug users. While the addiction behavior may arise with the user, the violence that they (and their community) experience as the result of that addiction behavior originates, at least in part, with the magnification of underlying cultural biases that can accompany law enforcement.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7rFMO7ODBk Faces Places. Each face tells a story. Agnes Varda and JR. This train will go places you’ve never been.
https://www.sheepjones.com/ Sheep Jones. Just yes. All the way down and through. They’re even richer and more intricately fascinating up close. And the finest and strangest ones aren’t even on her site. They’re wildness itself. [And more of her glorious work here: https://www.mainefarmlandtrust.org/artists/Sheep_Jones/39054/mygallery]
Diseases of Poverty and the 10/90 Gap. InternationalPolicyNetwork Access. Access. Access. The problem is access. As the World Health Organization (WHO) notes: [m]ost of the disease burden in low-income countries finds its roots in the consequences of poverty, such as poor nutrition, indoor air pollution and lack of access to proper sanitation and health education. Diseases associated with poverty account for 45% of the disease burden in the poorest countries (as compared to 6% of the disease burden in high-income countries), however, nearly all of these deaths are either treatable with existing medicines or preventable in the first place. It isn’t the fault of individuals where they were born and are trying to live or improve their lives; that is no more preordained than is the random good fortune of having been born in a high-income country. Even (somehow and hypothetically) setting aside the extent to which ‘First World-ness’ is an active creator of poverty in much of the rest of the world, it is hubris on the part of high-income countries to believe or behave otherwise.
Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zf63U1Rk0w Anselm Kiefer. The first painting of his that I saw was of sunflowers with their heads bowed down in winter. He’d studded the pigment with the black split hulls of seeds. The second painting of his that I saw was as tall as the ceiling and it sifted down the charred edges of a burnt book. The third painting of his that I saw was of the night sky and God’s own infinite eye watching down. His work is where my mind has wandered off to when I go looking for it and it’s gone.
ShoutOut to the anonymous donor who purchased my 4 images (4 square) + the works of a second artist from the Maine Artists show as donation to the St. Joseph Healthcare Regional Breast Care Center in Bangor, ME. https://www.stjoeshealing.org/our-services/specialty-services/regional-breast-care-center Thank you. And to St. Joseph’s for inviting, curating, and supporting that beautiful exhibition.
HPP_583_The Mines – Global Health – this is where my head’s been at this semester. The Mines. Huancavelica, Peru and Potosi, Bolivia. This is half of the mercury/silver story. Or who knows what percentage – this is the part of the story that happened [or happens or is still happening, because so many of the cultural and toxicological impacts of this story are on-going] in the Andes. One fact: based on available records, almost 1/3 of the individuals conscripted to work the mercury mine in Huancavelica died as the direct result of their term of service. What is the legacy of the Colonial era in Latin America? Trauma. The legacy is trauma. These folks are working on that legacy now: http://www.ehcouncil.org
http://brandanodums.com/about/ Brandon Odums and Studio BE. Let this move your heart. As he writes: Project BE was an illegal art experience. Studio BE is a 35,000 sq ft warehouse in the bywater neighborhood of New Orleans, LA. Baptized when the Levees Broke. You are Still Here. Alchemist. And my personal favorite (for anything that that’s worth): I am my Ancestors Wildest Dreams. Just sitting here letting that one sink in. Lordy. Amor, Luz y Paz. From the root grows the revolution.
https://www.southgatefaces.com Southgate Faces. Enter here. Portraits by Heather Perry of the men and women who work at Bath Iron Works – one of the oldest shipyards in North America. I’ve worked on and around boats and in yards off and on for much of my adult life and so part of what I love about this series is that the faces are familiar. Not so much the individuals, but their faces. Just people. And that grit. And, as Heather says, that site so large it can somehow sit right there in your blindspot.
http://www.pacificstandardtime.org There will be art. LA/LA: A Celebration Beyond Borders. The political and personal effects of exile, migration, immigration and identity. This is the art of Revolution and of Ritual. This is Sara Castrejon and Graciela Iturbide and Tatiana Parker. This is activitism. And displacement. And dissonance. And challenge. And celebration. And inspiration. This what it means to push boundaries.
While I totally get the whole pink ribbon thing, I also think that it (+ all those pink teddy bears) can feel infantilizing to grown women. As is the part where people tell you that maintaining a ‘positive outlook’ is vital for your recovery. It isn’t – there are even studies out there showing that people who get pissed off and curse their way through treatment do no worse than people who meditate and look on the bright side. I had cancer in my 30s and cancer really kind of sucks – sometimes stompy boot energy is what you need to still feel like you’re you and not just a patient with a meds routine and a fear as vast and roiling as the surface of the sun. So, thinking about all that we made these tags. And handed them out. And up they went. And…well, let me know if you need some personal stompy boot energy – I’d be happy to send you some if it might help. [this particular thinkpunkriff in tribute to Poly Styrene – frontwoman for X-Ray Spex and a spirit all her own – pick your anarchy well – https://www.vogue.co.uk/arts-and-lifestyle/article/poly-styrene-film]
And this – because it belongs here: http://www.oncotypedx.com/ Oncotype DX. 2006. A new gene expression array designed to assess whether chemotherapy would provide additional benefit beyond radiation and 5 years of hormone therapy (for pre-menopausal women that means Tamoxifen). 21 tumor – specific genes from a tumor sample. A retrospective study at that point – how did assay results compare with outcomes for patients already more than 5 years out for diagnosis and treatment. I’d read about it in the NYTimes and asked my doctor about it. She’d never done one. EMMC had never done one. We did one. Mine. I’d read the study and trusted it. And then trusted the results and made my decision. Coming off Tamoxifen 5 years later the world went all bright with fear again. But now I’m past the 5 year mark after that, and I’m still here. And through that bottleneck. and a lucky little punkgirl. ❤
http://bwphotolabs.com Deirdre Kelly — I totally dig her, and also her skills. She develops my film. Thanks, Deirdre! If you need film developed (or custom printing – any format – or old images restored), she rocks.
http://www.elle.com/fashion/celebrity-style/news/g30151/pirelli-2018-all-black-calendar/ The 2018 Pirelli Calendar. And this exploration of a photo shoot with ‘equality and empowerment’ as the core. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/20/fashion/pirelli-2018-calendar-black-alice-in-wonderland.html. “The story of Alice has been told so many times and in so many ways, but always with a White cast,” [Tim] Walker [the photographer] continued. “There has never been a Black Alice, so I wanted to push how fictional fantasy figures can be represented and explore evolving ideas of beauty.” There is so much about this that is thrilling. The gorgeous photography is only a part of it. Wow.
http://www.paularaegibson.com Paula Rae Gibson. “I lost my spleen, gained nine pints of Ecuadorian blood – this caused a bit of an overflow of emotion, a tsunami actually which I poured into work and the darkroom. Everything I had ever felt all my life without even knowing ’til then, came to the surface and it almost killed me all over again.” Oh yeah. This wildstrange world. Oh yeah. Once you start there is no stopping. Oh yeah. She shoots analog.
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/old-russian-empire-color-photos-180950229/ Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944) Three exposures. Three filters. And a projection. Go, chemistry. 2,433 prints of a world that had already vanished by the time he died.(http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/prok/) This tips the wild. Go check it out.
Merritt_Vaccine Safety and the Controversy over Thimerosal EHS_565-02 – Spring 2017. Vaccines are interesting – whereas they’re voluntary in that you’re not required by Federal law to receive them, they are compulsory in that they’re required for participation in various aspects of public life. This requirement makes exposure to vaccine ingredients somewhat unavoidable, and while vaccines are overwhelmingly safe, risks do accrue to the individual. In the case of vaccines that contained Thimerosal, that those individuals were infants has created a controversy that no amount of data seems able to quell. The current U.S. President’s views on vaccine safety remind me of former President Bush’s observation that air quality has gotten so good in the U.S. that we no longer need the Clean Air Act. The list of diseases that are no longer significant public health concerns in this country is as long as it is because of vaccines, not in spite of them. Thinking about that these days.
http://time.com/4646116/film-photography-inspiration/ I ❤ shooting film. It’s about respecting the practice and the history. And the approach to discipline. LaToya Ruby Frazier writes ““[i]f I want my work to have a visual language that’s in conversation with the social documentary work of the 20th century then I need to use that medium and their tools.” That’s it. Anything else – including practicality as an end in and of itself – is the wrong metric. Go shoot.
http://www.mobileprintpower.com Mobile Print Power. I think I’m in love. Currently exhibiting Soñamos Sentirnos Libres: Making it Real at Maine College of Art (MECA) here in Portland. Also hosting two community workshops – February 23rd (12 – 2 pm) and February 24th (3:30 – 6:30 pm) – to explore community, the immigrant identity and the role of the artist. We all belong.
Mack and Wrase_2017. A Burgeoning Crisis? A Nationwide Assessment of the Geography of Water Affordability in the United States. They write: regarding the risk for losing access to affordable and safe drinking water, 81% of high-risk Census tracts are located in urbanized areas and the states with the greatest percentage of high-risk tracts include Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Kentucky, and Arkansas. Race/Ethnicity x socio-economic access x that invisibility of infrastructure – this is the problem.
http://www.une.edu/news/2016/une-biddeford-campus-art-gallery-presents-“zero-los-desplazados-de-colombia-photography-black-and Zero. Los Desplazados. Photographs from Colombia by Robert Pennington. January 26 – March 1, 2017. UNE Art Gallery in the Ketchum Library – UNE Biddeford Campus – 11 Hills Beach Road, Biddeford, ME.
http://mattfitzgerald.org/how-bad-do-you-want-it/ This is a book about donuts. Just kidding. It’s not about the yellow jersey, he writes, and it’s true. But it is about the bike.
http://transnational-queer-underground.net Transnational Queer Underground. Anti-capitalist. d.i.y. not-for-profit. A place for blogs, books, music, movies, zines. Check out #thegalleryproject and spark.it.up if it’s yours. Or forget the if. Spark.it.up. It’s yours.
http://www.elle.com/culture/books/g29030/art-movement/ The Art of Movement. Because Ken Browar and Deborah Ory. Because the NYC Dance Project (http://www.nycdanceproject.com). Because the shape of it all is beyond beautiful. Because after years with a personal yoga practice I can at least feel the edge of it flex. Because that drishti. Because that discipline. Because No. 6. Because if it’s not difficult, what’s the point?
http://www.lynnkarlinphoto.com/#a=0&at=0&mi=2&pt=1&pi=10000&s=1&p=1 Lynn Karlin. The Tray Series. oh. my. lord. The pattern-loving kink in my brain is going happily apeshit. Beets! Radishes! Peas! Squash blossoms! I don’t know what those things are but they’re beautiful! And those things – hard-boiled egg slicers…maybe?! I don’t know. I love these.
http://www.bu.edu/prc/ Photographic Resource Center at Boston University. 40th Anniversary year and as fantastic and helpful as they’ve always been. They’re now offering portfolio reviews again. If you join – $30 – $50/yr with all kinds of benefits – one review a year is on them (thanks to Panopticon Imaging – http://www.panopticonimaging.com). [Shout out to Rockland, MA here too, of course – hometown of His X. I don’t need college, he’d said, way way back in the day. I’m good. Well, there’s the shoe factory, Nana had replied. Knock yourself out.]
http://www.mustafahabdulaziz.com Mustafah Abdulaziz. Water. Verse 8 and the Highest Good. This is everything. This is the longterm project. Where it is now is Photoville [http://www.photoville.com], Brooklyn Bridge Park, NYC. Waterways and Water Challenges. And that collection in the Containers so fine you gotta go outside afterwards and run it all off [http://www.photoville.com/container-exhibitions/].
Fall 2016. Epi630 Hypothetical epidemiology here – the problem is real – diarrheal diseases represent a significant cause of illness for children < 5 years old (y.o.) in many low- and moderate- development countries, and may be responsible for ~ 20% of deaths in this cohort. The means to address this problem – in terms of the duration and budget proposed herein, are as per class requirements; in terms of approach, however, this paper highlights the crux of the challenge with water treatment – the nuts and bolts of low cost water purification are known and are rarely the limiting factor in the process. The challenge instead is in offering solutions that mesh with how we all already behave, rather than assuming that behavior will immediately change to support an introduced solution. Behavior can’t be seen as outside the project. Behavior is the project.
http://www.elle.com/culture/career-politics/a37628/flint-michigan-water-crisis-latoya-ruby-frazier/#. Latoya Ruby Frazier. Flint is Family. Shout it out. This is social documentary photography. And this is Latoya Ruby Frazier – 2015 MacArthur Genius Grant winner. (http://www.latoyarubyfrazier.com) Rarely do disenfranchised subjects speak for themselves or document the crisis that is affecting them. She continues to tell the visual autobiography. This is what the camera’s for.
[and this: Flint, MI and the Emergence of Community Social Capital I wrote it this summer  for a class I was taking. It’s just my opinion, of course, but it’s what’s been happening in Flint, MI., and everywhere really. From the vantage of how we think about community and inclusion and also how we don’t even see infrastructure until something goes wrong. This is crisis on many levels and we need to start paying closer attention. This is what the science and engineering can be for.]
http://www.elle.com/culture/music/a37564/kathleen-hanna-julie-ruin-interview/ Let in the goodness when it happens. I ❤ Kathleen Hanna. Welcome back to the front and center, TNT.
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/26/style/bill-cunningham-legendary-times-fashion-photographer-dies-at-87.html?_r=0 Bill Cunningham. (1929 – 2016). The pixie on the bicycle. Rest In (a very street stylish) Peace.
http://khalikallah.com Khalik Allah. What this man does with one piece of earth is an astounding thing – all angles and perspective and that energy that feels both huckster and holy, if you know what I mean. I’ve been following 125th & Lexington for years now – there may be no finer pleasure than watching talented people do their thing. The camera is a healing mechanism, he says. Let me photograph it and take it away from you. Praise.
http://www.all-about-photo.com All kinds of quality here. Masters. Modern. Emerging. How to. Why to. When to. What to see. Where to see it. Most recently, this interview with Norma Quintana: http://www.all-about-photo.com/article.php?title=norma-quintana-circus-a-traveling-life&id=178 about Circus Chimera. [Plus her shout-out to Graciela Iturbide [http://www.icp.org/browse/archive/constituents/graciela-iturbide?all/all/all/all/0] who’s got that something wildspooky in overdrive.]
http://www.palanimohan.com Palani Mohan. Hunting with Eagles. Vanishing Giants. Hidden Faces of India. our world. our beautiful terrible world. Texture so rich it crackles off the pages. Gentleness in the touch of things – right there on the forehead, maybe – but that roughness too. That complicated relationship to reverence. And to sentimentality. And that challenge, always, for the viewer, to consider the why. And the how. And the details.
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/15/magazine/perfect-and-unrehearsed.html?contentCollection=weekendreads&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=c-column-middle-span-region®ion=c-column-middle-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-middle-span-region&_r=0 Perfect and Unrehearsed. Henri Cartier-Bresson. The master of what Alex Webb calls “the uncertainty and mystery of collaborating with the world as a street photographer.” It is a collaboration – without the street there are no images. Without the images there is no record. And the geometry that makes it work is the v. finest in predicament math. The photographer, as T. Cole writes, has to be there to begin with, tuned in and tuned up, active. The rest is fate.
http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/03/23/sebastio-salgados-journey-from-brazil-to-the-world/?_r=0 Sebastiao Salgado. And Wim Wenders about him: Salt of the Earth – http://www.firstshowing.net/2015/watch-trailer-for-sebastiao-salgados-the-salt-of-the-earth-doc/ Holy cow. That gold mine. And the braided stream of reindeer and Sami. And the Altiplano. And that rush of wonder. There is no way back.
http://www.magnumphotos.com/Package/2K1HRG6N46IZ An Image that Changed Everything. Such beautiful work to be done.
http://www.maryellenmark.com/index.html Mary Ellen Mark. (March 20, 1940 – May 25, 2015). Pick up your camera and start shooting. It doesn’t matter what you shoot. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never picked up a camera before in your life. If you need help getting started, don’t be afraid to ask. If you want to build a body of work, everything else is an excuse. She got it. Magnificently. I ❤ Indian Circus. R.I.P.
http://www.lensculture.com/articles/norma-i-quintana-circus-a-traveling-life Circus Chimera. 10 years. She gets it: physical reality is what makes it beautiful. Dirt. Sweat. Chalk. Paint. Scales. Feathers. BIrd Boys. That gesture and those eyes. What she calls that purposeful grace.
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/10/03/magazine/01-brown-sisters-forty-years.html?_r=0 40 portraits in 40 years. So much gentle protection of each other as they grow older. So much directness in their beautiful beautiful faces. [04/18 – And so incredibly too bad that Nicholas Nixon is such a self-important fool. Asking your students to analyze photographs of your own penis doesn’t somehow make you ‘boundary pushing’ or extra-ordinarily talented. What it makes you is an *sshole whose juvenile narcissistic behavior deserves to be rewarded by having your job handed directly to somebody equally talented and significantly more self-aware. Ick.]
http://www.womensmotoexhibit.com/ oh hell yes. this. did i say oh hell yes? i meant it. this. i might be in there somewhere. i’m not sure. i honestly don’t remember what happened.
http://www.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&ERID=24KL535C7T Josef Koudelka. The Master. he wrote ‘I would like to see everything. I want to be the view itself.’ Gypsies is the bar. Black Triangle is silently godawful heartbreaking. he’s still at it. sometimes he shoots with three cameras looped around his neck – one each focused up on the near-ground, mid-ground, far-ground. there are worse people to admire than this vagabond Czech.
http://www.edwardburtynsky.com/ Water. no, Quarries. no, Water. no, Quarries. he makes the pattern-loving kink in my brain happily start paying attention. mostly aerial views. large format. Stepwell #4. that one does it. well, and so does Cerro Prieto. and Rice Terraces #2. And Bay of Cadiz. you get the idea. just all kinds of beautiful work. just all kinds of mmmmmmm with that stone and flow.
http://unlessyouwill.com/ABOUT go ahead. pick one at random and dive in. i come here for a jolt or to have my brain petted or to think about what works and what doesn’t and why. they like writing about photography too. really. go ahead.
http://www.nadavkander.com/# i think the first images of his i saw were of Chernobyl [Half Life]. opaque. that’s the first word that comes to mind, like the background was washed in milk. and then the things he does with dereliction – i mean, it’s not like the Russians have cornered the market on abandoning property, but, still – the scale of it all…
http://www.jr-art.net/ ever need inspiration? check him out. i love this man’s work. because it’s not really about him, you know? it’s about swinging big and pasting it up. he just goes and makes that shit happen.
http://noorimages.com/ most fantastic. if you ever need to suddenly remember the size of the world, look here. it’ll fix you quick.
personal ink (p.ink)–kick ass tattoo artists and the even kick(er) ass women they ink: http://www.pinterest.com/personalink/
one man. one pink tutu. a massive amount of love: http://www.thetutuproject.com/about/