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"So often the stories of marginalized individuals and communities have been told by outsiders – if they’re told at all. Those who have power and resources at their disposal often speak so loudly that the voices of others are drowned out. Photovoice is an effort to balance conversation by valuing the stories of the previously unheard." - Margaret Cissel, Look Out Loud
"This worker gave up a day's wages to pay for the non-slip shoes her boss required her to wear to work. How many meals did that worker miss? A bill that went unpaid? Medicine not taken?" The Alliance for a Just Society
What does empowerment mean to you?
Using photos and text, ‘Through My Lens’ participants will produce a statewide fine-art exhibit to instigate cultural discussion about an overlooked population; the project, which uses the national “PhotoVoice” framework, will provide a tangible narrative and visible community that will increase solidarity among workers and engage new and unexpected allies. ‘Through My Lens’ will pull the stark reality of the working class out of the alienating realm of faceless numbers and statistics.
Food service workers contribute to their communities. They volunteer, they teach, they create music and art, and they also eat food and pay their bills in Montana. Their kids go to our schools, their families play in our parks. We want to give them a chance to show you the whole picture. The best way to do that is to give food workers the camera. We'll provide tools and training. They will do the rest. Wondering who "we" are? "We" organizers of this project each have years of food service work experience ourselves. Some of us are currently working in food. So this project means a lot to each one of us.
In Missoula Montana, food service work is one of the only viable jobs. And we know this is true in many communities. Our mountains and rivers attract people from all over the world. Montana was listed by residents as the number one state to live in, in a 2014 Gallup poll. Missoula is a place where food service is a major part of our economy. We pride ourselves on our tourism, our arts and entertainment, and our bustling restaurants downtown, at our local mall, and along our shopping corridors. However, the average food service worker only makes around $12,000 per year. We don't think our story is very unusual. But we know its not being heard. We want to make an exhibit that speaks truth to power, and hopefully resonates with low wage workers all over the nation, and joins the new movement of working people today.
The project budget and itinerary.....
Your donation is an easy way to add energy, voice and power to this dynamic project. We have learned that we have to be flexible as we respond to the needs of our participants who are holding down two and sometimes three jobs. Here is what we are budgeting for:
- 8 to 10 basic digital cameras
- two training sessions provided by a professional photographer ( $100)
- High quality photo prints, frames, and materials to create our touring exhibit
-At least a $50 gift card for each of the 8 - 12 participants. We hope to raise more and provide more!
-Travel costs for participants who want to and are able to travel to exhibit locations to share their stories and meet communities
- Food for our training sessions, to help make attending meetings easier for busy food workers
- Transportation stipends for any participants who need help getting to our trainings, or for our facilitators to come to them instead, when coming to meetings is just not viable
- Printed curriculum materials like handouts, packets, and markers or other teaching materials.
- A humble but important celebration for the completed exhibit
- Photos will become an exhibit that tours communities and museums across the state. Participants will have the opportunity to travel with the photos. With your help, we will cover travel costs.
- And to be realistic, even fundraising has a cost. We have included this cost in our budget, to help us be as successful in our planning as we can.
July 30, 2014, Info meeting for participants ( done!)
August 2014 ( late August) , storytelling photovoice projects begin
September - October: Photography and storytelling workshops continue. Photos are taken, and workshopped as a group.
November- December: Photos are selected and printed. We will make an exhibit which will tour the state. We already reserved the rotunda at the Montana State Capitol during the legislative session of 2015.