So I'd like to heartily apologize for being so MIA recently; I have been shooting and editing photos every free minute for three projects simultaneously. Two are still ongoing but I'm proud to share the third, which I finished today. It is a photo documentary of the City of Poughkeepsie entitled "Not Your Queen City" that I shot over the course of three very speedy days with medium format film and my loyal DSLR. I walked around the city by myself in an effort to meet people and capture a true sense of the community here. Though the area is depressed and in many areas quite dangerous, I was pleased to find the best of humanity at every turn.
Below you will find the project introduction and a preview of the book. If you like it, I would be twitter-pated if you ordered a copy or two or five; your coffee table is lonely, give it a little company! I had heard that Blurb was the word on putting together books and so far I'm pretty pleased. What do you think so far? Anyway, I hope you enjoy.
Known as the “Queen City of the Hudson”, Poughkeepsie was once a great center of trade and commerce within the state of New York. After years of economic trouble, loss of industry and jobs, and rise in crime, Poughkeepsie has fallen into ruin and become a less-than-desirable destination for upper-middle class students. RAs coach their residents not to venture outside the safety of campus, and security sends emails detailing muggings and beatings by locals. Most students could not find their way across town, let alone explore the city in which they live. To them, Poughkeepsie is a place filled with gangs, violent crime, and poverty.
There is an inherent hypocrisy there; students receive emails from Campus Ministry, attend classes about global engagement and social justice, and raise money for needy people in third world countries without considering the desperation living down the street.
The disparity of wealth and homogenization at locals universities and poverty and diversity in the surrounding community led me to move off campus into the historic district of the City of Poughkeepsie last August. In an effort to become more connected to the local community, I plunged into what my peers saw as the ‘ghetto’ of the Mid-Hudson Valley. I made my home in a charming late nineteenth-century house on Hammersley Avenue prone to drafts and endless quirky Victorian charms. Though I have witnessed poverty, domestic abuse, gang violence, and drug dealing, those surface occurrences have been surpassed by the truth and heart of the people here. From buying groceries in Spanish at the local Latino market to knowing the names of the Indian cashiers at the local bodega, I have experienced a greater breadth of diversity and caring in my one year living in Poughkeepsie than I did in my three years on campus. I became involved in the local art movement, frequented the farmers markets, coffee shops, barber shops, and took my shoes to the kind-hearted cobbler on whom the true members of this community depend. I became a real citizen of the Queen City of the Hudson.
It is that kindness and diversity that this photo project, “Not Your Queen City”, seeks to showcase.