Women’s March On Washington

On Friday, we heard the words, “American carnage ends now”. I am not sure if that means that our new president has decided to pay the bill for the environmental cleanup for an abandoned 6 acre warehouse/factory in South Carolina that he owns but yesterday, all I saw everywhere I looked was truly what I think makes “America Great”! Around the world, from Antarctica to Greece, there were 673 Women’s Marches. As ABC news reported: “The marches spanned all 50 U.S. states, several U.S. territories and at least 60 countries across all seven continents”. One woman in Hawaii, being so upset after the election, decided to do something to make a positive difference and send another message to the world. Teresa Shook made mention of a hypothetical march on FB and by morning had some 10,000 responses. “When they go low, we go high!” The power of social media! In Washington alone, it was estimated that a half million people were in attendance. They just kept coming and coming!

The bus we took from Philadelphia had only 2 empty seats. We then went to the metro where a stop along the line had to be closed due to the great number of people, and this was only 8 in the morning. The energy of birthing something positive and unifying was palpable. There was a very calm, respectful excitement as people moved to their destination. When we left the Metro, we were greeted by an 90 year old woman in a wheel chair who was cheering us on! (I want what she is having!). Then as we walked into the march area, there was a teenage boy sitting up on a hill, silently holding a sign, letting us know he loved us. Some signs people held up were definitely negative, but I have to say that they were in the minority. Most signs were uplifting and inspirational…signs with the words: peace, dignity, respect, human rights. Ideas calling forth actions. “Keep building walls and we will keep building bridges.” Signs with quotes by Dr. Martin Luther King: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Women and men, children of every race and creed walking together in the strength of peace and unity. There were so many heartfelt moments I carried home with me…watching members of the National Guard high fiving everyone and thanking all who walked by them. At the end of the march, we began the two mile walk back to the bus, people came out of their homes to offer total strangers walking by water and food. A Christian church had just let out and the pastor was standing in the street inviting people in to use the bathroom and have something to drink. We started the day off being greeted with kindness and ended the day, embraced by generosity and caring.

Mean words, calling people names, disrespecting women’s bodies, putting up walls to separate from the world, these to me seem like the divisive paths to carnage. It is amazing the difference a day can make!

Early Morning, Ready to Begin

Women and Men Beginning The March

Silent but Powerful Message

Messages with Meaning

Justice for All

One Word Says So Much.

High Five and Thanks

Respect and Dignity

Young Girls and Women Alike

The Masses

A Few In The Crowd!

South Carolina Is In The House

The Message Summed Up

A Half A Million Strong

Brigadoon In Lancaster County, Pa

Gene Kelly and Van Johnson played two weary hunters who came upon the mystical village of Brigadoon. As the story goes, the preacher in the town invoked God to protect the townspeople against the changes and the influences of the outside world. His prayers were answered and for one day every 100 years, Brigadoon magically appeared amidst the rolling hills of Scotland.

Waiting for Renewal

Waiting for Renewal

The rolling hills of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania holds its own Brigadoon. On 14.5 acres of land, 190 small white cabins sit empty, alone and boarded up but for one summer week each year. The Central Manor Camp Bible Conference first opened on Thursday evening, September 7, 1892 with 19 tents under the direction of a pastor, Dr. MacDannald. He wanted a place where for one week, “Fundamental truths of the word of God are faithfully proclaimed.” This is an area with the strong influence of Evangelical Christians and Mennonites, so the rules were very strict. No noise after 10:30, women wore dresses, no tobacco and no alcohol.

Mennonite Sisters

Mennonite Sisters

United in Prayer

United in Prayer

Singing is very much a part of each service.

Singing is very much a part of each service.

Deep in Prayer

Deep in Prayer

Reading faith based newspapers.

Reading faith based newspapers.

Over a hundred years later, there is a “tabernacle” seating 1,000 people set in the center of the grounds with these white washed and very sparse cabins surrounding it. These habitats have basic electricity but no running water. There is no wifi and not one lap top or television to be seen. The cost of each cottage can be up to $10,000 and they are either passed down through generations or auctioned off at the end of each year’s revival. Basically, most have just beds, lighting and a fan in them. Curtains are used to partition off areas.There are three bath houses for men and three for women. Each family brings their own unique style to their home away from home…Ruthie raised a foster child who returned to her birth mother at age 13 only to end up dying on the streets of Philadelphia. The exterior of Ruthie’s “home” is a memorial to Heather while her daughter is fighting brain cancer and sits quietly quilting outside the cabin. A mother with 5 children found a pink light to soften the look inside and she created a shabby chic haven. One cabin was “pranked” with colorful postettes adorning the plain white. Flowers, streamers, crosses, bibles and books by Glen Beck can be found outside. There are “porch visits” that go on throughout the day for the purpose of “Christian Fellowship”. Some met here for the first time and are now sitting on their porch as a married couple. Others remember coming when there were only tents and now have their own cabin. RV’s are permitted on the grounds for $40. per night and do have water and electric hook ups.

Ruthie Remembers and Honors her Foster Child.

Ruthie Remembers and Honors her Foster Child.

Creating

Creating

Color Splash

Color Splash

Love Grows During the Week

Love Grows During the Week

Sharing from the Heart

Sharing from the Heart

Pink Lights and Shabby Chic

Pink Lights and Shabby Chic

This year’s small booklet listing the speakers and program related the Statement of Faith as the following:
“We believe that the Bible is the Word of God.”
“God is a Triune God.”
“Jesus Christ is the only savior of men.”
“Man in his natural state is totally depraved. Man is sinfully enslaved in transgression, and without the provision of God’s saving grace through Jesus Christ, is eternally lost.” These tenets have remained the same since the founding by Paster MacDannald. What has changed is the operating budget which is now approximately $74,000.

The day begins at 6:30 with the ringing of the bell. 7:30 is family worship and no recreation may take place during times of worship.
There are speakers each day at 10:00, 2:30 and 7:00 pm. Snacks can be purchased or meals can be taken in the dinning hall with two seatings of 400. The menu basically stays the same from year to year. Saturday is always chili for “dinner” at 11:45 and chicken barbecue for supper at 5:00. There is supervised recreation. Saturday is “Parade Day” and the “Peanut Hunt” in the afternoon. The purpose of the recreation program is to “develop attitudes and behaviors that exemplify the Lord Jesus Christ.” Activities include quoits, street hockey, volleyball and basketball. Crafts are held Monday through Friday at 2:30 – 3:30 each year and crafts for women are at 1:30 pm on the days announced. At 10:30, there is the ringing of the bell, signaling the end of the day and all to be in their cottage. No smoking or alcohol is permitted and no soda is served.

A Parade of Balloons and Smiles

A Parade of Balloons and Smiles


Bathing In Sinks

Bathing In Sinks

Feeding the Multitude

Feeding the Multitude

A Pop of Color

A Pop of Color

For one week each year, there is a continuity of faith and family. Just as in Brigadoon, there is a type of shielding from the influences of the outside world that is embraced by generation after generation. On August 16, 2015, the Central Manor Camp was brought to a close…it saw its moment in the sun and now has returned to its stark waiting stillness.

Sources: “123rd Annual Program of Central Manor Camp and Bible Conference”
“Central Manor Campmeeting Celebrating a Memorable Century 1892 -1992

Morning Rising: NJ Festival of Ballooning

Early morning preparations

Early morning preparations

I am not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, but for glorious light and/or an interesting adventure, I am there. (Most times!)
This weekend on the East Coast is the largest summertime hot air balloon and music festival in North America, The Hot Air Ballooning Festival in Readington, NJ. Lift off of over 100 balloons takes place twice a day on Saturday and Sunday at 6:30 am & 6:30 pm.

Almost There

Almost There

Tethered Together

Tethered Together

Be Happy!

Be Happy!

What A View!

What A View!

Photo Op

Photo Op

Visitors can buy tickets to the fair grounds or sit on the outside and simply look up for this breathtaking view. Many special moments are over so quickly but this is a well orchestrated event with 5 to 6 balloons rising at at time so the sky is filled with multi colors and multi shaped forms floating at all different heights. On the fair grounds, there are also rides, food and family entertainment. Each evening, concerts (tickets needed) with a special Balloon Glow are held.

Up, Up and Away!

Up, Up and Away!

The very first balloon flight took place in Versailles on September 18, 1783 and was launched with a duck, a rooster and a sheep in the basket…all were happily unharmed. However, as time went on, manned balloons were attacked by land owners with stones, clubs and pitchforks as they landed so the French aeronauts found that they could bring about friendships by offering the landowners a bottle of champagne to thank them for the use of their land. To this day, a champagne toast takes place after each flight and I offer you the Balloonists’ Prayer which I thought was such a beautiful and peaceful ending after the flights I was fortunate enough to be a part of.

“May the winds welcome you with softness.
May the sun bless you with its warm hands.
May you fly so high and so well that God
joins you in laughter and sets you gently
back into the loving arms of Mother Earth”.

Cheers!!!

Communal Living: Twin Oaks and Little Acorn

Southern Exposure Seed Exhchange

Farming the land

Farming the land

This week in the mail, I received my annual copy of “Southern Exposure“.
Snow is forecasted. Super Bowl festivities are underway and I am remembering a time 2 very hot summers ago. I met a woman who was weaving hammocks at the Kutztown Folk Festival. While I was photographing her art, I was curious about her background. She related that she lived at Twin Oaks Intentional Community (modern name for a commune) in rural Louisa County, Virginia. I was intrigued – what would make people choose this lifestyle? After several phone calls back and forth, Paxus Calta (Earl Schuyler Flansburg) invited us into this lifestyle. I travelled down with my friend Ann Lauder who is an excellent writer. I would photograph and she would tell the story.

Twin Oaks is referred to by the 100 residents as an ecovillage and intentional community. It was started in 1967 by psychology students studying “Walden Two”. Homes can have up to 26 members and possessions are shared to promote the greater good of the society. Clothes, underwear and shoes can be found in “Commy Clothes”. There was definitely a musty odor but certainly variety! Clothing can also be optional. Each member, whether married or not, has their own room. Bathrooms are open to all, locking doors is frowned upon. Unconventional and alternative lifestyles are as readily supported as conventional lifestyles. This is not a religious community and all denominations are welcomed.

Home at Twin Oaks

Home at Twin Oaks

Commy Clothes

Commy Clothes

Car Sharing

Weekly Work Chart

There is car sharing and chore sharing, all very organized. Each member is asked to give 42 hours of service each week. A few examples are: washing dishes, child care, gardening or working in one of the three multi-million dollar companies the community owns. Twin Oaks sells hammocks, tofu, and heirloom seeds. For the work, a monthly stipend of $80 is provided. Residents are provided with all the basic necessities of food, shelter, health care, child care and education. Decisions must be made by the entire community, even as far as deciding if someone can get pregnant and bring a child into the community.

Waste from Tofu

Tofu

Hammocks For Sale

Paxus and the Hammocks

Organic Farming

Heirloom Tomato

Heirloom Tomato

Seed Collecting

Seed Collecting

Southern Exposure Seeds

As much as possible is recycled. There are areas that appear to be filled with junk, but the items are just waiting for that creative touch. Even fecal matter is recycled into green energy. More and more, members are trying to live off of the grid and rely on solar energy. The majority of what is eaten is grown or raised right there. Cows, chickens and gardens supply members with a variety of food.

Recycling

Human Waste Recycled

Breakfast and Dinner

Some members left Twin Oaks and began “Little Acorn”. It has fewer members and decisions are made by the majority rather than the entire body. The focus of this community is on harvesting heirloom seeds for their “Southern Exposure” company. Gardens are totally organic and they make sure that the quality of the soil is preserved with absolutely no genetic engineering.

Grow It to Eat It

What are the positives of this lifestyle choice? In this economy, people do not have to worry about bills, shelter/food and loneliness. There is individual freedom in choosing how to spend time and what to work on. Residents can take pride in decreasing their carbon footprint. The negatives expressed had to deal with the lack of funds limiting the freedom to travel and the difficulties which can arise when relationships do not work out in such close quarters. While television is not allowed, access to the internet is. New members are now coming with lap tops and spending more time on their own rather than in community as it was before this technology arrival. While older members have been there for decades, younger members seem to stay only a few years and move on. Some said they came to learn entrepreneurial skills with the hope of leaving to start their own organic farms or small businesses.

We met a son of a former CIA agent, a former buddhist monk, teachers, artists, true hippies, political activists and those so very concerned about what is happening to our environment. In the rural hills of Louisa, Virginia one may definitely come across that “road less travelled”.

Innocence and Religion

Cambodian Children in Mosque

Cambodian Child of Peace

Just a short post today…thought I would do some organizing of the thousands of photographs on hard drives and came across these two shots from Cambodia. One was taken at an outdoor Buddhist Temple and the other at a Cambodian Mosque. Children can teach us so much. The little girl just instinctively gave me the peace sign and the others were just having such fun jumping from one prayer rug to the other…laughing and giggling the entire time. To me, this is the beautiful essence of religion…peace for all, enlivening and elevating with a few giggles thrown in to be sure!
The divine in simplicity and innocence.

From One Heart To Another in Thanks

Hands of Gratitude

Hearts of Gratitude

Hearts of Gratitude

Sister Bernadette, RSM

Sister Bernadette, RSM

Connected by Love

Connected by Love

Joined Together in Many Forms

Joined Together in Many Forms

Twenty years ago, a courageous Sister of Mercy felt called to create a center…a center which would speak of wellness for those who had little hope at that time for something so elusive. Sister Bernadette Kinniry and Fr. Don Reilly established Siloam, a sacred space welcoming those with HIV/AIDS. Given the historical context, they were treading in uncharted waters, offering holistic programs integrating the mind, body and spirit. People from all walks of life who were often shunned and touch being forbidden, discovered an oasis of true acceptance and respect in Siloam and graced Bernadette and Don with their presence. This founding charism has been a constant through the years.

I have had the privilege of also feeling great acceptance… as a stranger with a camera, I have been graciously welcomed in to capture very intimate and personal experiences. Over the past few weeks, one undertaking I photographed revolved around people who have never met but yet are uniquely connected by a spirit of support and thanks. Before the Philly AIDS walk, Sister Bernadette put in a call to McCauley Convent, the retirement home for the Sisters of Mercy. She simply asked for prayers from the older and infirmed nuns but they decided to give more. With wheelchairs and walkers, the sisters did their own AIDS WALK around the grounds to raise money for Siloam. Weeks later, scissors, paper and material in all different colors and textures were laid out on tables in Siloam and people started to design, cut and sew together pillows of comfort and gratitude for the nuns. From one hand to another… from one heart to another, I was able to photograph a true celebration of what I think Thanksgiving is all about.

I am sincerely thankful to so many for allowing me to share in such special moments of life.

Haunted Houses, Hare Krishna and a 100 Year Old Princess

Time for a Tiara

Time for a Tiara

From One Princess To Another

From One Princess To Another

Past Meets Present

Past Meets Present

Love is Ageless

Love is Ageless

Tender Moments Between a Mother and Her Daughter

Tender Moments Between a Mother and Her Daughter

Mother and Son

Mother and Son

The Haunting Party

The Haunting Party

The Teacher and The Student

The Teacher and The Student

Hare Krishna

Hare Krishna

The Devotee

The Devotee

The Candle and The Veil

The Candle and The Veil

One would think there would be no common denominator to speak of with regards to a haunted house, a Hare Krishna Temple and a 100 year old princess but that is what makes sharing people’s stories so fascinating. Here is just the overview.

On Halloween in the year 1914, Ethel Marberger was born and her years have not been dull! Her life on 2nd and South was an advantaged one with her family controlling a large portion of real estate. She grew to be an accomplished artist creating beautiful Chinese watercolor paintings. Ethel met and married a man who was a leading Zionist and had just escaped capture by the Nazis in Europe before coming to the US. They raised four very accomplished children…Aladar was a major art dealer in New York City but unfortunately died of AIDS at a time when it carried a heavy stigma. Their daughter Elaine, now known as Davishakti, has lived over 40 years in India and is held in high esteem in Vrindavan at the Hare Krishna Temple. John became a doctor and Donna is a fashion designer living in California with her own line of yoga and travel wear called “b”.
So here we are, Halloween 2015, and all have come to celebrate 100 years of life with this feisty and loving artist, wife and mother. The nursing home transformed into a haunted house while Ethel was transformed with tiara and feathers into a princess. Her hand was tenderly held by her “boyfriend” Winnie as so many well wishes greeted her. A century of life definitely calls for more than one celebration so the next one was at the local Hare Krishna Temple where Davishakti was asked to teach the devotees. I have had the good fortune to photograph Ethel for the past several years for a piece regarding aging with grace and dignity. I have come to know her immediate family well and am now looking forward to the next celebration this weekend for many other family members and friends. One can never have too many parties for a woman reaching 100 and one can reach 100 by being surrounded by family, friends and love.

Philly Aids Walk

Finished!

Finished!

I Am With You

I Am With You

Cheering On

Cheering On

Honoring A Life

Honoring A Life

Days Gone By

Days Gone By

This time last Sunday, I was returning home from the Philly AIDS Walk. I am working on a long term project which required me to photograph this event. It was the first time I attended and was totally impressed by the number of people who joined together to walk and run in order to support those touched by HIV and to help fund further research. I could have easily spent the majority of my time photographing this expansive sea of humanity but I chose to photograph from a different perspective.

Those with cancer may say, “I have cancer.”

While AIDS seems to consume one’s identity. When asked, most respond with “I am HIV positive.” As if they are the disease. So I decided to forego the larger picture and honor the individual. I walked through the crowd to capture the moments of strength, support and reflection.

Wandering Along The Back Streets in Florence

Florence, Italy

Florence, Santa Maria Novella

 

 

Florence, Santa Maria Novella

 

A city bathed in the warm colors of rust and amber, A city where the artists Michelangelo, DaVinci, Donatello, Botticelli and Brunelleschi (just to mention a few) brought forth a collective body of the greatest works of art the world has ever known.  A city where artists attempted to capture the beauty, order and harmony of the human body as a way to glorify God and they excelled at this glorification. Florence is known as the heart of the Renaissance and in many ways the foundation of our modern world lifting us out of the dark ages. It is a city I go back to time and time again as it continually amazes me.

On a recent trip, I walked the far back streets where I had never been before.  There I discovered Farmaceutica Di Santa Maria Novellaone.  The Dominican Friars founded this center in 1221 as a location to make herbal remedies and potions to use in the monastery. “Their reputation became world renowned and the pharmacy, sponsored by the Grand Duke of Tuscany, opened to the public in 1612.”

Many of the Farmaceutica Di Santa Maria Novella’s products have become a part of history: the world famous pot-pourri is still hand crafted in large terra cotta vats using local essences and plants as has been the tradition since the 1200’s. The first “Eau de Cologne” has been attributed to the pharmacy’s creation in the 1500’s of Catherine de Medeci’s “Water of the Queen.” She used the citrus and bergamot scented water and shared it with all her closest friends during her reign as the Queen of France and one can still purchase this fragrance today.  There is  a quiet reverence which envelopes the visitor.  Vaulted ceilings, ornately carved dark wood and low lighting that somehow makes each vintage bottle glow as if holding a rich treasure.  Creams, soaps and perfumes all provide a glimpse into the past practices of the monks who were so attuned to the healing benefits found in nature.  Their original recipe ledgers can still be seen. While knowing that Santa Maria Novella has opened in Chevy Chase, Dallas, Los Angels and New York,  I was very happy to leave this special surprise discovery at Via della Scala, 16, 50123 with a small, beautifully wrapped “Angels of Florence”. Now the scent of white flowers from a far off place lifts my spirits  and I am transported  to a place I love and reminded to wander through the small, back streets.

Mother’s Day. Celebrating Connections (that may not be Hallmark but are very real!)

Tender Moments

As a photographer , I believe one photograph can capture an entire story. One photograph can convey so much in just an instant.  Today being Mother’s Day, we celebrate women…those who are mothers,wives, friends, sisters, confidants. All they do and all they are for us.  A  few months ago, I attended the bridal shower of a great friend.  After all the gifts were opened and acknowledged, one more very special present was handed over.  Meg’s 97 year old grandmother was a quilter.  With needle and thread, she stitched pieces of fabric together and created a beautiful quilt every time a new grandchild appeared but she didn’t stop there, this woman also wanted to offer a gift which would grace the wedding bed too…one for the cradle and one for the start of a new life in love for all.

Several years ago, while visiting with her grandmother whose health was failing,  she asked Meg to choose the quilt she would like to receive for her wedding day somewhere in the future just in case she would not be with her.   The quilt in the above picture sat in the attic with Meg’s name pinned to the corner just waiting for that special moment when this granddaughter  would be a bride.  As soon as Meg held it, the tears started to flow and right away, her mom went to her and just held her daughter. Everyone was crying now…such a beautiful moment of tenderness and connectedness between the generations of women both present and with us in spirit… stirred the heart strings of all in the room.  The circle formed…a grandmother’s gift passed down and a mother by the side of her daughter.  This photograph speaks to me of what the spirit of today should be about…gifted connectedness.

PS…Meg and Steve had a beautiful wedding three weeks ago but her grandmother wasn’t able to be there…she drifts in and out of a knowing.  Next Sunday, the couple will be making a visit to the nursing home all dressed in wedding attire and will once more say their vows but this time with a very special woman in attendance.  Happy Mother’s Day to all!

Holi at the Bharatiya Temple

Holi Festival

Holi Festival

 

 

Holi Video Link  <iframe src=”//player.vimeo.com/video/89756373″ width=”640″ height=”360″ frameborder=”0″ webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>

 

Rather than being in the midst of falling white snow, I was thrilled to be in the midst of multi-colored powders falling over a thoroughly joyous crowd! Holi is the Hindu Festival marking the coming of Spring, light and hope and after this winter, it was so appreciated!  This exuberant festival also commemorates the immortal love of Krishna and Radha and is spread over 16 days in Vrindavan, India, at the temple of Lord Krishna. It is one long colorful love fest! Who would not want to photograph this?! When I was there a few years ago and happened to mention that I definitely wanted to come back for Holi, they all just laughed at me and told me I must not like my camera very much!  This year, I so wanted to travel with a friend, Tewfic El-Sawy, The Travel Photographer,  as he lead a photographic expedition and workshop to this sacred site (click on the link to see amazing photographs!) It was not to be but as fate would have it,  I received an special invitation through a student (Thank you so much Anika!) to come and celebrate with the local Hindu community in Chalfont, Pa. From the moment Conrad Louis- Charles and I walked in, we were taken right into the midst of the celebration.  We were offered delicious food from Bombay Spice – II (just looking at their website could make you hungry!) We were then escorted into a tent and instantaneously felt the spirit of community and just sheer fun!  Winter was finally over… and now it is time to CELEBRATE and that we all did!  As the day went into night, a bonfire was lit to chase away evil.  This was now a time for the Hindu people to reflect and offer gifts of thanks to the gods. Roses, oils, rice and coconuts which are considered the perfect food having the drink, meat and bowl together were the gifts given from their hearts.  While the people were offering their appreciation, I was offering my sincere gratitude for the welcome and the care people took when painting my face and not my camera! I am not sure my friends were as lucky! Finally, I was able to celebrate and photograph Holi!  Life is so good!

Bringing a Focus to Human Trafficking and Slavery

Inspiration

Inspiration

Inspiration

Inspiration

We can  never know how expansive the rippling reciprocal effects can be when we make the decision to use our talent for others simply  because we have been given so much. The VERY talented and generous  film makers of Stillmotion had no idea how one article in the Huffington Post and one decision would be transformative in so many ways.  The article related the story of Vivienne Harr, a nine year old girl  from Fairfax who saw the powerful and striking photography of Lisa Kristen documenting present day human slavery.  This one little girl believed that she had the power  to make a difference and so began her quest to raise $150,000 by simply selling lemonade. Others  then began to gather together to give voice to those who had none.  From one article on line, the film #STANDWITHME  was brought forth…from a little one’s belief and enthusiasm, $150,000 was raised.  The film makers discuss how this endeavor unfolded in a very honest and well done brief  video entitled, The Making of #standwithme  A Stand Against One of the World’s Darkest Evils.

Last Friday here in Philadelphia, the film had its premier.  It is one that should not be missed.  It provides a witness to what has remained in  the silent dark recesses of almost every country on earth.  I had no idea how pervasive this is. There are 27 million slaves in the world today…more than any other time in  human history.  It exists behind brick kilns, carpet looms and closed doors of motels. $90. is the average cost of a human slave around the world. Human trafficking is the third largest international crime industry behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking and reportedly generates a profit of $32 billion every year. The film provides the springboard to both knowledge and action. Paul Rice shows how poverty is intimately tied to the issue of slavery and speaks to the power we each have to cast votes with every dollar we spend when we shop.  Maurice Middleberg (originally from Philadelphia), Executive Director of Free the Slaves, educates villages and communities around the world how they can protect themselves from the chains of forced labor. It provides an awakening, a call and a challenge to share your voice and stand together.  What we do matters.

After attending the premier, the next day I was then fortunate enough to learn from these film makers as they took a small group through a day long, intensive and brilliant workshop entitled, Story Telling With Heart because as they say, “When you tell a remarkable story, the world opens up!” I sat at the feet of masters. They touched that knowing that for me, holding a camera and telling stories  is as life giving as breathing. Then the week unfolded. There is a saying that goes, “Nothing ever happens by accident!” Through sharing  about the movie,  I was invited to have dinner with a group of very articulate and dedicated young women from Cornell College who were here in Philadelphia.  After driving 20 hours through the night, they wanted to be of service to  women who were trying to break free from the bonds of sex trafficking.  The college students shared their favorite moments and most difficult ones.  They shared their great respect for these women and described their sheer strength of character in trying to break free even under the threat of death. The average age a teen enters the sex trade in the U.S. is 12 -14 years of age. According to the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year.  More than 70 percent are female and half are children. Just this week in the Philadelphia news, there was an arrest of a man who forced and threatened multiple women into sex. Due to the very nature of  our discussions, the conversation from that evening must be held as a sacred sharing and honored, respecting the privacy of all. As I was leaving though, they pointed out all sorts of post-it-notes placed at eye level throughout the bathroom, bedroom and kitchen.  The women were breathing in these bits of inspiration when they began their day to then take that out to others.  Yes, we are stronger together and hopefully through many different conversations and conscious acts, we will join with those who are asking, #Standwithme!

The International Beauty Show, NYC

IBS, 2014

IBS, 2014

IBS, 2014

IBS, 2014

 

IBS, 2014

 

One week, I am perusing travel brochures from the NYTimes Travel Show and the next week, I am back up I95 to capture all that is new in the beauty and spa industry.  Tyra Banks said, “I love the confidence that makeup gives me.”  Roberta Gately said, “Lipstick is really magical.  It holds more than a waxy bit of color – it holds the promise of a brilliant smile, a brilliant day, both literally and figuratively.” I would say that thousands would agree with her.  After only two hours, it was a very tight squeeze to see all the latest and best from beauty insiders definitely breaking the 61,000 attendance in 2013. With over 500 exhibitors , IBS  is the longest running, professionals only beauty show in the nation.  The International Esthetics, Cosmetics and Spa Conference is the largest spa show in he Northeast and provides a complete spa business-building event for the thousands of spa and medical spa industry professionals who attend.  Some of the notable exhibitors included: Redken, Sassoon Academy, Essie, La Brasilliana, Farouk, Pibbs Industry, Brazilian Blowout,  Eve Pearl, Clarisonic, Hydrafacial MD, Farm House Fresh.  The hair trends for 2014 seem to be the unrefined, slightly disheveled looks that showcase natural textures.  Women were having their hair cut into the popular waif-like shapes, going from locks to ponytails with casual looks emphasizing understated elegance.  Modern romance still reigns with braids and sweptback chignons adorned with flowers.  Hair hues run the gamut from vibrant reds (thank heaven I am still current!) to bold platinum blonds and the ombre trend has transitioned to one where the color is placed higher up. Thousands of products were on display, from protecttive UV blocking hand guards for gel manicures to formaldehyde-free keratin treatments, oils from India and South American rainforests replenishing moisture in hair, styling tools, body wraps,  and many green and organic products. Eminence Organic Skin Care introduced its Artic Berry Peel and Peptide Illuminating system while Etienne Raff Paris  introduced products which are a combination of scientifically proven peptides with natural, non-traditional ingredients such as Dragon’s Blood extract, honey , Royal Jelly and Mimosa Tree extract. Technology has it’s place from lasers to a new app called “Go Panache Look-Book-Go” which allows the consumer to book an appointment on line and be able to locate their favorite professional if they happen to move to another location.  As I sit here writing, my ankle is wrapped in a Tourmaline Nano-Tech Auto Heating Wrap which creates a great deal of heat and promotes better blood circulation and detoxification.  It feels better already and the people selling this were just the nicest around!

I have had the great fortune of photographing the very poor and the very rich, presidents, popes and orphans, those who live on communes and share their clothes rather than buy new ones,  those who thread flowers for adornment and those who paint henna on their hands and feet in such exquisite designs.  I have photographed people who pray in temples, mosques, and churches. Life,  beauty  and cultural norms are so multifaceted.  It is like looking through a kaleidescope and constantly turning it to see the new patterns of light/darkness and color, each unique and a true reality for some while totally out of the norm for others.  For over 60,000 last weekend, NYC provided the professionals, products and proposals for beauty and wellness.  Definitely an interesting mix of light, darkness and color!

The New York Times Travel Show, 2014

Dreamscape

Dreamscape

Dance in China

Dance in China

Joseph Rosendo

Joseph Rosendo

Guide Please

Guide Please

Malaysian Welcome

Malaysian Welcome

 

Have I mentioned lately how much I love what I do?  ‘Tis the time of year when I received one of my most coveted press passes…a pass that leads to planes, trains and automobiles (river boats and luxury cruise ships) as well as every continent on earth.  The New York Times Travel Show consistently satiates my wanderlust!  It is a three day feast with photography of the most beautiful sites on earth, music, art, dance, cuisine and some of the best travel adventures offered at discounted prices.

Walking through the exhibit floor, I tasted bubble tea, learned how to salsa with Danza Fiesta, heard the spiritual sounds of the Himalayas from Sonam Adventures and received a sample of a new product, “LiveLeaf Traveler Protect and LiveLeaf Traveler Rescue” which provides “fast, natural relief from digestive distress”. Christmas came early! Seriously though, this company has also developed a program called “Lifedrops” dedicated to saving children’s lives by reducing the burden of diarrhea in developing third world countries and have very interesting technology behind their products. I will let you know if it is yea or nay on my upcoming trip abroad.

Some people speed date, I speed travel! Delving into  intimate details,  one exhibit to the next, I gathered every brochure, postcard and pen in site.  This time around, the Asian continent won my heart.  I want to walk (and dance) along the Great Wall of China, photograph the world’s oldest and most historically important trade routes known as The Silk Road and not just watch the wonderful PBS documentary entitled, “In the Footsteps of Marco Polo”.  I want to explore Malaysia with a video camera showcasing  their healthcare and be one of the many tourists now allowed into Myanmar.  If exotic and far off places are calling to you but a fear to explore on your own is holding you back or if you realized that some of the most memorable moments of travel are when one goes off the beaten path with the locals then Tours by Locals.com  should be your next click on Google!

Armed with the maps and collages of my dreams, I then spent the afternoon in the travel seminars taking in the sage advice of experts in the travel field.  The Frommer’s revealed their top destinations for 2014.  Joseph Rosendo, award-winning travel journalist and Emmy-winning director, had an eloquence that wove together philosophy, mysticism, reality and a La Joie de Vivre! Joseph captured the soul of many beautiful places around the world. Having been in India, I sat in full agreement with him when he described this land in the following way: “India is waiting to grab you with its color and humanity. It shakes you up and delivers gifts. It is a constant invitation to live with joyous , unexpected life changing experiences around every bend.” Andrew Evans , National Geographic’s Digital Nomad,  detoured from the common held creation of a “bucket list” but rather suggested that, “Travel shouldn’t be a list we are working through but rather it should be a constant surprise!” “Spontaneous moments occur when we put ourselves out there and let things happen!”  He spent 300 days on the road last year and had amazing stories about moments…still, adventurous, scary and beautiful.  These moments are creating a life so well lived.

Mr. Rosendo began his talk with something I will use to end this piece.  “If one advances confidently in the direction of one’s dreams, and endeavors to live the life which one has imagined, one will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” (Thoreau).  The New York Times Travel Show establishes the path of beginnings; beginnings of dreams to travel, to gain wisdom and insights about the world  and in my case, to photograph. If held close, then I think we will live a life far greater than we could have ever imagined.