There's a million things I'm thankful for. Friends, family, art, music, living where I live, being the person I am, doing what I do for a living and for fun. And today, like all days, one of the things I'm most grateful for is Freedom of Speech. I can say what I want, to whom I want, and I don't get arrested for it. I can create art, photographs, songs, poems, jokes, and no one comes knocking on my door to take me away.
For a decade I've been teaching photography to marginalized communities. Populations of people who DO have to worry about disappearing for speaking their truths. People who have been systematically oppressed through violence, poverty, rape, murder and theft. Through images and creation they can take their voices back and work towards personal and political freedom. Through creation they learn a tool to counteract the destruction. There are heard. They are seen.
We have launched a Kickstarter fundraising campaign for Shoot Cameras Not Guns because, to be honest, we can't do this without you. After another few months of teaching in Burma and Thailand, I've come to the harsh realization that this project will only be sustainable if we reach out to our supporters, engage you in our work, and move towards a model that asks others for support through grants, fundraising, and smaller-scale campaigns like this one. This is a time of critical shift for Shoot Cameras Not Guns and your support helps determine the direction we go.
Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing fundraising campaign. If we meet our modest $5000 goal, we get it all (and anything past it). If we don't meet our goal, we get nothing. To share a secret with you, my personal goal is $15,000. That will allow us to make this thing really take off, move towards a sustainable model, and continue to do this important work. Watch the video. Donate. Get awesome gifts for donating, and feel your pride soar. Send link to friends. Repeat.
We are wrapping up work with our students in Burma (Myanmar). We are exhibiting their work internationally so that you can see it, learn from it, be thankful for your own freedoms, and empower others to find theirs. We just learned that one of our students was recently imprisoned for participating in a peaceful protest against land-grabbing, the ever increasing practice of the government taking people's land for their own use, or to sell to (mostly foreign) business. This is the new Myanmar you've heard so much about. The one that tourists are flocking to and businesses are investing in.
We have a lot of work to do. When we meet our goal, we can complete this year's work and bring it to you. When we blow past our goal, we can create more programming for at-risk youth in the United States, journalists and activists in Burma and those who have fled to Thailand, and those in need of a voice all over this small world we call home.
I am thankful for my voice. I am thankful for YOUR voice. I am thankful for the rights I take advantage of every day, and those that I forget that I even have. Help me share our good fortune.
Wishing you a very happy and healthy holiday season.
Founder & Director
Shoot Cameras Not Guns