But the confrontation isn't about guilt or shock, but hope: you can't help but be moved by how much people are pitching in to help those in need--and how little it takes to remove a benign tumor, pick up a hammer, or provide supplies for groups giving girls hope after being sold into sexual slavery.
The brainchild of Kelly and Stephanie Kinnunen, NEED launches today with a print run of 25,000 copies and the simple mission of giving exposure to humanitarian aid organizations that do good work. Beautifully designed and printed, perfect-bound, and filled with full-bleed photographs by photojournalists including Steve McCurry, the publication avoids the political, instead putting its energy toward connecting potential donors and volunteers for humanitarian causes with the beneficiaries of that work.
"If you want to help a little girl with a school uniform, he won’t let you buy a school uniform. You buy fabric; then he utilizes one of the local seamstresses and pays her to sew the uniform for the child," she says. "One widow is taking care of 12 of her grandchildren because her husband and children have died from AIDS. So she makes bricks in her front yard while the children go to school, then when Timon does a building project, he buys the bricks from her instead of from the wealthy businessman in Nairobi."
The issue also features an array of aid programs around the world, including literacy programs in Afghanistan (McCurry's ImagineAsia among them); the floating MercyShips hospital that removed Marthaline's tumor (and those of many others); and Right to Play, a group founded by Olympic speedskating gold medalist Joey Cheek that uses sports as a platform to teach kids around the world about healthy living. Issue 2 will look at child soldiers in northern Uganda, Colombia's population of "internally displaced people" (the country has the world's second largest population of IDPs), and Wings of Hope, to name a few.
The magazine, which sent out its first 2,500 issues over the past weeks, is a hit with philanthropists and nonprofits, says Kinnunen. She reports that a big supporter of the UN's Refugee Committee, the UNHCR, ordered 100 subscriptions for friends and family, plus bought up 1,350 issues to send to the organization's top monthly donors. But the Kinnunens are surprised at the buzz beyond this insider community.
"We’ve received a subscription from an inmate at Moose Lake Prison, a 16-year old high school student in Prior Lake, Minnesota, an order of nuns in north Minneapolis, a woman in Virginia who owns a tattoo parlor," she says. "NEED's demographic has become all across the board. Even my mother’s friends are clamoring for this."
But the early success has also earned other key endorsements: President Jimmy Carter agreed to an interview in the debut issue, and an impressive array of celebrated photojournalists have signed on. More remarkable is that group's assessment.
"We hear over and over and over again from photographers, 'This is the new LIFE Magazine for our generation of photojournalists.' That’s such a huge compliment to us," she says. "How could we ever—I mean, we’re six people in a warehouse office in Northeast Minneapolis! To hear this could be the next LIFE magazine is such an honor and shock, almost."
"This is the new LIFE Magazine
for our generation of photojournalists."
The magazine is also compared to another famous publication, one heralded for its edgy design and unflinching portrayal of graphic suffering in the world--Oliviero Toscani's COLORS. Kinnunen says wherever she and her husband have lived--most recently, they lived in Finland, where Kelly taught at a university and Stephanie taught business English--they sought out each issue of the publication. "We love the imagery of COLORS Kinnunen says wherever she and her husband have lived--most recently, they lived in Finland, where Kelly taught at a university and Stephanie taught business English--they sought out each issue of the publication. "We love the imagery of COLORS. We love the storytelling of colors, but again, we're inspired by contact. There's no way for us to become involved with the something. Thgat's the one thing we didn't like about COLORS."
The production value of NEED, however, is on par with COLORS', using full-color photos, with text as backup, to tell its stories. And NEED's art-magazine price tag of $9 seems to reflect that quality. But the Kinnunen's, who funded the magazine entirely with their own savings and their now-maxed-out credit cards, believe the cause is worth the price tag. "We have a 19.5% ad ratio to content, when we’re full. So if we’re full of ads, there’s 19.5% and you’re getting the highest quality printing, photography, and uninterrupted stories for nine dollars—if that’s to value of you, you see $9 as quite inexpensive. If you see $9 as too expensive, we do have a great website where people can get involved," Kinnunen says.
But, more convincing is her argument of the need for such production values. On one hand, she and Kelly were inspired by the director of a refugee shelter Kelly volunteered for in Greece years ago; he refused a load of bread from a baker who "was trying to pass off day-old bread" on the shelter residents, retorting, "Just because these people are poor doesn’t mean they don’t deserve the very best."
"So often aid organizations have such small budgets, and they don’t want to sacrifice their budgets that are going to directly helping people in need to promoting their work and connecting potential supporters to their work," she adds. "We wanted to help in that way. How do we help the people who are helping the people on the ground and showing the people in need in a dignified way?"
Photos (top to bottom): Cover of NEED, an Afghani boy in school, by Steve McCurry; Timon Bondo by Justin Grierson; Afghani Girl by Steve McCurry; a volunteer with a homeowner in New Orleans, by Leslie Spurlock.
More on NEED: Read my interview with Kinnunen at Worldchanging, plus Brian Lambert's "Disaster Glam."
As Doug Grow recounts, she told the judge who sentenced her: "Your honor, I'm 70 years old today and I've never been in prison and I'm scared. I tell you, when decent people get put in jail for six months for peaceful demonstration, I'm more scared of what's going on in our country than I am of going to prison."
But there also seems to be another take on "consumerism"--how capitalism eats up and spits out African Americans, and many of the rest of us as well. His appropriation of the Absolut Vodka ad, in which a slave ship floorplan forms the iconic bottle outline, suggests that our appetites have a price. Similarly, his piece Priceless #1 could be seen as a quick riff on a popular ad--and exploitative of the pictured family--until you hear the backstory.
I think that the irony of the ideal of the black male body is interesting…it is fetishized and adored in advertising but in reality black men are in many ways the most feared and hated bodies of the 21st Century. The majority of this work comes out of the experience of losing my cousin Songha Thomas Willis – he was killed because he was with someone who was wearing a gold chain. It is this idea – that someone could be killed over a tiny commodity. In NYC in the 1980s, people were killed over sneakers and backpacks. Songha was someone who survived DC when it was the murder capital of the country and then came home to Philly and was killed over a commodity. I want to question what makes these commodities so precious that they are worth defining and more importantly taking another person’s life?
Update: See Thomas' work here. Tyler Green offers his thoughts on Priceless #1 here.
First off, "Pahrump" itself is a native American word. The town, originally a Shoshone settlement, takes its moniker from that tribe's word for "water rock"--Pah-Rimpi--which refers to the area's abundant artisan wells. While not foreign, it suggests a culture other than the mainstream, European-descended colonists of this land. Might want to revise that.
Second, let's go to Pahrump's official "image gallery." The photo of a cowboy wielding a lariat (above) has got to go: "lasso" derives from the Spanish word for "snare"; "lariat" is from the Spanish for "rope." (The bucking bronco riders and rodeo cowboys are also in engaging in activities named by Spaniards and still used by the Latin Americans residents who share their language.)
The Pahrump Police Department had better stop using taxpayer funds to purchase and train foreign-named German Shepherds, a breed perfected by a Berlin-based veterinarian, Capt. Max von Stephanitz.
This image of a guy barbecuing? Nix it. Barbecue comes from the Spanish word barbacoa, and is thought to go back to the West Indian Arawak people and their "method of erecting a frame of wooden sticks over a fire in order to dry meat."
And this fellow had better stop wearing the Shriner's fez, a hat named after a Moroccan town; it was once part of the Turkish army's uniform before Mustafah Kemal banned it. Worn by some Muslim men, the fez "was chosen [as the Shriner symbol] as part of the Shrine's Arabic (Near East) theme." Pahrump's Shriner's might want to switch to paper hats constructed from... USA Today.
Pahrump's toga-wearing Greeks should, by town board decree, be directed to wear made-in-America dungarees, and the darling Pahrumpian below should remove her ten-gallon hat--if that's indeed what it is--because the term's got "foreign" written all over it:
Ten-gallon hat" is the result of a linguistic mix-up. "Galón" is the Spanish word for "braid." Some vaqueros wore as many as ten braided hatbands on their sombreros, and those were called "ten galón hats." English speakers heard gallon. Real cowboy hats came to Texas from the Spanish via Mexico (unless you want to go all the way back to Genghis Khan and the Mongolian horsemen, who apparently wore something similar).
If you'd like to make these sensible suggestions to the Pahrump town board, you can find their contact info here. (Board Chairman Richard Billman and member Laurayne Murray voted in opposition to the English-only decree.)
Fairfield University professor John Orman, noticing that Lieberman's party had no members and no platform, registered with the Secretary of State's office as its sole member. "Then I went home and called a meeting of all registered Connecticut for Lieberman members to reflect on our party's victory in the U.S. Senate race (and) organize and submit rules to the secretary of the state," Orman said. He nominated himself party chairman, seconded the nomination, won (by a landslide), and set out to establish the party's rules.
Formerly a Democrat (before turning Liebermanite), Orman says he wants to keep the senator accountable: "I'm just trying to get the ball rolling so the state will say if it is a legitimate party or not."
Someone in Fairfield, one "Fink Neal," has registered the URL connecticuitforlieberman.com. The banner atop the page: A Party of One.
Earlier in art rip-offs: Nike cops Robin Rhode's style, the Detroit Tigers copy Banksy, and Nike swipes Minor Threat album cover. The other way around: Minerva Cuevas riffs on Del Monte.
The rumors that chief White House political architect Karl Rove will leave sometime next year are being bolstered with new insider reports that his partisan style is a hurdle to President Bush’s new push for bipartisanship. “Karl represents the old style and he’s got to go if the Democrats are going to believe Bush’s talk of getting along,” said a key Bush advisor.
Alexandre Orion is cleaning São Paulo’s tunnels by scraping the deposited vehicle exhaust soot from the walls to make hundreds of sculls. Even so police turned up several times they couldn´t do much as cleaning is no crime. After some time the São Paulo municipal started their own cleaning mission, consequently only cleaning the parts already cleaned by Alexandre. Again the skulls appeared on the remaining soot canvas and this time the city decided to clean all tunnels.
Cross-posted at Minnesota Monhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifitor.
As a verb, though, "to craft" seemingly means to participate in some small-scale process. This implies several things. First, it affirms the results of involved work. This is not some kind of detached activity... To craft is to care... [It] implies working on a personal scale--acting locally in reaction to anonymous, globalized, industrial production...Artists that come to mind immediately are Robert Gober, who hand-makes replicas of everything from a kitchen sink to tissue boxes, and Kiki Smith, who's featured in By Hand. That book, inspired in party by Jeffries' definition, features innovative and unexpected uses of craft in contemporary art, accompanied by first-person statements by each artist. One such artist is Rob Conger whose art--latch-hook rugs like the ones he made as a youth--focuses frequently on the mediated dreams of money: he's done yarn homages to lottery lines, The Price is Right, and Alan Greenspan, to name a few. ("We confuse our desire for beauty with our desire for money," he writes.)
woven acrylic yarn on quarter-inch canvas mesh, 1998
Not unlike Kara Walker's transformation of the stately craft of black-paper silhouettes into shocking exposes on race and gender, Kent Hendricksen takes found tapestries and embroiders in ropes and hoods "turning light-hearted innocence into dark vignettes of sadism and emotional aggression."
Robyn Love, whose guerrilla knitting projects have included a gravestone cozy, created a Memorials project, in which she knit what she felt were missing elements of objects and structures like a bus shelter and World War I statue. "My cozies were intended to obscure the thing that was already obscuring the original person or event."
[Cross-posted at Off-Center.]
Artist, entrepeneur, and Minnesota Rollergirl Rebecca Yaker makes some curious clothing. Her portfolio includes an un-Prom dress made out of sock monkeys, an outfit "constructed out of toy foods (tomatoes, cheese slices, roast beef, white bread, bologna, hamburgers, and lettuce), clear vinyl, and plastic coated metal," and this sweet Fruit Roll-Up Western Shirt:
This shirt is constructed entirely out of various fruit roll-ups--strawberry, tropical fruit, and electric blue (not really a recognizable favor, but it's tasty)--finished with rhinestone snaps up the center placket. It was nearly impossible not to eat my supplies, but somehow I managed not to.
Fred "God Hates Fags" Phelps, a liberal? (Isn't that a bit like Fox News "accidentally" turning Mark Foley into a Democrat?) Bin Laden too? Yep. Claiming to track the shadowy links from environmental, peace and social-justice organizations in the US to terrorists and far-right ideologues, DTN uses two time-tested tools, guilt by association and misstating an organization's values to score points with the far right, to map a vast leftwing conspiracy--and it targets a surprising range of Minnesota-based individuals and organizations.
Horowitz, the contentious lefty-turned-neocon who's now funded by rightwing foundations, tries to connect the dots from Zinn to Zarqawi with the site, and he doesn't let typos and outright falsehoods get in the way of this thesis. The site exists to define "the left's (often hidden) programmatic agendas." But a scan through many of its posts suggests that organizations having missions that differ from Horowitz's own get the toughest scrutiny for rather un-hidden agendas--groups that are Muslim or seek a balanced approach to the Israel/Palestine conflict are dubbed anti-Israeli, organizations opposing the Iraq occupation or the Patriot Act are anti-American, pacifists are equated with communists.
A few of the local groups that are featured:
• ISAIAH, an interfaith organization of some 75 religious congregations from St. Cloud to St. Paul "who have committed themselves to each other in order to build power for a worldview that prioritizes racial and economic justice." Among the group's misdeeds, in Horowitz's eyes: being an offshoot of the "radical Gamaliel Foundation in Chicago, which campaigns for numerous leftist agendas, including 'the Civil Rights of Immigrants.'"
• St. Olaf College: While no text accompanies this post, Discover the Networks links to four columns, all deriding the Northfield-based institution for hosting its annual Nobel Peace Prize Forum. In two articles by Katherine Kersten and one by Powerline's Scott Johnson, the college is ridiculed for nonviolent tactics for peace and accused of aiding in student recruitment by "activist left-wing pacifist groups" without offering a counterpoint.
• Nonviolent Peaceforce: This St. Paul-based NGO's mission is "to disrupt military actions" according to DTN, but Nick Mele of NVP says that's not true: "Our mission is to support and encourage the efforts of local peace makers by protecting them from violence." Aside from listing the NGO's address incorrectly, DTN also incorrectly states that the Nonviolent Peaceforce is part of United for Peace and Justice. He adds, "It's news to me... that Pax Christi USA, of which I personally have been a member for nearly 30 years (most of that time while serving as a US diplomat in the US foreign service), is anti-American."
• Friends for a Non-Violent World: This St. Paul group uses Quaker traditions to promote nonviolent alternatives to war. DTN chides: "In FNVW's view, violence is never, under any circumstances, a justifiable means of dealing with foreign enemies. Rather, the organization places its faith entirely in what it deems 'the goodness in all people.'"
• Centro Campesino: According to DTN, this Owatonna, Minnesota-based NGO "seeks to remove all restrictions on immigration to the U.S." Again, an overstatement. Jesus Torres of Centro Campesino writes to say that's not true: they simply seek fairness in immigration policies, citing four areas of focus: "Family Reunification, Roads to Permanent Residency and Citizenship, Human, Labor and Civil Rights, Respect and Dignity."
Then there's the entry for the Center for Independent Media, parent organization of the blog through which I get my "leftist blogger" cred in Horowitz's eyes, replete with errors. For starters:
• Minnesota Monitor is not looking for a state coordinator; we've had one for months.
• Our state coordinator, Robin Marty, contrary to Horowitz's claim, is not male.
• Marty does not blog for Drinking Liberally, which is a nationwide network of people who get together to talk politics over beer, not a blog.
• The passage Horowitz cites in Marty's bio was not, in fact, written by her.
Need I go on? Aside from nitpicking bios, which are, all in all, pretty fair, what's also curious about the Center's entry is that a.) it only cites examples of the Minnesota program, Minnesota Monitor, and not the older, more visible Colorado Confidential, and b.) it backs up its assertions through links to rightwing partisan blogs like Minnesota Democrats Exposed. No problem there, really, but DTN's sourcing--the most-cited publication is Horowitz's own FrontPage Magazine--betrays the fairness and balance it purports (DTN aims to "to avoid conflating subjective judgments about policy differences with factual descriptions of attitudes expressed by the individuals and organizations listed on this site"). For example, the Minneapolis-based Target Foundation, the generous philanthropic wing of the Minneapolis store chain whose executives give almost exclusively to Republicans, is ridiculously tagged "radical left." Who says? The Capital Research Center, a rightwing thinktank founded by a former Senior VP at the Heritage Foundation.
Other Minnesota mentions:
Women Against Military Madness (WAMM)
...Like many Americans, I am excited by the results of the November 7th election. My fourteen years in the Senate have been the greatest privilege of my life and I am extremely pleased with what we have accomplished. During so much of that time, however, we Democrats have not only been in the minority but have often been so deeply mired there that my role has often been to block bad ideas or to simply dissent. That is a very important role but I relish the thought that in this new Congress we can start, not only to undo much of the damage that one-party rule has done to America, we can actually advance progressive solutions to such major issues as guaranteed healthcare, dependence on oil, and our unbalanced trade policies.
Turns out Bush admitted lying when he said, just a few days ago, that Rumsfeld would stay on the job til the end of Bush's tenure. Oh well; we're accustomed to that by now.