Saturday, April 18, 2009

What Peace Means to Me: A Photography Exhibit

Seeing What Peace Means to Kids

By Mia

A little while ago, the Sprouts of Hope had the chance to go to the opening of "What Peace Means To Me" at the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester. This collection of photographs was taken by Roots & Shoots members who attended a workshop on this project at the Roots & Shoots New England Regional Youth Summit that we went to in the fall. One of the Sprouts, Maya, attended that workshop and she became one of photographers involved with this project. It was fun for us to go with Maya to this event and be able to see her three photographs along with all the others.

Here's a picture of Maya with Banafsheh Ehtemam, who is with the Boston Photography Center and worked with Maya and the other Roots & Shoots kids to create this exhibit.

We were really excited to go to the celebration for this show. It was very interesting to see how each young photographer expressed what peace meant to him or her through their photographs. They wrote words to accompany their pictures, so it was fun to read what they thought about in taking the pictures for this project. The pictures they chose for the exhibit ranged from images in nature to groups of friends to a collection of hands. Each photographer had a different and unique style that was reflected in their pictures and writing.

Maya wrote about her photos, which you can see after her words:


Recess can be a tough time for kids. Sometimes their friends want to lay with someone else or they start a game and don’t include the others. I wanted to capture moments when little kids show what it feels like to be a friend. To me peace is being a good friend.

After everyone spent time looking at the photographs and talking with some of the kids who took them, we gathered in one of the museum’s rooms for a presentation. Paula Tognarelli, the executive director at the Griffin, told us that she was delighted to have this photography project shown at the museum. Then Banafsheh Ehteman reminded us of the power of art as a way of communicating with people throughout the world. She also let us know that there will be more art and photography projects like this one through Roots & Shoots. Then Sally Sharp Lehman, the director of New England Roots and Shoots, spoke about the New England chapter’s “Peace Through the Arts” campaign through which kids have used artistic expression as a way to send images of peace and hope to children in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

Here’s a video of Banafsheh and Sally telling us about these projects.

We then watched an amazing video celebrating Dr. Jane Goodall’s 75th Birthday. You can see it at:

To close the ceremony, one of the photographers, Khalifa Stafford, who is a member of the New England Youth Leadership Council, read a poem she’d written to go along with her photographs. Here are some words from her poem:

How can you love anyone,
If your family was never there to teach you
The meaing of love?
Or simply, how to love?

A person who’s never had a family
Must have never experienced happiness.
They must feel lost, or lonely.

When I think of a person at peace,
I think of them as being with their family.
When I think of me at peace,
I see myself with a complete, happy family.

This was a really cool event and another time that we were able to meet and talk with other New England Roots and Shoots groups. It was also another example of how even though we are young we can do great things like have photos end up in a museum.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sprouts of Hope: Illuminating Energy Efficiency

Statue of Liberty -- Displaying a Different Torch

By Jane
On a recent night, the Sprouts of Hope did something we hadn’t done in a while. All seven of us got together and did a photo shoot. No, it wasn’t like a photo shoot for a magazine. Yes, it was fun. And yes, it had a specific purpose – to use with our exhibit about energy efficiency that we’re doing at the Cambridge Science Festival on Saturday, April 25.

For the past few months, we’ve been designing our exhibit for this science festival. John Tagiuri, a photographer who cares a lot about energy and environmental issues and partnered with us two years ago at the Cambridge Science Festival, kindly offered to do a photo shoot of us as Statues of Liberty -- only we'd be holding a fluorescent light bulb instead of a torch.
It’s a fun image -- and we had a lot of fun creating it, but it's also meant to illuminate the need to reduce energy use. We hope this image gives people who see it a reason to think more about choosing more efficient ways of using energy, including the appliances they use in their home. By holding up a fluorescent light bulb – and wrapping ourselves in the American flag – we think the photos will catch people’s attention and get them to really think about how they can make energy changes in their daily lives.

John took similar pictures of us as energy-efficient Statues of Liberty a few years ago, and we used those to decorate our exhibit at our science festival that year. Now that we’re older and we’ve added some new Sprouts members, he thought it would be a good idea to do the photo shoot again. And it was fun to be partnering with him again, too; he’s also going to be with us again at the festival this year, helping us demonstrate to people a lot of things about measuring energy use. We’ll probably put the photos John took of us on the wall in back of our exhibit – where a patchwork quilt we are designing with pictures and messages about renewable energy will also hang. Or maybe we’ll tape them to the front or side of our table. We’ll have to see when we get there that day.

It was super fun doing these photos with John. Each of us had the chance to be a Statue of Liberty – and we helped each other to wrap the flag around our body and put the crown on our head. When it was my turn, I didn’t know what was more peculiar – that my robe was an American flag or that the crown on my head was spongy. But it didn’t matter. What mattered was having fun doing this together – and the message we hope our photos will give to those who visit our exhibit.

Here's a Statue of Liberty photo with all of us in it:

We hope you'll come to our exhibit – Smart Energy: Measuring What We Use – on Saturday, April 25th, from noon until 4:00 at Kresge Auditorim at MIT. Check it out by following this link: