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Social Change

liveBooks Ambassador Marcela Taboada’s exhibit, Sanmigueleñas, is currently running through the end of January at the Centro Cultural San Pablo in Oaxaca, Mexico. 

These Mexican girls are daughters of farmers who learned how to grow vegetables organically. They are the future mothers who will transmit to their children how to stop the use and abuse of pesticides and to eat healthy. I photographed them the day that the harvest was done. My idea was to raise awareness that we all belong to Mother Earth and that by having a healthy and conscious society we can respect our planet in this globalized world.

Due to lack of information, children are fed sweets and processed drinks that affect their physical development. Although corn is the basis of our diet, at schools and other institutions, junk food abounds.

I decided to make these portraits of girls and young Zapotecs of San Miguel del Valle, a district of Tlacolula in Oaxaca, when the harvest of an organic garden that participated in the global collective project “I Have a Dream” was made. The vegetables they carry as “crowns” are what they themselves planted, irrigated, tended and harvested with their parents. My intention is to raise awareness to all women that we are related to land and fertility. We feed our children who will carry this message to future generations. I consider it very important to rescue organic home gardens that help make a healthy and conscious society, obtaining a sustainable supply in this globalized world.

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Photographer and humanitarian Sarah Fretwell has been called an unreasonable activist. She formed The Truth Told Project to help the girls and women of the Congo share their stories of sexual violence with the world and serve as a catalyst for change. She tells us about the project and with what we can do to help.
The Truth Told

Kavira Kabambi, 15 year old survivor. Photographed by Sarah Fretwell.

The Truth Told Project

One girl or woman is raped every minute in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The rape is not random, as you might think. It is a power play that targets those who are not in a position to fight back. The rebel and military groups use rape as a scare tactic and way to control and destroy local communities. The DRC’s society is so broken rape is now “normalized.” Millions of girls, women and men have been raped. Many more will be raped in the time it takes you to read these few paragraphs. More »

January 23rd, 2013

Documenting The PANGAEA Project

Posted by liveBooks

Luke Johnson is the Operations and Logistics Coordinator of Mike Horn’s PANGAEA Young Explorers Program. This program aims to inspire young adults to create sustainable solutions between nature and mankind by taking them to some of the most beautiful places on the planet. Luke shares some amazing photos from the expedition as well as his experience documenting The PANGAEA Project by creating a photo book using Pinhole Pro.

Mike Horn is acknowledged globally as one of the greatest modern day explorers of all time. In short his feats include traveling solo around the equator, ascending two 8,000 meter summits in the Himalayas without additional oxygen, circumnavigating the Arctic Circle, and being the first man to travel (without dogs) to the North Pole in permanent darkness. All of which were done without motor transport.

Canadian Arctic Ocean Expedition to the Magnetic North Pole

Canadian Arctic Ocean Expedition to the Magnetic North Pole

After 20 years of solo exploration, covering nearly every inch of the planet, Mike was ready to turn his dream into a reality: The PANGAEA Project (Pan Global Adventure for Environmental Action). The PANGAEA Project is a 4-year circumnavigation of the world through a series of 12-scheduled expeditions, each to different terrain including mountain, desert, ocean and the arctic. For each expedition Mike and his team select students between the ages of 15 and 20 to accompany him.

The African Expedition Team

The African Expedition Team

The goal was to show the younger generation the most beautiful places on the planet, the fragility of the ecosystems and the impact that human activity has on the environment… and do something to improve it!

Working for the Pangaea Project I have had the opportunity to see, first hand, the most beautiful places on the planet and witness lives that have been positively impacted and changed forever.

A Pink dolphin as seen on our Amazon Expedition

A Pink dolphin as seen on our Amazon Expedition

When asked about the project, it’s virtually impossible to put in words all of the incredible experiences I’ve had. The great thing about the younger generation is that they have their own eyes, ears, feelings, personalities, and unique way of learning. What I take out of an experience may be completely different than the next person. Sometimes the only way to really express these things is through the photos we take.

Icebergs from the Clyde River on the Nunavut Expedition

Icebergs from the Clyde River on the Nunavut Expedition

A few months back we chatted with Chase Jarvis and team about how awesome it would be to put a book together with photos taken by our young explorers and team throughout the entire expedition. Then we would be able to see the 4-year expedition though the eyes of those who were involved.

I was thinking what a great idea, but impossible to get photos from hundreds of people and choose the best ones to properly tell the story. It would take months if not longer. Chase’s team told us about liveBooks and their affiliation with Pinhole Pro. Pinhole Pro allows the average photographer (like myself) to make beautiful photo books and have them delivered in as little as two weeks.

Initially, I was a bit skeptical, especially when Mike said it needed to be finished before the expedition finale in Monaco (which was 3 weeks away). With nothing to lose I decided to simply attack the project. I sent out 100’s of emails, shuffled though thousands of photos, (that could seriously make the front cover of any Nat Geo Magazine) and dove into Pinhole Pro.

Mike Horn and Luke Johnson looking at their Pinhole Pro photo book

Mike Horn and Luke Johnson looking at their Pinhole Pro photo book reliving some of the best memories from the last 4 years

After the photos were selected I started the creation process. First I downloaded Pinhole Pro’s Studio’s software then I uploaded the images. Next I chose the book size, number of pages, type of paper (recycled paper is an option) and the front cover. It wasn’t long before the book was finished!

I would highly recommend using Pinhole Pro to anybody wishing to document a special memory or occasion to treasure it forever.

April 5th, 2011

My Visitor from Tehran

Posted by liveBooks

As a kid growing up in Ohio I started a door-to-door sled-pulled grocery service for elders during the Blizzard of 1978. In the early 90’s I started the Chicago MadHousers to build small temporary shelter for homeless individuals. Ten years ago I started FiftyCrows Foundation to support documentary and photojournalistic photographers that document social issues. Renowned photographer and National Geographic Society Fellow, Chris Rainier, asked me to help him to start the NGS All Roads Photography Awards to support storytellers documenting their own culture. And here at liveBooks our philanthropic efforts are extensive, from supporting an orphanage in Mexico, to working in the local homeless kitchen, to donating over one hundred websites for organizations around the world.

But why? Why do these things?

Last week I had visitors from Iran. One, an outstanding Iranian photographer that had won an All Roads Award back in 2006. The other visitor was her husband, a Washington Post correspondent based in Tehran. I remember the first workshop for the All Roads winners, I was teaching them the basics of how to shake hands, how to create an elevator pitch, and of course how to put together their new liveBooks site. Now, four years later, I was the awe-struck student, listening intently to Newsha’s tales of her assignments for The New York Times, exhibition opening under the terror of being arrested, awards and honors from around the world, and the evolution of her artistic vision.

I once heard that, “we are not looking for the meaning of life, but rather, the experiences that remind us what it means to be alive.” For me, the experience of being of service for a fellow human is such a reminder. After Newsha and Thomas left, I smiled for days, knowing that in some small way I had contributed to her path.

This is why we do these things. This is why I suggest that you too find a path of service. Regardless of how small you might think it is, it can have a tremendous impact in ways you may never even know. The return on the investment is enormous, and it may even help your business in some way.

I would love to hear from you about ways you’ve blended your creative vision and your profession. Let’s see how many of us are giving, and in so doing – receiving.

If you’re in San Francisco this week be sure to catch Chris Rainier at the Herbst Theatre on Wednesday, April 6th as he discusses his efforts to record the remaining natural wilderness and the indigenous cultures around the globe by putting these wonders to film and using the visual stories to bring about social change.

And, please check out the website from my Visitor from Tehran. Keep singing Newsha – loudly!


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