When words become unclear...

When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs.
— Ansel Adams

I feel like lack of compassion often results from lack of understanding and lack of understanding results from the inability to communicate one's story.  This was the seed for the 20 cameras project I did on my return trip to Syrian refugee camps in Greece last month. While I can't communicate how truly kind and caring these people are through photographs, I can teach them the importance of telling their own story so that the world can see them through their own eyes and not through the eyes of so many others who try to tell their story for better or for worse. 

I had no idea what the level of interest would be in this project. I chose the 13-20 year-old age group, a range somewhat harder to entertain with activities but capable of so much. After explaining what disposable cameras are through a translator and doing a composition and storytelling workshop, they were off with their cameras. I consistently expected every portion of the project to fall through- they wouldn't show up for the initial class, they wouldn't bring their cameras back, the developing lab wouldn't get them completed in time, etc. In reality, the only 'almost fail' was my ability to track down 20 disposable cameras in northern Greece. 

They had an absolute blast and loved that they could see, touch, and keep the prints. I was particularly unsure about this outcome as most of them have smart phones or their family does (a good reminder that these are just middle class city dwellers from a developed nation that happens to be also war ravaged). Watching them smile and proudly show each other their prints was proof of the greatest success...and the multiple thank you's I received from each. We made a gallery in camp displaying their favorite images (2 from each student) and the younger children and adults came and loved seeing their work. 

Here are the highlights. 

Refugee Camps, Northern Greece

I spent some of August working at Syrian refugee camps in Northern Greece with a Norwegian nonprofit called A Drop in the Ocean. Volunteers of all types of backgrounds were needed and we were so busy. The work was what I would call the general humanitarian variety- distributing goods to the refugees, organizing projects with children, sorting items for distribution in a warehouse, and we even got to help an Icelandic woman launch a library at one of the camps, which was a huge success!  I'll be writing up a more thorough summary of the experience but in the meantime, here are a few photos. 

Mount Baker Climb

From misty forests to cloudy atmospheric camps to above the clouds sunrises and glaciated summits to wildflowers and bluebird skies and so much more. The list could go on possibly forever. This climb had it all. Wonderful weather (for the most part), perfect snow and great people made for a pleasant trip up the Colman-Deming Route. 

Sauvie Island Saturday

My trail run and paddle this morning was interrupted by flowers + bees + berries at Sauvie Island Farm. I had forgotten what a wonderful, quiet escape this whole island is, even given its close proximity to Portland and can't wait to return with more time on my hands to enjoy this place. Berries, peaches, lavender, fresh eggs, grazing sheep, quiet beach goers, and cyclists were just a few of the sites this morning while the day settled in.  Miss W and I ran, picked, paddled and let some houseboat jealousy sink right in. 

Annabelle's Boat Ride

Miss A is an old pup with a huge heart. I think we nearly drove her nuts on Thursday's boat ride with 7(!) women for the little herder in her to keep track of. Jumping in the water, tubing, not chasing the waves like we should be, and making her jump to mom were just a few of her stressors but all-in-all she looks like she ended up having a pretty good time.