Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Working together

His name is Donald. His skin is dark and his eyes are bright. He favors the color blue. Curls of gray form his beard and swirl around the tips of his hair. He gets around the inner city in his wheelchair, sometimes on the street and other times rolling down the sidewalk or making quick shortcuts through parking lots. The streets of Houston are not his home; he lives in an aging and sagging clapboard house with his Aunt. But his days, and much of his nights, are spent on the streets.

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Donald's personality is a large one, a happy one. Oue paths first crossed in a parking lot of a neighborhood coffee shop. He flashed a broad smile and I smiled back at him. He rolled up to my car and proposed to me. I was delighted but had to turn him down. After that day, whenever I saw Donald, we'd strike up a conversation. In time, we became friends. I began to give to him as I could, a dinner here, a diet coke there. He never asked for anything, beside my hand, but I could see his hunger and his thirst at times and I wanted to help him. Still, the giving and taking was making the friendship off balance and I began to get uncomfortable with that because I knew there was something else, had to be something else that I could do. That Donald and I could do.

I asked myself, How could I really help Donald? What could we do together? And while I was asking myself these questions, Donald and I had a conversation that sparked an idea. A long time ago, I learned, Donald was a photographer in Fort Worth for a local paper. My mind began to spin. I have many cameras. I have a photo printer. I have access to editing programs.

Can you see where I'm going?

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Donald and I talked about my idea. I gave him a camera, asked him to shoot what he sees, what moves him, what inspires him, what he lives. And once a week, Donald and I meet and I give him a fresh set of batteries and take the memory card from the camera and upload his photos to my laptop. Then I give him prints of his photos from the week before and we put them in photo sleeves in a large notebook. And Donald sets off to take more pictures and to sell his photos for $5.00 for an 8 x 10.

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It is my hope that in this project, I can give volume to Donald's voice as well as help him earn money and become less dependent on others. It is my belief that I'm in for a lot of learning, through Donald's eyes.

The photo at the beginning of this post is of Donald, and was taken by me Monday evening. The other photos were taken by him. He has an interesting eye; he likes big spaces in his photos, he likes to make your eye wander the scene. He breaks a lot of rules and that works for him because really how can you place rules on someone's vision?

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In a couple weeks, I will be launching a separate site where I will feature Donald's photos available for purchase. In the meantime, I will show you Donald's work here.

I read somewhere that the scent of a rose lingers on the giver's hand. This feels like that. This is something I wanted for my friend Donald and yet it makes me feel so good, to work beside him, to learn about him through his photography, to watch him roll away from me eager for his next sale, his next opportunity.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I look forward to seeing more of Donald's work (and hopefully purchasing something).
-sdhb

ghost said...

alison, you are a rare and truly special person. i really mean that.

Velvet Sacks said...

What a beautiful and inspired collaboration! Your idea was genius and your heart is HUGE.

maxngabbie said...

bless your heart

CreekHiker said...

Alison, the size of your heart amazes me! I stand in awe!

Ylva said...

I really look forward to seeing more of his pictures.

Anonymous said...

Way Cool.

Reading said...

I love that last photo. It has a New Orleans feel to it and can't wait to see more. This one though I may need for my house.

CarrieJ said...

What an amazing gift! I look forward to seeing more of Donald's work! So awesome!
Happy Love Thursday!

Anonymous said...

awesome

Anonymous said...

awesome

elk said...

please let me know when the site is up...you have exemplified the meaning of love this thursday!

Soulful said...

In the giving we often get much more than we gave. Awesome stuff, friend. I look forward it it all.

df said...

I've always said you are one in a million...this just proves my theory!

Pony Writer said...

Read Matthew 5:14-16. And smile.

Jamie Turner said...

Hey, Alison. What a terrific post. My sister Nanci mentioned this post to all of us in the Turner family and I'm glad she did. Way to go! Keep up the good work.

Best,
Jamie Turner

Cheekey said...

Abolutely LOVE this!