Friday, August 28, 2009

Youth activism and Lou Jones' photography studio


My name is Ambureen and this is my first year doing Peace in Focus. Starting this program I was nervous. Nervous about not making friends, or not being able to meet a certain expectation. None of these things happened. Everyone was so friendly and we became friends so fast. In this blog I would like to talk a bit about what Peace in Focus was like.

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."

This is a quote, we encountered today. What does it mean to you? I interpreted it as, you can live life and take advantage of everything, appreciating what life gives you, and not taking it for granted, or you can treat nothing as a miracle. What we talked about today was leadership, leadership in our communities. We went over different ways of promoting change. Some things we talked about included starting clubs in our schools, and starting clean-ups in our community. One of our facilitators mentioned that there is more to do in our communities than just picking up the trash. She brought up a good point and mentioned all of the other things we could do to build our communities. I really enjoyed this program, and I really love making and spreading peace now. And photography has become a great passion of mine. Peace in Focus is a great program.


One day during the workshop we went to photographer Lou Jones' studio. He told us about his work and he took photos of some of us. We took our bio pictures there. We saw a lot of his pictures and he told us about how he likes taking pictures of pregnant women. He showed one of these pictures and said that the kid in the woman's belly then is now our age or older.. Amazing.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Identity and solidarity


One day this week we read the quote: "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world…We are all meant to shine as children do." This really caught my eyes... Among the activities we have done this week, we were working in stations and we talked about different things: interviewing each other in 2019, preparing the blog, talking about media distortion, looking at iconic images, editing our photos, and designing the Peace in Focus T-shirt!


We did this activity called mapping your identity, where we had to draw a figure of a person and draw lines from its eyes, ears, liver, feet, heart, head and muscles and write how that body part has helped you to get where you've been. For example, what you’ve seen/heard/touched, how they has affected your identity, and where you want to go.

Today we played this game called Crossing the Line. Basically this game was a game to help us get to know and understand each other and we also revealed secrets about ourselves that none of us knew about. So the way you play the game is that a facilitator asks questions and you step across the line if it applies to you.

Next we went outside and took three pictures of how we saw our identity: how we see ourselves, how we think others see us, and how we want to be seen.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Leadership, Light, and Community Mapping


We’re now finishing the second week at Peace in Focus. Everyday we start off with a quote and have to write down what we think it means. One quote this week was from Albert Einstein. The quote was: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

I think that this quote means that you can choose which way to live your life. One way will turn out good while the other way may not be as great. During the day we talked about leadership characteristics. Here is the list of what characteristics we think a leader should have: Confidence, Positive Action, Influence, Public Speaking, Motivation, Role Model, Trust, Build Relationship, and Honesty

When we were done with that we went outside and talked about light and contrast. We took pictures of objects that had a reflector or sunlight on them, or objects that showed light.


My first week at Peace in Focus was awesome because we traveled around Boston and took pictures that describe the environment. I took pictures of things that describe the area around M.I.T. and the Christian Science Museum. Pictures of tall buildings and nature showed the area around M.I.T. and Christian Science Museum. In all the scenery was very beautiful and I had a great time that day.

Check out our interactive Boston map here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Peace in Focus Boston Participant Bios:


Hi my name is Aisha. I am 13 years old. I am the person that likes to discover new things and meet new people. I was born in Boston and I am from Dominican Republic. I never like to stay at home a lot. I really like to go out and have fun. When I have no choice but to stay home I will entertain my self with something. I will either make something up or figure something out. When I grow up I want to become an actor. You may ask why am I interested in photography, well I like photography because since I want to be an actor I thought being on the other side of the lens would help me get used to the camera. This is my first year so I am a beginner. I am catching up pretty fast. Join me!

Aisha's Commitment to Social Change: to volunteer at the MSPCA Angell Hospital.


I have loved photography for a long time. It's been a passion of mine for a while. I believe that Peace In Focus has really helped me interpret photography and look at it in different and new ways. My name is Ambureen, and I am 15 years old. I am a Pakistani-American and a young Muslim woman. My first big experience in photography was when I was in the seventh grade. I noticed a big, beautiful tree in my backyard. I had a clear view of it from my window. It was tall, broad and had the most gorgeous leaves. I opened the window, lifted the screen and took a picture. I continued to take pictures of that tree everyday at the same time. I noticed that my pictures had improved in time. What I also noticed was that the shadows had changed everyday, and that the colors in the leaves changed day by day. The leaves began to fall, and I continued taking pictures of that tree from early fall through the early winter. That experience really shaped me as a photographer.

I am also interested in music. I play a couple of instruments, including piano and clarinet. I am also learning how to play the guitar. Singing is another passion of mine; I love to sing. I also love listening to music. My musical taste has really expanded throughout the years. My first real love was R&B, and hip-hop. I have now broadened my taste to classic and alternative rock.

Ambureen's Commitment to Social Change: to start an HIV/AIDS awareness group in her school.


“A man who won't die for something is not fit to live.” (Martin Luther King Jr.) The more I grow in life the more I understand that quote. What is life if you have nothing to live for? My name is Antonio and I’m a 16-year-old living in an adult world surrounded with different opinions, perspectives, and skin tones. I grew up in an intense environment - what most people call the ghetto or the hood. Sometimes what you see can make you believe there’s nothing else for you but I choose to think different. Poverty, gang violence, teen pregnancy, oppression, I always wondered if the world saw what I’ve seen every day of my life. Photography is my way of showing the world what I see and Peace in Focus helped me realize that I can create change by sharing what I witness to the world. I guess I do have a reason to live!

Antonio's Commitment to Social Change: to start a self-achievement group at his high school.


My name is Dounia. The reason that I am in Peace in Focus is because I enjoy taking photos and I was introduced to Kyle last year through my school. The school I go to now is called the McCormack middle school. The grade I am going to is the 8th grade and it will be my last year in that school. Another reason why I am in Peace in Focus is because I love meeting new people and learning different ways to look at things. I am more of a listener than I am a talker when it comes to learning new information because I like to think about things.

Dounia's Commitment to Social Change: to design projects that help youth in South Boston understand Peace.


My name is Fehintola. I was named after my maternal grandmother. I am 14 years old. I go to Boston Latin School. I am Nigerian and I've been living in Boston for 12 years. I have a huge family that lives all over the world. My actual family consists of seven people. I was born on April 18th, 1995. My favorite color is purple. I am a very friendly person and am close to a lot of people. I go to church a lot. Church is a big part of my life. I see myself as a very special person with a lot of opportunities coming my way. I love to do a lot of things. I love to read, to travel; I feel that I am a very smart person, and that I am going to go some where with my life. I hope that I can help the world one day. I love when I get to come together with my friends and family, that why I love holidays like Christmas, New Years, and Thanksgiving. I play the trumpet, and I want to get better at playing the piano. I also want to learn how to play the guitar. I want to be a very multi-talented person. I know I’m good now, but I want to be much better in the future. And I feel that Peace in Focus can help me become a better person and help me help the world. I feel that Photography can actually help solve the problems that we are having in this world. So props to Peace in Focus because so far I feel really empowered as a teenager, I feel like I can do anything. And even if I don’t make photography as a profession, I will definitely incorporate it in my life in the future.

Fehintola's Commitment to Social Change: to start a youth program that works to redevelop empty lots and build community centers.


Hi my name is Geisha, I am 14 years old and 100% Puerto Rican. I have been playing the piano since I was 11. I'm not good at it but at least I don't give up. The reason why I joined the Peace in Focus is because I wanted to take pictures that mean more than a text. This is my second year and I love it. All the staff members are organized, they keep things on track and they help me understand about conflict and violence around the world. I hope to come back next year.

Geisha's Commitment to Social Change: to start a community center that raises awareness about hunger and homelessness.


There's this person, very different yet similar to every other human being on Earth. What makes her so different and awesome is that she's Iris =). Iris has dark furry brown eyes with a light brown complexion and wild curly black hair. She enjoys ice cream, strawberry with cake batter ice cream! And her favorite color is GREEN! Music and Art is her thing, from painting to Alicia Keys. If she's enjoying herself then it’s okay with her. Raised in Boston but loves traveling all around the world. She's been all around the United States, Dominican Republic, and Spain but intends to go to Australia, Tokyo, India, Egypt and many many more places! Iris couldn't be Iris if it wasn't for Lissette Lapaix (mother) and Borito Santos (father), who have been there for her every step of the way. And you can't forget her siblings Eduard Santos, Carlos Santos and Erick Santos, who have been very annoying yet encouraging at points. There have been other encouragements like different programs that I have participated in like TAG, Summer Search, Bikes Not Bombs, Hyde Square Task Force, Outward Bound and many others but one that I am really enjoying now is Peace in Focus. A program that involves peace and photography. Being able to express yourself, your community, and other different things within photos. All of these things come together to make the incredible, respectful, crazy, and fun person who I mentioned before, IRIS! =)

Iris's Commitment to Social Change: to start a small non-profit awareness center in order to encourage youth to get involved in programs and organizations that are making a positive change in their communities.


I was born on January 1st 1995. I was named after my great uncle Jamal. I was born in Nairobi, Kenya. I moved from there when I was 3 years old to Boston, MA. My Family moved around a lot. The longest I’ve live in one-place is 3 years. I lived in the Bronx N.Y for about a year then I moved back to Boston and I still live here. When I was in the fifth grade I got a scholarship from the red sox. Then I went to the Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School. I just graduated from my school a couple of months ago. I joined Peace in Focus when I was in 7th grade and this is my second year here so that means I’m a veteran. I joined “PinF” because I had an interest in learning how to use cameras efficiently and correctly. This is my second year and I joined back because I wanted to do the program again because it was very interesting last time so why not again? I love nature and environment so most of my pictures are of the environment and nature. My career goal is to become an environmental scientist and to get my bachelors degree in environmental management.

Jamal's Commitment to Social Change: to start and lead a Roots & Shoots group in his high school.


My name is Malcolm and I was born on October tenth 1993. Let’s just skip ahead to when I was 13 years old. I started at the Martin Luther King middle school. While I attended this odd school I had some of the most memorable times at school in my life. For example when one of my friends was taking the S.R.I. he copied off of his friend and still failed it, which makes no sense at all because the person who he was coping off of passed the test. Till this day I still make fun of him for that. Another example was when my friend tried to jump down the stairs but he landed wrong and started laughing. Of course I had to be the only one to say I knew you couldn’t do it right and then proceeded to talk about all the things that were wrong with that. Another memorable time was when me and my friends had a contest to see who could do the best jump over the fence, tuck and roll, hop over the rock bed, and land on the roof. It was actually quite fun. I had the best tuck and roll due to the fact that I pretty much vaulted myself over the gate. Now let’s skip ahead to me at 15. Now I’m more calm and don’t talk as much as I used to. I don’t do all of the crazy stuff I used to do because I have learned that I don’t want an accident to occur and somebody else or me get hurt. Also I just don’t want anybody to think that I have nobody to discipline me. Now I'm just mellow almost all the time except when I'm at home and my sister is bugging me.

Malcolm's Commitment to Social Change: to start a youth-led neighborhood cleanup group.


My name is Meshach and I was born in 1995 and my passions are football, math, and photography. I love doing what I do and even though I just started photography I love doing it. Peace in Focus helped me find my new passion and I an love doing it. Also football is awesome because I get to let all of my anger out of my system. My sister told me about Peace in Focus and I thank her because she helped me find a new passion in my life. I also thank my mom for helping me out when I needed to talk and get things off of my chest. She is a strong woman and I do not think that she is nothing less.

Meshach's Commitment to Social Change: to start a socially conscious music group in his high school.


WHO AM I .....

I am the little black girl who grew up in the hood and was raised to speak and act properly and got made fun of because of it. I am the girl who got tortured because of the way I talked and the clothes I wore ........ the outcast of the family and never had a mother there to tell me that it was o.k to be different who had to grow up on her own with out a female role model in my life and now a young adult that proved to the world that it is possible to do it on your own.....

Sherly's Commitment to Social Change: to advocate for more electives and AP classes in her high school.


My name is Taylor. I am Black and Italian and the second child out of three children. I am fifteen years old and attend Fenway High School and am currently going into the tenth grade. I live in Boston, Massachusetts. I joined Peace in Focus last year and really enjoyed it, so I had to come back this year. Peace in Focus is a non – profit organization that encourages youth to see what is going on their communities. We take pictures of what we find interesting in our community and what we think that we could change in our community. We also talk about the camera and what the functions are, such as ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. Being from a very urban neighborhood, I like that this program is giving me different chances to see what other people usually do not see in my neighborhood.

Taylor's Commitment to Social Change: to start a youth program that works to redevelop empty lots and build community centers.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Changing the film within


A famous person once said, "a picture is worth a thousand words." I love being able to look at the simplest pictures and get so much out of it. And another quote is, "you need to be there to believe it." There are people that can't be there so we have cameras, which become our second pair of eyes to show people our point of view, and to be more specific the different social issues in our community and how we want others to see our community. Peace in Focus allows me to capture the moments and find meanings to pictures. =) This program teaches us that we need to open our eyes and be aware. And most importantly keep the PEACE! I myself enjoy looking at different perspectives and getting new ideas. From the few days that I have been in Peace and Focus, I learned that the world is like a screen projector. When you go to the movies and you see something you don' t like about the movie, you don't go up to the projector and erase it. You have to go to the film in the back and change it from there. Well, in this case, we are the film and the world is the screen. If we want to change the world, you have to start with yourself! PEACE IN FOCUS =)


What I like about Peace in Focus is that you yourself are willing to escape from your community when you’re stressed or depressed. This group helps you give good back to your community. You make peace to stop violence. To stop the killing and to stop fighting but violence overall. "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us..........your playing small does not serve the world.........we are all meant to share as children do.'' We have a lot of issues in this world: violence, death, healthcare, homeless people, hungry people, global warming, drugs, sexual assault, hatred, and ego. These are some of the problems that we face and with Peace in Focus we can end these bad things.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Media, Art, and Me


So my name is Jamal. I was in Peace in Focus last year and I joined again this year. There is not a real big difference between last year and this year - the only difference is the new people and the location and some new activities and field trips. I think this year is kind of better photography. In my perspective I have become a way better photographer because of this organization. The first week of this year we were mainly talking about media, peace and conflict all over the world.

I think that the media mostly affects everybody’s point of view because they promote negativity in the world. I had an interview with staff of the 7 News Channel. I asked her a lot of different questions so then I asked why do mostly all of the new channels show negative news and she answered truthfully and said that people pay more attention to bad things. She told me a quote that floats around the news business, which is "if it bleeds it leads." So that means the more outrageous the news is the more attention it gets so that's why they really never put on positive news. In the news before 2001 it never used to be as negative as this. All the negativity started in the 2000's so this wasn't too long ago. Only a few news channels have positive news. If the negative news continues earth is going to be even more negative than it is now.


I have come to love taking pictures even more than before. Peace in Focus has helped me understand photography more. I also now understand Peace more and how we can create Peace in our own ways. I've learned that I can be a Leader and I can do anything I want to do if I put my mind to it. Peace in Focus has helped me understand that. I love making Peace now and I am trying even though its going to be hard to change my community and as soon as I do that I will go onto changing my country and I am then going to change the world. I have figured out that I have the power to do all these things and be successful with my life. I don't know what I want to do with my life yet career wise, but I know I like to do many things, and one of those things is photography. That's why I feel that I want to open an art gallery one day. I think that it is very possible for me to do. (Dero gave me this awesome idea about opening an art gallery.)

On August 13, 2009 when we all split up into our groups and took pictures around the city, I had taken some pictures of newspaper stands, and Dero had told me when he was reviewing my pictures that taking pictures of newspaper stands was a good idea for an art gallery. He said that I could say what I feel the different newspaper stands represent, and that inspired me and got me thinking about actually maybe opening an art gallery one day. The field trips that we take with Peace in Focus really help me. I loved the one to the Arboretum, even though I have like a million mosquito bites from it I learned a lot about myself and about nature. Peace in Focus is Awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Peace in Focus Boston Workshop - August 2009

Peace in Focus is live in Boston!

Peace in Focus is holding its second annual Boston summer workshop for 14 talented young people from the greater Boston area (and Maine!). We are excited to connect you all with these remarkable young people, to build a creative space to re-imagine who we are and what we can be doing to create positive social change in our communities.

To begin, our participants traveled around Boston with several professional photographers to look at and see their communities in new ways. The result is an interactive map of Boston, featuring photos by these extraordinary young people: an artistic look at the city through their eyes..