Photograph courtesy of Visual Stenographers: Atiba T. Edwards + Emma Raynor
Photographs from Truth and Rocket Science—some already published on this site and some from my archives—are now being featured on the blog “Visual Stenographers,” which is published by Atiba Edwards and Emma Raynor. The photo above is one of theirs. The blog is a delightful visual tour as much through the world as the minds of their photographers, and TRS is honored to be invited. My photos will run for about two weeks, give or take, along with any others they are posting. Do visit the site and while you are there, enjoy the archives.
This came about as a result as my involvement in the Brooklyn Blogfest, which I had been advertising along the sidebar of TRS (and still am even though it’s over). The Fifth Annual Brooklyn Blogfest took place on June 8, 2010, at the Brooklyn Lyceum. Absolut sponsored this year’s event as part of the launch of its limited edition “Absolut Brooklyn,” which they created in collaboration with Spike Lee, who spoke at the event. It’s vodka with “an invigorating blend of red apple and ginger replete in a specially-designed bottle reminiscent of the ubiquitous ‘Brooklyn Stoop Life’.” Okey dokey.
For the Blogfest itself, TRS was the “panel wrangler,” responsible for helping to ensure that the panelists would show up and do their thing. The panelists this year were:
Faye Penn of Brokelyn
Jake Dobkin of Gothamist
Heather Johnston of So Good: Food and Wine with Heather Johnston
Petra Simister of Bed Stuy Blog
Atiba Edwards of Visual Stenographers
The panel was moderated by Andrea Bernstein of WNYC. A theme (among many) for the evening was Brooklyn’s capacity for conversation and discourse and the possibilty that blogs could take the dynamic of good old-fashioned stoop conversations and amplify, broadcast, hone, and narrowcast them across both time and space, in Brooklyn and beyond.
The Day After
Apparently, there has been some controversy in part of the blogging community here (i.e. Brooklyn) about Absolut’s sponsorship, provoking a bit of righteous ire across these stoops. Heather, one of the panelists wound up having an extended exchange on Atlantic Yards Report, and another Brooklyn blog, Brownstoner, claimed the Blogfest had “sold out.” As one who has been a community organizer in different places around the country and was happy to help with the Blogfest, I could run on with platitudes about getting up and doing something, and maybe this time Louise, Blogfest’s organizer, was trying something new, and so on and on and on.
Righteousness is like certain kinds of spicy foods that were wonderful in youth yet with age tend to bring on a bad feeling in the stomach and thereafter when consumed prodigiously. Righteousness has its place, of course, but at this point in my life I rather like the way Heather Johnston put it, “I like Louise and what she does.” Of course there was controversy, but there was also a really great event and some momentum for the future. Perfect? What is? It’s like they always say, If a tree falls in the forest …
Stomping Grounds and Old Haunts
So that is how I met Atiba, who shares with me not only the stomping grounds of good ole Brooklyn, but also the University of Michigan, as is obvious from the photograph of VS’s creators taken in front of the Graduate Library on the campus in Ann Arbor, our old haunt (and we have the paper to prove it). At the Blogfest, Atiba suggested I send some photographs over to VS and here we are. A very good idea.
At the end of the day, thanks goes out to Louise Crawford, the force behind the Brooklyn Blogfest and keeper of Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn. Louise’s dedication helps bloggers and writers of all stripes to become a community in spaces real and virtual, keeping both honest and focused on talking to each other. Louise has been a cherished mentor and supporter of my own blogging, and I try to repay her with thanks in action, whether panel wrangling or curating sessions for another of her community-building projects, Brooklyn Reading Works, for which I organized “The Truth and Money” last April. TRS will be curating another Brooklyn Reading Works event in January 2011 – The Truth and Oral History: The Double Life of the Interview. Stay tuned …
art is … what unites us!
In the meantime, please enjoy all the photographs on Visual Stenographers and stop over for a look at Atiba’s other projects. Check out FOKUS, an organization Atiba helped to found that uses “the arts as a tool for education, entertainment and empowerment.” FOKUS publishes Insight, a quarterly magazine of interviews, articles, photography, poetry, and more. Atiba’s work merges old fashioned community organizing and the technologies of our time to take community-building to a new level, both in scale and in accessibility. As the FOKUS website puts it, “art is … what unites us.”