the URBAN what?

Usually I blog about things to EAT, drink, and photograph.  Like I've mentioned in the past though, I want to write about things that I am passionate about.

living to Love

means to me, more than just enjoying things you love, but loving on others.  to Love, I think often means to give and serve others.  In the past couple months, I had the spectacular opportunity to work with United Way in Calgary doing their Urban Exposure Project.  When presented with the idea, I thought it was the best melding of two things I love: Photography and Community. I have, in the past, worked at the Community Kitchen Program of Calgary and various other organizations like the Distress Centre.  I find with each of these experiences, I learn more about my community and more about myself and where/what my role is.    When you work with different organizations, you are introduced different populations and different needs in your community and you understand more where people are coming from.

Specifically with the Urban Exposure Project, I saw how varied people's situations were and how real the need of our city is.   It made me realize that any one of us could be in a situation of need at some point in our lives.  I mean this not just in basic shelter, or food; but in need of support and the need for community - the coming together of people.  So, what was Urban Exposure Project and what did we do?

It was a four month project, where a group of us met every other week.  Each meeting would either be a talk or discussion about different agencies or programs the United Way funds or it would be an experience to talk with people in the community who have used these resources in our city.  We also had "opt-in's"  each week, which means that you would volunteer or serve at various agencies in the city; among the list were the Drop-in Centre, Community Kitchen of Calgary, Neighborlink, we even took part in a Poverty Simulation.

In our spare time we photographed things, in our communities or through our experiences at volunteering, that embodied the image of Poverty.  Throughout the months, your idea of poverty changes and is shaped by these experiences.  The project wrapped up with a photo exhibit, showcasing a selection of each participant's images.

The journey through Urban Exposure Project was introspective; emotional; and eye-opening.  There were weeks where I would question if the work was futile, and the people in our communities didn't care or exploited the resources; then the were weeks where I would be very passionate and feel like we need to come together as a community and not just assume that the issues at hand were someone else's problem.  All in all, the work and time we have poured into this project is only a small  peek into the amount of hours, efforts, and resources that people in this city are putting forth each day.  I feel as though it has increased my knowledge of the needs around me but more importantly, it gave me a chance and  a new way to see "serving the community".