Zanmi Foto Replicates in Tennessee

A little over two years ago, Pradip Malde, Brooke Irving, and myself, Chandler Sowden, made our “trial run” trip to Cange, back before Zanmi Foto, before any module was developed, and before we knew much more than what we were hoping and dreaming for out of a community-based photo project. A year later, with additional help from Caroline Minchew, our team finalized the process of photography for community development and Zanmi Foto was introduced to the community: Interns were trained, families were selected, cameras given to those participating, and the first images were made. Since then, the Zanmi Foto families have taken more than 20,000 images, and continue to make more every day.

Now, as a Post-Bacc Fellow with the Collaborative for Southern Appalachian Studies, I have the opportunity to implement the Zanmi Foto model here in Tennessee. We intend to regard this as the potential expansion of Zanmi Foto in the form of a sister project: Grundy Foto.

Based a little closer to home, in Grundy County, Tennessee, Grundy Foto will begin working with a local organization that partners with families to provide minor and major housing improvements, as well as social and spiritual counseling.

As a part of the Zanmi Foto family, the goal in this new location is to document the long term changes that families experience as a part of this program. Through Grundy Foto, I hope to continue to refine the way of using photography and discussion to collecting information on changes and progress that would otherwise be lost in numerical data, all the while staying true to our partner’s mission and building more resilient families and communities through visual narrative-based discussions.

Stay tuned as this project continues to develop over the next few months! For any questions, please contact Chandler Sowden at cmsowden@sewanee.edu

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