by Larry Austin
An Island group is seeking to explore environmental issues on the Island through the medium of photography.
The Grand Island PhotoVoice project began Wednesday night at St. Timothy Lutheran Church with an introductory meeting attended by more than a dozen people. The GI version of the PhotoVoice tool is meant to express viewpoints of community members regarding their health and environment in the wake of the 2013 conviction of Tonawanda Coke for polluting and violating the federal Clean Air Act.
Kim Yaeger, a facilitator and member of the St. Timothy congregation, will collect photo submissions from the community that address how the outdoor environment improves, threatens or harms health and quality life. She will use the still images and captions to create a PhotoVoice, much like a documentary film, that is hoped to spur dialogue and raise awareness of environmental health-related issues.
Leadership of the GI Environmental Initiative conducting the collaboration includes Yaeger, a student at SUNY Stony Brook, studying music and environmental science; Dr. Jessica Caster from the University at Buffalo School of Nursing, Pastor Dean Hunneshagen of St. Timothy, and Town Supervisor Mary Cooke.
Castner emphasized that this project is a community one and open to any community groups.
PhotoVoice (photovoice.org) has been used locally by the Clean Air Coalition as an agent of change.
"The photo speaks so loudly, worth 1,000 words. That's why I think this project has potential. Most people today are very visually oriented, more than ever, so the visual image to the cause and to the concern is a powerful tool," said Hunneshagen.
One hundred different photographers will capture the same scene 100 different ways, noted photographer Joe Piniewski, who attended the meeting.
PhotoVoice workshops are scheduled for Tuesday, July 1, from 7 to 8:45 p.m. at Grand Island Memorial Library; Tuesday, July 15, from 7 to 8:45 p.m. at the library; and Wednesday, Aug. 6, from 7 to 9 at the Grand Island Town Hall lower level conference room.
Yaeger can be contacted via email at [email protected], or by voicemail at 716-773-4400.