December 2009

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It’s really interesting here – so many amazing buildings, and most of them empty! Also, I’ve seen women wearing the black abaya my friend living in Saudi Arabia was discussing – I’m not sure I could pull it off, I’m warm in the light long sleeve shirt I wore for dune smashing yesterday. I’m also very curious to see what the New Year’s Event tonight will be like. The place we’re going has two night clubs, and I really don’t know what to expect.

I don’t think we’ve met any Emiratis yet – everyone is from somewhere else…

This morning, we’ll see a couple of things, including the Emirates Hills which I understand is to be a sustainably built housing development, and then we’ll have a break in the afternoon which I hope to use to get a few pictures up, if I can get through the school filters, which don’t like images.

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Tel Aviv landing

One of the most basic elements of travel is how you do it. There’s planes, trains, automobiles – and that’s just the beginning. Whether you’re documenting an even for others or just wanting to remember for yourself, these all make great photo opportunities. Actually being in transport is one of the best moments to grab video footage of the city, country, or sky rolling by.

pre-flight in Taupo

As a pilot’s daughter, I’d be starting a series on transportation with planes no matter what. Today is especially timely, as I’m en route to a 2 week class in Dubai. I’ll be drafting on my notepad between Phx & Atlanta, and if I’m lucky, uploading through airport internet before the 2nd, longer flight.

So. Planes. How to summarize a lifelong relationship in just a few words? My 2nd earliest memory is an aerial view – caribou on the tundra. My parents met in Seattle and would go up to Alaska regularly for summer to hike. My dad and another pilot ran bush pilot service for scientists, photographers, naturalists, hikers. My mom and I spent one early summer in Kaktovik were 24 hour sunlight meant it quickly became clear that I needed independent verification even for the stories my parents told me. After all, how could it be 2am when it was bright as day outside? Definitely just a nefarious plot to trick me into going to bed early, and cutting tundra play time unnaturally short.

family trip

As I grew up, we split our family trips between road trips to camp in Colorado, commercial flights to see family in California, and borrowing my dad’s friend’s Piper Archer to go see friends in Wisconsin. Large airports are gateways to opportunity; small airports gateways to the sky.

I try to guess the moments of takeoff and landing, pack lots of gum in case my ears lock up, and firmly believe that the trip starts even before you leave your house for the airport – not just when you land and pick up your luggage.

And for me, the journey is part of the story – the online check-in kiosque mix-up (for some reason, I do not exist…) and the time we made it from the breakfast place across town, through rental return and security, to the gate in about 30 minutes. (we even, somehow, beat the plane, if barely). Even Thursday’s overpass terror will turn into an adventure once the heart rate slows and the insurance agent has checked everything out.

nearly Nairobi sunrise

But the big adventures, the most magic – those long haul flights where you quietly board the flight in an empty Detroit winter and descend through clouds and mitzvahs to an airport that welcomes you home from right to left, or disembarking on a shimmering, melting tarmac to the shouts of competing baggage handlers and smells nearly as vivid as the colors.

Sometimes I think I learn the most when everything is unfamiliar, including myself.

takeoff from PHX

This winter break (for the northern hemisphere, at least) my Dad will be flying himself to meetings all over both NZ islands, my brother will be crossing the Pacific for some temporary parental supervision and some good football bonding (the real stuff, none of those pads and helmets), and I’ll be looking down on the Atlantic in a few hours. If I’m lucky and the skies are clear, I’ll take some pictures.

When I get a chance, I’ll add the pictures that go with this entry, and there’ll be a some kind of gallery of plane related pictures – and I want you to tell me where you would go if you had one round trip ticket to anywhere in the world?

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United Arab Emirates map

Here’s the announcement – after a little bit of background information on the United Arab Emirates and, in particular, the emirate of Dubai.

Dubai has been in the news a bit this fall – like the rest of the world, the country’s finances are less ideal than they have been in the past. Recent coverage in US media includes Wall Street Journal‘s Dubai: A High Rise, Then a Steep Fall on Dec 4 and the New York Times‘ photo essay Dubai’s Improbably Tale.

This Monday, the BBC reported more mixed news, with Abu Dhabi gives Dubai $10bn to help pay debts and Gulf News had this article: Dubai issues new legal framework to deal with Dubai World disputes. All this may be especially relevant to Phoenix, given the relationship between the two cities.

Dubai map

As far as regular and background information, one of the best sites is Gulf News. More coverage can often be found through Al Jazeera English and the BBC’s regional coverage.

To finish the background information, you can’t talk about Dubai without talking about the construction

So, why all the information about Dubai? Well, when I posted this October entry, I had just heard about an opportunity – I was in a hopeful mood, and now that it’s finalized, I can make a bit of an announcement…

Dubai trip classmatesI’ll be taking a trip over winter break through ASU Study Abroad. The program is called A Tale of Two Cities – Dubai and Phoenix. It’s led by Jamil AlShraiky who specializes in healthcare design industry at ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. As for the troup, we’re an interdisciplinary bunch including students from design, healthcare, and journalism programs. The blog is already up here.

Yes, I’m REALLY excited, and yes, I’ll be writing about it. How much will be posted live from on-site will depend on internet access, which has been described as “really good dial-up…we’re sure it will work if your computers are right.” But there will definitely be somethings as the trip unfolds, as well as (probably tons of) pictures by mid-January when we get back.

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This year, winter break means two trips. The second I’ll be describing shortly, but the first (the one I’m on at the moment, actually, is about family, and friends (or fronds, as my phone would prefer me to type) and holidays. From start to finish, we’ll be in six states but I bet that our first day drive from Phoenix, AZ to Elk City, OK will be a tough record to beat.

A few short notes from the road:
On a roadtrip long, long ago, my mother mentioned that those blue shipping trucks with the yellow Werner logos remind her of her cousin. Now, whenever I see them I think of family, and they’re everywhere.

Here are the lights of Albuquerque, New Mexico. This was our first goal – we wanted to get at least this far. While it wasn’t that late when we passed through – maybe around 7pm – it had been this dark for at least an hour. Stopping was really, really tempting! But we pushed on…

When on a roadtrip one of the most important things is keeping your car in top gear. In our case we’ve been considering new tires for a little while now, so we’ve Steven’s been keeping a close eye on them. We started day 2 by topping off the air pressure in Elk City after a major breakfast lunch.

And finally, don’t forget to enjoy the stops along the way. While the goal is technically to end up where we began – a full circuit – we wouldn’t be making the trip in the first place if it wasn’t for the people we’ll be seeing along the way. At my aunt and uncle’s house, we frosted a large tray of tiny cookies before my cousins and their kids arrived for dinner. We had a really lovely stay (thank you!) and it was great to see everyone. For our route, see the Google map below, which may need to be zoomed out a bit.

Now we’re in Lawrence, where it was nearly snowing when we pulled in through a wintry haze, and after the dentist on Tuesday afternoon – the 6th state and holidays at Steven’s family. So… until the next entry, I’ll be focused on staying warm – and collecting road trip stories from you! Please hit the comments button and tell me about a road trip you’ve taken – it can be your last one, favorite one, or worst one, as long as you share!

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Journalism doesn’t work without knowing your story, and knowing your story involves knowing your place. Since most of my class is new to Phoenix (and a lot of us are technically new to journalism) many of our first assignments were designed to get us moving through the community and building new skills – double travel. And of course, I got pictures out of experience.

Abstracts & Details

Many of my POP examples from Phoenix came out of class assignments, like the first one I mentioned in the earlier post. What was that first photo assignment for my media class? Abstracts. And how does that fit into pictures of pictures? Well, a few came out as micro POP examples.

From Abstracts
From Abstracts

Going Historical

One of our ongoing assignments this semester is researching historical neighborhoods. This project took me to the Historic Preservation Offfice which is located in City Hall – it’s an fantastic office with truly stellar staff. The two pictures below, the vertical ones, are from a 1915 Sanborn Map company book of insurance maps of Phoenix.

Shoot First

Another is called “shoot first” where we capture images that are interesting, then find out what’s behind them. The first set is from a downtown sculpture called “Release the Fear,” built out of weapons turned in by the community.

There’s local graffiti which turned out to be notices for a well-known visual artist and a local music movement.

And there’s this mural just east of Roosevelt Street, whose story I don’t know yet. (If you do, tell me in the comments!)

From Phoenix (2009)

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Travel includes tourism, but is much wider. It includes work, study, moving, and migration. And travel isn’t always physical. Learning can take you from one place to another in ways that a car or plane never can. I’ve heard the argument that meditation is travel too. To me, the best trips involve overlap – trips where the travel comes from more than one source. The following story, to me, is one of the most meaningful examples of travel I’ve found.

I first came across this story in the September issue of American Photo On Campus. I knew immediately that I wanted to write about it – and that it wouldn’t be a fast or easy blog post. While I wrestled with it, or more accurately, avoided facing it head on, the rest of the world kept on noticing. Recently the National Portrait Gallery‘s Photographic Portrait Prize 2007 announced their selection of new emerging artist Jonathan Torgovnik as the overall winner for his work. The photos were already making waves this spring with blogs like The Girl Project, which also explores the impact of photography, posting a review in April.

As describes, these children are often called “enfants mauvais souvenirs,” or “children of bad memories.” Slate points out that Torgovnik himself is a child of Holocaust survivors. The article also how many of these women are deeply committed towards giving their children an education, despite the fact the secondary school is nearly unaffordable for most of them, a fact which led Torgovnik to start Foundation Rwanda.

Part of the impact of work like this is to introduce a topic worth knowing and thinking about. For understanding Rwanda, the two best books that I can recommend are Philip Gourevitch’s We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families: Stories From Rwanda and Colonel Romeo Dallaire’s first hand account Shake Hands With the Devil. Video of Dr. Alison Des Forges, the world’s leading expert on Rwanda’s 1994 genocide and its aftermath, is available here and her report, Leave No One to Tell the Story, is also on the site (thanks to Human Rights Watch website). For a wider view of Rwanda and the international reaction, I recommend Samanta Power’s A Problem From Hell as well as articles on Darfur from The New Yorker and The New York Times.

As far as Torgovnik’s work, an online version of Intended Consequences, with audio and visual, is available here at Media Storm. For physical copies the photographs are collected here and the book is available on sites like Amazon. The project was funded by a Getty Images Grant for Editorial Photography. As for his background, Torgovnick went to school in New York and
Canon lists him as a contract photographer
in their profile. And here’s Jonathan Torgovnick’s official site.

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Every year magazine publishers Conde Nast surveys their readers and publishes the result through CN Traveller as with this year’s edition of the Readers’ Travel Awards 2009. While the real expert on Conde Nast is my classmate Liz, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to look at one example of travel rankings.

Lists. Travel publications seem to love them. For almost any place you can imagine, there’s lists of restaurants, hotels, and sites you can’t afford to miss while visiting. And for every category of lists, there is the “Best Of” set. For the Readers’ Travel Awards 2009, the categories include: countries, overseas cities, airports, airlines, and trains. Definitely check out the airlines and trains for an idea of all the ways to get around.

It’s a great, exciting list of countries and cities – a fantastic set of possibilities. Since representation is low in central Africa, the Arabian peninsula, Asia, and both central and south America, I’ll add a few cities from my travel wish-list: Nairobi (an hour and a half simply wasn’t enough!), Lusaka, Dar es Salaam, Beirut, Aman, Damascus, Beijing, and Shanghai. Oh, and Asuncion, Mexico City, Santiago, Panama City, & Montevideo. Yeah, that’s a good start.

To be honest, there are prices tags on most of Conde Nast’s content, tags that’re a bit steep for a grad student budget. But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the pictures and the articles. Subjects include everything from the Sechellyes to ski resorts, and London’s airports to Marrekech’s restaurants. There’s also advice from specific, like Guide to Plettenberg, to general tips and advice.

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With a slight twist today, it’s today’s news instead of tomorrow, because there’s a few things I wanted to make sure to log…

First, in Somalia a suicide bombing killed 19 including three government ministers. The attack came during a graduation celebration for graduating Benadir University students who are hoping to be the next generation of doctors, much needed in the war torn country.

Troubling and confusing news of more unrest from Guinea via BBC News and Al Jazeera. Military leader Capt Moussa Dadis Camara, who’s been in power for a year since a successful coup, is said to be “doing well” and “out of danger” after being fired on and wounded by his own troops. The incident comes amidst calls by Human Rights Watch for Camara to release activist Mouctar Diallo.

Also, social media means connecting to anyone, anywhere – and sometimes, not in the way you expected. The Wall Street Journal describes how Iran is experimenting with new ways of using Facebook in Iranian Crackdown Goes Global. They say you never know who’s reading what you put online…

Finally, this New Zealand Herald article, Vanuatu: Lava’s in the air reminded me of this October post, also featuring Vanuatu. John McCrystal introduces us to Yasur, the volcanic “lighthouse of the Mediterranean,” on a daylong excursion

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