Addict and prostitute in
Hunt's Point, the Bronx
Chris Arnade has a tumblr and a flickr with photos of people he meets on the street of Hunts Point. In his own words “I post peoples stories as they tell them to me. I am not a journalist, I don't try to verify, just listen.”
These stories will truly change the way you think about addiction and sex work. The (mostly women) pictured are described in their own words by Chris, sharing their lives on the street, their hard choices, and their drugs of choice. Often, there are tragic endings. A recent post showed the last photograph of a woman who died slumped over in a laundry mat. In the poignant photo, she is petting a stray cat – a powerful metaphor for these women.
As a fundraiser, I know how an image can tell a story, and make a problem that was once out-of-sight/out-of-mind more real. But these caught me off guard. I live in NYC – yet these women are a world away.
I emailed Chris, asking if there was any way at all I could help. He pointed me to Hunt’s Point Children’s Alliance, with a short note that they do good work.
There are many causes close to my heart, but something about these images and stories stuck with me. Some girls are my age, some younger. Some are my mom’s age. Some look like my cousin, or my friend. Yes, they are hard to look at.
If these photographs came to me from a client, and they wanted to use they to fundraise for a cause, I might think they are too real, too hard. The wounds look too fresh. When you are asking for donations, it’s important to show a happy outcome. Too many of these women die, or disappear.
But, they are authentic. Captured in the sprit of a nonjudgmental observer, they don’t feel at all exploitative. Photo’s of people in need are tricky. It’s rare to find some that are so.
I made my donation to Hunts Point Children’s Alliance. I want to do more – because these women and image are still in my mind. So I’m writing this.
Take a moment to visit the blog, and read their stories. Every fundraiser, New Yorker and human can learn something from the experience.