woods photo by cara davis

The current issue of Garden & Gun (Aug./Sept. 2011) includes a feature about Wendell Berry, a prolific American writer who was awarded the National Humanities Medal in March by U.S. President Barack Obama.

Berry, who has more than 50 books of poetry, fiction and nonfiction to his credit, is known for his connection to place – namely a farm in rural Kentucky where he lives and works, not many miles from where he was born. But Berry has traveled the world and influenced many in it over the years with his writing and ideas.

In the article, Berry, now 77, jokes with friends while bird watching about starting the “Slow Communication Movement,” in response to a culture of instant messaging and the “Society for Preservation of Tangibility” – a barb directed at society filled with digital avatars and electronic friends.

His witty take on the pitfalls of ever-advancing technology are rooted in a career known for its contributions to the subjects of conservation and land stewardship.

His writing studio features no electricity, but a large window that overlooks the river and allows natural light to flow in as he writes lines like this recent one from a recent poem:

It is a room as timely as the body
As frail, to shelter love’s eternal work,
Always unfinished, here at water’s edge,
The work of beauty, faith, and gratitude
Eternally alive in time.

The feature writer commented on Berry’s work: “In tumultuous and uncertain times, it is worth being reminded that these fine things – beauty, faith, gratitude – still lurk eternally beneath history’s dark veneer, and that an artist working alone in a room beside a river may catch a glimpse of them and render them into a lyric poem, a short story, or an essay.”

To that list I’d add “a photograph.”

Do you have spaces in your life that reconnect you to beauty, faith and gratitude?

Posted on Jul 28, 2011  |  Category: Inspiration  |  No Comments

eudora welty photographs

There’s a fantastic photo book published in 1993 featuring the work of Eudora Welty – mostly known for her fiction. (Her first published short story was “Death of a Traveling Salesman” in 1936.) Eudora Welty Photographs shows how she documented life in the South during the Great Depression.

The introduction of the book features an interview with Welty in her home in Jackson, Miss., in 1989 and serves as a retrospect of her career. There are some interesting insights when it comes to storytelling and photography:

Welty was a self-described “shy” person who took “daring” photographs. When asked what the circumstances surrounded the images she captured and published in her book One Time, One Place, she said: “I was never questioned, or avoided. There was no self-consciousness on either side. I just spoke to persons on the street and said, ‘Do you mind if I take this picture?’ And they didn’t care. There was no sense of violation of anything on either side. I don’t think it existed; I know it didn’t in my attitude, or in theirs. All of that unself-consciousness is gone now. There is no such relationship between a photographer and a subject possible any longer.”

When asked why, she explained, “Everybody is just so media-conscious. Maybe it’s television. Everybody thinks of pictures as publicity or – I don’t know. I wouldn’t be interested in doing such a book today, even if it were possible. Because it would assume a different motive and produce a different effect.”

(Keep in mind her comments were in 1989 – and sound like they could have been spoken today.)

Welty said she never posed people or imposed upon them with her photographs. She took a handful of shots and went on her way. “My pictures were made in sympathy, not exploitation. If I had felt that way, I would not have taken the pictures.”

Many of her subjects had never had a picture taken of themselves, and had never owned one. This is what she said about those: “They had so little, an a photograph meant something. And they really were delighted. It didn’t matter that it showed them in their patched, torn clothes. They wanted the picture. They were delighted at the evidence of themselves here – a picture was something they could hold.” (emphasis added)

Welty said her images constituted a statement of reality. “It wasn’t needed for me to say, ‘Look what a bad thing.’ Or, ‘Look how these people are facing it, facing up to it, meeting it, hoping as well as enduring it.’”

The photos spoke for themselves.

“I wasn’t trying to say anything about myself in the pictures of people. I was trying to say everything about them, and my taking them was the medium. The photographs are saying what I saw. I was just the instrument, whatever you want to call it.”

Click here to see a slideshow of Welty’s photographs from The New York Times.

Posted on Jul 18, 2011  |  Category: Inspiration  |  No Comments

What’s your biggest fear?

What’s your greatest dream?

These are the two questions Help-Portrait founder Jeremy Cowart and a group of friends asked while on a road trip across the country.

“The result was magical,” writes author Donald Miller on his blog.

“The greatest stories are lived in the desert,” Miller writes. “The great lives are lived in the places we most fear.” Click here to read more from his post.

Visit fearsvsdreams.com to read some of the responses. You can leave yours here or tweet them with the hashtag #FearsVsDreams.

Posted on Jul 11, 2011  |  Category: Inspiration  |  2 Comments
  • ryan ryan

    Fear: Never to discover my true purpose. Dream: To discover my true purpose.
    ryan | 11/07/2011 9:35 PM

  • Emily McIntyre Emily McIntyre

    Fear: that the rapture will happen before I can live my life to save people by God's love. And losing my love. And also my dad dying an alchoholic and never getting his faith back and as a result going to hell... Dream: saving the world and maing sure the whole world hears about the Lord. And also saving my dad. Persuing a career in music. And who could forget, marrying the love of my life. --sorry if its too long...
    Emily McIntyre | 22/07/2011 6:30 AM

Name: Ana Rita Ramos
Role: Co-organizer of the event
Date: 25-26 June 2011 
Location: Lisbon, Portugal

How the event came about: We wanted to organize a volunteer event that had related to what we stand for Ginkgo, the magazine where I work, particularly in this European Year of Volunteering.

How many people served: 65

Highlight from the day: 65 people have gone through a transformation process to realize human potential. 40 volunteers, including hairdressers, makeup artists, photographers and journalists, dedicated to corpor and soul of the event. The results were extraordinary!

What you learned: The pictures that came out of this initiative have endless stories, stories of hardship and hope, we all can review.

What you’d do differently next time: Next I think will be best to do the event only one day, but in a larger physical space, involving even more people!

Are there plans for a future event? Yes, Joining to Help-Portrait on the 10th of December!

Photographer Ahmad Kavousian was one of the few photographers invited by Gingko to participate in Help-Portrait: Libson. He also shared his experience with us:

“I have an ongoing visual research about street people’s life in north America that started in 2004 in Vancouver British Columbia, and now I expand it farther to Europe after moving to Portugal in 2010.

“The location [of the event] was in Lisbon, Portugal, in a poor neighborhood with many social residences. Many street people were attending, probably 20-30 – I have to say we don’t have a big population of homeless here :) that explains why 20-30 is a big number. There were many makeup artists, hair dressers, photographers and journalists for doing the work, lots of food and drink also available for them.

“Sponsors prepared lots of dresses and shoes for them to put on for the photoshoot and take it with them afterward. They were so happy, cheerful and so funny. There was a huge difference in their behavior before and after makeup, that’s how many bystanders realized that the big difference between us and them is nothing more than a clean look. I am sure when they were walking back in street with their new look, nobody could say if they are a homeless or an engineer. They’ve planned to do it again soon.”

Have you recently held a Help-Portrait event? Share the behind-the-scenes with us.

Posted on Jun 30, 2011  |  Category: Inspiration  |  No Comments
Refugees in Tanzania

Refugee children in Tanzania at a facility run by the International Rescue Committee; Photo by Donna Morris for the IRC

There are 36 million refugees who live in camps worldwide. Half of them are children.

Today is World Refugee Day, and we stand in solidarity, but also in action.

Here are a variety of ways you make a difference in the lives of those who are forced to flee their homelands due to persecution, conflict or violence: “12 Actions for World Refugee Day.”

Posted on Jun 20, 2011  |  Category: Inspiration  |  No Comments

Emma is a relatively new email marketing company with a team committed to giving back, sustainability and innovation. Inc. magazine recently named Emma one of the 50 best small company workplaces, and it’s no surprise. Here’s a look at some of the causes they support.

  • Planting five trees for every new customer. (That’s 20,000 trees a year.)
  • Good Works” accounts. (They set up every agency with a free account that can be used for whatever deserving charity they choose.)
  • Funding loans to small businesses through Kiva. (Each month, a revolving group of Emma staffers peruses the Kiva site and decides how to distribute Emma’s monthly contribution. )
  • Funding classroom projects through DonorsChoose.org. (Emma staffers pick a handful of projects each month. They’ve helped more than 10,000 students in 27 states.)
  • Giving away 25 Emma accounts every year (through the annual Emma 25 initiative awards, benefitting small, deserving nonprofits that our customers nominate).

Help-Portrait is the beneficiary of one of those awards this year, and we’re honored to be chosen and named among 24 other amazing nonprofits. Help-Portrait was given a free account and we were able to work directly with one of Emma’s designers, Taylor Schena, to develop a custom email stationery.


Interested in signing up for our newsletter? Fill out the form below be signed up to receive our communications.

Thanks for your work, Taylor, and to Emma for the honor. We appreciate what you’ve done for us, but also your commitment to give back and make a positive difference while doing business.

Posted on Jun 14, 2011  |  Category: H-P Tips  |  No Comments

From the just-for-fun department, here is a photo gallery featuring Brooklyn, N.Y., in the summer of 1974. It’s a collection of beautiful and nostalgic vintage photos by photographer Danny Lyon, who spent two months snapping pictures of the everyday life in the borough.

brooklyn summer 1974
Three boys and ” A Train” graffiti in Brooklyn’s Lynch Park. Image by Danny Lyon / National Archives and Records Administration

See all 42 images: www.businessinsider.com

Posted on Jun 12, 2011  |  Category: Inspiration  |  No Comments

TOMS announced this week they are no longer a shoe company, but a one-for-one company as they unveiled their newest product offering: sunglasses.

But they’re not the only ones. Warby Parker Eyewear is also launching a line of sunglasses this summer with the one-for-one model.

TOMS is also working with Seva Foundation to provide medical treatment and sight-restoring surgery. Warby Parker is working with VisionSpring to help low-income women launch self-sustaining businesses in their community.

We’re thrilled that these companies, and others like them, are challenging for-profit companies to build giving back into their business models.

Interested in how the different sunglasses lines compare? Our friends at HalogenTV.com have extensive coverage, including this comparison infographic (click to enlarge).

What are your favorite brands and companies that give back?

Posted on Jun 10, 2011  |  Category: Inspiration  |  No Comments

H-P founder Jeremy Cowart is doing a series of videos showing how he creates a piece of fine art. Last week he created “Reaching Down,” a piece in response to the Joplin disaster.

Prints are available for purchase at the Jeremy Cowart Store and all proceeds benefit the First Response Team of America, who responded to the Joplin disaster as well as many of the recent storms and flooding in the South and Eastern United States.

The Joplin photos and video footage in this video are by Cale Glendening, and the music was donated by Sleeping At Last.

Posted on Jun 07, 2011  |  Category: Inspiration  |  No Comments

After hitting several thrift shops while on vacation last week, this TED talk was a delight to watch. Brooklyn designer Jessi Arrington packed nothing for TED but 7 pairs of undies, buying the rest of her clothes in thrift stores around LA. She shares the outfits with the TED audience and reminds us that “fitting in is way overrated,” and that we can rock any outfit we want to. Enjoy!

Which was your favorite outfit or piece from the talk?

Posted on Jun 06, 2011  |  Category: Inspiration  |  No Comments