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The ThanksGivingAmerica Campaign from on Vimeo.

I wanted to bring to your attention a crowd sourcing project for ThanksGivingAmerica, a photographic exhibit and essay project founded by my friend and a former mentor, Steve Liss.  Steve is a teacher at Columbia College Chicago, as well as a 30 year veteran photographer for TIME magazine.  I met Steve when I went to college at Northwestern University in Evanston, just north of Chicago where he was living at the time.   Steve made a name for himself with his unique ability to capture real, poignant, moments in the life of people throughout the midwest and America for what was at the time one of the most important magazines in the country. 

Here is a description of the project he is spearheading:

"During the third week of November 2012, in celebration of our national day of Thanks, ThanksGivingAmerica will open an exhibit of 50 photographic and multimedia essays – one from each state – highlighting the struggles and dreams of impoverished Americans, as those with little join those with a little more to give Thanks.

Award-winning photographers in all 50 states will carry out the project during the late summer and fall. The result will be a powerful visual reckoning unseen since Dorothea Lange and the Dust Bowl photographers chronicled the Great Depression and created riveting images that helped mold the nation’s collective memory and conscience. We will photograph a broad array of those struggling economically showcasing how they embody the enduring American spirit. Since poverty knows no zip codes or city limits we will visit people in need in rural, urban and suburban communities, and in each of America’s states."

I have long thought that the issue of poverty has been one of our nation’s greatest shortcomings – and that it is particularly accute amongst children throughout many regions of our nation.    It makes me happy to see so many photographer’s donating their time to this cause.  After the initial gallery is opened in November it will travel the country in hopes of restarting the conversation surrounding poverty in America – which is too often overlooked.  Yes, we have heard the cries of the 99% – but around 17% of the country that lives in poverty, which is almost 1 in 6.  The stats are worse for children, with about 1 in 5 of them living in poverty – closer to 20% a huge and disturbing number that is one of the largest is U.S. History.  

If you would like to help the cause – head over to IndieGoGo and see the pitch.  All proceeds raised through the site will go to the project’s parent company In Our Own Backyard, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization – and so all contributions will be tax deductible.  And depending on how much you are able to give, there are some very cool prints you can receive as prizes.  I realize that these donations are going to an exhibit rather than to the impoverished directly – but I think that supporting a voice that seeks to re-open the dialogue on this issue lays a foundation for real and measurable change.