MARDI GRAS - NEW ORLEANS, LOUSIANA

Mardi Gras, that maddest of all mad days when every man may be a king, or, if he prefers, a tramp or a clown or an Indian chief, and dance in the streets. 

New Orleans City Guide (WPA, 1938)

If you didn’t come to party, take your bitch ass home,” shouts the man selling t-shirts on Bourbon Street. He adds, “I have size sexy for the ladies.”

The main street for Carnival Season partying in New Orleans has a distinct aroma—a mix of sweat, crawfish, Daiquiri puke and just-starting-to-rot garbage. All around the senses are assaulted with beads thrown from above, shoes getting stuck to the sticky wash that covers the street, drummers drumming, people shouting and bursts of purple, gold and green. Mardi Gras has been taking place in New Orleans since before 1835. It is a time for the loud, the grotesque, the strange and excess. While this might sound awful, it is intoxicating. The season has lasted all these years because it is what you make it.

Everyone has a different experience because no one is in charge and the celebration spreads throughout the city. If you came to party, you will find one on Bourbon. I saw lots of tits, a couple asses, hundreds of hollow plastic legs dangling around people’s necks filled with red liquor, people tumbling after one too many and too many crazy outfits to count.

The balcony people taunt the crowds below. Some put fancy trinkets on fishing wire to yank the items out of greedy, eager hands. They lay in wait to judge who is deserving of the beads. Sometimes it requires a dance or a flash and sometimes they take pity on a cute nine-year-old who is getting quite an eyeful.

Just one street over, there is the opportunity for family friendly fare. Royal Street, which turns into St. Charles when heading Uptown, is filled with jugglers and street musicians, and is also the main parade route for the bigger parades. Smartly, the first couple rows of people have chairs and right behind, people set up ladders with elaborate boxes for children to sit in for a better view. There is definitely alcohol, but people try to keep it together a little more here.

Quintron and Miss Pussycat are playing at the Spellcaster Lodge with Jello Biafra in attendance and Big Freedia is bouncing at VASO. There are fancy balls with high society that are by invitation only and parades that are solely for the people who know where they start and stop.

It can also be a time for the political. Different Krewes head different parades, all with unique themes for the year. The Krewe d’Etat is known for its biting satire and this year was no different with floats criticizing the sex trade and prison system. The Zulu Parade, that goes through the neighborhood torn apart by the freeway, celebrated the life of Nelson Mandela this year.

For me, Mardi Gras was cruising the city by bicycle and taking in the sites and sounds. The majority of the time it was a delight. Walking and making photographs, I was moved to tears during the Talladega College Marching Band’s version of Get Lucky and was surprised to find how amazing it is to make eye contact with someone on a giant float and catching the beads thrown right at me. And I already miss the smell.

Mark Twain said: “I think that I may say that an American has not seen the United States until he has seen Mardi-Gras in New Orleans.” 

* * *

Tammy Mercure is a State Guide to Tennessee. She was named one of the “100 under 100: The New Superstars of Southern Art” by Oxford American magazine.

Follow on Tumblr at tammymercure or on her website, TammyMercure.com. Support her work at TCB Press.

RELIGION - CENTRAL ALABAMA 

Soon after the war, the Negroes, who had been members of white churches, began establishing their own congregations. They had no funds with which to build and found that sites were difficult to obtain. For a time they were forced to meet in any available building…
—Alabama: A Guide to the Deep South (WPA, 1941)

Religion, specifically Christianity, plays a vital role in rural Alabama life. Traditionally, the church served as a central meeting place and social nucleus for country dwellers. Today, a disproportionate number of churches dot the verdant landscapes surrounding small, one-stoplight towns.
In winter the scant foliage reveals even more of these worship centers, which seem to materialize out of the wilderness. You’ll find these squat, whitewashed structures on backwoods roadways, perched atop remote hillsides, and nestled at the end of quiet dirt roads.  
Though many congregations long abandoned their traditional church structures for newer buildings. The old edifices are rarely demolished. Relics of a bygone era, the abandoned buildings slowly fade into the landscape. Ravenous kudzu vines devour their facades.
While there has been a great deal of progress in Alabama as far as race-relations are concerned, most places of worship remain fairly segregated along racial lines. Even in the smallest towns, churches with majority white congregations are situated a short distance from black churches of the same denomination. These divisions are holdovers from slavery and segregation. Most parishioners see their fellow church members as a sort of extended family; historically, this extension rarely crossed racial boundaries.
During segregation, church was one of the few places where black Alabamians felt safe and free to cultivate an identity. For many African-Americans, church served as a community headquarters for mobilizing against Jim Crow laws. Worship services allowed them a brief reprieve from the troubles of the world around them. These sanctuaries were also home to some of the first black schools.
With the music and message alternating between uplifting and woeful, the order of Sunday services haven’t changed much since the 1950s. While today’s services are shorter and, thanks to air conditioning, more comfortable, the devotionals at a number of black churches are still slow, meditative sessions of mournful humming and call-and-response singing. The spirit and tone of many devotional songs were carried over from the fields. While most slaves were punished for talking while they worked, it was common for overseers to allow singing.   
After devotion, the spirit of the service grows more and more uplifting. The choir sings songs of promise. The sermon—which starts with the reading of a few verses— crescendos into a high-energy show of jumping and shouting. Churchgoers stand and match the minister’s enthusiasm. They wave their hands, jump up and down, stomp their feet, shout things like “amen,” “yes,” and “preach!” This type of enthusiastic service still occurs at a number of churches across central Alabama. These services, like the old worship structures speckling the rural landscape, attest to how closely linked the past and the present are in the increasingly complicated palimpsest that is the American South.
Guide Notes: All photos were taken by April Dobbins in Hale County, Alabama.
 * * *
April Dobbins is a Guide to Alabama and the Southeast. Born and raised in Alabama, she is a writer and photographer. Though she has lived just about everywhere, she can’t seem to shake her Southern.  She currently resides in Miami, Florida, and is at work on Alabamaland, a documentary project about African-American farm life in rural Alabama.
Find her on Tumblr at aprilartiste.tumblr.com and on her website at aprildobbins.com.
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RELIGION - CENTRAL ALABAMA 

Soon after the war, the Negroes, who had been members of white churches, began establishing their own congregations. They had no funds with which to build and found that sites were difficult to obtain. For a time they were forced to meet in any available building…
—Alabama: A Guide to the Deep South (WPA, 1941)

Religion, specifically Christianity, plays a vital role in rural Alabama life. Traditionally, the church served as a central meeting place and social nucleus for country dwellers. Today, a disproportionate number of churches dot the verdant landscapes surrounding small, one-stoplight towns.
In winter the scant foliage reveals even more of these worship centers, which seem to materialize out of the wilderness. You’ll find these squat, whitewashed structures on backwoods roadways, perched atop remote hillsides, and nestled at the end of quiet dirt roads.  
Though many congregations long abandoned their traditional church structures for newer buildings. The old edifices are rarely demolished. Relics of a bygone era, the abandoned buildings slowly fade into the landscape. Ravenous kudzu vines devour their facades.
While there has been a great deal of progress in Alabama as far as race-relations are concerned, most places of worship remain fairly segregated along racial lines. Even in the smallest towns, churches with majority white congregations are situated a short distance from black churches of the same denomination. These divisions are holdovers from slavery and segregation. Most parishioners see their fellow church members as a sort of extended family; historically, this extension rarely crossed racial boundaries.
During segregation, church was one of the few places where black Alabamians felt safe and free to cultivate an identity. For many African-Americans, church served as a community headquarters for mobilizing against Jim Crow laws. Worship services allowed them a brief reprieve from the troubles of the world around them. These sanctuaries were also home to some of the first black schools.
With the music and message alternating between uplifting and woeful, the order of Sunday services haven’t changed much since the 1950s. While today’s services are shorter and, thanks to air conditioning, more comfortable, the devotionals at a number of black churches are still slow, meditative sessions of mournful humming and call-and-response singing. The spirit and tone of many devotional songs were carried over from the fields. While most slaves were punished for talking while they worked, it was common for overseers to allow singing.   
After devotion, the spirit of the service grows more and more uplifting. The choir sings songs of promise. The sermon—which starts with the reading of a few verses— crescendos into a high-energy show of jumping and shouting. Churchgoers stand and match the minister’s enthusiasm. They wave their hands, jump up and down, stomp their feet, shout things like “amen,” “yes,” and “preach!” This type of enthusiastic service still occurs at a number of churches across central Alabama. These services, like the old worship structures speckling the rural landscape, attest to how closely linked the past and the present are in the increasingly complicated palimpsest that is the American South.
Guide Notes: All photos were taken by April Dobbins in Hale County, Alabama.
 * * *
April Dobbins is a Guide to Alabama and the Southeast. Born and raised in Alabama, she is a writer and photographer. Though she has lived just about everywhere, she can’t seem to shake her Southern.  She currently resides in Miami, Florida, and is at work on Alabamaland, a documentary project about African-American farm life in rural Alabama.
Find her on Tumblr at aprilartiste.tumblr.com and on her website at aprildobbins.com.
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RELIGION - CENTRAL ALABAMA 

Soon after the war, the Negroes, who had been members of white churches, began establishing their own congregations. They had no funds with which to build and found that sites were difficult to obtain. For a time they were forced to meet in any available building…
—Alabama: A Guide to the Deep South (WPA, 1941)

Religion, specifically Christianity, plays a vital role in rural Alabama life. Traditionally, the church served as a central meeting place and social nucleus for country dwellers. Today, a disproportionate number of churches dot the verdant landscapes surrounding small, one-stoplight towns.
In winter the scant foliage reveals even more of these worship centers, which seem to materialize out of the wilderness. You’ll find these squat, whitewashed structures on backwoods roadways, perched atop remote hillsides, and nestled at the end of quiet dirt roads.  
Though many congregations long abandoned their traditional church structures for newer buildings. The old edifices are rarely demolished. Relics of a bygone era, the abandoned buildings slowly fade into the landscape. Ravenous kudzu vines devour their facades.
While there has been a great deal of progress in Alabama as far as race-relations are concerned, most places of worship remain fairly segregated along racial lines. Even in the smallest towns, churches with majority white congregations are situated a short distance from black churches of the same denomination. These divisions are holdovers from slavery and segregation. Most parishioners see their fellow church members as a sort of extended family; historically, this extension rarely crossed racial boundaries.
During segregation, church was one of the few places where black Alabamians felt safe and free to cultivate an identity. For many African-Americans, church served as a community headquarters for mobilizing against Jim Crow laws. Worship services allowed them a brief reprieve from the troubles of the world around them. These sanctuaries were also home to some of the first black schools.
With the music and message alternating between uplifting and woeful, the order of Sunday services haven’t changed much since the 1950s. While today’s services are shorter and, thanks to air conditioning, more comfortable, the devotionals at a number of black churches are still slow, meditative sessions of mournful humming and call-and-response singing. The spirit and tone of many devotional songs were carried over from the fields. While most slaves were punished for talking while they worked, it was common for overseers to allow singing.   
After devotion, the spirit of the service grows more and more uplifting. The choir sings songs of promise. The sermon—which starts with the reading of a few verses— crescendos into a high-energy show of jumping and shouting. Churchgoers stand and match the minister’s enthusiasm. They wave their hands, jump up and down, stomp their feet, shout things like “amen,” “yes,” and “preach!” This type of enthusiastic service still occurs at a number of churches across central Alabama. These services, like the old worship structures speckling the rural landscape, attest to how closely linked the past and the present are in the increasingly complicated palimpsest that is the American South.
Guide Notes: All photos were taken by April Dobbins in Hale County, Alabama.
 * * *
April Dobbins is a Guide to Alabama and the Southeast. Born and raised in Alabama, she is a writer and photographer. Though she has lived just about everywhere, she can’t seem to shake her Southern.  She currently resides in Miami, Florida, and is at work on Alabamaland, a documentary project about African-American farm life in rural Alabama.
Find her on Tumblr at aprilartiste.tumblr.com and on her website at aprildobbins.com.
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RELIGION - CENTRAL ALABAMA 

Soon after the war, the Negroes, who had been members of white churches, began establishing their own congregations. They had no funds with which to build and found that sites were difficult to obtain. For a time they were forced to meet in any available building…
—Alabama: A Guide to the Deep South (WPA, 1941)

Religion, specifically Christianity, plays a vital role in rural Alabama life. Traditionally, the church served as a central meeting place and social nucleus for country dwellers. Today, a disproportionate number of churches dot the verdant landscapes surrounding small, one-stoplight towns.
In winter the scant foliage reveals even more of these worship centers, which seem to materialize out of the wilderness. You’ll find these squat, whitewashed structures on backwoods roadways, perched atop remote hillsides, and nestled at the end of quiet dirt roads.  
Though many congregations long abandoned their traditional church structures for newer buildings. The old edifices are rarely demolished. Relics of a bygone era, the abandoned buildings slowly fade into the landscape. Ravenous kudzu vines devour their facades.
While there has been a great deal of progress in Alabama as far as race-relations are concerned, most places of worship remain fairly segregated along racial lines. Even in the smallest towns, churches with majority white congregations are situated a short distance from black churches of the same denomination. These divisions are holdovers from slavery and segregation. Most parishioners see their fellow church members as a sort of extended family; historically, this extension rarely crossed racial boundaries.
During segregation, church was one of the few places where black Alabamians felt safe and free to cultivate an identity. For many African-Americans, church served as a community headquarters for mobilizing against Jim Crow laws. Worship services allowed them a brief reprieve from the troubles of the world around them. These sanctuaries were also home to some of the first black schools.
With the music and message alternating between uplifting and woeful, the order of Sunday services haven’t changed much since the 1950s. While today’s services are shorter and, thanks to air conditioning, more comfortable, the devotionals at a number of black churches are still slow, meditative sessions of mournful humming and call-and-response singing. The spirit and tone of many devotional songs were carried over from the fields. While most slaves were punished for talking while they worked, it was common for overseers to allow singing.   
After devotion, the spirit of the service grows more and more uplifting. The choir sings songs of promise. The sermon—which starts with the reading of a few verses— crescendos into a high-energy show of jumping and shouting. Churchgoers stand and match the minister’s enthusiasm. They wave their hands, jump up and down, stomp their feet, shout things like “amen,” “yes,” and “preach!” This type of enthusiastic service still occurs at a number of churches across central Alabama. These services, like the old worship structures speckling the rural landscape, attest to how closely linked the past and the present are in the increasingly complicated palimpsest that is the American South.
Guide Notes: All photos were taken by April Dobbins in Hale County, Alabama.
 * * *
April Dobbins is a Guide to Alabama and the Southeast. Born and raised in Alabama, she is a writer and photographer. Though she has lived just about everywhere, she can’t seem to shake her Southern.  She currently resides in Miami, Florida, and is at work on Alabamaland, a documentary project about African-American farm life in rural Alabama.
Find her on Tumblr at aprilartiste.tumblr.com and on her website at aprildobbins.com.
Zoom Info
RELIGION - CENTRAL ALABAMA 

Soon after the war, the Negroes, who had been members of white churches, began establishing their own congregations. They had no funds with which to build and found that sites were difficult to obtain. For a time they were forced to meet in any available building…
—Alabama: A Guide to the Deep South (WPA, 1941)

Religion, specifically Christianity, plays a vital role in rural Alabama life. Traditionally, the church served as a central meeting place and social nucleus for country dwellers. Today, a disproportionate number of churches dot the verdant landscapes surrounding small, one-stoplight towns.
In winter the scant foliage reveals even more of these worship centers, which seem to materialize out of the wilderness. You’ll find these squat, whitewashed structures on backwoods roadways, perched atop remote hillsides, and nestled at the end of quiet dirt roads.  
Though many congregations long abandoned their traditional church structures for newer buildings. The old edifices are rarely demolished. Relics of a bygone era, the abandoned buildings slowly fade into the landscape. Ravenous kudzu vines devour their facades.
While there has been a great deal of progress in Alabama as far as race-relations are concerned, most places of worship remain fairly segregated along racial lines. Even in the smallest towns, churches with majority white congregations are situated a short distance from black churches of the same denomination. These divisions are holdovers from slavery and segregation. Most parishioners see their fellow church members as a sort of extended family; historically, this extension rarely crossed racial boundaries.
During segregation, church was one of the few places where black Alabamians felt safe and free to cultivate an identity. For many African-Americans, church served as a community headquarters for mobilizing against Jim Crow laws. Worship services allowed them a brief reprieve from the troubles of the world around them. These sanctuaries were also home to some of the first black schools.
With the music and message alternating between uplifting and woeful, the order of Sunday services haven’t changed much since the 1950s. While today’s services are shorter and, thanks to air conditioning, more comfortable, the devotionals at a number of black churches are still slow, meditative sessions of mournful humming and call-and-response singing. The spirit and tone of many devotional songs were carried over from the fields. While most slaves were punished for talking while they worked, it was common for overseers to allow singing.   
After devotion, the spirit of the service grows more and more uplifting. The choir sings songs of promise. The sermon—which starts with the reading of a few verses— crescendos into a high-energy show of jumping and shouting. Churchgoers stand and match the minister’s enthusiasm. They wave their hands, jump up and down, stomp their feet, shout things like “amen,” “yes,” and “preach!” This type of enthusiastic service still occurs at a number of churches across central Alabama. These services, like the old worship structures speckling the rural landscape, attest to how closely linked the past and the present are in the increasingly complicated palimpsest that is the American South.
Guide Notes: All photos were taken by April Dobbins in Hale County, Alabama.
 * * *
April Dobbins is a Guide to Alabama and the Southeast. Born and raised in Alabama, she is a writer and photographer. Though she has lived just about everywhere, she can’t seem to shake her Southern.  She currently resides in Miami, Florida, and is at work on Alabamaland, a documentary project about African-American farm life in rural Alabama.
Find her on Tumblr at aprilartiste.tumblr.com and on her website at aprildobbins.com.
Zoom Info

RELIGION - CENTRAL ALABAMA 

Soon after the war, the Negroes, who had been members of white churches, began establishing their own congregations. They had no funds with which to build and found that sites were difficult to obtain. For a time they were forced to meet in any available building…

—Alabama: A Guide to the Deep South (WPA, 1941)

Religion, specifically Christianity, plays a vital role in rural Alabama life. Traditionally, the church served as a central meeting place and social nucleus for country dwellers. Today, a disproportionate number of churches dot the verdant landscapes surrounding small, one-stoplight towns.

In winter the scant foliage reveals even more of these worship centers, which seem to materialize out of the wilderness. You’ll find these squat, whitewashed structures on backwoods roadways, perched atop remote hillsides, and nestled at the end of quiet dirt roads.  

Though many congregations long abandoned their traditional church structures for newer buildings. The old edifices are rarely demolished. Relics of a bygone era, the abandoned buildings slowly fade into the landscape. Ravenous kudzu vines devour their facades.

While there has been a great deal of progress in Alabama as far as race-relations are concerned, most places of worship remain fairly segregated along racial lines. Even in the smallest towns, churches with majority white congregations are situated a short distance from black churches of the same denomination. These divisions are holdovers from slavery and segregation. Most parishioners see their fellow church members as a sort of extended family; historically, this extension rarely crossed racial boundaries.

During segregation, church was one of the few places where black Alabamians felt safe and free to cultivate an identity. For many African-Americans, church served as a community headquarters for mobilizing against Jim Crow laws. Worship services allowed them a brief reprieve from the troubles of the world around them. These sanctuaries were also home to some of the first black schools.

With the music and message alternating between uplifting and woeful, the order of Sunday services haven’t changed much since the 1950s. While today’s services are shorter and, thanks to air conditioning, more comfortable, the devotionals at a number of black churches are still slow, meditative sessions of mournful humming and call-and-response singing. The spirit and tone of many devotional songs were carried over from the fields. While most slaves were punished for talking while they worked, it was common for overseers to allow singing.   

After devotion, the spirit of the service grows more and more uplifting. The choir sings songs of promise. The sermon—which starts with the reading of a few verses— crescendos into a high-energy show of jumping and shouting. Churchgoers stand and match the minister’s enthusiasm. They wave their hands, jump up and down, stomp their feet, shout things like “amen,” “yes,” and “preach!” This type of enthusiastic service still occurs at a number of churches across central Alabama. These services, like the old worship structures speckling the rural landscape, attest to how closely linked the past and the present are in the increasingly complicated palimpsest that is the American South.

Guide Notes: All photos were taken by April Dobbins in Hale County, Alabama.

 * * *

April Dobbins is a Guide to Alabama and the Southeast. Born and raised in Alabama, she is a writer and photographer. Though she has lived just about everywhere, she can’t seem to shake her Southern.  She currently resides in Miami, Florida, and is at work on Alabamaland, a documentary project about African-American farm life in rural Alabama.

Find her on Tumblr at aprilartiste.tumblr.com and on her website at aprildobbins.com.

JOY PROM - JOHNSON CITY, TENNESSEE

"Young man, there’s no need to feel down. Young man, get yourself off the ground" — pumps from the speakers, the trumpets blare and then — "It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A." — and hundreds of arms extend into the sky while red and blue lights flash from the stage.

Grace Fellowship in Johnson City, Tennessee, joined the Joy Prom movement in 2011 and are continuing to go strong along with other groups in Las Vegas, Charlotte and more. The guests of this prom range in age from knee-high to a grasshopper to older than 60 and have a range of special needs. Everyone at the event has the common goal of dancin’ their ass off and having a good time.

The night starts with the red carpet, where the attendees are announced and they enter dressed to the nines. Once at the party, you can get a horse drawn carriage ride, play Wii or air hockey, get your photo taken at the photo booth with a wacky mustache or big boa, or sit around and visit.

After dinner is served and all have eaten, the DJ starts the music. Some roll out to the dance floor while others strut — and everyone dances.

Like out of a movie, while Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” is spinning one young woman hops on the stage and does the entire choreography without missing a beat. The crowd cheers and she is not without a dance partner for the rest of the night. Couples smooch and slow dance and many are spun during a fast number. The music is hit after hit and it seems like barely a minute has passed before the lights come up and it is time to go home.

Guide Note: If you or a family member has special needs, consider finding a Joy Prom near you to attend. If you have photography skills, have mean dance moves or have experience with food service, consider volunteering at the prom. (It’s the only time you’ll see me dance in public.)

* * *

Tammy Mercure is a State Guide to Tennessee. She was named one of the “100 under 100: The New Superstars of Southern Art” by Oxford American magazine.

Follow on Tumblr at tammymercure or on her website, TammyMercure.com. Support her work at TCB Press.

FOLKLIFE: A VISION FROM GOD - HOLDEN BEACH, NORTH CAROLINA
Mary Paulsen is a visionary artist who lives and works near Holden Beach, North Carolina. Sixteen years ago, while washing dishes in her kitchen, she received a vision from God that instructed and compelled her to to paint. She often paints on the back sides of old windows, layering on details “in reverse.” Most of the materials that she uses are upcycled. In addition to painting, over the course of several years she constructed glass bottle houses and created an entire village of dollhouses on the property surrounding her home. Mary owns over eight thousand dolls and hopes to one day open a museum that charges admission, with proceeds going to charities that help provide food for hungry children.
“I think it’s really a shame and a cry that anybody would be going hungry in the land of plenty. It shouldn’t be that way and it wouldn’t be that way if some people weren’t so greedy and thinking of themselves all the time.”
The doll house village contains a small chapel, pictured above, where Mary was married.
Editor’s Note: This work began as a project of the North Carolina Folklife Institute.
* * *
Guide to North Carolina and the South Chris Fowler is a North Carolinian, photographer, folklorist, and curator. In 2011 he was awarded a Lewis Hine Documentary Fellowship from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. Follow his work at http://www.chrisfowlerphoto.com.
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FOLKLIFE: A VISION FROM GOD - HOLDEN BEACH, NORTH CAROLINA
Mary Paulsen is a visionary artist who lives and works near Holden Beach, North Carolina. Sixteen years ago, while washing dishes in her kitchen, she received a vision from God that instructed and compelled her to to paint. She often paints on the back sides of old windows, layering on details “in reverse.” Most of the materials that she uses are upcycled. In addition to painting, over the course of several years she constructed glass bottle houses and created an entire village of dollhouses on the property surrounding her home. Mary owns over eight thousand dolls and hopes to one day open a museum that charges admission, with proceeds going to charities that help provide food for hungry children.
“I think it’s really a shame and a cry that anybody would be going hungry in the land of plenty. It shouldn’t be that way and it wouldn’t be that way if some people weren’t so greedy and thinking of themselves all the time.”
The doll house village contains a small chapel, pictured above, where Mary was married.
Editor’s Note: This work began as a project of the North Carolina Folklife Institute.
* * *
Guide to North Carolina and the South Chris Fowler is a North Carolinian, photographer, folklorist, and curator. In 2011 he was awarded a Lewis Hine Documentary Fellowship from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. Follow his work at http://www.chrisfowlerphoto.com.
Zoom Info
FOLKLIFE: A VISION FROM GOD - HOLDEN BEACH, NORTH CAROLINA
Mary Paulsen is a visionary artist who lives and works near Holden Beach, North Carolina. Sixteen years ago, while washing dishes in her kitchen, she received a vision from God that instructed and compelled her to to paint. She often paints on the back sides of old windows, layering on details “in reverse.” Most of the materials that she uses are upcycled. In addition to painting, over the course of several years she constructed glass bottle houses and created an entire village of dollhouses on the property surrounding her home. Mary owns over eight thousand dolls and hopes to one day open a museum that charges admission, with proceeds going to charities that help provide food for hungry children.
“I think it’s really a shame and a cry that anybody would be going hungry in the land of plenty. It shouldn’t be that way and it wouldn’t be that way if some people weren’t so greedy and thinking of themselves all the time.”
The doll house village contains a small chapel, pictured above, where Mary was married.
Editor’s Note: This work began as a project of the North Carolina Folklife Institute.
* * *
Guide to North Carolina and the South Chris Fowler is a North Carolinian, photographer, folklorist, and curator. In 2011 he was awarded a Lewis Hine Documentary Fellowship from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. Follow his work at http://www.chrisfowlerphoto.com.
Zoom Info
FOLKLIFE: A VISION FROM GOD - HOLDEN BEACH, NORTH CAROLINA
Mary Paulsen is a visionary artist who lives and works near Holden Beach, North Carolina. Sixteen years ago, while washing dishes in her kitchen, she received a vision from God that instructed and compelled her to to paint. She often paints on the back sides of old windows, layering on details “in reverse.” Most of the materials that she uses are upcycled. In addition to painting, over the course of several years she constructed glass bottle houses and created an entire village of dollhouses on the property surrounding her home. Mary owns over eight thousand dolls and hopes to one day open a museum that charges admission, with proceeds going to charities that help provide food for hungry children.
“I think it’s really a shame and a cry that anybody would be going hungry in the land of plenty. It shouldn’t be that way and it wouldn’t be that way if some people weren’t so greedy and thinking of themselves all the time.”
The doll house village contains a small chapel, pictured above, where Mary was married.
Editor’s Note: This work began as a project of the North Carolina Folklife Institute.
* * *
Guide to North Carolina and the South Chris Fowler is a North Carolinian, photographer, folklorist, and curator. In 2011 he was awarded a Lewis Hine Documentary Fellowship from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. Follow his work at http://www.chrisfowlerphoto.com.
Zoom Info

FOLKLIFE: A VISION FROM GOD - HOLDEN BEACH, NORTH CAROLINA

Mary Paulsen is a visionary artist who lives and works near Holden Beach, North Carolina. Sixteen years ago, while washing dishes in her kitchen, she received a vision from God that instructed and compelled her to to paint. She often paints on the back sides of old windows, layering on details “in reverse.” Most of the materials that she uses are upcycled. In addition to painting, over the course of several years she constructed glass bottle houses and created an entire village of dollhouses on the property surrounding her home. Mary owns over eight thousand dolls and hopes to one day open a museum that charges admission, with proceeds going to charities that help provide food for hungry children.

“I think it’s really a shame and a cry that anybody would be going hungry in the land of plenty. It shouldn’t be that way and it wouldn’t be that way if some people weren’t so greedy and thinking of themselves all the time.”

The doll house village contains a small chapel, pictured above, where Mary was married.

Editor’s NoteThis work began as a project of the North Carolina Folklife Institute.

* * *

Guide to North Carolina and the South Chris Fowler is a North Carolinian, photographer, folklorist, and curator. In 2011 he was awarded a Lewis Hine Documentary Fellowship from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. Follow his work at http://www.chrisfowlerphoto.com.

COMMERCE, GEORGIA
Commerce, Georgia: The name of the town is ironic, given how hard it has been hit by the economic unraveling we find ourselves witness to.   Outback Steakhouse and Rockabilly Auction House are two of the last standing businesses in an entire strip mall there. Even in hard times, I guess there will always be a demand for meat and memorabilia.
* * *
Vanessa Prestage is a Vancouver and Atlanta based photographer specializing in Fine Art and Unit Still Photography. 
Southern: born and bred. The accent persists, but only just. She comes from a small town that serves as the halfway point between Macon and Atlanta, Georgia. Follow her on tumblr at southdonerose.tumblr.com. 
This dispatch arrived care of THE AMERICAN GUIDE submission page. Be a guide yourself and send a post from your state: theamericanguide.org/submit. 
Zoom Info
COMMERCE, GEORGIA
Commerce, Georgia: The name of the town is ironic, given how hard it has been hit by the economic unraveling we find ourselves witness to.   Outback Steakhouse and Rockabilly Auction House are two of the last standing businesses in an entire strip mall there. Even in hard times, I guess there will always be a demand for meat and memorabilia.
* * *
Vanessa Prestage is a Vancouver and Atlanta based photographer specializing in Fine Art and Unit Still Photography. 
Southern: born and bred. The accent persists, but only just. She comes from a small town that serves as the halfway point between Macon and Atlanta, Georgia. Follow her on tumblr at southdonerose.tumblr.com. 
This dispatch arrived care of THE AMERICAN GUIDE submission page. Be a guide yourself and send a post from your state: theamericanguide.org/submit. 
Zoom Info
COMMERCE, GEORGIA
Commerce, Georgia: The name of the town is ironic, given how hard it has been hit by the economic unraveling we find ourselves witness to.   Outback Steakhouse and Rockabilly Auction House are two of the last standing businesses in an entire strip mall there. Even in hard times, I guess there will always be a demand for meat and memorabilia.
* * *
Vanessa Prestage is a Vancouver and Atlanta based photographer specializing in Fine Art and Unit Still Photography. 
Southern: born and bred. The accent persists, but only just. She comes from a small town that serves as the halfway point between Macon and Atlanta, Georgia. Follow her on tumblr at southdonerose.tumblr.com. 
This dispatch arrived care of THE AMERICAN GUIDE submission page. Be a guide yourself and send a post from your state: theamericanguide.org/submit. 
Zoom Info
COMMERCE, GEORGIA
Commerce, Georgia: The name of the town is ironic, given how hard it has been hit by the economic unraveling we find ourselves witness to.   Outback Steakhouse and Rockabilly Auction House are two of the last standing businesses in an entire strip mall there. Even in hard times, I guess there will always be a demand for meat and memorabilia.
* * *
Vanessa Prestage is a Vancouver and Atlanta based photographer specializing in Fine Art and Unit Still Photography. 
Southern: born and bred. The accent persists, but only just. She comes from a small town that serves as the halfway point between Macon and Atlanta, Georgia. Follow her on tumblr at southdonerose.tumblr.com. 
This dispatch arrived care of THE AMERICAN GUIDE submission page. Be a guide yourself and send a post from your state: theamericanguide.org/submit. 
Zoom Info
COMMERCE, GEORGIA
Commerce, Georgia: The name of the town is ironic, given how hard it has been hit by the economic unraveling we find ourselves witness to.   Outback Steakhouse and Rockabilly Auction House are two of the last standing businesses in an entire strip mall there. Even in hard times, I guess there will always be a demand for meat and memorabilia.
* * *
Vanessa Prestage is a Vancouver and Atlanta based photographer specializing in Fine Art and Unit Still Photography. 
Southern: born and bred. The accent persists, but only just. She comes from a small town that serves as the halfway point between Macon and Atlanta, Georgia. Follow her on tumblr at southdonerose.tumblr.com. 
This dispatch arrived care of THE AMERICAN GUIDE submission page. Be a guide yourself and send a post from your state: theamericanguide.org/submit. 
Zoom Info
COMMERCE, GEORGIA
Commerce, Georgia: The name of the town is ironic, given how hard it has been hit by the economic unraveling we find ourselves witness to.   Outback Steakhouse and Rockabilly Auction House are two of the last standing businesses in an entire strip mall there. Even in hard times, I guess there will always be a demand for meat and memorabilia.
* * *
Vanessa Prestage is a Vancouver and Atlanta based photographer specializing in Fine Art and Unit Still Photography. 
Southern: born and bred. The accent persists, but only just. She comes from a small town that serves as the halfway point between Macon and Atlanta, Georgia. Follow her on tumblr at southdonerose.tumblr.com. 
This dispatch arrived care of THE AMERICAN GUIDE submission page. Be a guide yourself and send a post from your state: theamericanguide.org/submit. 
Zoom Info
COMMERCE, GEORGIA
Commerce, Georgia: The name of the town is ironic, given how hard it has been hit by the economic unraveling we find ourselves witness to.   Outback Steakhouse and Rockabilly Auction House are two of the last standing businesses in an entire strip mall there. Even in hard times, I guess there will always be a demand for meat and memorabilia.
* * *
Vanessa Prestage is a Vancouver and Atlanta based photographer specializing in Fine Art and Unit Still Photography. 
Southern: born and bred. The accent persists, but only just. She comes from a small town that serves as the halfway point between Macon and Atlanta, Georgia. Follow her on tumblr at southdonerose.tumblr.com. 
This dispatch arrived care of THE AMERICAN GUIDE submission page. Be a guide yourself and send a post from your state: theamericanguide.org/submit. 
Zoom Info

COMMERCE, GEORGIA

Commerce, Georgia: The name of the town is ironic, given how hard it has been hit by the economic unraveling we find ourselves witness to.   Outback Steakhouse and Rockabilly Auction House are two of the last standing businesses in an entire strip mall there. Even in hard times, I guess there will always be a demand for meat and memorabilia.

* * *

Vanessa Prestage is a Vancouver and Atlanta based photographer specializing in Fine Art and Unit Still Photography. 

Southern: born and bred. The accent persists, but only just. She comes from a small town that serves as the halfway point between Macon and Atlanta, Georgia. Follow her on tumblr at southdonerose.tumblr.com

This dispatch arrived care of THE AMERICAN GUIDE submission page. Be a guide yourself and send a post from your state: theamericanguide.org/submit. 

PARADES - THE SOUTH

I love a parade;
The tramping of feet,
I love ever beat
I hear of a drum.
I love a parade;
When I hear a band
I just wanna stand
And cheer as they come!

from “I Love a Parade” by Harold Arlen (1932)

I love a parade (and a rainy night, but that is a different tune altogether). It is a snapshot of the cultural landscape of a town. It marks the passing of the year with the 4th of July, Veterans Day, and Christmas, as well as countless city festivals unique to themselves.

There are the staples of a parade: a representation of the military,
marching bands with pulsating bass drums, the Shriners, some horses,
classic cars, politicians handing out trinkets, area churches, candy,
and the street sweeper to bring up the rear.

Within that formula, there is an opportunity for personal expression.
I’ve seen an electric company rig a float to pour out fake snow as it
passes (which was brilliant in the moonlight), Shriners dressed as
clowns in bright zoot suits, and a pack of Great Danes dressed like
elephants.

It is also an indication of a what is in the air in general. The tone
of political themed floats will vary based on the proximity to an
election and often citizens will pay the modest entry fee and decorate
their car with a more personal political statement. Pop culture is
also represented. For the past two years the amount of Grinch’s in any
given Christmas parade is staggering. The latest Grinch film was
released in 2000 and is now in the parthenon of regularly scheduled
winter viewing.

And there is an air of unpredictability that only a live event brings.
Motorcycles are driving in weaving patterns that seem impossible at
those speeds, horses get skittish, tumblers flip above concrete, and I
believe with all my heart that the Shriners who drive the flying
carpet buggies love terrifying children of all ages.

There has been a steep decline in communal gathering places. Town
squares are a thing of the past, malls are closed and boarded up, and
churches have started to live stream sermons for people to watch at
home. Parades still get crowds to set down chairs early — to line the
route regardless of weather.

Cheers erupt as certain groups march by
and everyone is waves and smiles. As long as the band plays on, I will
continue to love a parade.

* * *

Tammy Mercure is a State Guide to Tennessee. She was named one of the “100 under 100: The New Superstars of Southern Art” by Oxford American magazine.

Follow on Tumblr at tammymercure or on her website, TammyMercure.com. Support her work at TCB Press. 

DIG YA’LLS OWN CRYSTALS - STORY, ARKANSAS 
"Yeah it only takes about five hours to get there". That’s what everyone I talked to said. 
We arrived in Story, Arkansas, eight hours after leaving Nashville. Granted, we hit traffic. And someone had to stop and pee a lot. But, much to our delight, our cabin (aka condo made of wood) was well-equipped to handle all three colorful personalities in our camp. We had everything we needed to eat and drink, which is what we’re always mainly focused on doing. 
But this trip was also about digging for crystals. Arkansas has the largest reserve of quartz next to Brazil (Brazil being number 1). Lake Ouachita (WAH-SHEE-TAW) — the lake our place was near — features one of the biggest crystal veins in the world. There’s also a very rare jellyfish frolicking in the water.
The story goes that the Army Corp of Engineers made this lake for its hydro-electric power, water source, and wildlife conservation. But another reason was to preserve the crystal underneath it. There’re many uses for quartz — and as we’re rapidly depleting our natural resources — it’s no wonder the government wants to protect this gemof a lake. After all, we use quartz in everything from watches, microphones, radios, and computers. And some people just think they’re pretty — which is why we’re here. 
After a lengthy search online for the best mines to dig, we found Gee and Dee’s, an old ma and pa shop where you can pay to dig your own crystals. We got up Saturday morning and and called to let Gee and Dee know we were heading their way. After about a 15 minute phone conversation, Dee told us that the mine was shut down but we could dig in their front yard. Sounded weird but ok. We still wanted to get back in that mine and dig.
We arrived at Gee and Dee’s greeted by two sweet dogs and Dee herself. She called me Antarctica although I was certain she was talking to Renae, my friend who was sporting a faux polar bear vest ensemble (perfect for mine digging).
The yard was beautiful. It was like Superman’s crystal cave threw up on a yard. But we also wanted answers. Why couldn’t we dig in the mine?
Dee explained that back in late June of 2010 there was a flash flood that came through early one morning and killed at least 20 people while they were camping in the Ouachita State Park. Noted as the Albert Pike Flood, it caught national headlines and President Obama even offered federal help. The national attention shed light on the mines there, as well. So, the government came in and implemented new codes and laws for the miners making it impossible for the “working man’s miner” (Gee and Dee) to adapt and conform. That’s another way of saying that the couple didn’t have the monetary resources to make huge scale changes to abide by the new regulations and stay open. Dee was even caught digging on her own land and fined.
Nobody was getting in that mine. With heavy hearts we combed through Gee and Dee’s yard collections grabbing anything that even slightly interested us. We learned from Gee about the nature of the rocks and how they form, about the history of their mine, and what the future holds for them.
“I will have to sell my mine to the government — that’s all I can do,” Gee said.
There was a sound to his voice that made you feel what this man was going through. Having mined for 54 years that’s all Gee knew. He said crystals were more addictive than cigarettes (they both smoked a pack each while we were there). He had a true passion for mining — you could see that plain by the marks on his hands. I knew came to realize all this when I saw the huge heart-shaped crystal he pulled and carved for Dee. This was a gentle man in love with his life and his rocks. 
The visit ended with Gee showing us his private collection in the back shed. We bought some sacred pieces there, said our goodbyes and were soon on our way.
* * *
Tennessee State Guide Lindsay Scott is an East Nashville based photographer, writer, drinker and ponderer. You can find her on any random night, porch sitting with a side of story telling and a camera in hand. Follow her on Tumblr at lindsayscottphotography.tumblr.com or on her website, lindsayscottphoto.com.
Zoom Info

DIG YA’LLS OWN CRYSTALS - STORY, ARKANSAS 

"Yeah it only takes about five hours to get there". That’s what everyone I talked to said. 

We arrived in Story, Arkansas, eight hours after leaving Nashville. Granted, we hit traffic. And someone had to stop and pee a lot. But, much to our delight, our cabin (aka condo made of wood) was well-equipped to handle all three colorful personalities in our camp. We had everything we needed to eat and drink, which is what we’re always mainly focused on doing. 

But this trip was also about digging for crystals. Arkansas has the largest reserve of quartz next to Brazil (Brazil being number 1). Lake Ouachita (WAH-SHEE-TAW) — the lake our place was near — features one of the biggest crystal veins in the world. There’s also a very rare jellyfish frolicking in the water.

The story goes that the Army Corp of Engineers made this lake for its hydro-electric power, water source, and wildlife conservation. But another reason was to preserve the crystal underneath it. There’re many uses for quartz — and as we’re rapidly depleting our natural resources — it’s no wonder the government wants to protect this gemof a lake. After all, we use quartz in everything from watches, microphones, radios, and computers. And some people just think they’re pretty — which is why we’re here. 

After a lengthy search online for the best mines to dig, we found Gee and Dee’s, an old ma and pa shop where you can pay to dig your own crystals. We got up Saturday morning and and called to let Gee and Dee know we were heading their way. After about a 15 minute phone conversation, Dee told us that the mine was shut down but we could dig in their front yard. Sounded weird but ok. We still wanted to get back in that mine and dig.

We arrived at Gee and Dee’s greeted by two sweet dogs and Dee herself. She called me Antarctica although I was certain she was talking to Renae, my friend who was sporting a faux polar bear vest ensemble (perfect for mine digging).

The yard was beautiful. It was like Superman’s crystal cave threw up on a yard. But we also wanted answers. Why couldn’t we dig in the mine?

Dee explained that back in late June of 2010 there was a flash flood that came through early one morning and killed at least 20 people while they were camping in the Ouachita State Park. Noted as the Albert Pike Flood, it caught national headlines and President Obama even offered federal help. The national attention shed light on the mines there, as well. So, the government came in and implemented new codes and laws for the miners making it impossible for the “working man’s miner” (Gee and Dee) to adapt and conform. That’s another way of saying that the couple didn’t have the monetary resources to make huge scale changes to abide by the new regulations and stay open. Dee was even caught digging on her own land and fined.

Nobody was getting in that mine. With heavy hearts we combed through Gee and Dee’s yard collections grabbing anything that even slightly interested us. We learned from Gee about the nature of the rocks and how they form, about the history of their mine, and what the future holds for them.

“I will have to sell my mine to the government — that’s all I can do,” Gee said.

There was a sound to his voice that made you feel what this man was going through. Having mined for 54 years that’s all Gee knew. He said crystals were more addictive than cigarettes (they both smoked a pack each while we were there). He had a true passion for mining — you could see that plain by the marks on his hands. I knew came to realize all this when I saw the huge heart-shaped crystal he pulled and carved for Dee. This was a gentle man in love with his life and his rocks. 

The visit ended with Gee showing us his private collection in the back shed. We bought some sacred pieces there, said our goodbyes and were soon on our way.

* * *

Tennessee State Guide Lindsay Scott is an East Nashville based photographer, writer, drinker and ponderer. You can find her on any random night, porch sitting with a side of story telling and a camera in hand. Follow her on Tumblr at lindsayscottphotography.tumblr.com or on her website, lindsayscottphoto.com.

GUINEA HOGS - BLADEN COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA

“Meat” still means pork to many people in the State.—North Carolina: A Guide to the Old North State (WPA, 1939)

The Guinea Hog, sometimes called an Acorn Eater or Yard Pig, was once the predominate breed of hog in the Southeast. As industrial agriculture expanded in the 20th Century, many heritage hog breeds, including the American Guinea, dwindled. In 2011 there were less than one thousand known American Guinea Hogs in existence. 

Scott and Lydia McGhee believe that in order to save the breed, the animals have to be carefully raised for their highest and best use: to be eaten. On their farm in Bladen County, North Carolina, the McGhees are raising a modest number of pigs (among other things) on the ground amid long straw pines and acorn-producing oaks. The animals root and forage for the majority of their diet and have plenty of time and space to grow. Scott, a trained arborist and Journeyman Bladesmith, is also an accomplished chef and charcuterie maker.

“We’ll show you anything you want to see, but we’ll have to ask that you stand over by the shop when we kill the hog. That’s just out of respect for the animal. What happens over there is between me, my wife, and the pig.”

After the hog is stunned and bled, it is immersed, or scalded, in hot water so that its hair may be easily scraped off. When this is complete the carcass is hoisted by its hindquarters, butterflied, and divested of its innards. At this point it is ready to be broken down into distinct cuts: shoulders, hams, ribs, belly, fat, and so on.

Bacon, sausage seasoned with salt, red pepper, and sage, and country ham are the most typical pork products that North Carolinians have traditionally enjoyed. More elusive today are individuals making souse or pickling trotters. The hog harvested in these images went mostly into soppressata, fresh sausage, and bratwurst. Two years ago Scott also began making his own prosciutto in his bladesmithing shop.

In North Carolina, passion for pork is a birthright…Whatever happens in this humble state, as tobacco slowly becomes a memory with banking and bio-tech taking its place at the center of things, hogs will remain nearest and dearest to our hearts. For better or for worse, pigs are us. 

—Randall Kenan

Editor’s Note: This work began as a project of the North Carolina Folklife Institute. Learn more about Scott’s knives at http://www.guineahogforge.com.

* * *

Guide to North Carolina and the South Chris Fowler is a North Carolinian, photographer, folklorist, and curator. In 2011 he was awarded a Lewis Hine Documentary Fellowship from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. Follow his work at http://www.chrisfowlerphoto.com.

KENNEDY PARK BASKETBALL COURTS - PORTLAND, MAINE
These photos are from the Kennedy Park basketball courts in Portland, Maine. The courts are nestled in the neighborhood that locals call “Portland’s Projects.” It is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Portland, for that matter, probably all of Maine. The state currently has the whitest and oldest demographic in in the U.S.
The courts are a borderland between public housing and new development. They host a diverse and quirky community, and are also just a nice place to hang out for the afternoon. Throughout the day, activity ebbs and flows. People cross through on their way to the mosque, to say hi to friends, or shoot hoops. 
This is a brief moment in the life of a thriving public space in Portland - a city which recently moved to develop one of its main downtown parks.
I was drawn to the way the space redefines the neighborhood it is in—if not for outsiders, then at least for the people who call that block their home. It is an active, communal and safe space in an area that would otherwise be considered threatening. 
* * *
Elicia Epstein is just beginning. She studies studio art and documentary storytelling and made this series as part of her work this fall at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. You can see some of her work at eliciaepstein.com or email her to say hi at elicia.epstein@gmail.com.
Zoom Info
KENNEDY PARK BASKETBALL COURTS - PORTLAND, MAINE
These photos are from the Kennedy Park basketball courts in Portland, Maine. The courts are nestled in the neighborhood that locals call “Portland’s Projects.” It is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Portland, for that matter, probably all of Maine. The state currently has the whitest and oldest demographic in in the U.S.
The courts are a borderland between public housing and new development. They host a diverse and quirky community, and are also just a nice place to hang out for the afternoon. Throughout the day, activity ebbs and flows. People cross through on their way to the mosque, to say hi to friends, or shoot hoops. 
This is a brief moment in the life of a thriving public space in Portland - a city which recently moved to develop one of its main downtown parks.
I was drawn to the way the space redefines the neighborhood it is in—if not for outsiders, then at least for the people who call that block their home. It is an active, communal and safe space in an area that would otherwise be considered threatening. 
* * *
Elicia Epstein is just beginning. She studies studio art and documentary storytelling and made this series as part of her work this fall at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. You can see some of her work at eliciaepstein.com or email her to say hi at elicia.epstein@gmail.com.
Zoom Info
KENNEDY PARK BASKETBALL COURTS - PORTLAND, MAINE
These photos are from the Kennedy Park basketball courts in Portland, Maine. The courts are nestled in the neighborhood that locals call “Portland’s Projects.” It is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Portland, for that matter, probably all of Maine. The state currently has the whitest and oldest demographic in in the U.S.
The courts are a borderland between public housing and new development. They host a diverse and quirky community, and are also just a nice place to hang out for the afternoon. Throughout the day, activity ebbs and flows. People cross through on their way to the mosque, to say hi to friends, or shoot hoops. 
This is a brief moment in the life of a thriving public space in Portland - a city which recently moved to develop one of its main downtown parks.
I was drawn to the way the space redefines the neighborhood it is in—if not for outsiders, then at least for the people who call that block their home. It is an active, communal and safe space in an area that would otherwise be considered threatening. 
* * *
Elicia Epstein is just beginning. She studies studio art and documentary storytelling and made this series as part of her work this fall at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. You can see some of her work at eliciaepstein.com or email her to say hi at elicia.epstein@gmail.com.
Zoom Info
KENNEDY PARK BASKETBALL COURTS - PORTLAND, MAINE
These photos are from the Kennedy Park basketball courts in Portland, Maine. The courts are nestled in the neighborhood that locals call “Portland’s Projects.” It is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Portland, for that matter, probably all of Maine. The state currently has the whitest and oldest demographic in in the U.S.
The courts are a borderland between public housing and new development. They host a diverse and quirky community, and are also just a nice place to hang out for the afternoon. Throughout the day, activity ebbs and flows. People cross through on their way to the mosque, to say hi to friends, or shoot hoops. 
This is a brief moment in the life of a thriving public space in Portland - a city which recently moved to develop one of its main downtown parks.
I was drawn to the way the space redefines the neighborhood it is in—if not for outsiders, then at least for the people who call that block their home. It is an active, communal and safe space in an area that would otherwise be considered threatening. 
* * *
Elicia Epstein is just beginning. She studies studio art and documentary storytelling and made this series as part of her work this fall at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. You can see some of her work at eliciaepstein.com or email her to say hi at elicia.epstein@gmail.com.
Zoom Info
KENNEDY PARK BASKETBALL COURTS - PORTLAND, MAINE
These photos are from the Kennedy Park basketball courts in Portland, Maine. The courts are nestled in the neighborhood that locals call “Portland’s Projects.” It is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Portland, for that matter, probably all of Maine. The state currently has the whitest and oldest demographic in in the U.S.
The courts are a borderland between public housing and new development. They host a diverse and quirky community, and are also just a nice place to hang out for the afternoon. Throughout the day, activity ebbs and flows. People cross through on their way to the mosque, to say hi to friends, or shoot hoops. 
This is a brief moment in the life of a thriving public space in Portland - a city which recently moved to develop one of its main downtown parks.
I was drawn to the way the space redefines the neighborhood it is in—if not for outsiders, then at least for the people who call that block their home. It is an active, communal and safe space in an area that would otherwise be considered threatening. 
* * *
Elicia Epstein is just beginning. She studies studio art and documentary storytelling and made this series as part of her work this fall at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. You can see some of her work at eliciaepstein.com or email her to say hi at elicia.epstein@gmail.com.
Zoom Info
KENNEDY PARK BASKETBALL COURTS - PORTLAND, MAINE
These photos are from the Kennedy Park basketball courts in Portland, Maine. The courts are nestled in the neighborhood that locals call “Portland’s Projects.” It is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Portland, for that matter, probably all of Maine. The state currently has the whitest and oldest demographic in in the U.S.
The courts are a borderland between public housing and new development. They host a diverse and quirky community, and are also just a nice place to hang out for the afternoon. Throughout the day, activity ebbs and flows. People cross through on their way to the mosque, to say hi to friends, or shoot hoops. 
This is a brief moment in the life of a thriving public space in Portland - a city which recently moved to develop one of its main downtown parks.
I was drawn to the way the space redefines the neighborhood it is in—if not for outsiders, then at least for the people who call that block their home. It is an active, communal and safe space in an area that would otherwise be considered threatening. 
* * *
Elicia Epstein is just beginning. She studies studio art and documentary storytelling and made this series as part of her work this fall at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. You can see some of her work at eliciaepstein.com or email her to say hi at elicia.epstein@gmail.com.
Zoom Info
KENNEDY PARK BASKETBALL COURTS - PORTLAND, MAINE
These photos are from the Kennedy Park basketball courts in Portland, Maine. The courts are nestled in the neighborhood that locals call “Portland’s Projects.” It is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Portland, for that matter, probably all of Maine. The state currently has the whitest and oldest demographic in in the U.S.
The courts are a borderland between public housing and new development. They host a diverse and quirky community, and are also just a nice place to hang out for the afternoon. Throughout the day, activity ebbs and flows. People cross through on their way to the mosque, to say hi to friends, or shoot hoops. 
This is a brief moment in the life of a thriving public space in Portland - a city which recently moved to develop one of its main downtown parks.
I was drawn to the way the space redefines the neighborhood it is in—if not for outsiders, then at least for the people who call that block their home. It is an active, communal and safe space in an area that would otherwise be considered threatening. 
* * *
Elicia Epstein is just beginning. She studies studio art and documentary storytelling and made this series as part of her work this fall at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. You can see some of her work at eliciaepstein.com or email her to say hi at elicia.epstein@gmail.com.
Zoom Info
KENNEDY PARK BASKETBALL COURTS - PORTLAND, MAINE
These photos are from the Kennedy Park basketball courts in Portland, Maine. The courts are nestled in the neighborhood that locals call “Portland’s Projects.” It is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Portland, for that matter, probably all of Maine. The state currently has the whitest and oldest demographic in in the U.S.
The courts are a borderland between public housing and new development. They host a diverse and quirky community, and are also just a nice place to hang out for the afternoon. Throughout the day, activity ebbs and flows. People cross through on their way to the mosque, to say hi to friends, or shoot hoops. 
This is a brief moment in the life of a thriving public space in Portland - a city which recently moved to develop one of its main downtown parks.
I was drawn to the way the space redefines the neighborhood it is in—if not for outsiders, then at least for the people who call that block their home. It is an active, communal and safe space in an area that would otherwise be considered threatening. 
* * *
Elicia Epstein is just beginning. She studies studio art and documentary storytelling and made this series as part of her work this fall at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. You can see some of her work at eliciaepstein.com or email her to say hi at elicia.epstein@gmail.com.
Zoom Info
KENNEDY PARK BASKETBALL COURTS - PORTLAND, MAINE
These photos are from the Kennedy Park basketball courts in Portland, Maine. The courts are nestled in the neighborhood that locals call “Portland’s Projects.” It is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Portland, for that matter, probably all of Maine. The state currently has the whitest and oldest demographic in in the U.S.
The courts are a borderland between public housing and new development. They host a diverse and quirky community, and are also just a nice place to hang out for the afternoon. Throughout the day, activity ebbs and flows. People cross through on their way to the mosque, to say hi to friends, or shoot hoops. 
This is a brief moment in the life of a thriving public space in Portland - a city which recently moved to develop one of its main downtown parks.
I was drawn to the way the space redefines the neighborhood it is in—if not for outsiders, then at least for the people who call that block their home. It is an active, communal and safe space in an area that would otherwise be considered threatening. 
* * *
Elicia Epstein is just beginning. She studies studio art and documentary storytelling and made this series as part of her work this fall at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. You can see some of her work at eliciaepstein.com or email her to say hi at elicia.epstein@gmail.com.
Zoom Info
KENNEDY PARK BASKETBALL COURTS - PORTLAND, MAINE
These photos are from the Kennedy Park basketball courts in Portland, Maine. The courts are nestled in the neighborhood that locals call “Portland’s Projects.” It is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Portland, for that matter, probably all of Maine. The state currently has the whitest and oldest demographic in in the U.S.
The courts are a borderland between public housing and new development. They host a diverse and quirky community, and are also just a nice place to hang out for the afternoon. Throughout the day, activity ebbs and flows. People cross through on their way to the mosque, to say hi to friends, or shoot hoops. 
This is a brief moment in the life of a thriving public space in Portland - a city which recently moved to develop one of its main downtown parks.
I was drawn to the way the space redefines the neighborhood it is in—if not for outsiders, then at least for the people who call that block their home. It is an active, communal and safe space in an area that would otherwise be considered threatening. 
* * *
Elicia Epstein is just beginning. She studies studio art and documentary storytelling and made this series as part of her work this fall at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. You can see some of her work at eliciaepstein.com or email her to say hi at elicia.epstein@gmail.com.
Zoom Info

KENNEDY PARK BASKETBALL COURTS - PORTLAND, MAINE

These photos are from the Kennedy Park basketball courts in Portland, Maine. The courts are nestled in the neighborhood that locals call “Portland’s Projects.” It is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Portland, for that matter, probably all of Maine. The state currently has the whitest and oldest demographic in in the U.S.

The courts are a borderland between public housing and new development. They host a diverse and quirky community, and are also just a nice place to hang out for the afternoon. Throughout the day, activity ebbs and flows. People cross through on their way to the mosque, to say hi to friends, or shoot hoops. 

This is a brief moment in the life of a thriving public space in Portland - a city which recently moved to develop one of its main downtown parks.

I was drawn to the way the space redefines the neighborhood it is in—if not for outsiders, then at least for the people who call that block their home. It is an active, communal and safe space in an area that would otherwise be considered threatening. 

* * *

Elicia Epstein is just beginning. She studies studio art and documentary storytelling and made this series as part of her work this fall at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. You can see some of her work at eliciaepstein.com or email her to say hi at elicia.epstein@gmail.com.

AMERICAN GUIDE WEEK - NOVEMBER 18-24, 2013

We’re just a little over one week away from #AmericanGuideWeek! The Valley News from New Hampshire/Vermont says you should join in, so what are you waiting for? 

BE A GUIDE. SHOW AMERICA TO AMERICANS. 

Between Monday, Nov. 18, and Sunday, Nov. 24, tag your Tumblr photos, illustrations and writing that describe the America you live in and the America you travel through — people, places and things. This is a collaboration, folks: a living, Tumblifying documentary about the USA. You’ll be reblogged or featured on The American Guide.

YOUR ASSIGNMENT, TRUSTED GUIDE: 

Your A/G editors unearthed the actual mimeographed manual that the WPA sent out to each state research office in charge of producing the original guidebooks.

So, stay tuned all next week as we release the top 10 “how to be a WPA Guide” instructions — to use as your guide for #AmericanGuideWeek. 

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Illustration by Guide to the West, James Orndorf - www.roughshelter.com