The day after the close of the Democratic National Convention, which had left me tired and feeling more pessimistic than usual, I learned that Hillary was having a rally fairly close to where I was staying with my sister. So I hopped on the train and went. It was a great experience. Here were the supporters I had been missing during the convention. Here was a real cross section of the US. And also, here was lots of hopeful, positive energy. I needed it.
Other than the fact that I had my knitting in my purse and the security guards would not let them in, which I don't blame them for (I left my knitting with organizers just outside the door), I had no trouble getting in. I most enjoyed the people-watching. There was such a diverse turnout. So many women, lots of young girls. People of all religions, colors, orientations and backgrounds. The melting pot of America, I loved it. I took as many pictures of the audience as I could, finding wonderful subjects. It was also a neat experience to get to see Hillary and Tim, and hear them speak.
After the RNC in Cleveland I thought the DNC in Philly would be a breeze. It turned out to be much harder on me than the RNC though. A breeze would have been nice for a start. It was amazingly hot and more importantly incredibly humid. Just stepping outside got beads of sweat rolling down your temples, let alone trying to walk around the city and photograph. The weather drained any energy you might have had.
Then there were the protesters. In Cleveland there had been a variety, from left and right and everything in between. There seemed to be only one kind in Philly: Bernie or Bust folks. And they were spewing just as much hate towards Hillary as the right had in Cleveland. Most were advocating for Bernie or another third party candidate. It was even harder to be around this than even the Trump supporters in Cleveland, when these protesters in Philly generally shared similar world views as me, or were in other words liberally minded as well.
I know they are angry with a broken system, which is amazingly valid, but they seemed to be forgetting every US History class that covered an election. Since, for all intents and purposes, we do have a two party system, any time a third party candidate has played a part it has undermined the side of the political spectrum they fall on. You can't fix a flawed system from the top down, and definitely not in one or two election cycles. I wish these people would take their passion to the local, then state, then federal level. Electing officials from the ground up. Voting for a third party candidate this presidential election, or by simply not voting at all, will hand this election to Trump. And that quite frankly terrifies me. I'm not even saying Hillary is the "lesser of two evils" as so many have. I think she is a hugely qualified public servant, who has always worked for women's rights which I hold quite dear, and I think her world views are similar to mine. Whereas Trump could not be further away from those views.
I had meant to simply document the convention, and not give much of my personal political views, but I felt this gave context to my photos. That is all my opinions are there for, context, not to start a debate. By the end of the convention I had turned my camera on the city of Philly instead of the protesters, because I simply didn't have the energy, both physical and mental, to deal with them. My next post will be those photos of the city and it's people.
The RNC came to Cleveland, so I went home to document. I was fearful, along with the majority of Cleveland and perhaps the nation, that this could turn disastrous and violent. With the history of violence at Trump rallies, and the ever more heated battle of this election cycle it seemed too easy for a spark to ignite in Cleveland. I am happy to report though that Cleveland still stands and the protests there were, on the whole, peaceful.
Experiencing a convention in my hometown was fascinating. I loved seeing people being able to voice their opinions and grievances, and it seemed that protesters hailed from all parts of the political spectrum. There were Trump supporters, gun supporters, women's rights groups, Muslim activists, anarchists, anti-Trump protesters, anti-police brutality protesters, pro-capitalist supports, even satirical protesters with signs like "God Hates Signs." There were people from all walks of life, and they all converged on Public Square.
Also with a hugely significant presence were the media, and law enforcement. Of all the people out in downtown Cleveland, about a third were protesters and the general public, and then easily a third were the media, and the last third was law enforcement.
Overall, while there was a lot of anger from all different sides, there seemed to be more calls for love, understanding and acceptance than anything else. While there were a lot of protests, there was also a lot of great human things going on. People playing ping pong on Public Square. A man making bubbles which turned adults into smiling wide-eyed children-at-heart. A band playing on the side of the street. A woman hugging police officers. A dance troupe which performed on the grass with huge bird puppets flying in the wind.
I came away from the week feeling surprisingly positive. I had seen our first amendment rights in action, and it had been peaceful. I felt proud of Cleveland and all the people who protested, especially for those who took a stand for love.
Last month the Republican National Convention was held in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. This election cycle has been so extreme, polarizing and heated that I didn't feel I could pass up the opportunity to go and document the convention. So home I went.
There, on the first day of the convention, I met another woman who had traveled back to her hometown of Cleveland, the wonderful Rose Hamid. Rose was one of the first to speak on the Speakers Platform in Public Square. I wish that everyone could listen to her and what she has to say. She is eloquent, articulate, calm and optimistic. She has a glowing smile, an easy laugh, and even while discussing difficult topics she sees the good in humanity. Rose is a Muslim woman who grew up in Cleveland and now lives in North Carolina. She is an advocate for creating personal connections across all parts of society; across party affiliations, across religions, across backgrounds. Her hope is that through these connections we can work together, that we must see the humanity in everyone.
In the two weeks that I spent documenting the Republican and Democratic national conventions, I felt that Rose had the best and most helpful approach and message. There is a lot of hate and anger right now. I am infinitely grateful that I live in a country that allows people to openly protest, and by exercising this right people are being truly and deeply American. Protests and public demonstrations are hugely important to bring issues to the forefront and help to bring about change. That change requires personal connections, and for people from all sides to come together to do a great deal of work to figure out a way forward. Only by being able to talk, debate, and listen will we be able to move forward.
Rose did just this. She spent both weeks seeking to speak one-on-one to people. To break the ice and present an offering of goodwill she handed out thousands of rose pens that read her message: "Salam, I come in Peace."
To read her take on the conventions please check out her blog here: http://www.mrsrosehamid.com/huffington-post-whats-a-muslim-to-do-after-attending-the-rnc-and-dnc/
You can also see a bit of her talking to reporters after her speech here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article90279662.html
During the final game of the NBA Championship this year I was on an airplane to DC on my way back from a wedding, so I couldn't watch what was going on. (My dad texted me commentary of the last few minutes once I landed.) I'm not sure I would have been able to sit and watch it anyway, the stakes were so high and I was so nervous.
Now, basketball is not my sport. I'm a baseball fan (Go Tribe!) and enjoy soccer and tennis. But that doesn't matter because I am a Clevelander. And any Cleveland team is my team. And any win by a Cleveland team is a win for my city.
After going 52 years without any championships the city literally swelled with pride, and jubilation. I know that I was among many Clevelanders spread out over the country who hopped in their cars, or caught trains and planes to get back to our city for the celebration of a lifetime. Over a million people showed up for the Victory Parade in downtown Cleveland. It was an incredible sight, and such an amazing thing to be a part of. People of every age, skin color, religion and background, smiles on every face, Cavs and Cleveland apparel on every person, and people climbing on anything in sight to get a view of the players who finally brought us a trophy. I cannot express enough how amazing it was to be surrounded by such an outpouring of positive energy. I am beyond happy that I got to be a part of it.
Twenty-eight years ago my Aunt Mary bought Juilleret's restaurant in Charlevoix, Michigan, and she has been running it ever since. They do breakfast and lunch, and are known for their cinnamon bread and cinnamon rolls which, I must say, are delicious. My mouth is watering just writing about them, but wait till you see the pictures, you'll be in the same boat.
Mary is not only the owner who manages the finances and inventory, she also does all the baking in the morning and runs the griddle all day. And while she does have employees, (most importantly Jan the best waitress, who has been there longer than Mary has), Mary is Juilleret's. She is the fuel and the engine. It's rather an incredible feat that she accomplishes every day.
Now, after all these years she is going to do something she really deserves: retire. The restaurant hasn't sold, so at the end of this season it will close it's doors. Our family and people in the community will miss it greatly, but we are happy for Mary to put her feet up for a little a while. Because I'm sure she won't be able to sit still for long, I don't think that's in her nature. But at least perhaps she won't get up every day at 4:30, and spend it toiling away. There will hopefully be many happy and leisurely evenings spent with my Aunt Pam.
Before this all transpired, I wanted to document a little window into what Mary's life has been like at Juilleret's. My family went up to visit and celebrate the restaurant one last time this summer. I got up with Mary and shadowed her all day. It was amazing seeing how easily she multitasked and ran the kitchen. After those 28 years she has it down to a science.
Here I am very proud and honored to present my series on Mary and Juilleret's.
I've recently had the opportunity to work with another DC fashion blogger named Chimed, who runs NxStyle. The first shoot we did included a Topman jean jacket from their new collection. You can check out Chimed's post on his blog www.nxstyle.me. Here are my highlights!
My Aunt Mary has run Juilleret's restaurant in Charlevoix, Michigan for 28 years. At the end of this season she will be retiring. Before the restaurant closed I was able to shadow her on a typical day, starting at 4:30 am. This week's black and white is from that series, and it is one of my very favorites. Stay tuned this weekend for the whole series!
I recently acquired a macro lens and have been having fun with it. As my sister will tell anyone, when I first opened the box I mounted it on my camera and looked for any small objects in sight. The closest happened to be little figurines on my sister's desk, so I immediately got as close to them with my lens as possible. This meant however, that I was essentially laying on top of Kristine who at the time was seated at her desk. She was not too pleased with the set up. Anyway, the point is I have been taking lots of super up close photos, though now with a little more regard for my surroundings.
This week's black & white is with that wonderful lens, and of my sister's engagement ring. It is super lovely and I hope I was able to catch a little bit of the sparkle it gives off in person.
Way back in January I got the opportunity to go into the Dupont Underground. These tunnels below Dupont Circle were once used for a trolly system that was discontinued decades ago. There have been attempts over the years to make use of this underground space but nothing has been successful.
Now a group is trying to change that. They want to use the space for the arts and have a lease from the city to try and make their vision a reality.
When I went down below the city they had yet to start doing any work on the space. Which meant I got to see it in it's raw, long untouched state. It was amazing, and I was way too excited to be shooting to realize how spooky it could have been. I could have spent the whole day down there taking photos. I only had about an hour but I made the most of it. What an awesome experience!
kaitlin k walsh
Adventurer armed with a camera.