My PhotoVoice Project at Northgate Elementary (Starting November 13, 2013)


For the next 5 weeks I will be spending my Wednesday afternoons In Zac Stowell’s classroom at Northgate Elementary school working with a diverse group of 5th grade students whom 90 percent of their families live at or below poverty level. While this says nothing about the character of these wonderful students, it does speak to the barriers and challenges these students face.

With this project students will answer the question “How are you a part of your community?” After an introduction to photography, and tutorials about how it can be used for storytelling, students will have an opportunity to go into their communities and document how they are a part of their community through photography. The students will then create collage and an artist’s statement that will be presented to their peers and showcased to their guardians during an art display at a local coffee shop.

Our mission with this project is to use technology, art and photography as a platform for students to share their own stories and the stories of their communities. We hope to explore the artistry that is photography and teach students basic skills, while allowing them to explore their identity and become active participants in their community in creating the world that they would like to live in.

My hope is to also introduce students to Seattleites whom are already using visual arts to share the stories of their communities past present and future. We are interested in the opinions, thoughts and foresight from these brilliant minds in hopes that we will progress the social conscience of this class.

The project will take place from 1:45p – 2:45p on the following dates: November – 13th, 20th; December 4th, 11th, and 18th.

I will be documenting this experience and project and hope to have more to share with you soon. Until then, stay tuned.

Domonique Meeks
AmbassadorNique Productions

New Orleans – Explained… (Where are you from?)

Where are you from? Are you from Seattle?

These questions have always been challenging for me to answer. Depending on the circumstances and how much time I have to explain myself the answer may vary. Well, technically yes at this point I’ve spent most of my life in the Pacific Northwest and now reside in South Seattle (BEACON!). So, yes… for all practical purposes I can say I am from Seattle.

Its interesting the way we ask the “where are you from” questions to certain groups of people expecting different answers. For those who can trace their roots back to a specific place (city or country) outside of the United States, “Where are you from?” demands a completely different answer. While most Asian/Pacific Islanders and Latino’s are expected to hold a pride to what is sometimes foreign lands, in America most African American’s trace their roots to the South of the United States while those of European ancestry aren’t really expected to know, care or understand. (Sidenote: My theory about this is people trace back to where they feel like their family had the most clout… I digress). In short, like most African Americans I trace my roots back to Louisiana and Arkansas because well.. We have no family records or pictures from any of the 52 countries in Africa. 

Another complication is the fact that I was born in the beautiful city of Tokyo, Japan. Unfortunately since my skin is dark this answer to the question “where are you from?” has never been acceptable. How’d this happen? Well my father was in the US Military. Although my parents didn’t exactly grow up in New Orleans is the closest metropolitan city, and its where the football team is! I still have aunts uncles grandparents and cousins all over Louisiana. My siblings would attend universities in New Orleans and we would take family road trips and vacations back “home” growing up. So even though I’ve never “lived” in New Orleans, just as I call Tokyo and Seattle.. New Orleans is home… 

**Tangent** I am a die hard New Orleans Saints fan. 0 and 16 or 13 and 3, I have one team and one team only year in and year out. Being that I’ve been in Seattle so long I never root against the Seahawks, but I don’t call myself a fan. **Done**

After moving from Japan my family moved to Houston, Texas. I was very young and don’t remember much, but I do know that it wasn’t the safest place in America at the time of our arrival. We would live there for less than a year and soon after my siblings and I would move to Louisiana with my grandparents before heading to the Northwest at age 6 in 1993. My father and uncle would travel from Louisiana to Washington with my siblings and I. My Uncle would only stay a few months and I have faint memories of us listening to music together and doing crazy things like eating Ketchup sandwiches.

As life would have it, I wouldn’t see my uncle again after ‘93. We did however keep in touch and he later became one of my greatest inspirations. As life demands more of our time and as I got older we still found time to catch up and keep each other informed, and I do my best to keep him updated on my life changes and share my photo’s with him.

On October 18, 2013 I would take a red eye flight from the Seattle/Tacoma International Airport to Louis Armstrong International (New Orleans, Louisiana). 

**To Be Continued**

Domonique Meeks
AmbassadorNique Productions