Photographer Robert X. Fogarty starting a community photography project titled Dear World in 2009 in the aftermath of the devastation in New Orleans. He invited survivors to be photographed with their 'love letter' to the city.
Robert claims "We aren't changing the world, we are taking pictures of people who are." Through the years Dear World has become a 'social experiment, an art project, and a business.'
The team has photographed cancer survivors, citizens from Joplin, MO who are picking up the pieces after tornado wreckage, New York after hurricane Sandy, celebrities with positive world messages, and other high powered humanitarians. But what I want to highlight is Dear World: Boston Marathon Survivors + First Responders.
A little over a year ago I was in my office with a live stream of the marathon minimized on my computer screen and all cued up to receive text message updates. Why? My brother-in-law, a former professional marathon runner, was coaching a friend of his in preparation for the race. At the last minute Ben decided to run with Adam as a pacer. Ben was convinced that Adam would come away with his best PR and qualify (again) for the Olympic marathon trials. My sister and niece and Adam's pregnant wife were all in attendance in the grandstand.
Our department had an end of the year meeting and just out of habit I brought my phone with me. Though on silent, I could see out of the corner of my eye my phone crazy lighting up. All I could think was WOW these guys are really kicking it. You receive these text updates at check points along the course. They must have been flying. The next time I glanced down I had a text from my cousin. We aren't super close so it was a strange message to get. She said something to the affect of ... 'I just saw what happened, I know Jen and Ben are there... are they OK?
I tried calling my sister, Jen. Then my mom, my dad. Then my other sister. Then instead of live updates from a happy healthy event I was getting live updates from tragedy and terror.
Thankfully, Adam DID run his best PR that day and qualified and Ben wasn't too far behind him. They were safe. So was my sister, niece, and friend.
Seeing these survivor images from Dear World really hit home for me. Those people could be my family and friends. They could be my brother and sister. These powerful images of strength, resilience, and love overcome the fear and terror that was forced upon this peaceful event.
As a society we see violence on TV, in movies, on the news even. We get jaded and numbed to humanity. When you see images. LOOK. Stop just seeing: Look. Who are these people. What is their story, struggles, pain, happiness, love, peace....