Toledo Tag

Last June, I headed down to Toledo, WA, my old stompin' grounds where I attended high school. It would be the first of a couple trips down to Toledo, working on a newly birthed project I formed alongside good friend and video talent, Andy Lahmann. It was a project focused on the community, with a lot of the attention going towards the high school students. To get caught up on the story, here are a couple posts to read. Here (click),  here (click), and here (click). Now, if you are up to speed... I spent a day capturing high school students in a number of activities (this series of photos called the "Pride Series"), the photos turned out very well, especially considering the day was a complete run-and-gun operation. I think we teed-up 8 photo shoots during one school day. We'd walk into a new room or sporting location, with never having worked on the photo ideas prior to that moment. Just show up, come up with something real quick, setup lights, pop the photo, pack-up and move on to do it again at another location. The photos received a great response, we made large prints and banners of the photos and hung them in the school. It was predictable that the photos would peak the interests of the high school students, as the photos were of them, however, there was a surprisingly positive response from both the middle and elementary schools. Prints were made for the other schools as well, and the kids loved them. Simply put, the photos did exactly what we wanted them to - generate interest, and ultimately getting the students online, where the website and forum we setup for this project awaited them, and get them talking and involved. You gotta take your information where the eyes are if you want it to be seen, and we all know that today that's online. 

toledoClouds No, not "old school" as in an old photograph, or even a comedy movie reference, but literally... old school. Like... driving back to the small town I attended high school at, a place I've maybe visited twice since graduating about 11 years ago now. A defining moment I think is brewing in this old town. It's something you can kinda smell in the air, lots of exciting things just around the corner for this place. In short, the town of Toledo, WA is hurtin'. The community as a whole (including schools, residents, and the local businesses) is slowly eroding away, something Toledo has witnessed within the towns that share it's very boarders. People new and old, past and present residents don't want to see it fade away in the wind, and they are trying to do something about it. They've created "vision: Toledo," a group of community members who are pulling together to see what they can do inject life back into Toledo. Being a past resident and student myself, I found it important to do what I could to join the movement. I think attending a small school, actually getting to call everyone in the school by their first names, literally knowing each and every person in the school, and feeling that true sense of community is a privilege. I've moved a lot in my life and I got a steady taste of larger schools. In the bigger places it seems like you are just another kid in the giant herd, another tally to an already large number of students, and never really getting that sense of community, cause... well that community is just so big you never really get the full scope of things. I made the conscious decision to attend the Toledo school, see what all the small town fuss was about. Turns out it really was a different kind of experience, something that felt more meaningful, more substantial. Everything from having a better relationship with all the teachers, to sports, to not having to use last names with every peer reference... it was nice. I think I turned out different, better than I would have than if I had attended a larger school, maybe even leaving school feeling like I had a better grasp on my own identity.