#blacklivesmatter Moving Forward Phoenix community meeting

On Monday, July 18 Black Lives Matter Phoenix held a community meeting hosted by Rev. Reginald Walton, the pastor of Philips Memorial Christian Methodist Episcopal Church with a panel discussion and questions from the community for Mayor Greg Stanton, Arizona State University Prof. Dr. Matthew Whitaker, indigenous American civil rights leader Amanda Blackhorse, Phoenix Police Asst. Chief Mike Kurtenbach, constitutional lawyer Stephen Benedetto, community leader Clottee Hammons, and Richard Crews, Community Impact Manager of Thriving Together for Valley of the Sun United Way.

People absolutely packed the little church and braved flash floods and heavy rain to get to the meeting, and since there was such a turn out, many stood for hours and listened and wrote down questions for the panel. 

It was a uniting, productive, peaceful meeting where it felt like all were heard and had the power to speak up. Police and community shared their struggles and people left talking about what they could all do to help their community. I hope conversations like this are happening all across our country. 

#blacklivesmatter in Phoenix, Ariz.

Following a violent few weeks in the U.S., the black community in and around Phoenix has focused on coming together to grieve and call for change at rallies and community meetings. While there have been multiple groups holding events, the message is clear: change needs to occur more quickly, and police and citizens need to come together to implement those changes. 

While not perfect, this city is doing a good job. Phoenix appointed a new chief of police last week, a black female Phoenix native. Phoenix and Tempe Police have supported and protected protesters this week tirelessly. Different organizations have provided plans to improve relations, including a 12 point plan initiated by the Black Women of Faith campaign. 

It has been a peaceful movement here intent on working toward solutions. I have not seen any animosity or calling for violence against police, just the urgent need for trust between the communities and accountability for those police who use excessive force, leading to the disproportional killing of black Americans.

Tenderfoot Wildfire

On June 8, a fire began burning on the east side of Yarnell, Ariz. the other side of town from a deadly fire in 2013 that killed 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots, the elite wildland fire crew based in Prescott, Ariz. That fire was on a lot of people’s mind this week as the towns of Yarnell and Peeples Valley were evacuated, the highway to Phoenix closed and crews of firefighters, emergency personnel and incident strategy teams set up Incident Command Post in Peeples Valley to fight the Tenderfoot fire. As of writing on June 11, there are 6 Hotshot crews, 2 Type 2 initial attack crews 22 Engine crews, 2 light, 3 heavy helicopter 2 air attack fixed wing aircraft platforms, 3 bulldozers, logistics, support, managers and volunteers totaling upwards of 350-400. It takes a lot of people, resources, money and time to fight wildland fire. They are doing really well as of today — no people or homes have been lost. Three outbuildings have been lost. The fire is now 30% contained. Wildland fire situations can change with the wind, though. The awareness and preventative action taken after the Yarnell Hill fire likely prevented the fire from spreading nearer to structures and families in Yarnell. Crews have been digging preventative fire lines and clearing fuel for the fire—the dry, high desert foliage—ahead of any incident. While I reported the second and third day at the fire, crews are going to be out there for as long as it takes to run its course. 

Arizona is strict on media on wildland incident scenes. They are unpredictable and can escalate without warning. While on assignment, I photographed the fire from the safety of the ICP, but many men and women are out on the smoke-filled  Weaver Mountains with heavy equipment, hiking rough terrain. I want to share some photos from the days I spent with the crews working so hard to keep us safe and in times of crisis and some of the people affected by these fires.

Outtakes from FORM: Arcosanti for The New York Times

I had the indcredible assignment to cover FORM: Arcosanti for The New York Times arts desk. Above are some of the photos I wanted to share that didn’t make it to print.

Here is the finished piece including a beautiful review by JON CARAMANICA and a gallery of images. 

Here’s how it appeared in print. Thank you to Alana Celii and the whole team at the Times who made this possible!

Portraits at FORM: Arcosanti

A short portrait series made at FORM: Arcosanti in Mayer, Arizona. I am so grateful to the wonderful people I met and those who allowed me their time for photos. 

Indiana contrast

This past weekend, E and I returned to Indiana for the first time since moving out west together to Arizona. We had a few big events to hit—my sister, Lizzy, turned 21 so we wanted to celebrate with her and my family in Zionsville. Eric’s family had also planned a big reunion in Sullivan, Ind. where I met extended family and we got to pour through old family photos. It was a quick trip, but it was really good.

I needed to see some familiar faces and feel some rain and smell some green grass. I guess I didn’t realize I was homesick until I was home.

A’s pitcher Sean Doolittle and blogger Eireann Dolan for The New York Times

It’s wonderful when kind people see an opportunity to use their platform for meaningful social change. Eireann (pronounced like Erin) and Sean are definitely those kind of people. Through their affiliation with the Oakland Athletics (he pitches, she broadcasts for California’s All A’s program, they’ve helped bring social change to their communities in Oakland, Chicago and Scottsdale. When they spearheaded a Pride night for the A’s and there was backlash—people requested to sell their tickets so they wouldn’t have to endure the inclusive, joyful event *eye-roll*—Eireann quickly responded by blogging that she and Sean would gladly buy them (AND match the ticket sales) to benefit Our Space, a program center for at risk LGBT youth, and then donated the tickets to the center so the kids could come and enjoy the game. 

They held Thanksgiving for 17 refugee families from Syria and sponsor Operation Finally Home, which provides homes for wounded veterans.

If more folks had their passion for helping people, we’d be in a much better world. 

Plus they’re awesome at social media: check Sean out @WhatWouldDooDo on twitter and Eireann at @EireannDolan. You won’t regret it!

Arizona Wildfire & Incident Management Academy

On the 9th, I went up to Prescott, Ariz. to make pictures at the Arizona Wildfire & Incident Management Academy for The New York Times Science desk. The non-profit Academy is in it’s 14th year and is held at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. As it’s predicted to be a long, hot fire season in the Southwest and along the West Coast of the United States, it was impressive and humbling to see so many women and men who were training to keep us safe from out of control fires in our dry part of the country. There were also non-firefighters there to learn how to better cover fires as a journalist, and PIOs and logistics teams in training, among others. I learned a lot! Here’s what I saw:

The start of 2016

It’s been a busy and interesting year so far. Here’s some recent assignment work from January and the beginning of February. Thank you so much for looking!

First, a rally at the Arizona State Capitol by the One PHX initiative opposing anti-immigration bills for The New York Times.

An essay about Dave Henderson Fantasy Camp for ESPN.go

Portraits and a sit-down video interview with Kendra Stabler Moyes, the eldest daughter of the late Ken Stabler, who was found to have advanced C.T.E. following his death in July for The New York Times.

Coverage of a Friday night prayer following attacks on the Islamic Center of Tuscon, Ariz. by University of Arizona students living in the neighboring high-rise apartments for The New York Times.

Tombstone Vigilante Days return following an actor being shot with a live round during a reenactment in October for The New York Times.

And a portrait of Mike Zielinski with his 1957 Chevrolet Belair and 1959 Airstream camper trailer at his home in Paradise Valley, Ariz. for The Wall Street Journal

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