Ask a child to show you her most prized possession in the whole universe, and most likely she’ll hold up a toy. That’s what Italian photographer Gabriele Galimberti discovered over the 18 months he spent photographing kids around the world for his Toy Stories project, which is written up today in the online photo magazine Feature Shoot.
Galimberti explores the universality of being a kid amidst the diversity of the countless corners of the world; saying, “at their age, they are pretty all much the same; they just want to play.”
His photos are as heartrending as they are simple. In image after image, a child gazes directly at the viewer, with one or more toys at his or her feet. Some are smiling, some not. Some have an abundance of toys, others only one treasured stuffed animal. One consistent theme that links all the kids is the obvious pride they feel at showing off the objects that mean the most to them.
I’ve been thinking a lot about people’s prized possessions as I prepare for next week’s Potluck Storytelling presents ‘Show & Tell’ event. Oftentimes the stuff we hold onto most tightly isn’t necessarily a family heirloom or an expensive gift, but something with almost no objective value. A kid’s dilapidated sock monkey. An old bus token. A scuffed pair of cheap shoes.
Here’s one of mine. It’s a little figurine of the Chinese folk deity Budai (Hotei in Japanese) that was given to me by a young Bosnian refugee in 2000, when I worked for the International Rescue Committee.
He had picked it up in Sarajevo before the Bosnian War and he gave it to me just because he thought I might like it. Even though statuettes like these are a dime a dozen in any Chinatown on earth, this one is special to me. It’s not just that the young man got it in the former Yugoslavia before being forced to flee his home country by persecution and violence; it’s that he thought enough to give me a gift, even though it was my job to serve him as best I could.
Through such small gestures and such small objects does humanity redeem itself, I think.
So there I was, minding my own business, inching my way past a road crew doing repairs on St. Paul St., when all of a sudden – WHAM.
Hold up, I thought. Did that sonofabitch just kick my car?
Baltimore, boys and girls: it can change up on you with a quickness. Watch the video to hear about how two strangers who came to “the knife’s edge of violence” ended up embracing on the street one sunny spring morning in Mobtown.
Recorded at Potluck Storytelling’s “Stories About Living in Baltimore” show at Hamilton Arts on October 27, 2012.
Go to the head of the class! Relive the funnest part of elementary school by bringing in an object and sharing a 5-7-minute story about it.
We all have material stuff that’s meaningful to us. Whether it’s a tool, an item of clothing, a piece of art, or a stick of chewing gum, now’s your chance to share the story behind it. You can talk about its history, describe your relationship to it, or just make something up.
What to bring: yourself, an object, a story about it, and a snack/drink to share. This event is free and open to the public, but space is limited, so mark your calendar now.
Last summer, I decided to celebrate my 40th birthday by treating myself to a multi-day wilderness survival course in the muggy woodlands of northern Virginia. On November 8, 2012, I told the whole harrowing tale at the Stoop Storytelling Series‘ “Second Stoop” All-Audience Show at the Windup Space in Baltimore.
I learned several important things on this adventure. First, every single aspect of surviving in nature is an even bigger pain in the ass than you expect it to be. Second, li’l furry critters love to eat torches made of oil-soaked toilet paper. And third, I am able to behead, eviscerate, and skin a rabbit using only rocks.
Some photos of my Bear Grylls-style escapade are below. Click the link above to listen to my Stoop story, and if you ever need someone to hunt a squirrel with a stick, I’m your guy.
Cooking my freshly skinned rabbit on a jury-rigged grill rack.
Leaf hut, sweet leaf hut.
Me with my squirrel-huntin’ stick, which I can’t help hearing in a hillbilly accent, even in my mind.
Rocky, the stuffed varmint with which we honed our stalking and hunting skills.
Setting a snare. Which I SUCKED SO HARD AT.
Something you never saw on ‘Lost:’ atoilet paper torch.
Some time later, I had the honor of serving with Malcolm on an HCH strategic planning task force, and found him to be a man of deep compassion, integrity, and vision, in addition to artistic talent.
Here’s how Malcolm describes himself:
I was born and raised on a farm in a small town called Etta, Mississippi. I am the 4th oldest of 11 siblings. Growing up, I was home schooled from grades K-12, and completed my high school degree at 18 years old. I later left Mississippi and relocated to Alabama where I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Alabama A&M University. Following graduation, I again relocated to Baltimore, Maryland to work at Health care for the homeless as a case worker. After my 3rd year at HCH I decided to go to graduate school. I then attended University of Maryland Baltimore where I received a Master’s Degree in social work. I currently am in my 8th year as a therapist case manager at Healthcare for the Homeless. I’m a poet, activist, brother, friend, uncle, nephew, son, human…..
And here he is performing with the other members of Street Voices at an HCH fundraiser in June 2012:
Baltimore native Earl Crown has survived numerous assassination attempts, legal battles with the Baltimore City Police, and a lifetime of conflict with authority. Crown’s hobbies including drinking, smoking, drug abuse, gambling, and writing.
The daughter of a truck driver and a mill worker, Monica Lopossay grew up in rural North Carolina. At 16, she raised enough money to buy her first camera by dressing in a 20-pound chicken suit and dancing on the side of a highway.
Monica was the first person in her family to attend college, working her way through as a grill cook, a tutor at a Buddhist temple and a car mechanic. She earned a BA in international studies and cultural anthropology and photojournalism.
In her last eight years working for The Baltimore Sun, she covered a wide range of events, including two trips to Iraq and Haiti. She was honored in 2008 with her third Pulitzer nomination, as well as several awards from the office of the President. She is currently teaching photojournalism part time at Towson University and also works for numerous nonprofit organizations dedicated to serving the needs of Baltimore city youth by teaching photography as a means of therapy.
Otherwise, when not hustling-up freelance assignments, she takes care of her two tail-less feral cats, Mokey and Wembley.
Alexander Scally is a local performer, director, producer, playwright, and photographer. A Baltimore native, he received his BFA in Acting from UMBC and is a founding member and Production Manager of Glass Mind Theatre, where he most recently appeared as Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
In his spare time, Alexander enjoys writing short plays and poetry, with published works featured in What Weekly and Infinity’s Kitchen. He will next be seen in the original, monologue-based comedy Apply Within, to be featured in his multimedia event, FRAGMENTS, at Liam Flynn’s Ale House November 1-2.
Alexander is continually inspired and enriched by Baltimore’s arts community and the things he sees from his Hampden balcony.
Bruce A. Jacobs is a poet, nonfiction author, working jazz drummer, and a slowly improving saxophonist. He speaks and performs nationally, has appeared on NPR and C-SPAN, and has won poetry slams at the Nuyorican Poets Café and elsewhere. His one-man performances combine words, saxophone, percussion, and whatever other sounds tell the story.