Let me start by saying that while I work part time for the University in many different ways the words and views I am about to write are not IN ANY WAY those of the school. I did not seek advise on this article from them nor did I give them an advanced copy of the following for approval. It’s sad that I must start this way but such is the world nowadays. These are my thoughts alone. If you take issue with them and MUST voice your thoughts do so towards me not the students, school etc. Keep in mind all comments on this blog are monitored and approved prior to being allowed to post so keep it within common decency please. With that being said…
Yesterday we had a protest march! That is right folks. Here at Saint Martin’s University, on a 3 day weekend, students gathered to show that they want the campus to be a safe and progressive environment for all. How do I know that is what the message way? Because they told me.
My role in this begins a few days ago. A Resident Advisor texted me and asked if I had a minute, some of his residents wanted to talk to me. “Sure,” I told him. “Be right there.” They were having a conversation in the lobby about staging a protest and wanted to hear my thoughts, get any advise if I had some, and most importantly I think see if I’d come out for some photos.
Little did they know I have a history of campus protesting. In fact my wife and I met at a protest rally in Ellensburg. Fred Phelps (roast in hell) had sent his crew to protest a production of The Laramie Project and we were both students at the school who shared a deep distain for Phelps and his gathering group (I won’t call it a church and you can’t make me). I’ve attended many other protests at colleges but none at SMU because we don’t really have a culture of it till today.
The students told me they wanted to hold a peaceful protest against recent hate crimes on other campuses and to tell the community that at SMU it’s not ok. That’s not a quote, I’m paraphrasing but I think it’s the basic idea. I told them I’d think about coming to the event and advised them to start getting permission from the school. Protesting on campus without prior permission is against the student handbook and could have serious ramifications. Also, they were planning on calling Lacey PD to give them the heads up. Friday I get the call. They got permission and were moving forward with the plan.
In the morning I woke up after working until about 4:30am editing photos for a paid gig. I had 30min before the protest was to start and my back was toast. Thoughts of not going were there for sure. Everyone would understand if I called in sick for the day and went back to bed. But these students are my neighbors. We live in the same building and they had asked me, very nicely I might add, if I could come out. With the promise of something peaceful and uplifting I got my butt up.
I didn’t know what number of attendees to expect. With no history of major protests on campus in recent memory and a three day weekend my mind had the number at 5, 10 if they were lucky. The crowd wasn’t huge but certainly more than expected and the enthusiasm was fantastic. I noticed police officers next as they were talking with the crowd. I approached one after their talk to just say “Hi” and let them know what I was up to. One officer immediately went into interview mode and some standard phrases asking who I was “with”. I let him know he wasn’t being interviewed and that right now I was working on my own as an independent journalist. He smiled and got back into his squad car.
There was one guy, an older gentleman who I’ve seen at SMU events before, making a fuss and trying to get my attention. “Make sure you get photos of THAT sign too,” he yelled at me. I knew which one he meant. The second I saw the sign I knew someone would take issue…
I’m just gonna let this all out so Mom, since you read everything I write (best fan a son could ever have!) please forgive the next tirade:
What the fuck is your problem with this fucking sign dude? It’s the most antiseptic use of “fuck” I have ever fucking seen. Have you ever seen a protest like anywhere ever? If this gets you so riled up I pray you never make it to a protest at Evergreen, WWU, CWU, PLU, SPU… any of the “U”s. You’d faint and need to be revived. Grow up. Your only real problem, my guess, is that you disagree with the message of the protest and had to find something, ANYTHING to get mad about. Thats weak dude. Really, truly weak.
Then again, maybe he was talking about the BLM sign. I seriously can’t keep up with what sign people are or are not getting offended by lately. So who knows.
After making nice with the man (I wasn’t there to get into a fight) the students began to march across one street and then down to Target and back. It took about 45min to complete. They stayed on the sidewalk, obeyed traffic signals and never blocked traffic. Lacey PD followed us by having multiple squad cars leap frogging into side streets and mainly parking lots along the way.
Did they experience some negativity… yup. Plenty of middle fingers and nasty phrases. The one that got me was an elderly gentleman who decided to, while speeding past, yell at a female Latina student, “Fuck you! Build the Fucking wall!” Dude… wtf. The uplifting part was the students' reactions. With every negative experience they responded by gentle smiling, waving and continuing to chant.
Overall the community reaction was positive. I witnessed plenty of smiles, "thank you”s and a few people crying. One woman yelled, “We are with you. I love you guys.” She gets it!
When we got back to campus one of the leaders stopped the group short of the halls. “Lets get really loud so students know we are with them!” Good intentions sir. Well done.
To wrap up my time I waved down the officer who followed us the last bit on campus to say thanks for keeping our students safe and being a watchful eye. He again said that’s why they were there and to have a nice day. “Stay safe sir,” was my reply.
I come away from this experience with an overwhelming sense of pride. These students aged late teens to early twenties conducted themselves with honor and respect for their school and their fellow human beings. They showed great restraint to maintain their peaceful action and executed a positive message.
I am proud to call many of them neighbor and when I'm lucky some I get to call friend as well.
Three weeks of teaching can go by so fast, especially when it begins 12 hours after returning from a 37 day work trip. Luckily I had a few lesson plans from last year to hold me over a bit but the turn around was dizzying.
The following post is a combination of six posts that I wrote during a work trip to Iceland and France. I was unhappy with the site I used while traveling so instead of continuing to use it the new posts and this one will be on here. Enjoy!
Last weekend I was asked to drive (one of the multiple jobs I have right now) a group of Saint Martin’s University students down to Portland for their overnight service immersion trip. I’ll start by saying I think it’s pretty cool that these students took time out of their already busy schedules to go learn about how some with much less live day to day.
They started Friday night at Saint Andre Bessette Catholic Church. As always I brought my camera along in the hopes of capturing some interesting images of the world. I was quickly informed that while it might be a possibility in the future if we were to ask way beforehand, a camera in the church that night was a no go. Security was tight, with a videocamera on the front door (small black dome in the photo, right middle) and a call button to get in. All that coupled with my back nearly going out set me away for the night... I figured I'd get a good night's sleep and do a photowalk of Portland the next day. Wasn't planning on seeing these students till our departure time Saturday afternoon.
Saturday started just like I assumed it would. I parked the school van across the street from the church and moseyed down to Chinatown. First task; get some cool shots of the neighborhood with Dim Sum being a close second priority. Everything was going as planned. I walked up and down a few blocks clicking away at buildings, sculptures and whatever caught my eye. I even found the restaurant I wanted to eat at but decided to continue on; there was a cool bridge up ahead that was begging to get its photo taken.
Then it happened... across the street... over half of the students were gathering. My photo trip had collided with there service trip. I have known a few of these students for a while and figured I'd stop to say "Hi," it's the nice thing to do and I really like them.
Once the entire group was gathered their leader for the trip, Susan, wasted no time asking me to take photos of them for the afternoon. I didn't hesitate, "Sure!" is what I hope and believe I said enthusiastically but it very well may have been "Ummm... Sure!" My memory isn't great on that. What my memory is solid on is why I said yes.
If you put together all the hours I've been in communication with Susan it wouldn't fill an entire business day at this point... I hardly know her at all. But in that amount of time one thing has become obvious to me, she's inspiring. With an overwhelming amount of love and compassion, the care she shows radiates like rays of sunlight through the stained glass windows of a church. When a person like that asks you to do something good for the world for a measly two hours on a Saturday, how I was raised, you say yes.
After walking a few blocks and getting educated on local services in the area that we were walking by we ended up at a local publication, Street Roots. We had a rep come outside and let us know about the paper, their attempts to educate the public and make Portland streets as safe as possible through knowledge. As a writer this was probably my favorite part and as a photographer I admittedly took WAY too many photos.
From there is was on to our last stop, Right 2 Dream Too, a "nonprofit organization operating a space that provides refuge and a safe space to rest or sleep undisturbed for Portland’s unhoused community who cannot access affordable housing or shelter."
At first I held back, not wanting to intrude. Between my camera (for the geeks out there, I had my 24-70mm 2.8 going most of the time and supplemented with a 14mm fisheye) and camera bag I wasn't able to conceal much. But I was let in with the instruction to please avoid photos of people unless it was the students or staff. Even the staff shots I decided to ask permission for though. The students were shown around the space including but not limited to multiple tent structures, a prayer area and computer services. It was pretty impressive to say the least and they were great to the students.
What I loved were the boards surrounding the space. For a $100 donation you can get a board to decorate and they stay (relatively) safe from graffiti. The group discussed the idea of purchasing one. I was proud to see fans of my wife's alma mater had already purchased one. GO OSU BEAVERS!
It was a good trip. The drive back was quick and safe. On to the next adventure!
Another year in the can (giggle). So many matches covered. Two away matches attended. Practices and events photographed. What was the theme this year? Family.
We travelled together, cheered together, cried together and even had a wedding in our section! My passion for the Sounders remains unshaken and my love for those in Gorilla continues to grow.
There were silly moments on the field...
and occasionally a word or two from Mr. Dempsey.
For a brief moment we saw what Roman Torres could do...
and listen to an old friend.
In the end we came up a bit short of the big prize but we sure had fun reaching for it.
Good luck to our club as they take to the hallowed grounds of the Clink once again in February. Bless our newly chosen leader Tom. Thankfully we had yet another peaceful changing of the guard and didn't have a rebellion on our hands...
I want to give a shout out to each and every member who holds a Gorilla scarf, wears a Gorilla shirt or waives a Gorilla flag. You make my fan shots that much easier to find and snap. Scarves Up for 2016!
WARNING: Some of the following, while not technically containing nudity, is certainly NSFW. Please use common sense and avoid clicking the "READ MORE" button if you'd rather not see that sort of content. Thank you.
On Thursday my uncle Dean carried the World Special Olympics torch on its journey through part of Washington, making its way to Los Angeles.
A little info on my uncle. Dean Sutton began competing in the Special Olympics at the age of 21. Since then he has medaled in competitions nearly 300 times. Dean has attended the world games 3 times, receiving the silver in shot put ('87, Notre Dame), gold in team handball ('91, Minneapolis), another silver in team handball ('99, North Carolina) and was the top team handball goalie in '91.
Dean is a great uncle and friend. When his sister asked about having his friend and fellow athlete Sean Tollefson carry the torch as well he thought it was a great idea! With the addition of his beautiful wife Heather, Sean's parents and some equally amazing family the group was set for a march in the unusually hot Washington weather.
A surprise was seeing the LAPD on the route. They are escorting the flame on its journey to Southern California. No word on if there was a rumble with local police, but from what I saw they seemed to get along just swimmingly.
It was a fun time indeed. Everyone made it to the end with a sweaty brow and a smile on their face. It was on to dinner and laughs with a great group of people.
Congrats again Dean!
Over the weekend I attended a morning of music by the Olympia Peace Choir at the Olympia Farmer's Market. The songs were refreshing on a typical overcast day in May.
After the performance I had an opportunity to ask their Director Kerri Lynn Nichols an open ended question, Why the Olympia Peace Choir?
“The Olympia Peace Choir is truly the community choir,” said Nichols with a trademark smile across her face and an energetic bounce in her voice. “We include everyone and believe in quality through inclusion. That’s why we don’t have auditions.”
The love and spirit of the Choir radiated into the atmosphere with every piece they lifted up. The smiles and expressions on its musicians provided an inviting and caring experience unique to a group so large. It was clear to this photographer that those providing the entertainment were passionate about what they were doing and truly enjoying in the experience of sharing it with others.
Nichols ended our very brief conversation by saying, “I love the group. It’s an honor to be their director.” I believe they are honored to have you too.
Someone drove around two teams of Dragon Boat participants from China a couple of weeks ago. While I was not the official photographer for Dragon Boat (meaning I didn't get paid and had limited access) I was however in attendance. The following slideshows are what I captured.
Day One: Campus tour and practice. These students are from two different schools, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (in red) and Shanghai Maritime (in blue & yellow). Practice was preformed in a light to moderate rain that didn't seem to slow either team down one bit. TCM was fun to watch and had the first few passes. Then Maritime stared up and blew my mind. This team was clearly going to be the ringer in the upcoming races.
Day Two: Dragon Boat Festival! No photos of the races (wasn't allowed access to the dock) so I focused on photos of my friends who were performing and some other performances. If you think they look fun then you should attend next year, it was a blast. The dances performed by SMU students were my favorite but in all fairness most of those on stage are personal friends so my judgement is a little skewed. TCM had martial arts demonstrations by three champions and music that were fantastic. I couldn't help getting a few shots of the International Students lining up for their next run too.
Day Three: Trip to the Capitol, Capital Medical Center, Tumwater Falls, Capital Mall and Walmart with TCM. I have the most fun on these type of days getting to know the students a little better. They were curious about our government and had a lot of questions about my personal feelings on the matter. I'd like to say I left them with a balanced idea of where we are as a nation. The hospital tour was in depth and I learned a lot walking around the different departments. The students were surprised that the hospital took the time and money to wall paper and decorate the birthing suites.
A good few days with some great teachers, coaches and students. Can't wait till next year!
Today was a super fun freebie: Free Comic Book Day! Held on the first Saturday in May since 2002 fans or first timers from all ages and interests were offered free comics and large discounts on other comics for one day only (Technically the shop I visited is having a 3 day sale but the free books were today only).
This is Gabi, owner of Gabi's Olympic Cards and Comics in Lacey, WA where we celebrated this event. First let me say I get no discounts or payment for anything I write about them. That being said, if you are in the area and have even the slightest interest in comic books, figurines, card games, board games etc visit this place. Gabi herself is awesome to talk to though I doubt she would remember little old me and the one time we conversed. The staff are friendly, informative and the selection... they easily have something for everyone.
Next year if you go BRING THE KIDS! Totally a kid friendly space with a lego play area. Aside from one very vocal tantrum from a little girl (not pictured) who couldn't convince her mom to buy a HUGE figurine, the kids were great. The energy and enthusiasm they bring to a comic book store, in a large crowd, was infectious.
There was even a signing by comic book writer Greg Rucka! He seemed like a chill dude, signing books, shirts and what I would guess just about anything else you put in front of him. Hey Mr. Rucka, if you're reading this how about we do a shoot together! :)
In the end we walked out with three free comics a piece and a few extra purchases. Like I said, they have something for everyone! But don't forget our men and women in uniform...