Photovoices

This summer I have the pleasure of contributing to a Photovoices project. There are numerous Photovoices programs all over the world, all of them centering on a specific issue or people. The project in Gettysburg is organized under Healthy Options, a group that aims, among various other goals, to make healthy foods more accessible to more people in the Gettysburg area. In particular, the Healthy Options team strives to reach people who fall into the food gap, which I briefly explained in an earlier post. People are considered to be in the food gap when their income no longer meets the guidelines to qualify for food stamps or food pantries. Often people in this situation struggle to get healthy foods. The Photovoices project provides a way to gain valuable insight into the problem through photography. We handed out cameras to people who were interested in contributing to the project and asked them to take pictures that reflect how food impacts their lives. Over the summer, we will hold a few meetings where participants can share and discuss their photographs with the group. Through this method, we should have some qualitative data about the food gap, and gain insight into some of the barriers that prevent people from choosing healthy foods.

Last Tuesday I attended the first photo-sharing meeting. We projected a few photos onto a screen so everyone could see, and Amy Dailey (professor of public health at Gettysburg College) and Audrey Hess (leader of Healthy Options) facilitated a discussion. All of our participants are women (a common them in social development work) and they enjoyed chatting with each other. We have both English and Spanish speakers, but luckily we have Audrey to translate everything in both languages. The discussion went relatively smoothly, but we found that some women broke into groups, and had their own separate discussion outside of the whole group. Despite this, we still generated some themes from the meeting. Many women talked about the benefit of having a home garden where they can grow healthy fruits and vegetables. There are also setbacks to this, such as during particularly dry weather, when water must be conserved for bathing and drinking, and cannot be sacrificed to water the garden. Another commonality was taking advantage of seasonal produce, which can be purchased cheaper when it is in abundance.

Next week, Emily Constantian and I will facilitate the discussion! Emily is at Gettysburg doing research with an environmental science professor, Salma Monani, and both have become involved with Photovoices. Emily and I had a preparatory meeting on Thursday, and I think the meeting will go well. We want to find out what the participants would like the project to become after the summer. Since we have both Spanish and English speaking participants, there is an opportunity for a wonderful intercultural exchange.

Most of us in the Heston House are excited for the beginning of the Olympics! We watched the opening ceremony last night, cheered for the parade of nations, and criticized the commentary of the NBC newscasters.

I’ve enclosed some photos from the Photovoices project. The first shows some squash flowers growing in a garden, the next are the squash flowers being prepared in a quesadilla, the third is corn cooked on the grill. Last is Melanie and Yaou after being caught in a thunder storm.

Thank you for reading!

-Maura

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