Crowdsourcing is a business trend growing in popularity since 2006. It affords a company, individual, or organization an agile platform with infinite possibilities of an expanding workforce. Currently well over one hundred highly successful crowdsourced projects are thriving in every conceivable field.
One riveting, beautiful, and powerful crowdsourced project today is Looking At Appalachia.
The brainchild and curator of this documentary enterprise is a man who was born in and has both a deep love and respect for Appalachia: Roger May. May is almost 40 years old and lives in North Carolina. He is a photographer who is widely published and celebrated. In February of this year, he successfully crowdsourced his project, Looking At Appalachia | 50 Years After the War on Poverty. It is a stunningly beautiful and powerful project.
In 1964 President Johnson declared war on poverty in our country, and much of what our nation saw as the visual representation of that war were photographs of the poorest and most destitute portions of Appalachia. For better and worse, the war on poverty became synonymous with the rugged and achingly poor area we know as Appalachia.
There was a mixture of blessing and curse in this. While it blessed the campaign to promote awareness of poverty in our land of wealth and opportunity, the images of Appalachia became stereotypical, limiting our definition of the region and the people. Roger May, with grace and love for both the land and the people, is re-introducing us to the beauty and strength of Appalachia through his photographs, blog, and the crowd of sources that are a part of the project.
We are correct to know that much of Appalachia's work industry is coal mining. In September, the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine released a research paper about a particularly lethal form of Black Lung disease which is at the highest level since the 1970s. Huffington Post carried an article about this serious health issue which you can read here. Roger May made a commitment to documenting not only the effect of this disease on those who are diagnosed, but also their families and community: a vastly important undertaking of documentary work.
I'm not shy to tell you that I visit the website, Looking At Appalachia often. The documentary photography of May is riveting, memorable - and personal without being trite or intrusive. The photographers who contribute to the project seem to share the same respect and love for the land and people that May does. At the site, you can read May's blog, Walk Your Camera, which showcases brief essays along with photographs that are interesting and intimate snapshots of Appalachia.
Once you visit the website, you'll be swept away into a region of incredible landscapes and fresh images of the people who live and work there. Roger May's vision, dedication, and love for the region known as Appalachia is obvious; and that he has carved a public place for it on the internet is a gift for all of us.