Collaboration with Centro Pedro Claver

First Thing First: Inspiration

My name is Tsuyoshi, and I am the Program Director at Project Basho.

For a long time, I have been interested in running an outreach program based on what we know— photography. I have had this idea since I started Project Basho six years ago. This was one of the key concepts that I wanted to actualize through Project Basho.

Since then, I looked into many different programs in the US to see if there was something we could replicate. I was inspired by Marshal Clarke, a Baltimore based photographer who has been running a small program with inner-city kids. Of course, I was also intrigued by the writing of Wendy Ewald, the founder of Literacy Through Photography at Duke University and an influential author of “I Wanna Take Me a Picture.” Though I was encouraged by many examples such as these, I never thought that I had enough time or resources to start an ambitious project like this on my own. Running a small organization like Project Basho has been more than a full time job. To me, the issue has always been the matter of time and resources.

Something changed my mind recently. I stumbled on a talk on TED by Jose Abreu, who runs El Sistema, a youth orchestra program in Venezuela. He started this program with 11 kids over 30 years ago which continues to grow and expand and transform the lives of youth. It was simply eye opening to think how many lives were positively affected by his work. I could only imagine how life changing and far reaching this program has been to the thousands of kids who have participated.

Well, admittedly we are no comparison to El Sistema in terms of the scale and history. And maybe what I have always wanted to start will never become as far reaching as El Sistema. Nevertheless, watching his talk helped to confirm my idea that we can teach something through teaching photography��������� self-esteem, discipline, and creativity. We can start it right here in Old Kensington right now.

We can always put off a project blaming it on a lack of time or resources. But, life is short, and you cannot wait around until the timing is perfect, if that ever comes at all.

Luckily, Project Basho has attracted many dedicated volunteers who run many aspects of the studio. Also, we have developed core constituents who believe in what we do. With their initiative and help, I know we can run a program like this. I sent out an email to those who are involved at Project Basho and sure enough, we soon had about 10 volunteers interested and on board.

This is how our photography outreach program in Old Kensington has begun.