About Facing Change: Documenting America

Facing Change: Documenting America (FCDA), is a non-profit collective of acclaimed photographers and writers that will cover and publish under-reported aspects of America's most urgent issues and distribute the work through a innovative online platform while highlight the efforts of individuals and organizations working to affect positive change.

At a time when America faces enormous challenges FCDA will embed photographer / writer teams in communities across America to vividly illustrate the nation's most pressing concerns-from healthcare to immigration to the cost of the war on terror. The result will be an unparalleled collection of visual and textual narratives accessible through an innovative online platform-called the Public Sphere--enabling a direct dialogue with America on the stories and issues. FCDA work will also be distributed via an active and searchable archive to major newspapers, and magazines worldwide.

As media outlets yield to corporate considerations, narrowing their coverage of vital issues FCDA is acting to fill that gap by humanize a wide spectrum of neglected and misunderstood issues. For example, one team will follow veterans as they reintegrate into civilian life. Another will explore the current economic crisis and the decades-long downturn in the Rust Belt. Others will focus on forgotten corners like Hereford, Texas; Fayette, Mississippi, and Allen, South Dakota-places that rarely draw the nation's attention.

To highlight these issues, FCDA will create an online "Public Sphere", an interactive platform that will host stories, images and multi-media pieces created by the teams. These stories will be searchable through a series of issue-related US maps linking the public to FCDA photographers and writers, community nonprofits and individuals via active blogs, and comments sections. Fostering dialogue, the Public Sphere will empower communities and individuals to suggest story ideas as well as connect, and initiate solutions. As the communications director at Detroit's Gleaners Community Food Bank Anne Schenk recently stated:

"Many nonprofits lack the experience and resources to effectively communicate the value and impact of their work. I believe that Facing Change: Documenting America can provide an invaluable service to nonprofits."

Drawing on the collective's extensive network of media contacts, FCDA's images, stories, and multimedia pieces will be searchable online for use in both traditional and new media. During the second phase of the project, the Public Sphere will be expanded in the form of interactive installations traveling to towns and cities throughout the nation to reach audiences beyond the internet. The archive will reside at the University of Missouri and the University of Texas.

Inspired by the Farm Security Administration photography project of the Great Depression FCDA is comprised of some of the country's most accomplished photographers and writers. Facing Change: Documenting America has the ability to make a powerful contribution to the journalism landscape, give voice to new perspectives and influence public discourse. Currently planned for four years, the project has the potential to be continued, providing a sustained source of quality news content for years to come.

Project Coordinators

Richard Cahan is a journalist who founded and directed the Chicago In The Year 2000 (CITY 2000) documentary project. Cahan, who served as the picture editor of the Chicago Sun-Times for sixteen years, was hired to create an archive of photographs, video and audio work for future generations. Three of the four major prizes in the 2001 National Press Photographers Association Pictures of the Year competition were awarded to CITY 2000 photographers. Photographs from the project were shown at nine major museums in Chicago as well as in 27 countries. Since the project, Cahan has written several books, mostly on photography, including the recently released book Who We Were: A Snapshot History of America.

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