Category Archives: Community

Luca Love Colombia – La Esmeralda School, Rionegro

In my previous post about Luca Love in Colombia I described my experience of working with them at a documentary photo workshop. The small, family run business provides support in different ways to their local community in Rionegro near Medellin.  Momenta Workshops who run the workshops, offered Luca Love a chance to participate and I was given the opportunity to work with them to build a portfolio of images.

Luca Love’s mission is “… to provide those in need with the necessary tools to make a significant and positive change in their own lives and in the lives of those around them. By donating and distributing essential necessities, founding education projects in high poverty areas, and providing employment with a fair wage to those in need, Luca Love aims to expand social conscience and be a source of assistance and opportunity.”

Although not currently a non-profit organisation, Luca Love focuses on and is driven by giving back to the community. During the workshop Momenta identified this blossoming business as a candidate to benefit from their expertise. Momenta advised how to develop clear goals, get their message out to a wider audience, to build market share and increase profits. With guidance on state of the art business systems, media engagement and mentoring from the Momenta experts, Paulina and her team are slowly building their business and their capacity to fulfil their mission of providing opportunities and support to their community. I’m looking forward to watching their progress and visiting again.

The local school in La Esmeralda benefits with funding for an English teacher and provision of healthy snacks to the children after swimming classes. I was able to meet the children, attend one of the classes and go to the pool with them. Here are some of the images from last year.

The children from La Esmeralda school with me (taken by one of the parents).

The school is in a small village surrounded by beautiful scenery.

Marleny explaining to the parents why we are at the school to take photographs of the children and asking for written consent.

Isabel teaching at the after school English class. She works with children in a range of ages.

Marleny acting as class assistant!

Fun with the children after school.

 

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Luca Love – a family run business full of heart

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I was extremely excited to join another Momenta Workshops trip last October, travelling to Colombia to provide photographic services to Luca Love. This opportunity was long-awaited. A chance to visit South America again – Colombia in particular – and learn more from Momenta “guru” Chris Anderson. Irresistible! We comprised a small group of four students, our Colombian expert, Emanuel Echeverri and of course, Chris. We were based in Medellin, a city which has fortunately outgrown its reputation for being the drug capital of Colombia. There are still areas not safe to travel in as a tourist but it is increasingly visited by travellers from all over the world. There is a museum of work by the Colombia artist and sculptor Fernando Botero, whose work I have loved for years and it was a special treat to see the massive sculptures in Plaza Botero and his paintings and smaller sculptures inside the gallery.

But my main activity was working with local family-run buiness Luca Love, a fairly new organisation set up by Paulina Tobin (based in Houston) and her sister Daniela and mother Marleny in Rio Negro, Colombia. Marleny’s husband Jorge is also involved behind the scenes. Luca Love sells bracelets made by local women around Rio Negro, about an hour’s travel south of Medellin. Marleny designs the bracelets and teaches the artisans how to make them. By visiting the women to deliver materials and collect finished work she enables them to work from home and still look after their families. Luca Love currently funds an English teacher to work in the local school in La Esmeralda and have provided other local community support on an ad-hoc basis. Currently they are developing their product line and growing their small business to be able to put more of the profits back into the local community.

My task was to spend time with Marleny and her artisans and also visit the school benefiting from Luca Love’s support. I could then provide a portfolio of images to be used in marketing, blogging and on the Luca Love website. With regular technical and planning guidance from Chris, I built relationships locally with those involved and created lots (and lots) of images. I was able to see the process from design and selection of the beads through to seeing Marleny train the women in new designs and then watch them making the jewellery and gift bags. I spent time with the children in their English class and in the playground and local swimming pool and met many of the parents and teachers. The kids loved practising their English while teasing me about my funny Spanish! The final selection of images delivered to Luca Love are those that Paulina and her team can use to create visuals that tell the story of Luca Love. They illustrate its inception, its purpose and the direction they are headed in. It is a very exciting new venture for the family and the community.

Below are some of the images from this collaboration and I will blog again with more about this project. For me it was extremely rewarding; I met many fascinating and friendly people, I improved my Spanish, enjoyed excellent wines and delicious food and I improved my story-telling photography skills. I also made new amigos (!) among my fellow students and Marleny, her family and friends. It was a really wonderful trip.

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These images were taken on the Momenta Project Colombia Workshop 2016 in Medellin, Colombia. Photo © Laura Morgan/Momenta Workshops 2016.

These images were taken on the Momenta Project Colombia Workshop 2016 in Medellin, Colombia. Photo © Laura Morgan/Momenta Workshops 2016.

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Community – 175th Anniversary, Haywards Heath Railway Station

The local community will be holding a two day event on 17th and 18th September 2016 to celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the opening of Haywards Heath railway station. Operating from 1841-2016, the station has  developed significantly over the years. It is located on the extremely busy commuter route from Brighton to London Victoria. The station facilities are currently undergoing upgrades as part of the town’s Ten Year Plan.

I have been asked to assist with photography for this community led project and have already had some opportunities to get involved with events building up to the celebrations.

Haywards Heath is twinned with Traunstein in Bavaria and Bondues in France and has an active twinning association (HHTA). Recently Wabach Musi a young band from Bavaria visited and performed at a dinner organised by the HHTA.  They also played for shoppers in The Orchards Centre in town on a cold, breezy day.

The HHTA have commissioned Oliver Budd to work with them on the creation of a mosaic for the refurbished station and also to work with local primary schools to create a second mosaic for the station platform. Six primary schools have come together with designs the children have created and there will be collaboration on the final mosaic design.

The celebrations will have a Victorian theme and The Bluebell’s Stepney will be at the station on 18th September. There will be lots for families to do and see including train rides, land trains, horse and carriage rides, children’s station adventures, marching bands, a procession and a Victorian Fun Fair.

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Wabach Musi at The Orchards