I met Derek and Lydia a little over a year ago. I recall the event we all attended, but I don't recall exactly how he and I started to talk about UTEC (United Teen Equality Center), where he was the Director of Workforce Development, and an idea that I had for a photography and film project. The conversation began and the idea grew into a project that lasted throughout the summer. I had an amazing experience meeting and photographing the young people and staff at UTEC, the culmination of which coincided with the Grand Opening of the renovated youth center. I was extremely privileged to have my work shown at the opening.
So what does all that have to do with Derek? Beginning with our brief conversation, the idea began to take hold in each of our minds. Pursuing a personal project over several months can be quite a commitment and at times can be really discouraging. Some days it seems pointless, or the goal seems so far off that giving up would be so easy. An advocate within an organization in which you are trying to work is essential. Derek was the ideal advocate. I never felt like an outsider or awkward to be there. Derek paved the way, made the introductions and prodded and encouraged me to follow-through, to show up and to create.
Now Derek has moved on to become the Lowell Site Director of The International Institute of New England, and most recently, he has announced his candidacy for Lowell City Council. I know that he will bring the same passion and commitment that he has brought to his previous endeavors.
This installment of the Big Door series and the Basic black and white series features Derek, but his partner Lydia dropped in for the shoot as well. Lydia is an amazing person in her own right, so I will be featuring her in front of the big green doors very soon. Stay tuned!
People have asked me what this project is all about. It's not terribly profound. I have been looking for local people who are interesting to know, and to see, and to tell a little about them here on this blog, in words and pictures. Mostly pictures. I enjoy the process and realizing results that satisfy me, and I still have a long list of people that I want to invite as this thing proceeds.