It may have been fear’s screaming that we’ve been hearing, I believe it’s time for love’s whisper to be heard.
When I started this project one year ago, I cavalierly thought it would be one extended stay in France then back home to create the book. I was wrong. After one trip of three months, made possible by so many, and a second trip of three months that I personally funded ($12,000), I want and need to go back. Each time there, a new door opens to tell a more honest story—witnessing all that is around those on the edge. At first the refugees themselves, and I continue to hear and see their stories. Then those that help them, put their own heart in doing what is right. And, coming up, my last trip, I want to visit the hospitals where so many are being treated, whether it be for illness, shock or prenatal, I believe it to be a vital part of the story.
With that said, this is about Edge•France.
My name is Henry Lohmeyer, I'm a photographer based in St. Louis, USA and Paris. I'm a documenting those less seen and on the edge of our society, refugees and those that support them. These funds will be spent for my own room, board and food during my stay in France to document and witness. It will also be used in assisting refugees with with small needs, toothpaste, deoderant, notebooks and pens. In short the money will be used to help me complete this project.
We all live with trepidation over an edge we perceive. Often this fear closes our eyes to those who, like us all, deserve to be seen. It’s our fear that is screaming and it’s our fear that enhances that edge and divides us all. In this fear, in this projected shame, we dehumanize others and we dehumanize ourselves.
If we can take a thoughtful moment and realize that we’re actually—all of us—trying to be seen, heard, and reminded of our own humanity; that in the end, we’re all tapping on the shoulders of the world, hoping to be seen.
When getting sober seven years ago, the mantra given to me by many was a tender and thoughtful, “Stay in the middle of the boat. Stay in the nest surrounded by those that protect, watch over you, holding space until you are ready for the fearful, rejection-laced world.”
But there came a time for me when that middle-of-the-boat sobriety was no longer enough, and what I really needed was far edgier than anyone ever advised upon. What I really needed was connection. I needed people to see me and love me just like this, mess and all… but more so, much more so, I needed to connect with people by seeing and honoring their cracked edges, their damaged parts, their harshness, and their will to rise, their will to become whole.
This is the Edge. It’s the place we move towards—away from the center of the boat. It’s where real connection happens. It’s vulnerable and it’s real. Although I’m a photographer, it’s not what I see that touches me, it’s how the moment makes me feel—how it reflects the Edge that so many of us live on. It’s there that we find the beauty in the brokenness, it’s there that we find our humanity, and it’s there that we find acceptance for ourselves and others. The Edge is where we’re hurting, it’s where we’re dying... we need to feel the edge—embrace the edge—it’s there that we can start to see the beauty in one another.
That’s why I’m doing this project, and that’s why I need your help.
I’m creating a book called Edge • France where I’ll travel to France and chronicle the life of some of the 250,000 refugees—men, women and children, living day-to-day, displaced from their native homes in order to escape war and persecution. Whether in France or elsewhere, it’s my goal to bring visual awareness to what’s happening right now, without filter, without judgement. Your support will fund the travel and creation of this project.
While I cannot imagine the space they occupy, I have and will continue to lean into their stories, their brokenness and beauty. We all need a witness. And it’s my humble belief that this is where witnessing must begin, away from the middle, at the Edges.
I’d be so grateful for your support in creating Edge • France, and all it stands for. Please check out the rewards section that includes a range of options from an awesome online photography class, to digital and print versions of the book, to video storytelling, to one-on-one intensives with me. Thanks for meeting me at the Edge. It means the world.
Of the one million refugees arriving in Europe last year, just 10,000 ended up in the Jungle in Calais, 3,000 more at Dunkerque. In contrast 5,000 people arrive on the Greek island of Lesbos every day. In Lebanon a quarter of the population is made up of refugees. This is partly what makes Calais so terrible: it's where help could have been managed and provided, yet no one had a proper plan to sort it out—not the French, British nor the UN, leaving the heavy lifting to the larger aid agencies. No one was doing assessments to identify refugees who needed sanctuary or illegal travelers with safe homes to return to. No one was delivering asylum. No one was enforcing immigration rules. And, most urgently, of all, no one was making sure that vulnerable people–especially children–get basic humanitarian aid and protection to keep them safe.
They've begun dismantling the refugee camps of Calais, but history tells us that this is a chronic situation, and with France having no real plan, giving help and shelter to those in need will be difficult without a central location. My path might lead directly to Calias and Dunkerque (La Linière), or may lead to a broader area. I am committed to the finding and witnessing of those forced to live in such disperate conditions.
In Dunkerque (La Linière), Iraqi Kurdish families, many of them women and children, have been dumped by trafficking gangs on waste ground with no proper shelter or sanitation. In the refugees camps of Lesbos, in contrast, despite the huge numbers arriving daily, at least a registration of some sort is taking place and people still have a sense of hope, having managed to reach Europe’s shores and leave the violence and persecution of Syria and Afghanistan behind them. But in France, while improving, there is still much despair.
I also want to witness those in Paris, to fully tell the story of those once displaced but who have found footing and who are beginning to thrive in communities. I want to share, not only their tragedy, but also their rising.
Before, much of my funds were used in preparing, time, equipment, etc. The money for book production is secure. What the money is for this time is solely to be there, be able to travel to the different areas, Paris and outlying areas, Calais and Dunkirk. In short the money is just for me to complete this project in the manner it deserves. I'm hoping to leave here in the middle of May, returning in September.
EDGE•FRANCE Witnessing Those Unseen
Limited edition case-bound book, signed with a personal note from me. 40-50 page, 11”x8.25” with photos, thoughts and stories from the project you helped create—bringing to life the stories of those unseen and unheard. More details regarding the book below.
DESIGNING: I'll be photographing, documenting and writing the stories. I will also be calling on my 20 years of experience as a graphic designer when creating the book.
EDITING: I have a talented team of two experienced editors working on both the editing and proofreading.
PRINTING AND DISTRIBUTION: To meet the perceived demand, I'll be using Artifact Uprising for both.
USE: As a humble record to raise awareness and tolerance by all.
MORE ABOUT THE REWARDS.
Regular Email updates from the journey.
During the project I will be sending you no less than 10 emails with updates and snapshots from the journey. You'll be with me.
Video story drip.
Sending you videos, via email, telling personal stories of what helps me stay focused on my passion for photography and the healing it can give. I’ll also reveal intimate meaningful moments that I only share with this special, generous group.
Prints: 6x6 and 9x9 signed print.
One-on-one photography mentoring (Skype)
Two 1-hour photography mentoring sessions–after an initial email to discuss what areas of your photography you would want to cover, we will set up two 1-hour Skype sessions to talk, share, and grow your craft.
One-on-One Intensive Photo Shoot
I will come to you for a one-day shoot, either a photo sitting or a photo walk together for a day. Prior to my arrival we will discuss styles, wishes, and needs for the photos you want to take. We will spend up to seven hours together creating the photos you envision. (addition cost for travel)
Gathering in Provence, France
Shared: The vulnerable space between what you see and what you feel—an intensive five-day gathering. We will be walking the streets of Paris, going to specific areas around the city. While shooting both day and night, we will be spending this time sharing and growing with one another. (only five available)
June 8-12, (Friday-Tuesday)
4 nights, 5 days
THE LARGER SCOPE.
There are many on the Edge. My time in France will help pave the way to tell the stories of others. Over the next five years it's my intention and goal, to share about the...
• Refugees in the U.K., Greece and Turkey
• Kaapse Kleurling in Western South Africa
• Orphans in Thailand
• Native Americans in the U.S. Southwest
• Homeless in Russia
RISKS AND CHALLENGES.
This is a moving target, changes everyday. With the contacts I've developed over the last year, I feel strongly that keep more up with the ever changing landscape.
This community has stepped up each and every time. I'm so grateful for you and all that you support me on. This simply could not be done without you, your support and backing.
A thank you seems small, but please know what you are helping with is not. I means so much to me and so much to those we humbly witness.
- Marilee Millen
- Stephen Casey
- Sarah Dorfman
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