Hope starts here.


Joel tells us how he does what he does.

Does everyone know that my roommate Joel is a super amazing mural painter in DC? I like his murals because they are accessible, manage to be political and peaceful at the same time, and always feature the prettiest women. Other people also feel this way which is why he's been getting quite a few commissions around DC over the past year (you can see a few around Georgia Ave).

This particular one that he just finished in Silver Spring (on the outside of Kefa Cafe) is about refugees in Maryland and their stories. He featured a man from the Congo, a woman from Burma, and another woman from Iraq. Their stories are intense--the woman from Iraq's brother was murdered by government hitmen--yet Joel makes it beautiful with his unflinching honesty and by adding traditional art and proverbs from each culture.

It's helpful to me right now because I feel so down about what is happening in the Peruvian Amazon these days. It seems like the powers that be are too big and strong and power-hungry to change and that all we can do is watch and sigh as one of the last major frontiers is violated. It's easy to think that and just hate Alan Garcia (and trust me, I fall into that though a lot).

But I've said from the beginning that my work in the jungle is about raising awareness about the beauty that is already there. Actions are definitely needed, but first we must understand what is going on and what is at stake. I think this awareness takes a lot of courage--just being able to look something ugly and difficult right in the eyes. I think once you get enough people who are brave enough to know and think and start a conversation, then the right actions naturally come out of it.

So my first step in this process is sharing my photos from the Amazon of Peru--a very nice place.

The first album contains my photographs from the communities and healers and activists we visited in March/April of this year while making our documentary, "Spirit Songs":

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And this album is a behind the scenes look at us and our friends and guides while we were filming and photographing and interviewing and nursing and getting eaten by bugs:

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