Despite the cold, my senior dog, Phineas, took me on a 2-hour hike through the North Woods of Central Park yesterday. The late afternoon light was just perfect. Time in nature is like a massage for the brain, heart, and spirit. It prompts my creativity. The movement jogs my imagination, restores my resolve to do work that builds a better world. If you need to be restored, get outside. Your restlessness has a purpose. It is meant to move you. Don’t fight it. Go with it.
I’ll land in Iceland 3 weeks from today! My mom told me my Grampy, Alfonso Francis Lupinacci, dreamed of going there. He read all he could about it in National Geographic magazines. I didn’t know that when I booked this trip. He died on my 6th birthday without ever seeing Iceland so I’m taking these pictures of us with me to show him around. I hope that somewhere along that path I feel his presence and that we get a chance to share a moment, standing in awe of that beautiful landscape together, after all these years. And I hope I can be the tour guide he always wanted to have.
I’ve been hard at work with the artist designing the cover of my book, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters. Here’s our work-in-progress for the back cover. What do you think? Sign up for giveaways, exclusive content, and updates at https://goo.gl/forms/ZsMC4d1kN9jKpZhD3. (Please pardon the image watermark as we’re still locking down the design!)
Yesterday I had a great time getting a tour of the hydroponic garden on top of Union Market. The garden is owned, run, and used by the restaurant Bidwell. It inspired me to think about how I might do something like this once I buy my own apartment. It’s possible to farm just about anywhere now thanks to technology. The Breaking Bread podcast might soon be recording surrounded by the food that’s about to be served.
Here are some pictures from the roof garden at Union Market!
We can all do extraordinary things, especially during times of adversity and difficulty. To put it bluntly, the black community in America is under siege, and they have been for far too long. As a white person, I cannot even begin to comprehend the challenges that the black community faces on a daily basis. What I can do is extend my hand, my help, my support, and my voice.
I learned about the We Love You Project from Vanessa Ford, who will be one of the first two guests, along with her husband JR, on the Breaking Bread Podcast. I have about a million and one questions to ask them and one of the topics I can’t wait to dive into is their activism on so many fronts including race, supporting the local communities where we work and live, LGBTQ, and the challenges and triumphs in education, health, and food equity. We may need to do a multi-part series just to hear all of the interesting conversation.
One project that they recently participated in is the We Love You Project. Started by Bryon Summers, its message is powerful and elegant:
“A simple but powerful reassurance to our black boys and men that even though it feels like they are being murdered and destroyed constantly, we’re still a part of a larger community that loves and supports them.
The images we see in main stream media depict us as less than human – thugs, suspects, and even more, dead and discarded. These are the images that brainwash us into believing there is truth behind them. We’re not worthless. We’re not trash. We’re someone’s son, brother, cousin, uncle, or father. We’re HUMAN!
Through the art of photography we can see just how human and how special we really are. Images can be powerful reinforcements. They can be examples of who we are and aspire to be. WE LOVE YOU, will share portraits of the Black boys and men in our communities showing each other as well as the world that we’re not only human and should be treated as such but we’re LOVED.”
It sent a shiver down my spine to read this mission. It is so needed, especially right now. So far, the project has taken place in New York and D.C. I hope to have Bryon on a future episode of the Breaking Bread Podcast. For now, I’m thrilled to use my blog and other social media channels to support and praise his work!
No matter how much I love city life (and I do!), I need to be out in nature more often than I have been in the past few years. The water, the fresh air, and the colors of the landscape fill me up in a way that a building, no matter how beautiful, just can’t. This weekend in Pennsylvania, I was surrounded by love, friends, and this amazing view. And it feeds my soul. Once this heat and humidity settle down, I’m going to fulfill my promise to myself to get out into the wilds of Virginia and Maryland and take it all in. Until then, this picture will do. (I snapped it at Ledges Hotel in Hawley, Pennsylvania this weekend.)
“Get an old-fashioned photo!” the young man called to me in Parque Central in Old Havana.
“How long does it take to develop?” I asked.
I should have known better. Everything in Cuba takes a long time. Every. Little. Thing. No one is in a hurry to do anything or go anywhere. In Cuba, even time takes time. People say it’s frozen in time in the 1950s. I’d go back much further than that.
What I didn’t realize is that we weren’t paying for a photo. We were paying for the experience of having the photo taken. An old man and a young man had a ramshackle camera, the likes of which I’d never seen. Jerry rigged from old parts gathered from discarded items (reduce, recycle, reuse, again and again and again is a way of life in Cuba), we watched in wonder over the 19 minutes, not the 19 seconds it took to snap and develop the photo. The show was worth every penny if the 2 bucks we paid, and then some.
This was always the way all over Cuba. You don’t pay for goods, you pay for the experience you gain and the time of the people you meet gathering the goods. You invest in the people and their ingenuity. Once you make that mental leap, waiting isn’t an inconvenience nor a chore in Cuba. It’s an honor, a gift, and a pleasure.
Hello all. It has been over a month since I’ve published to this blog and I want to tell you why I so abruptly took the longest break that I’ve taken in the 9 years since I’ve been writing it.
In March, I received a letter from a photography website threatening to sue me for using an image on a blog post four year ago. That’s right – a single picture, that I got from Pinterest, for a single post, 4 years ago, and I had attributed it to the artist. They never sent me a takedown notice. They just skipped right to suing me for thousands of dollars. By the grace of the universe, my friend, Amanda, connected me to a wonderful attorney who agreed to represent me, and it seems that the issue has evaporated. I haven’t heard a word from them since.
So, I’m back. This has been a wonderful time for me to creatively reflect on my writing and I’ve plowed a lot of time into a number of wildly creative projects including finishing a working draft of my novel, Where the Light Enters, getting one of my paper collages displayed in a gallery in D.C., continuing my writing for The Washington Post, planning a trip to Cuba (yes, CUBA!), and joining a film production company here in D.C. as an associate producer. All while keeping my day job at an education technology startup and being in the process of buying a condo here in D.C.
What I do want to make abundantly clear is that I’ve missed you. A lot. I miss the conversations back and forth. I miss hearing how you’re doing. I miss updating you on what I’m doing, seeing, and hearing. I’ve missed this outlet and I’m thrilled to be back. So here’s to you. Here’s to me. And I’m so glad we’re back together.
And to speak to the unfortunate photo incident of March 2016, all photos that you see on this site were either taken by me or for me. If you want to use any of them, you are absolutely free to do so. No questions asked. Just add a little attribution with my name and this website URL http://christaavampato.com. Let’s never be apart for that long again, okay? Okay.
I snapped this photo on a rainy walk to work this week and it reminded me about the beauty of the small. Sometimes it’s the small vistas, not the grand ones, that capture our attention. Beauty is everywhere, in everything. Even in the simplest things. Especially in the simplest things. And I want to take the time to really appreciate it.
In honor of Black History Month, The New York Times is publishing never-before-seen photographs that depict powerful moments in black history. It’s unclear why the negatives of these photographs were buried for so long in yellowed aging envelopes in its archives. I hope that story eventually comes to light. In the meantime, the Times will add new photos to this website as it curates a deep, provocative exploration of race, an exploration that is long overdue.