Tuesday, January 08, 2008


For the baby shower.

I will commit at least two hours of my time every month to volunteer in my community. I’ve been struggling, however, to decide just what to do with that time, which organization to work with. I’ve never actually volunteered before, and knowing myself, I’m wary of committing to something I can’t or won’t follow through on. I’ve been searching local databases of organizations in need of volunteers and researching organizations that are doing work I am passionate about.

While I would love to do something with young people, especially those served by the shelter that shut down suddenly last June and who still don’t have a replacement, I suspect that they need a bigger time commitment than I’m prepared to give at this time. I would hate to be just one more person that doesn't hang around in their lives.

It may be that with my skills, my best contribution would be in an administrative, office-bound role, perhaps for one of the local environmental organizations. But I’m not sure that would really draw me away from my home and family and, let’s be honest, the computer. I think I’d really prefer to volunteer in a way that comes into contact with real people.

So I think I’m down to the local drop-in centre, where I can serve coffee and stuff. I phoned them before Christmas and the woman in charge was excited to hear from me and told me to call back in the New Year to schedule time. But still I hesitate.

At the back of my mind through all this humming and hawing, I’m also questioning my motives. Because I would (not so) secretly love to make more portraits of street people, and volunteering in a way that brings me into more contact with them would obviously help. Is it ethical for me to volunteer with an ulterior motive? Is it enough for me to volunteer without expectations for photo ops and just see what happens?

I think it’s time to just act and stop thinking and analyzing and questioning and researching. I’m picking up the phone.

Well that was disappointing… I have to call back in the morning. Don’t worry though, I will do it.

What about you? Do you volunteer or have plans to volunteer? What kind of volunteer work excites you?

* * *

As I mentioned last week, I am also trying to sell prints of my photos, and donating at least 50 percent of the proceeds to the Stephen Lewis Foundation. Because my thoughts have been turning to parts of the earth that are now enjoying summer, and because I’ve been learning more in photoshop, and because I was so encouraged by the early print sales last week AND being nominated for the Photo/Art Blog category of the Canadian Blog Awards, I have been going back through my South Africa photos and finding new ones I like or new ways to fix old problems.

So I also offer to you, as a treat, the following summer days:

This one was ruined by a big ugly hair in the sky (tiny hair on the lens) and I just learned how to remove it. Salvation!



The Johannesburg skyline from Zoo Lake. I probably posted this one unprocessed before, but I like it better this way.

I'd written this one off before because his ears were cut off, but I love the reflection of sky in his eye and the sort of line that goes down his face and out his tail.

I probably posted this one before too, in black and white, but I love this new processing. This one is now available on my imagekind gallery. If you want to buy a print of an image not yet available there (like one of the zebras), just email me and I can set it up.

For 2008, I'm hoping to find new ways of expanding both my photography and my contribution to nonprofit organizations. Win-win.

* * *

And finally, while I'm on the subject of social justice (sort of), thanks to Matriarch for pointing me to Gloria Steinem's op ed piece in the New York Times. And to feministing, which I'd never seen before... although it really upsets me that they have so much material.

PS can you tell Swee'pea went to bed at a reasonable time last night and tonight? Yeehaw!


slouching mom said...

that last shot is gorgeous!

i'm still trying to figure out where to volunteer. let's hear it for the overanalyzers! ;)

Mad Hatter said...

I say anything that brings you in contact with your artistic subjects is a breaking down of barriers.

Great photos. I love the zebra even without the ears.

jen said...

this is fantastic. a lovely gift. and fantastic pictures.

mine arrived, btw. and i absolutely love it.

Violet said...

when I went to Africa with a 300mm lens (years ago), I ended up taking way too many blurry shots. It was a combination of the big wobbly lens, and all the excitement from being that close to the animals.

Beck said...

I'm going to be volunteering with the breakfast program at my kids' school. I also do some volunteering with my church (I already wrote yesterday about how I make cookies for funerals)...

Suz said...

I love all of these photos ... especially the one of apples before the door. It reminds me of one of Wyatt's paintings.

And I'm experiencing some of the same issues that you detail about finding an appropriate place to volunteer. I need to start working through it, however.

Bon said...

yay for free time while the boy sleeps, and for your beautiful photos.

and i too have been analyzing my volunteering options in a town of 40,000 and wondering, wtf would actually compel me to get out there? at night, after work and O's bedtime, that still allows work with people?

for now, i think i'm sticking with the crib radio stuff, which sadly isn't really what i had in mind, nor formally within the description. but...i will do it. so i see it as a start.

and ethically? go for it. some would probably be fascinated that someone would even be interested in them as subjects...those who aren't, just don't shoot.

Kyla said...

I think I might be ordering one of your prints for KayTar's birthday. She needs a bit of life in her room, and I think she's go nuts for that zebra. I just love your work. Love it.

Volunteer. Gah. I want to volunteer at the Children's Hospital. Our Children's Hospital, because we've so benefited from it and I want to give back. BUT, I can't keep my kids healthy long enough to go in and train, I don't know how in the world I can make a decent time commitment. Sad, isn't it? But it is a goal.

Oh, The Joys said...

I love the last photo - and the zebra (I don't think it matters about the ears.)

I keep perusing the gallery trying to DECIDE.

Do send periodic e-mails when you add more, okay - because I go right away when you do that.


cinnamon gurl said...

Wow, I'm so pleased to hear you are still thinking of buying a print. I was sort of thinking that the first few days would be the best.

OTJ - thanks for the feedback. Now, I will definitely email when I add more.

cinnamon gurl said...

Oh - and Kyla, I have other zebra shots on flickr... you can pick your fave and let me know and I'd be more than happy to upload it to imagekind.

Karen said...

wow, sleep! Pictures - amazing! And I think your motives are fine - it's important, the work you are doing - it helps them and you, I don't think things need to be a one-way street. Even those we mean to help have something to offer us.

flutter said...

I am loving loving loving the window photo with the apples, Sin. I would adore to make a painting of it.

Jennifer said...

Those photos are incredible! The zebra is breathtaking (LOVE IT) and the last one, of the woman. Amazing.

I just posted about my baby shower contribution, too. It's very exciting and inspirational to read all of these posts!

Anonymous said...

You are so talented. I love those photographs.

I wish I could commit to this baby shower and/or the no-buy movement like other bloggers. But there is too much insecurity in my life to do any of it justice.

Janna said...

Did you call? Good for you for committing to something so noble...at the very least, volunteering always makes the volunteer feel amazing, so it is never really a selfless act anyways(Joey's challenge to Phoebe comes to mind). And by making more art of your work, you will only be contributing further.

cinnamon gurl said...

Oh Janna, you know me too well. I just phoned, I start Sunday at 9:30.

And yeah, donating time and money to good causes is never altruistic...

Janet said...

We "met" on Bon's crib cast last night...I thought I would stop by, since we're nearly neighbours, and all. ;)

Your pictures are phenomenal! Love 'em.

I'm overanalyzing the volunteering, big time. I have committed to collecting on my street for the Kidney Foundation in February, but that's a one-stop deal. I know there is a huge need for volunteers to shuttle the elderly to their appointments, but I would have to bring the toddler (who, incidentally, is one day older than your little one). I don't think it's fair to ask her to wait at other people's appointments, at the tender age of two. So now I'm thinking food bank.

Wow! That was a wordy comment. Sorry.