A large section of Syrian refugees are stranded in Turkey with the status of 'Guests' as against 'Refugees'. This status does not give them all the rights that refugees are provided under the UN Convention on Refugees 1951, Geneva. Turkey has ratified this convention albeit with a geographic limitation - It only applies to Europeans. However Turkey also is not allowed to send them(non-Europeans included) back to their country since the war is on, according to the convention. There are some refugees that can afford to find their way to Europe but most do not have such resources. In Europe they have rights as refugees. They also cannot go back to Syria since it is too dangerous. Therefore they are stuck in a Limbo in Turkey.
New Marshfield was a bustling town until the 1930s. It was a center of transportation for the coal and ancillary industries. When the coal production moved on, so did the economy. The school was moved, and then the railway line followed by the re-routing of the state route 56. The only purchase to be made is from a soft drink vending machine that stands in front of the old VFW(Veterans of Foreign wars) building currently in disuse.
New Marshfield is an impoverished town with almost half the population living under poverty. More than one-third of which is living under extreme poverty. Many of the families depend upon welfare with most people claiming physical disability. The primary and higher education levels of this town are well below state average. Drug problems associated with a bad economy and low education is present, however it is apparently on the decline. Capitalistic ideas of growth and progress have come and gone in this town. Mainstream ideas of well being such as education and economy have come and gone. One thing remains constant, and that is the beauty of this blessed land. Those that understand and appreciate this, rich or poor, live here peacefully.
Racine, is a little village at the edge of Ohio on the banks of the Ohio River. The streets are deserted. The old banks and offices are used as housing. Across the river in West Virginia is a power plant and an aluminum plant spewing thick white smoke against the blue sky. Racine was a river economy tied closely to the Appalachian coal mines. But now the economy is gone and most of the people have migrated. The local people attribute the economic slowdown to the proliferation of automobiles coupled with the low cost retailers such as Walmart in neighboring towns. This project was undertaken to understand for myself how landscape comes to represent the identity of a people, especially in a post-industrial setting.
These photographs were taken in Turkey during the 2014 Presidential Elections, in which Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was elected. This was predicted to be the turning point from which Erdogan was expected to turn Turkey into a presidential system through constitutional reforms.
The photographs themselves were not meant to illustrate Erdogan's rise to power. My interest in Turkey is numerous, and varies from the modern history of Turkey to the Syrian refugees, and from the cinema of Turkey to the literature.
Bruce Springsteen wrote the song ‘Youngstown’ in 1995, about 20 years after the collapse of the steel industry. He talks about what happens to cities when ‘the industry’ leaves. When the steel mills closed down and almost two-thirds of the people left, all the other structures like schools, churches, roads, grocery stores, etc. that support a community also came crashing down. The Mahoning River that flows through Youngstown, was lined with steel mills for over 20 miles, from the early 20th century until the late 70’s. The blast furnaces ran full steam for 24 hours a day, spewing thick gray smoke that blocked out the sky. Steel workers completed their grueling shifts and went down to the bars that surrounded the mills to tune-out of their brutal work environments. Rumbling freight trains plied ceaselessly, coming in with iron ore, coal, and limestone and then heading out with steel. The city was covered in soot and smelt of sulphur and the river was all but dead as it drained out the hot polluted water. Youngstown was all steel, and nothing but steel.
The steel mills were all using pre-World War I technology. The newest blast furnace was installed 1921. As transportation costs went up steel-making went to ports like Gary, Cleveland and Chicago. Foreign competition started hurting Youngstown steel due to lower overhead costs or higher quality steel. Unlike in Allentown, PA, other industries were not allowed to establish themselves in Youngstown because the Steel industry was quite possessive of it’s labor pool. Finally on Monday, September 19, 1977, it was announced that the Youngstown Sheet and Tube company in Campbell would be closed down by the end of the week. It was known as Black Monday. It came as a shock to most since they did not see the signs of decay setting in like cancer, a couple of decades earlier. The city simply collapsed since it had no other substantial industry. A couple of medium sized steel mills and handful of ancillary steel factories such as foundries and tube mills, still operate, catering to smaller markets with more specific needs, where the economy of scale is not a problem.
African-American people started moving into Youngstown in the late 19th century, to take up low level jobs. The jobs remained segregated until the late 60s and early 70s. However as black workers started getting into better positions the steel industry collapsed. Many of the white workers moved out of Youngstown into other big cities and others moved into the suburbs of Youngstown where smaller industries and other jobs could be found. The Black community could not do the same and this resulted in the burgeoning ghetto in the South-side of Youngstown. Crime and drugs skyrocketed in the 80s and 90s and still continues to haunt this area. Sports and religion are two things that help keep the kids from getting into crime and drugs. African-Americans form the largest demographic group at 43 percent, followed closely by the White population at 40 percent.
The hard, gritty but friendly blue-collared work ethic of this city has produced a surprisingly large number of athletes for its size. Sport is considered as one of the silver linings of Youngstown that keeps the hopes of the city alive. Kelly Pavlik, Ray Mancini, Jim Tressel, Deacon McGuire and Bob Dove are a few of the great sportspersons from Youngstown. The friendly, competitive, fighting spirit of the people of Youngstown is something that can never be taken away from them.
As the population dropped from a whopping 170,000 in the 1930’s to the current 65,000 the number of abandoned buildings and open lots blighted the city especially when crime moved into such buildings. The city tore down many buildings but that’s still what one mostly notices in this city. The plants have slowly started reclaiming the spaces that have long been vacated by humans. As people mourn the loss of a good life and a livelihood, Nature slowly and apathetically takes back what was alway its own. The striking beauty of this tragic situation is almost comforting and forces one to look at it from a different perspective.
However all is not lost in Youngstown. The controversial practice of fracking to extract fossil fuels has entered the Mahoning Valley despite the opposition from environmental activists, and the earthquakes that have been associated to it. The business incubator is providing substantial support to small businesses and young entrepreneurs. Downtown Youngstown is also picking up in terms of bars, restaurants, coffee shops and other small businesses. The people of Youngstown havefaith and hope that Youngstown will rise again.
Country Pastor and his Church
Churches often become the only source of civic engagement in small towns in America, and the pastor becomes a spiritual guide. Pastor Bernard Cheatwood's Redtown community church is one such church. He like many of his church attendees, is unemployed for most part of the year. However the community formed in the church helps tide through tough times, emotionally and financially.
The Mayor of Racine
The Mayor of Racine
A day in the life of the Mayor of Racine.
Work in Progress - Vembanad
Vembanad lake is an estuarian lake that is below sea level. The salt water comes in during the summer and fresh water comes in during the monsoons. The upper caste farmers with farmers have built a dam in the middle of the lake to control the fresh water. This has affected the ecosystem and the lower caste fishermen who have been fishing sustainably for centuries if not for a millenium.