DC Unseen: Life Beyond the Capitol

Guest Blogger — Jinnesse Taylor, N Street Village AmeriCorp HIV Health Promotion Specialist

On June 17th, beautiful pictures taken by the women of N Street Village were displayed as part of the culminating event of a three-month project. As a member of the AIDS United’s AmeriCorps National team with the Washington AIDS Partnership, my team wanted to complete a creative long-term project that brought together various communities across the DC metropolitan area. Modeled after the Hope in Shadows initiative based in Vancouver (http://www.hopeinshadows.com), this project brought together multiple non-profits throughout DC to help individuals whose stories are too often ignored, or told for them, to use photography to share the beauty in their neighborhoods, relationships, and daily life. Through my team’s connection with communities who have experience in or histories with sex work, injection drug use, homelessness, chronic disease, trauma and isolation, we identified individuals who wanted to express themselves through photography.

My team provided disposable cameras to each participant as an outlet for expression.  About thirty women participated from N Street Village and their work was displayed at pop-up art galleries and HIV testing events at local DC parks. We had over 1,000 pictures submitted and three women from N Street Village were in the top ten finalists! In fact, the judge-selected Best Photo of the entire competition was taken by Karen, a N Street Village resident. These three winning photographs are shown below.

Best Photo

Best Photo

Best Landscape

Best Landscape

Honorable mentionHonorable Mention

It is our hope that this project as a whole provided the broader community in DC with new perspectives by sharing stories and moments that are often unseen, from folks that are often unheard. Not only was it a joy and privilege to work with the women of N Street Village in this capacity and to listen to the stories behind the pictures, but it is my team’s hope that this project will enrich this city by creating a common humanity across people from some of the most marginalized and stigmatized groups in Washington, D.C.