My initial thoughts on #DocumentYpsi2017

Now that a week has passed, I’m looking through all of the photos that were either emailed to me as part of our #DocumentYpsi2017 project, or posted to social media along with the hashtag. While I’ve yet to receive the contributions from Ozone House or Ypsi High, both of whom had multiple people taking photos, I’ve been able to identify images from 59 different people so far, ranging from our local, all-woman moped gang, to the Provost’s office at Eastern Michigan University, which I think is pretty incredible.

I don’t want to say too much about the submissions themselves until they’re all in, but it’s been interesting to flip through the images I’ve been able to pull together thus far, looking for patterns, and trying to understand what those people taking the photos might have been thinking, why they thought it important to document certain things about our existence here in Ypsi, as opposed to others, etc. There were certain things, it would seem, that really resonated with people last weekend. Maybe it was just something about those who chose to participate, but I’m seeing a lot of anti-Trump graffiti, rainbow flags, and donuts from Dom’s Bakery, which I suspect will lead historians of the future to see our community as one of liberal, gay folk, who, during this painful chapter in American history, sought solace in comfort foods.

And, for what it’s worth, a lot of folks photographed the YpsiGLOW rabbit luminary in the window of Riverside Arts Center… Here, to give you and idea, are four of the photos that were posted to social media with the #DocumentYpsi2017 tag last weekend, all of which featured said rabbit prominently. The first was posted by Akosua Dow. The second was posted by Dan Blakeney. The third was posted by Linette Lao. And the fourth was posted by the Riverside Arts Center.

It’s interesting, I think, how different people chose to go about capturing the same thing in different ways. That’s not something that I’d anticipated when I first threw the idea out there… I knew, of course, that multiple people would choose to document the same thing, like the water tower, but it didn’t occur to me how interesting it would be, sorting though multiple images from different angles, each taken from a slightly different perspective… In the case of the rabbit, we even have him from behind the glass, staring out. And we don’t just have the water tower from the ground, but also from the air, by way of drone.

It was also interesting to me how my thoughts changed wile walking around town, taking photos with my son. At first, I was just thinking about what would make for visually compelling photos. I was shooting things that I felt were, for lack of a better word, attractive. As time went on, though, I was thinking less about what people might appreciate in the present day, and more about what might be of interest to people in the future, who might have questions about what life was like at this point in our history. And I found it a really interesting exercise, looking for opportunities to capture things that might not be here in the coming years, like the sign marking the Water Street Native Prairie, or just document some of the everyday things that, while we might take them for granted today, may be significant in the future, like the photos I took of immigrant families fishing in the Huron for food while well-outfitted fly fishermen cast their lines in the background for sport. That, I think, says a lot about where we are right now as a community, and I don’t know that it would have occurred to me without this project. And I think it’s probably worthwhile to take a weekend a year and just wonder through town, trying to look at things differently, from an historical perspective, kind of taking yourself our of the equation, and just being in the moment.

As for what’s next, I’m not sure. I’d like to find some way to share these images with folks, either through this site, or as part of a show somewhere. And I’d like to start thinking about what we might want to do differently next year. I’m thinking, among other things, I’d like to set up a booth somewhere in Ypsi where people can either record their stories about life in Ypsilanti, or maybe just recount how they spent the previous hour. Maybe, I’m thinking, it could be on a bike, and we could take it different places around Ypsilanti, over the course of the weekend. I’d also like to see if we might be able to find a photographer to offer free portraits for folks on the street, so we can record what people actually looked like at that specific point in history… If you have other ideas, just let me know… We’ve got a year to plan.

LAST CALL: If you took any photos in Ypsilanti between the 6th and 8th of October, and you’d like to have them included in the official #DocumentYpsi2017 archive, just send me what you’ve got, or post them to Twitter, Instagram or Facebook along with the #DocumentYpsi2017 hashtag. If you go the route, though, be sure that your settings are set to “public,” so I can find them.

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  1. Sad
    Posted October 16, 2017 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    I can’t wait to see all the photos. Thanks for doing this.

    You might want to involve StoryCorp to help record the stories for next year. That’s what they do I think. Unless you always want to do everything yourself.

  2. ypsidoodledandy
    Posted October 16, 2017 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Very cool idea. Two thoughts–do it every quarter, so there are snapshots from all seasons. And ask people to write a little with each photo, to give them context. I’m always sorry, with old pictures, that the story attached is lost.

    Or even better, we could sure use a daily newspaper!! I know, crazy.

  3. grandma
    Posted October 16, 2017 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Very innovative idea you made happen.

  4. Eel
    Posted October 16, 2017 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Blood draws at Corner Health. Finger prints at the police station. Retinal scans at EMU.

  5. Lynne
    Posted October 16, 2017 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    I thought this was fun. I was a little sad because family came to visit so I couldnt spend much time in town. I took pictures as I was leaving though just of the street in front of my house. I guess that is pretty every day though :)

  6. Mark Tucker
    Posted October 16, 2017 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    I’m looking forward to jumping on board with this idea, along with Lynne Settles and her Ypsilanti High School Art students. My students (in the Lloyd Hall Scholars Program at UM) will be coming to Ypsilanti to make an exhibition in collaboration with Lynne’s students based on this intriguing concept of finding new creative ways to visualize and re/create specific images that re/define Ypsilanti. We’ll be putting together a culminating public exhibition/performance to be revealed at yes (8 N. Washington) on First Friday in December! We also plan on working with Mark Maynard to see if there’s a way to incorporate photos submitted from the community as well. That would be an exciting 3-way collaboration!

  7. Iron Lung
    Posted October 19, 2017 at 1:37 am | Permalink

    Trump nation will stop this.

  8. Anne M Evans
    Posted October 19, 2017 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Don and I could not participate on that particular weekend because the death of a close friend necessitated our being out of town. However, we would love another opportunity to participate. If you chose another weekend or season, or if you need assistance assembling the catalog, let us know. We think this is a great project Mark. Also, we love our Dom’s and I hope someone took a picture in the early morning dark with the drive through snaking around the building.

  9. Jean Henry
    Posted October 19, 2017 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    People who stick around in a place learn to love where they live, even when they see it for what it is and is not. This project is heartening.

  10. Catherine D
    Posted October 25, 2017 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Oops! I didn’t see the time limitation when I uploaded an image I took earlier. Maybe I just overlooked it.
    But I agree with the idea to have more notice and more seasons. It’s a good project to do again.

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