Monday, July 22, 2013

Slow Democracy: Photographing Local Government

In recent months, I've been taken with a profound interest in local government and the "slow democracy" style of decision making so familiar to most New England-ers. Whether it's citizens talking about resistance to a proposed pipeline through their town, City Councilors adjusting and tinkering with local ordinances, or even the occasional church supper; I believe that photographing and covering these kinds of events with the same journalistic/documentary energy and enthusiasm has been one of the more intriguing experiences of the past year or so.

Not am I now equipped with a better understanding of a myriad of issues but I'm also granted the fantastic opportunity to talk with my fellow citizens about what is on their minds regarding their communities. This is where great journalism and storytelling has always originated from: community members engaged in discourse with one another. So often, I feel that contemporary "mainstream" gloss over this and fixate on the figures of power in government, industry, and elsewhere. So seldom are the occasions that the voices and concerns of everyday citizens covered as frequently and intimately as those of conventional "deciders" and decision makers. Additionally, the process of photographing meetings; hearings; and discussions gives me the tremendous aesthetic challenging of visualizing discourse (usually in less that satisfactory lighting conditions). It's also more challenging to come away from a relatively unexciting meeting with an image that (upon looking for a moment) is capable of implying the fatigue, uncertainty, and tension that exists just beneath the surface.

That said, here are some image from a recent meeting of the Burlington City Council Ordinance Committee. Be prepared to see related images of Discourse, Dissent, and Dissonance in the coming months.


To see more work by Dylan Kelley visit his website, Facebook page, and column at Vermont Commons. You may also follow Dylan on Twitter via @LiveFromGround

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