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Teosinte: Community and Place

TEOSINTE, EL SALVADOR – November 2013. A town council meeting. Since the return to the village after the civil war, democracy is even more important.
Teosinte: Community and Place, Paul Giguere
[T]eosinte, El Salvador was decimated during El Salvador’s civil war which lasted from 1980 to 1992. The United States supported the war by arming, funding and training the Salvadoran military, to combat what they perceived as a Communist threat. Most of the people who now live in Teosinte (which is about three hours northwest of San Salvador by car) met at a refugee camp in Honduras during the war and agreed to return to El Salvador together, despite the ongoing danger. Eventually, others joined them as they sought to rebuild the town. Teosinte is unusual though in that not only did refugees and civilians return to Teosinte but former guerillas and military soldiers joined them. This unlikely group of what now comprises roughly fifty families have, over the past twenty years, managed to work together as a community to determine their own future.

In 1998, the town of Arlington, Massachusetts and Teosinte became sister cities through the National US-El Salvador Sister Cities Network. The relationship has grown over the years and now delegations from both towns visit each other to engage in a cultural exchange and to support each other through community involvement and support.

This project communicates the past (the history of Teosinte, the war, etc.), the present (how people live and work now; how they work to rebuild their sense of society after a conflict), and the future (the hopes and dreams that the people of Teosinte have for their town and their children). This project is on-going and will involve more visits to Teosinte to more fully realize the goal of a creating a deep and personal understanding and connection.

TEOSINTE, EL SALVADOR – November 2013. Football is one of the recreations available to young people in Teosinte. These boys were playing for a prize of $50.
TEOSINTE, EL SALVADOR – November 2013. Many people died in El Salvador trying to protect their land. Honoring the dead is an important duty.
TEOSINTE, EL SALVADOR – November 2013. Most people still pay homage to the Archbishop Romero.
TEOSINTE, EL SALVADOR – November 2013. Muriel has returned from his fields with beans. Muriel is one of a handful of farmers who have rejected GMO seeds and are growing the organic crops.
TEOSINTE, EL SALVADOR – November 2013. Fidel naps after fifteen hours of working.
TEOSINTE, EL SALVADOR – November 2013. A farmer surveys her corn field which grows along the slope of a mountain.
TEOSINTE, EL SALVADOR – November 2013. Muriel shows the difference between his organically grown beans and GMO beans.
TEOSINTE, EL SALVADOR – November 2013. A women’s sewing cooperative makes products which are sold in the United States through non-profit organizations so they can make a living.
TEOSINTE, EL SALVADOR – November 2013. A goat waits for its owner.
TEOSINTE, EL SALVADOR – November 2013. Teosinte’s church was built by Italian missionaries. It is the center of life for Teosinte.
TEOSINTE, EL SALVADOR – November 2013. Marta prepares a chicken for dinner (a rare occasion since chickens are more valuable for their eggs).

Q&A with Paul Giguere

Photography is…
Photography is like a passport that allows me to insert myself into someone’s life, to ask questions, build relationships, and help tell a story.

Photography and writing…
Many photographers feel that a photograph should be able to stand on its own without words or captions. Perhaps that is the correct way to think about fine art photography but with documentary photography, I’m trying to tell a story and sometimes that story is too complex for just photos alone. To do justice to the people in my photographs and their stories sometimes requires words.

Who left the biggest impression on you?
he photographer who has had the biggest impact on me is Eugene Richards. His documentary work shows how just how powerful photography (with words) can be as a tool to inform and move people to better know our fellow human beings and the problems issues we deal with in our lives.

Tell us a little about yourself
I live in the Unites States and I’ve been a photographer for thirty years. Planning and working on photography projects is primarily how I like to work. I have a hard time just wandering around with a camera in my hand making photographs without any purpose or plan in mind. I know I’m missing out though. I just need to let go and make photographs where ever I find them. I need to do that more.

Paul-GiguerePaul Giguere (www.paulgiguere.com) focuses on photographic projects that show the positive aspects of the human condition while helping others tell their stories through words and pictures. Paul is attracted to people and stories that others in the media either don’t know about or don’t care about. Photography can be a powerful way to tell stories and to that end, Paul uses his camera as a way to connect with others and to give a voice to those who normally wouldn’t have the opportunity.

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