This time a year ago I was packing my bags, preparing both for my first “real job” and for my first real winter. In twelve months time I have gone both halfway across the United States and back, and halfway across the world and back. I have lived through the coldest of winters and a land in which winter does not exist.
In arriving at Green School, I thought I had landed a dream job, documenting the building and subsequent opening of a school whose ideals and concepts I believed in. Sustainable architecture/living. Holistic learning. Compost toilets. Embracing local customs and culture. All of these aspects of Green School made doing what amounts to PR work all the more bearable. As Ryan Sholin wrote when talking about alternatives to mainstream journalism, “Is that something like PR? Maybe, but if you love the work they do, isn’t this a bit of a shortcut to saving the world?”
Unfortunately, things are seldom as good as they look on paper (Exhibit A: I give you the 2003-2004 Los Angeles Lakers). I will not get into the details of why I left the school, because I think there is still a reasonable chance that things there can turn around and at least a portion of their dream can be realized. Suffice it to say, I was not the only one to go.
Even if things had been perfect, I often wonder if I could have stayed any longer than a year. While it was indeed a project that I believed in, I left Des Moines in hopes of delving into more long-form storytelling, and taking photographs of schoolchildren day in and day out was definitely not that. That is not to say that I regret any of my decisions. I did, in fact, live in Bali for six months, and that alone was almost reason enough to have gone. I met an extraordinary group of people, both locals and westerners, come across interesting stories, and perhaps even have lined up potential work if I do return. I also learned that I need to work in a job/activity related to journalism. For now, playing on the beach and motorbiking down crowded streets is not enough. So all was not for naught.
As for what lies next. That should flush itself out over the next month. Know anyone that needs a young, enthusiastic visual journalist?