Global Growers Art in Action: Cultivating new perspectives of the Refugee community

Global Growers is a non-profit Atlanta based organization that started in 2010 whose mission statement is “to create opportunities in sustainable agriculture in Georgia, by growing good food, training farmers, and providing economic opportunity.” They focus on providing agricultural opportunities to refugees and other economically marginalized populations. Global Growers provides agricultural education and almost 20 acres of arable land to their farming families. The produce on these farms is subsequently sold to local restaurants, at local farmer’s markets, or distributed within the Global Growers community to families, who may rely on this produce as a food source. The Global Growers Executive Director, Robin Chanin, explained “We like to say that our farmers are global, but the food is local.”

“I want to create a series of images that captures the heart of the Global Growers Network,” said photographer, Ross Oscar Knight. “Captivating images can make you click and read more about a certain organization. And I think that if we can create striking images and taglines for Global Growers, people are more likely to engage and support the organization.

I want to use my photographs of Global Growers to reframe the popular images of refugees. I want to challenge people’s perceptions of who refugees are, what refugee families are like, where they are from, their impact on the local economy, and what they grow. I want to change the popular perception of a refugee in a positive way and I believe that I and the Emory students working with me, can do this through photography.”

Gabriel Andrle, one of the Emory Students working with Knight, said “What I love about Global Growers is it brings people from across the world together and they share a space to grow not only plants, but also a community. I find beauty in the simplicity of this concept and the incredible stories that lie beneath the surface of every individual. I hope that our images capture the uniqueness of the individuals, cultures, and families.”

Other students expressed similar reflections on the Global Growers network and their goals for the final art installment. They all expressed a desire to highlight the “rich histories and backgrounds” of the refugee farmers, thereby illustrating the humanity that those farmers share with the general American population. One student summarized by saying “Once people get past surface level differences and recognize and relate to the humanity that they share with those different than them, like these refugee farmers, then they can more easily empathize with that community. And empathy can drive action.”

Sarah Loftus put it eloquently saying “American culture at its core a beautiful amalgamation of many cultures from around the world and we need more organizations and people who not only celebrate this, but act as pillars of support for people, who have come here seeking better futures. They are not simply an abstract subject of controversy in which we are separated from by an ocean anymore, they are Americans, living with us in the same working whole. They should be thought of as untapped forces of fresh cultural perspectives and ethnic diversity, and through these photos we hope to show that. Through these photos people will be able to see the faces of the people that Global Growers help, and this will help to spread the cause.”

Author: Aspen Ono

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