“You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.” ~ Max Ehrmann
Portrait Series Documenting the Journey of a Group of Silicon Valley Teens to Graduation in 2020 (and Beyond)
Part 1: “At 13, A Letter to My Future Self”
I have been planning for this photo series for many years and could not wait until the magic number “13”. I wanted to make portraits of my daughter and a group of her peers at the age of 13 and ask them each to write a letter to their future 18 year old self; their 2020 self. However, the project wouldn’t end there. Each participant has agreed to meet me again in 2020 for another portrait/letter session, and perhaps again in 2025.
I began this project last summer, during their 13th year and asked that they write their letter before turning 14. I have known most of these kids since their pre and elementary school days. And, while 7 middle schools, 9 towns, and a countless number of sports teams, music groups and art programs now separate them, they have all remained friends or have become acquaintances. The kids of the Silicon Valley all seem to know one another.
I’m thrilled to introduce this group of teens, each of whom I will have the privilege of documenting with photographs on their journey to 2020. After each child’s name I’ve included one word their parents were asked to use to describe them when they entered preschool. I look forward to watching them grow and witnessing the young adults they will become. Godspeed!
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” ~ Seneca
The PBS journey (where Ally and her peers attended pre and elementary school) began in the Fall of 2005. She was 3 1/2 and couldn’t bear the thought of us leaving her for five minutes, much less the three, long hours in this child’s playground of toys, indoor tree houses, puppets and magical teachers. Some of the pre-schoolers would cry that first week when it was time to kiss mom or dad goodbye. They all slowly adjusted and the tears, as expected, faded.
Fast forward to the last day of 5th grade. Every teacher who spent time with Ally and her friends over these 8, wonderful years came to us, with tears in their eyes, to say goodbye. The celebrating continued that evening with a 5th grade graduation party that included swimming, volleyball, zip lines and those same magical teachers who would pull us all together for one final group hug. In the middle of this hug were the one time toddlers who grew together to find courage, kindness, community and a love of learning. Each and every one of them had tears in their eyes, as it was now time to say goodbye.
Wishing Ally and all her peers luck and love on their journey to 2020. May you all continue to find courage, kindness, community and a love of learning wherever this next chapter may take you. Godspeed.