For the past fifteen years, while living in Maine during the summers, I have been photographing and learning about rural poverty. Isolation and the lack of transportation are major problems, but the need for a livable wage, affordable housing and health care are the same desperate concerns as those of poor people living in urban areas.
To gain access into the homes and the lives of people is the most difficult to accomplish—credibility, passion to tell the story, and the joy of creating a true-to-life scene are essential qualities to have in documentary photography. Along with humanistic attitudes are the important uses of composition, lighting, expression and, of course, that unknown something else, the mystery of energy that makes the image come alive.
1 - Homeworkers Organized for More Employment - The sign for H.O.M.E. as you come over the hill from Bucksport into Orland.
3 - H.O.M.E. allowed Dottie to live in her mobile home on their property. She was a delight to all the visitors and residents. Always pleasant and helpful.
4 - H.O.M.E. made quilts that helped the artisans survive and were a big seller for the tourists.
7 - Lucy, Marie and Ellen struggling to get a donated tree onto their truck. These fallen trees that people owned were a headache and expense to the owners but a treasure to H.O.M.E. as they turned them into boards that built their low-income homes.
8 - Volunteers from all over the world came and donated their time and energy into helping H.O.M.E survive.
9 - The heart of Mandala (Sanctuary) where Lucy and many other lived, cooked, and held their peace meeting.
11 - My neighbor in Brooklin. She build her own eco house from dump debrie. It was a beautiful one and a half story home. She also had a boutique filled with items she had hand made.
12 - Henny was in her nineties and always loved to swim. She dove into the water as natural as a young person and we all clapped.
13 - H.O.M.E became involved with Gail's wedding to Lee as we all happily celebrated every event. We all went to the H.O.M.E thrift shop and found a complete wedding outfit for her. She was so happy with our results.
14 - Lee and his wife Gail celebrated their baby being baptized. Gail was still in the hospital and couldn't attend the event.
16 - Arlen and Jake - They were homeless for many years and finally found a permanent home at H.O.M.E. She worked in the children's caretaker area and he in the lawn maintenance department. They were married for over twenty years.
17 - Gary and Gail - He lied about his age and joined the army in Vietnam before he was eighteen. At nineteen he was sent home for emotional trauma. He told me he wasn't prepared to see his buddies blow up. He worked as a security guard at H.O.M.E and she as a receptionist. They were married for many years.
18 - Horses - One of the beauties of H.O.M.E. were the loved animals.
19 - Lucy Poulin, Founder and President of Homeworkers Organized for More Employment (H.O.M.E.) - Lucy was a Carmelite nun who settled in Orland, Maine, in 1968 with the intention of establishing a hermitage for the contemplative life. She soon realized that her neighbors were among the poorest in the nation. Her life changed. She told me how she followed what people needed - jobs. "So we developed a woodworking shop and saw mill on a plot of land they acquired in 1970 from an old small farmhouse." As she saw the factories close down, there were no outlets for the locals to sell their quilts. There is a learning center that graduates 30 students each year. H.O.M.E. has built over 40 low-income homes where the residents and volunteers build. Lucy's idea of what she saw and what she did was an enormous life saving, to thousands of people. She said " ...when a need appears, FULFILL IT!"
20 - Richard walking home from his garden. He uses canes and chairs to get himself up and down to his huge garden. Vegetables can be eatten during the summer and put in jars for long winters.
21 - Maida hanging the wash as Richard is discussing their life. He retired many years
from working in the woods for the state, then on the road, and later they cleaned the firehouse. He has passed now and Maida lives with her daughter in a small nearby village.
23 - Living about 25 miles from H.O.M.E., Elliott is walking into his house. He and his family had a huge farm that was sold in the local markets and on the road, but they had to keep selling the land to pay for the raising taxes when the rich built houses for their summer vacations. He used to work for the city as a caretaker but
lost that job. He is down to very little land and a crumbling house. "Our society doesn't include much for the hard working poor people."