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For a generation, tabloids, television, and Hollywood had defined the public image of New Yorkers who live in the city's 334 housing projects. Focusing on crime, disrepair, and other ills that afflict these islands of red brick, such portrayals ironically had made it all too easy for government to scale back the support these developments had relied on since their birth eight decades previously.  And so conditions worsened further yet, as the buildings tried to soldier on past their useful life, at the time around four hundred thousand tenants.

What if these New Yorkers had the tools and training to document their own lives?

And the opportunity to share the result, beyond the confines of social media?

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Embedded at New York City's housing agency from 2010 to 2013, Seeing for Ourselves equipped and trained hundreds of project residents to document their lives photographically. We handed out Kodak disposable cameras and delivered a college-level twelve-week course in the art of visual storytelling.




The most powerful photographs were combined with a backstory about public housing and published by powerHouse in April 2015.

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