HEART OF HARVEST:
Following the Seasons in the Real Lives of Migrant Workers
We hear the term ‘migrant worker’ on the nightly news and at the lips of commentators and politicians. But there is a whole world behind and beyond the generic, faceless label of ‘migrant worker’. Questions are asked about them: ‘Why are they here? What are their rights?’ I find the much more compelling and human questions to be: ‘Who are they? What are their stories? Their dreams? What does their life really look like?’
The projects aims to cast light on the unique, complex, often heartbreaking stories of sacrifice those migrant workers take on. The world seen from the eyes and perspective of these workers would come as a revelation to most of America, and maybe even to some of the farmers whose fields they toil in.
The Season starts spreading north in the fall from the tropical climes in Florida and Southern California all the way north to Maine and Michigan. In south Florida, citrus is king; in New Jersey its blueberries, corn, tomatoes; apples in Upstate New York. Every year, all over the nation, migrant farm workers work their way across the US following the season.
I have been gifted with extremely rare and unprecedented up close look at the real lives of migrant workers. And with GoPro it will get even closer. The intent is to use the unmatched capabilities of GoPro equipment to capture this world in ways that have NEVER been seen before. With the opportunity to get the wheels in motion using ISKME’s OER Commons as a platform to share, I firmly believe that we have the power to illuminate cultural, social, and political issues for students and teachers alike.
We will follow a crew of 50-100 workers (whose size fluctuates with the size of the crop) from Florida to North Carolina, New Jersey to Pennsylvania. In agreements with staffing and crew leaders to access these workers for interviews, select workers will wear GoPro cameras all day long to see, in time lapse video, the incredible pace and labor that they endure; through rain or scorching heat, from dawn to dusk. Then we will document when they go back to the work camps to cook their meals, share stories, count their work tickets, and wash away the grit of the day. You will see their hands, their faces, their work through the lens of GoPro gear. And you will be able to delve into their reality through robust and engaging OER Commons materials connected to Common Core Standards. In addition, selected student will participate in the filming and editing of the end products. The interdisciplinary connections are endless; social studies, science, agriculture, writing, debate, mathematics, social justice, art and more.
I foresee this project lasting far beyond the May 15th, 2014 materials submission. I will continue throughout the summer and fall of 2014 building upon the initial work. I intend to follow this up with cultural grant submissions that would allow the project to potentially grow into a full-length documentary. Migrant stories don’t end when the citrus dries up… they follow the season. We will highlight the agricultural season and the seasons of their lives. I have found their lives endearing, humble, proud, and driven; as they laugh, bleed, dream, and stumble through life like the rest of us.
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The image is a pencil sketch that has a free form shape resembling a truck body. This surrounds a collage of images with a sepia color hinting at a feeling of days gone by. In the upper left there are dollar signs next to a man looking out of a bus window as the scenery zooms by. He looks out of the window at a house above which says the word HOME. Words TRUTH, FIELDS, PERSPECTIVE lead from left to right to a sketch of a blueberry field; its rows shown in forced perspective with the shadows of working picking with heavy sacks. Words LAW, LABOR, and TIME IS MONEY lead right around the front of the truck shape. Continuing in this circling view, there are oranges, clocks, dollar signs, a stove with steaming pots boiling, leading left and up to a July calendar and flags flying. In the center of the sketch is a pair of worn hands holding a bounty of fresh blueberries. All around the edges of this sketch are words that are meant to highlight some of the themes that will be touched upon in the project. These include: laughter, lives, hope, hours, worn, sweat, time, homeland, stories, connections, years, blood, and law.