Chasm

Chasms, fissures, divisions, are generally supposed to be avoided.

Giant and cracking, snaking their way into even greater divides and dangers, they are the stuff of separation, and hopelessness, and fear. In the physical sense, they are the type of places where we put up metal barriers and “Do not cross this line” signs, fine to stand at their edge and survey, but with no thought of going any further. And in our own lives, they are the gaping spaces that separate us from the next big dream; they are the noiseless unknown, the places that our minds won’t even go.

I’ve recently been standing at the edge of a lot of fissures, facing what feel like gaping holes, and as these things always go, it was not originally of my own accord. Forced to the edge, we all have the choice to stand, wind in our face and heart so full (just full, of what, we don’t often know), or we can turn and run back, hide our faces, saying this is all too hard. The choice to stand and survey, oh it is a brave one, one for true hearts. It is the place where new hope starts.

In my own life, I realized that I had stopped even facing my chasms, fine to unconsciously skirt around their edges, never looking at what was on the other side, much less in the gaping middle. I was missing my dreams, my new hopes, my own growth, so stuck in the known, the safe, the easy. I was missing people, and projects, and wonder. And jolted by my forced step to the edge, I’ve slowly started to see that consciously approaching the many chasms and questions in life might just be the best way to grow.

So paint the picture, see the desired result, all the love and good fruit that always surround courageous goals. Close your eyes and breathe it in, that fresh smell of a new, spacious place, and hold the light-edged image of your sweetest dream in your mind. Just hold it there. Then picture all the space in between, the decisions, and obstacles and unknowns. Feel their heaviness; gaze into their darkness. Think about how easy it was to see that light-filled result just a minute ago, and even to envision your first moves. But now it is dark, and you are at the edge of your chasm, and fear is creeping in. Stand here. This is the really excruciating part coming up: the sticky in-between. You can enumerate your fears, lift them all up to the fire of your dream, or you can turn back. No one will judge you either way. Oh, but if you start the enumerating, as scary as it may seem, you will find that half your fears are invalid, and that the rest are just hazards of the road, obstacles to face as you fight for your growth, and hope. And that hope will become what you hold on to as you start to bridge the chasm. The hope may look different than you thought it would, and it might show up in unexpected places and people, but it will be beautiful. And you will be on your way. And your heart will be so full.

Walk on, brave heart-traveler.

Craters of the Moon by Helena Marie Fletcher

Craters of the Moon by Helena Marie Fletcher




Moments with Juan Pablo Tavera


It seems if you sift moments, give them space to knock against your heart a few times, you find much beneath. Things you had shied from, things you needed to know, things you didn't. These photographs of Juan Pablo's feel this way—layered,  fragile, moments splayed open.  

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I do not know the truth, or I do not know how to tell the truth. All I have are stories, night thoughts, the sudden convictions that uncertainty spawns. All I have are ravings, more like. She loved him! I say. She must have loved him! I wait for the kind of sense that dawn makes, when you have not slept. I stay downstairs while the family breathes above me and I am able to write it down, I lay them out in nice sentences, all my clean, white bones.
— The Gathering, Anne Enright

Sounds of Wanderlust


Andrea Summer VonAllmen talks to Haven, here, about writing and recording for her new album, "Wanderlust." And because Andrea's the most gracious of souls, she gave us an early demo of one of our favorite songs: "Wayward Heart." Enjoy. 

When inspiration or clarity strikes, I record the idea on my voice memo app. Late one night in a sleepy stupor, I wrote/recorded this song and completely forgot about it the next day. I stumbled across it much later. It took me by surprise—broke me all over again. We tracked a quick, one-take demo, just so I could listen objectively and decide if I even liked it. I like it. In this demo, it's bare, unfinished, honest. (I can relate.) 

Wayward Heart (lyrics)

my wayward heart is wearing me thin

somebody told me it was wrong to ever rein it in

i think they lied because where does my desire end

from my wayward heart save me again

+

my foolish heart has forgotten the pain

of broken promises and the mess that they made

because it moves onto much of the same

from my foolish heart save me again

from my wayward heart save me again

photos by seth halter

photos by seth halter

Fear of Flying


[Essay first published on endslaverynow.org. Written by Liz Bell Young.]

Here we are: Kolkata. A tiny group of us—one photographer, two writers, two justice fighting wonders (of which I am not). We’re picking our way through the crowds and sewage and churn of poverty along a side-street in a city of which I may never find my bearings. And within that tiny group, I’m here, because after seven years of listening to stories from people who’ve tied their hearts and lives to the restoration work that’s happening in cities like Kolkata—and wondering what I could possibly do for the girls and women in India who’ve been tortured by the giant of sex slavery—I finally landed on something I thought might fly. Or at least hover.

For many of us, I think, when we first hear about surreal kidnappings, the selling of children, 3pm to midnight repeated rapes, sickening levels of torture and abuse—we sometimes stand in the face of that enemy and wonder how in the world we could affect something like that. It’s a storm so ugly that sometimes, if you’re honest, you just want to look away. It’s overwhelming; it feels impenetrable. But if you stand in that storm a moment longer and let yourself wade beyond those first rounds of horror and defeat, you might find something. You might leverage some of the dreams and noble justice work happening around you and form a sliver of an idea. Then you might say that idea out loud. And because you’ve said it out loud and made a promise or two, the momentum begins.

That’s the only way I starting moving. I said it out loud. I drew sketches and diagrams and timelines. But when those initial rushes of adrenaline waned, it happened: I got scared. I knew that this project—to create a photoessay magazine, crowd-fund it on Indiegogo.com, and turn whatever profit we made directly over to justice work in India—meant I actually had to go to India. I had to get knee-deep. Nothing was simple.

photo by Kary and Tae

photo by Kary and Tae

A few years ago, this would have felt like something close to adventure. But this opportunity, as it turned out, would come at a time when I was newly pregnant, increasingly sick, and had two little boys at home. An intense trek to India wasn’t top of my list. I knew my own level of sacrifice and suffering bore no resemblance whatsoever to the suffering of the women in India, but that’s the truth of it. I had immense doubt. At night, I would sit in bed and draw out new scenarios, ways that would be easier and require less sacrifice, without seeming like a selfish dream-dropper. I would consider those things and feel like hell. But in the morning, my husband, my best friends, my die-hard community, would build me back up and remind me of the mission, remind me of all the why’s, remind me that there’s a creeping beast of fear who is always on guard when anyone dares to look into the face of evil. No matter how small or how trivial we believe our idea might be, that enemy is threatened.

I got my passport.

photo by Kary and Tae 

photo by Kary and Tae 

Our van stalls at a traffic light outside Sonagacchi—the largest red light district in Kolkata where at least 10,000 females are held captive. Ten thousand. A eunuch approaches our window with makeup and hair so stunning, so tended. My friend, that justice fighting wonder who’s been immersed here for years, tells me about the eunuch (Hijra) subculture, the kidnappings of boys, another ring of slavery. The eunuch puts his hands on the glass between us, laughing, gesturing. With his eyes locked on ours, I see the storm.

We park the van. We walk past the closed brothels, the slavery cages. We find a simple doorway and knock. And this, right here, is where we find a haven. Freeset. An organization so close to the heart of my community back in Cincinnati, because we’ve spent years going back and forth, investing in each other’s lives and mission, wrangling new ways to support and create a lasting partnership. It is this group of people in the center of the Red Light who left their home country of New Zealand to root themselves into a neighborhood where they believed starting a business alternative for prostituted women would be a hallmark of freedom. We believe them. I believe them. So now I’m here with my small team, and a much larger team of creatives and entrepreneurs and brilliant minds waiting back at home, because Freeset is the recipient of any profit that comes from the first volume of Haven.

We climb the steps and weave through turquoise, magenta, radiant orange—our shoulders brushing against hanging sheets of beautiful textiles, braided ropes, and women who are bustling past on mission. Wildly brave women and their sewing machines, their production tables, their jute bags and screenprints. An incubator of freedom and investment and audacious hope.

A woman looks up from her sewing machine, points to my stomach where the baby is growing, and she smiles. She reaches for my arm and holds on.

We wind through the open-air hallways and finally pile into a small kitchen where one family resides. A couple from New Zealand, my age, with their two boys, not far from the ages of my own. They’ve created their home within the walls of Freeset, planted themselves amidst the brothels and turmoil of these streets, and a little red toy truck is at my feet where one child plays. They serve us coffee, tell us how they got there, tell us why they stay. And with their stories and hopes and confessions I fall deeper into belief—a belief I’ll take home to share: that all this is a fight, a daunting and desperate fight. But it is happening, and the circles of hope are spreading, and it will not be stopped.

When a women looks up from her career as a loved seamstress and she is no longer a slave, is no longer tortured, is no longer condemned as worthless but rather as an incredible women set free—you know the entire fight is worth it.

photo by Melissa Fields

photo by Melissa Fields

Home at Sea with Cedric Dasesson


If someone asked me what is my house, I would simply respond that it's the sea. It’s the only place where I feel me at home.

I am an Italian photographer. I live on an island that, in summer, is a destination for tourists and vacationers coming from every part of the world. But when winter comes, the island is closed in its lethargy and disappears from everyone's thoughts. It’s name is Sardinia.

About two years ago, I started to go around the entire island, with the hope that the winter, too, could give meaning to this land. I travel coast to coast; I sometimes am cut by the wind; I sometimes take shelter from it, but I never stop pursuing the transformation it creates. I want to understand why the rocks take on a certain form on every beach, why the sea takes certain likeness and certain colors. My camera has only a role of documentation, a kind of catalog I use to bring out the strength and the words of the sea.

Today, I want to take your mind to the east coast of this island, to a place that is called Costa Rei. It is a place where I feel free from all worries. This is my home. This is the place where you can find me when the sea is stormy. This is the space that I will never stop exploring. We're talking about 20 kilometers of beach, and every kilometer changes in its shape and color and rock.

It is the sea that I focus on today, with much wind and waves, not so high, but building beautiful geometric figures. Each one of them is different—never the same movement. I catalog this, and also the endless expanse of sand that flattens the beach. The endless expanse sky with all its blue in motion.

In winter, we still find kiosks built from last summer, ready for the one who will arrive, next. I take shelter in one of these to observe the sea from afar, then I rejoin, and the closer I am, the more the smell of the salt comes to me. I reach the waterline, and I feel me, almost, as if I were the only human to admire a similar show.

I leave, carrying respect for the nature that was my company today, that will continue to change shape every day, but will never again have the identical pattern of today’s story. And I will not forget easily.

[Italian]

Se qualcuno mi chiedesse quale sia casa mia gli risponderei semplicemente che è il mare. È l’unico posto dove mi sento a casa.

Sono un fotografo italiano, vivo in un’isola che d’estate è meta di vacanze per turisti provenienti da ogni parte del mondo, ma quando arriva l’inverno si chiude nel suo letargo e scompare dal pensiero di tutti. Il suo nome è la Sardegna.

Ho iniziato circa due anni fa a girare l’intera isola, con la speranza che anche l’inverno potesse dare un significato a questa terra. Di costa in costa viaggio, alle volte sego il vento, alle volte mi riparo da esso, ma non smetto mai di inseguire la sua trasformazione.

Mi piace capire come mai le rocce assumano una determinata forma in ogni spiaggia, come mai il mare assuma certe sembianze e certi colori. La mia macchina fotografica ha solo un ruolo di “documentazione”; una sorta di catalogo da dove tirar fuori la forza e le parole del mare.

Oggi ho voglia di prendere la vostra testa e portarla sulla costa est di quest’isola in un luogo che è chiamato Costa rei. È un luogo dove mi sento libero da ogni pensiero. Questa è la mia casa, questo è il luogo dove mi si può trovare quando il mare è in tempesta, è lo spazio che non smetterò mai di scoprire. Stiamo parlando di circa 20 km di spiaggia, ogni km cambia forma, colori e cambia la forma delle rocce.

È il mare che guardo oggi, tanto vento, onde, ma non tanto alte, ma costruiscono sempre belle figure geometriche, ognuna di essa è diversa, mai una simile, mai lo stesso movimento, vorrei racchiuderle tutte nel mio catalogo, ma è tempo che guardi l’infinita distesa di sabbia che si alza per appiattire la spiaggia. In inverno troviamo ancora i chioschi dell’estate scorsa, già pronti per quella che arriverà. Mi riparo in uno di questi per osservare il mare da lontano per poi riavvicinarmi, e più mi avvicino, più l’odore del sale arriva alle mie narici.

Arrivo al bagnasciuga, sentendomi, quasi, come l’unico essere umano ad ammirare uno spettacolo simile ed il suo cielo che si trattiene in quella distesa infinita di blu in movimento.

Vado via portando rispetto a quella natura che oggi mi ha fatto compagnia, cambierà forma di giorno in giorno, ma mai nello stesso identico modo di come la storia di oggi ha portato quelle forme e quei rumori che non dimenticherò facilmente.

This Day's Love


Last night, this guy wrote us a letter—

Photo by Elizabeth Freeman

Photo by Elizabeth Freeman

—because he had seen this photo. This dad. A New Zealander living in India with his wife, Mai, and their little boys. A family tucked above a fair-trade business, living like a band of modest warriors who take care of whoever falls across their path. Including us, when we visited for Volume One.  

Photo by Calvina Nyugen

Photo by Calvina Nyugen

And to the guy in New York City, that image was enough.

Today, somewhere around Greenwich, two guys are starting a movement to inspire men to be noble fathers—using narratives, interviews, photography, film. And with the talent and heart we see behind it, you can expect to see more of EVERMORE featured here. And the EVERMORE guys, Evan and Kevin. Because no matter how small it is today, we’ll be following close behind.

When We Gather


We see it often, these days. People gathered around long tables and over meals that are so spectacular you could weep. The gold fork. The simple plating of citrus and rosemary. The fall of linen, the shine of light.

Sometimes we gather like this just for beauty, and that is enough. But sometimes we gather and suddenly there’s more. It’s in the way she laughs without inhibition. It’s the story he tells about his brother. It’s the revelation she admits before saying goodnight about how unfamiliar it feels to be around people who care about her for no other reason than because she is her.

And you walk away from a night like that, fork forgotten.

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Wander


Here, a photo collection from Rose Liu—who we tapped on the shoulder when we uncovered her photography—and her search for home. Liu just left her home base in New York to temporarily resettle with her family in Shanghai, a place she left at sixteen: alone. So, it’s a return home that’s steeped, actually, in homesickness for the American city she’s since grown into. 

"Photography has always served as therapeutic to me. I left for the U.S when I was 16, alone. I would visit China occasionally but never stayed longer than 2 months. I am so used to living out of a suitcase, even my own bedroom at home feels foreign to me—let alone the culture here. Home is such a simple word, and "where are you from" is such an easy question to give an answer to...for most people. I have definitely complicated the traditional concept of home by living in 3 different countries over the past 8 years (if i include my home country that would make it 4; I even lived in Alaska at one point). I am still trying to figure out what my definition of "home" is, but I am certain that it is definitely not any specific city. A sense of belonging has always been a running theme in my photography work; I never felt I belonged to or fit in, no matter where I lived, until I moved to New York two years ago after college. I felt at home in New York, in the way that I could see myself grow old there. However, it's still different from my home in Shanghai. How I feel about New York is more spiritual whereas how I feel about Shanghai is more physic. I feel at ease in both places; but they are different kinds of comfort. I once read somewhere that "once a place gains the title of home, such a privilege is never taken away"; that's how I feel about Shanghai." Rose Liu

To Be Home


This wasn’t exactly in the cards—starting an online journal.

We’re a tiny-now-growing studio that had been imagining a life of all print, all paper. We were going to do this the slow way, even throw in some hand-deliveries, some coffee breaks. If it worked, fabulous. If it didn’t? Well, we kept our day jobs. Half of us were in school. The rest of us were crawling after babies or running city markets or households or media companies. Haven was an experiment.

But, it seems! It seems after a half year of traveling, buckling down, iterating and reiterating, collaborating and collecting, the stockpile is too high for just an annual volume. Our drawers are stuffed with photography, good words, poignant moments and stories to tell. And what started as very local is now reaching Denmark, Dorset, Brooklyn and a band of Kiwis we’ve never met but now feel so kindred. It’s humbling and exciting.

So, this is where we’ve landed. An online journal—with plans to produce our next print volume come Summer.

Our hope in all this is that your experience of Haven will be a source of freshness when you’re spent, solace when you crave it, ideas when you’re empty, and connection when you’re wandering around this huge, magnificent earth and just need something that feels like home.

Thanks for coming around. Let’s keep this going.  

Yours,

Liz
Founder || Haven

Photo by Jonathan Willis

Photo by Jonathan Willis