Seeing a Friend: Charlestown Church Launches Unique Photo Project

It’s often said that Charlestown is a small one-square-mile, but it’s also often surprising how little residents know about areas and people of that square mile that they don’t live in.

Those on Medford Street often don’t make it over to Washington Street.

City Square neighbors aren’t likely to walk down to Bunker Hill Development or NewTown.

And the story goes on and on.

Now, Pastor JD Mangrum of Christ Church Charlestown – who is also a member of the Charlestown Neighborhood Council – is looking to break through those barriers with a unique photo exhibit this month called ‘Through Our Eyes.’

“Part of this is about learning where people – one another – are coming from,” he said. “I have a friend on Eden Street who told me his whole world is Main Street, Russell Street and Bunker Hill Street. It’s one square mile, but there were a lot of places in the neighborhood he had no frame of reference for…A lot of our involvement is based on what sport our kids play, where we drink coffee and what street you’re on. That becomes your group and there’s not a ton of overlap with others. If you have to walk over two big hills to the other side of the Town, you don’t do it. I don’t do it. Our hope is the photographs will allow people see places here they haven’t been and it brings people together whose paths aren’t crossing.”

The exhibit doesn’t depend upon the trained eye of a Life Magazine photographer or an accomplished artist looking to find keen details, but rather it depends upon the people of Charlestown.

The church put out a call for volunteers and handed out 80 disposable film cameras to those that answered the call, and Mangrum said it was a very diverse group of people that took them. The youngest was 3 and the oldest person was 80. They photographed from Labor Day weekend through Sept. 9, and 52 cameras came back.

He said they are in the process of developing those pictures, and most were of people’s daily routines. However, one detailed a birthday that happened, and another profiled a woman who had a baby during that week. There are reportedly pictures of Johnny Kelly selling T-Shirts and another of a weekly poker game in the Town amongst friends.

Others focused on landscapes within their own corner of the neighborhood, and others are still a mystery.

That mystery will all be revealed to the public on Sept. 26, when the StoveFactory will host an opening reception from 6-9 p.m. They will display 20 of the best, most interesting photos, in large format on the walls. However, each person’s camera story will be displayed on a board as well so the entirety of the project can be viewed by the public.

“Some people used all 27 shots to tell a story of where they live and what they do,” said Mangrum. “Some people took one photo. That one photo is a story. We have a committee that is currently narrowing the numbers down from about 1,000 images to 200 images. We have a group from Charlestown that will get it down from 200 to 20 before the show.”

He said that the show would continue, but he hopes it will spark conversations that last far down the road.

“It could be a solution; it could bring about some dialog,” he said. “I hope that the community sees this as something the church is doing that has value to the entire community and artistic value as well.”

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