Well, it looks like my "American Values" project might be about to get a new life. If you don't already know, I put out a call on this blog several weeks back asking people to snap a photo of themselves naming something that they hold as a value and then to send me their images. My idea was that I would collect all of the photos and put them together in a video (which I did, and which you can view here) in part to demonstrate how this thing we call "American Values" is often far more complex than our uses of it in social, moral and political discourse would suggest. I thought it was a pretty interesting project-- I wrote a little about the backstory of putting it together-- and it now seems as if others thought it was interesting as well. So, it looks like the Little Idea That Could is not dead yet and may soon be revived in a slightly different form. (Sorry I can't say more about it now, but details of the revival will be forthcoming.) There's one catch, though: I NEED MORE IMAGES!
If you didn't participate before and are currently kicking yourself over missing the opportunity-- yes, I'm looking at you-- here's one of life's very rare second chances. All you need to do is write down (on some kind of sign) a value that you hold dear and then take a photo of yourself holding that sign and then email it to me here . There are a couple of clarifications that I didn't make in the original call that I want to make now. First, even though the project is entitled "American Values," it is NOT necessary that you choose a value that you consider to be an "American" value. Just write something down that you personally value. That said, you must be an American (or living in America) to participate. This is, I think, what allows the whole collection to be properly named "American" values. That is to say, "American Values" is the collection of values that Americans hold... or such is the premise of this project, anyway. Second, it's important that you actually write down your value, instead of taking a photo that you already have and photoshopping your value into it. (As much as I liked some of the images I received like this, it's important now that there be some deliberate agency employed in the combination of word and image.) Finally, as I said before, don't be dissuaded to participate just because you don't have a great camera (an iPhone works fine), or you're not particularly artistic (neither am I), or you can't decide on a single value (who can?), or you don't think you're photogenic (some of the photos are sans faces). Just do it.
If you're really feeling stumped, I recommend that you take a look at the images I already have here or just watch the video. I'm confident that you'll find it inspiring and hopefully it will help get your creative juices flowing. If you still need a little more coaxing, I also recommend you read some of the first-hand accounts of other contributors. Jessica Lotz's is here. Zeke Leonard's is here. Steven Thomas' is here. Petya Kirilova-Grady's is here. If their stories don't move you to participate, nothing will.
I don't have a new deadline for new submissions, but the sooner I can fill out the collection, the better. So, please send yours in ASAP. Thanks again to all who have participated. And thanks in advance to those of you who will soon.