The daily portrait project, Everyday People
, continues. On Sunday I photographed the 234th person, nearly two-thirds of the way to the end of the year. In the last month I've met people like Jack Patel. He works and lives at the Desert Hills Motel on Route 66. A place so iconic on our stretch of the mother road that he says it's mostly Europeans who stay the night. As we talked near the apartment behind the plexiglass office where he raised his children, a young man on a bicycle from Ireland paid for a room. I've photographed waitresses, activists, musicians, shop owners, a baseball collectors and a homeschool mom in the last few weeks.
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church held a vacation bible school at Riverchase Apartments in south Tulsa. The apartments are home to a group of immigrants from Myanmar (Burma). Through a couple of conversations, I met Delilah Hkawn and her children. She left Myanmar and lived in Malaysia as a refugee for three years before immigrating to America. She told me through a translator that her favorite part of coming to Tulsa was that she would finally be reunited with friends and family who had already moved here. Her youngest son and mineare the same age. They were born half a world apart, they have nearly the same name, Ebenezer and Eben and now they live six miles apart.
Stereotypes and prejudice don't exist at this level. Meeting someone and hearing how they became themselves or their passion for a cause or a hobby or a job disintegrates the rabble-rousing of politicians and pundits.
A teenage street preacher believes in his work as much as the guy down the street who runs a poodle rescue group. Near Turley, Andrae Dozier works with horses. He always has. He was born on a farm near Boley and he loves the work. Across town, Mark Bryan loves his music. He's always played. He records artists at his studio, teaches lessons and plays at his church, but what he really loves is writing his own songs. Having someone request a song a the Celebrity Restaurant when they don't know that he wrote it.
I've had a Catholic priest, a nurse at Planned Parenthood, a teacher, and a tattoo artist tell me how much they love their jobs. They have the best jobs in the world.
They make a difference in their little corner of Oklahoma so they're all completely correct.
Roughly 130 days to go. These portraits of Oklahomans and some people just passing through our state illustrate who we are. I hope you're seeing something of yourself in these portraits. If the Tulsa World is recording history, documenting our little piece of the planet, then I hope this project feels like home.
He's at a local playground learning how to ride his bike without training wheels. He'll be 6 years old next week.
He's a musician, teacher and songwriter. He's recorded well over 100 hip hop artists at his home based recording studio. He lost his sight when he was a child at the hands of an abusive father. He doesn't like the word victim or the word survivor. "Thriver, maybe?" he says as he talks about his past. "The moment you become a victim, you give yourself an excuse to fail." He says everyone has two choices: living or dying. "I always elect to live."
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