Where are you from?
I was born in upstate New York, but moved with my family to Davidson in 1986. My parents were born and raised in California; their parents were born and raised in Kansas and West Virginia. Beyond that it starts to get hazy and lore-filled...something about descending from Jesse James?
Has Charlotte always been home?
I live in Charlotte with my wonderful wife. I did my schooling in NC, then wandered off into the world for a good long while. I lived in Colorado and Los Angeles and Brooklyn and Woodstock and found my way back home four years ago. You can only stay away from the Outer Banks and the Blue Ridge for so long. There are a lot more people here than when I left!
What's life like with your camera?
I am a cinematographer by trade. My work mainly consists of shooting documentary television series for National Geographic, Discovery Channel, Red Bull and the like. I’m also a photographer. I have a project with my brother called Finding Silence, where we travel around and interview and photograph monks and nuns and hermits and shamans from the world’s ancient spiritual traditions. I basically like bouncing around the world with a camera and sharing what I find.
What inspired you to do what you do for a living?
For whatever reason, I am handy with a camera. I think my profession sort of chose me, more than the other way around. It’s what I’m good at in this life. I like connecting with people and sharing their stories. There’s a real power in listening.
Tell us about AboutFace Charlotte. How did it all begin?
I got tired of my life. I was running around all over the globe having amazing adventures but just felt like I wasn’t really making a difference in the world. It was super fun, but it was all about me, and I just felt empty. So I just started listening to the world around me, and I kept hearing serve, serve, serve and so I went for it. My wife introduced me to Hannah Blanton and we started working on the AboutFace CLT project. AboutFace is a storytelling project that gives voice to invisible people in our town. People who are struggling to get by and who are often overlooked - homelessness, poverty, discrimination. We try and put human faces on abstract issues, so that we as a community can engage with kindness and compassion rather than judgment. It’s been an amazing journey so far; I have met the most incredible and inspiring people. It’s extraordinary the way the world opens up, like a flower, when you take time to listen. It’s really crazy.
What change would you like to see in Charlotte?
My dream is for Charlotte to be a model of a compassionate community worldwide; it’s doable. There is an extraordinary base level of people who are doing good work, as well as a strong foundation of giving here and if nurtured, it can really become something special. I don’t really look at it as change - I look at it more as remembering. We all get caught up in our daily mindspin and forget to see the world around us. Forget to see those who are hurting and care for them. Forget to love each other. So I would like to see myself do a little better job of that. And if I can do a little better, and you can do a little better, and we all do a little better, then 10 or 20 years from now the world is a very interesting place.
Tell us about the Blessing Box Campaign:
The Blessing Box Campaign is a tool to help cultivate habits of conscious kindness and compassion in our community. It just feels like the world is hurting right now and we think kindness and compassion are good medicine, both for the individual and society. We’ve come up with a fun tool that not only makes it easy for people to participate, but connects them to other people at the same time. There are three phases to the project which would take forever to write out: the quickest way to learn about the project is to just watch our video overview of the project.
How can people get involved in About Face Charlotte and the Blessing Box Campaign?
Reach out to us via the website where you can also sign up to participate in the Blessing Box Campaign. We’ve already gone through the initial run of 1,500 boxes but we’re getting more made. We’re open to all ideas and collaborations. Don’t be shy!
Any thoughts on expanding AboutFace to other areas of the Carolinas?
Our hope is that this project grows beyond the city limits. We’re taking it one step at a time right now, but if anyone out there loves the work we are doing and is interested in seeing it happen in their community, please reach out
to us. We would love to talk with you!