Like The Borgen Project, Blue Earth was founded on the basic principle that anyone can make a difference with a little bit of inspiration. However, instead of increasing activism through traditional print journalism, Blue Earth relies on stirring photographs to motivate charitable action.
Blue Earth certainly has plenty of evidence supporting the plausibility of its mission. Many contentious moments in U.S. history are captured by photographs that sparked social change. John Filo’s haunting portrayal of the Kent State shootings exacerbated the Nixon Administration’s continued involvement in the Vietnam War. The powerful image of gold-medalist John Carlos championing the black power salute at the 1968 Olympics continues to inspire debate about the legitimacy of violent responses to social injustice.
Although Blue Earth’s photojournalism may not be as controversial or well-known as these historical images, the Seattle-based nonprofit continually provides striking photos that challenge the perspective of the most enlightened citizens.
“Through our support of Photography that Makes a Difference, Blue Earth has helped raise almost a million dollars for importance issues often overlooked by traditional media—The Arctic. Global warming. The loss of open space in Los Angeles. Racism suffered by farmers. Disappearing traditions of New England fisherman. The role of grandmothers in AIDS-ravaged Africa.”
Currently, the organization is focusing on a variety of projects pertaining to global poverty. David Rochkind’s collection provides a chilling narrative of the realities of tuberculosis in the developing world, as his photos are a necessary visual supplement to the already troubling statistics on the escalating rate of infection in sub-Saharan Africa. The images also serve as a sobering reminder of how unsafe work conditions are an unfortunate catalyst of this epidemic. You can check out the project here.
Peter Dicampo offers a glimpse into the immense struggles that accompany living daily life without electricity. In Life Without Lights, viewers can experience an entire tent city lit by controlled flame or see an image of a struggling father comforting his child in complete darkness. Another incredibly powerful image includes young children managing to read by a defective flashlight. Dicampo’s work can be viewed at his site.
These are just two examples included in an impressive body of work offered by the organization. Topics range from global climate change to women in combat, and each project includes a short blurb explaining the approach adopted by the artist, as well as their intended overarching message or theme.
Although Blue Earth may not have the fundraising prowess of nonprofit giants like the American Cancer Society or UNICEF, these photographs can serve as a powerful motivational tool. Studying international affairs through traditional mediums is certainly an admirable educational practice to acquire a more worldly perspective. However, statistics and textbooks alone fail to establish a human connection with those living in extreme poverty. Blue Earth adds to these incomplete narratives by allowing everyday viewers to connect visible human beings to the problems they read about in the news.
You can donate to Blue Earth here.
– Sam Preston
Sources: Blue Earth 1, Blue Earth 2, Blue Earth 3, The Guardian, Top Nonprofits
Photo: We Got Served