Salaam Garage

I’d like to take a few of these precious cyber lines to talk about my friend and collaborator, Amanda Koster.

Amanda is a photographer. But not just ANY photographer. She’s one of the most socially compassionate people I’ve known. Ever. Her heart bleeds, much like yours and mine, most likely. But here’s the difference: Amanda sees some kind of injustice — AIDS orphans in Africa, body-image issues in the United States, women’s status in Morocco, just for starters — and makes it her mission to KICK THE ASS OF THAT PROBLEM. Personally. She takes world global issues on as if someone spit in her face, slandered her mother, stomped on her daisies. She’ll go to whatever hardscrabble place and take a bunch of pictures of people at their most beautiful and vulnerable, then bring them back, introduce them to the world, ask for money and help for them, and change their lives forever.

She’s begun a new project called Salaam Garage, a kind of new activistourism. Here’s how she describes it:

Salaam Garage Adventures connects media savvy travelers and enthusiasts with international Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs). Travelers commit to creating and sharing unique, independent social media that raises awareness and causes positive change. The rest of the adventure is spent touring around the region, experiencing and exploring the culture and environment with an entirely new context. You will find that Salaam Garage is not just visual art, but also a body of work that has the capability to spark global transformation.

We are the media now. Join us.

Read about her in the Seattle P-I and Some Other Publication.

If anyone can change the world, it’s this woman. But if you told her that to her face, she’d brush you off as she’s packing for another trip to somewhere else and getting Kodak to sponsor her, like some modern arty Wonder Woman, where they need her more than we do here.

You might have some vacation time coming up. Or maybe you’re a freelancer (or a mortgage broker) with all kinds of time. Do not take that stupid and shallow cruise to the Bahamas. Do not go see relatives you don’t particularly like anyway in Dubuque. And for the love of all that’s holy, don’t step foot Disneyland. Or Disneyworld. Or, for fuck’s sake, the French Monde du Disney or whatever it is.

Just go with Amanda.

I’m so proud to have been able to work with Amanda in the past, and I look forward to doing so again in the future, even though I am, artistically, not even in qualified to be in the same universe with her.

But most of all, I’m proud to be her friend.

Vanessa McGradySalaam Garage

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