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Porter Creek

Photography

I was allowed onto the site of Camp Newman just ten days after it had been destroyed by the Tubbs Fire. Suited up in hiking boots and an N95 particulate respirator mask, I waded through a sea of debris. Disoriented by the alien geography of a place I had once mapped for others, I found myself standing on the ashes of hundreds of burned books. I started shooting photos, even though each step I took further destroyed the pages beneath my feet. The week after I made these photographs, a rainstorm washed the pages away.  


The Porter Creek series documents both the damage sustained in October 2017, a few days after the fire, and the regrowth that had occurred months later in May.  The series also includes images made when I discovered the hundreds of burned books on the grounds of what had been our camp library.  

While the temporary loss of this space brought out the best of the Camp Newman community in terms of resilience, creative problem-solving, and collaboration, it also showed us the fragility of life and earth, and the reality that change in our climate has direct consequences in our human experience. Though our site has not been fully re-built yet, the Newman family has not lost its light, and especially in a time when physical gathering is limited and unsafe my social media is fluttering with the community reaching out to each other in photographs, videos and offers of support.  Recently, it was announced that summer camps in our network would be cancelled in 2020, one more loss to the COVID-19 crisis.  With this announcement, our camp community is reminded again to seek healing in community.  

Now, as we work as an HGSE family to grapple with the upheaval of our in-person community, I hope that sharing the Porter Creek story of regrowth amidst biological devastation can be a window into the kind of healing and rebirth that is possible when a community is displaced from its physical home.   

Additional Images on view at www.LillianGottlieb.com 

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