California: Paradise Burning

Featured today on the New Yorker a collaborative film, “California: Paradise Burning” by Ed Kashi (VII) and Matt Black gives a deeper and personal look at the severe drought in California. Black and Kashi recently connected with the farmers and shepherds of the Central Valley, documenting their ongoing struggles as they face the serious drought conditions plaguing California.

“Since 2012, California has been suffering through a historically severe drought. For the farmers of the Central Valley, which is, as Dana Goodyear writes in this week’s issue, “the country’s fruit basket, salad bowl, and dairy case,” the future seems especially bleak. Wells have gone dry, orchards have been left to perish, and those who came to California to work the fields stand idle.”

View more of Black’s photographs in this week’s print issue.

Life In Motion Kilimanjaro

The Happy Families International Center, Inc. is hosting a photographic exhibition and reception showcasing images that capture every step of Sasha D’Jamoos and Alex Pohilko, two young men on prostheses, as they lead a team of climbers to conquer the tallest mountain in Africa in 2012 and 2014. You will be enthralled with the vistas and stirred by the extraordinary and limitless abilities of those who have been given the chance to walk.

One of the Happy Families programs, called I Want to Walk “helps Russian children receive orthopedic treatment, as well as assists orphans in port-orphanage adaptation. Through the I Want to Walk program, many children have received medical treatment at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas, TX.”

The exhibition benefit will take place on Oct. 2, 2014 from 6:30-9:30pm at Mari Vanna Restaurant in Washington, DC. Limited edition photographs by celebrated photographer Ed Kashi (VII) and acclaimed photographers Eric Johnson and Steve Remich will be available for purchase. All proceeds will benefit the I Want To Walk Program.

Entrance to the benefit is free. Donations would be gratefully accepted to help make a child’s dream of walking come true! Capacity is limited, so RSVP by email here.

Announcing VII’s New Operations Manager

Dear Friends of VII,

We hope you will join us in saying congratulations and bid a fond farewell to Amy Connors. After managing VII’s website, archive and sales this past year, Amy moves on to the New Yorker, where she will be working on digital and special projects production. We are incredibly proud of Amy as she moves forward in her life and career, working with the great team there.

VII is now pleased to announce that Giana Choroszewski will be taking the reigns as the agency’s Operations Manager. Giana joins us from where she worked as the Photo Editor for the past six years. If you have not already been introduced to Giana, please feel free to reach out to her with any questions you may have, or any projects that you’d like to discuss, at

Congratulations, Amy and welcome, Giana!

We The People Selfie Against Death Penalty

“Since 1982, the state of Texas has put to death 515 convicted inmates. This translates to more than one person every month for thirty-one years. Just before the execution is completed, each prisoner is given the opportunity to share their final thoughts. The Texas Department of Corrections has recorded each executed prisoner’s final words. They, like their author, become facts archived by the institution that put them to death. After thirty-one years, their words will finally be heard…Final Words is a haunting collection of these statements given by the 515 death row inmates executed by the state of Texas to date. Their words speak to their humanity, despite the heinousness of the crimes for which they stand convicted.”

Join Ed Kashi and the VII Association in taking a stand against capital punishment. Yesterday Final Words launched, We The People #SelfieAgainstDeathPenalty campaign, inspiring people from all over the world to be creative and join the conversation. Get involved by submitting your selfie to the campaign here. Also, post your selfie on Facebook and Twitter tagging #FinalWords to be entered into raffles for prizes!

“I stand against the death penalty because it’s an imperfect form of justice in both its means and ends, and the cruelty does not protect our society or advance human values.” -Ed Kashi

2014 Alexia Foundation Women’s Initiative Grant Recipient

The Alexia Foundation has announced Mary F. Calvert is the recipient of the 2014 Women’s Initiative Grant. Calvert is an independent photojournalist based in the US and will be using the $25,00 grant funding for her project “Missing in Action: Homeless Female Veterans.”

Connie Sue Foss was raped while in the US Army and hasn’t been able to hold down a job to care for herself and her daughter. She bears scars from punching a window during a PTSD episode and holds a molar she lost from grinding her teeth at night. Photo©Mary F. Calvert

The Alexia Foundation quotes Calvert’s proposal, “Female veterans are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population in the United States and are four times more likely to become homeless than civilian women.” Yet the Department of Veteran’s Affairs is ill equipped to address the issues faced by female veterans, many of whom are mothers and single parents.

Photo©Mary F. Calvert

Alexia Foundation co-founder Aphrodite Tsairis describes Calvert’s work as, “…the poster story for our mission statement. The stark emotion evoked in her images promises to deliver the raw naked truth about a neglected segment in the military – the debilitating aftermath for abused women in the armed forces.”

Congratulations to Mary F. Calvert for receiving the Women’s Initiative Grant for this important body of work!

Read more on the Alexia Foundation Blog »