My Next Project

I thought I’d take a minute here to update you all on my writing endeavors.  I continue to promote my little memoir, Finding Home with the Beatles, Bob Dylan and Billy Graham through book signings and speaking engagements.  (By the way, I now have on my website a “speaking” tab. If you’re interested in having me speak at your church, book club or women’s event, please contact me: here )
But in terms of the writing I’m doing these days, my focus has been on a project about refugees that resettle in Austin.  The project is a joint effort between myself and photographer, Ashley St. Clair.
Over the last six months, Ashley and I have spent hundreds of hours interviewing and photographing refugees from around the world that are seeking to make a new life in Austin.  We’ve titled the project, “Refugee is Not My Name.” Working from the assumption that Austinites are open-minded and welcoming to newcomers, “Refugee is Not My Name” is an artistic bridge between refugees and the people of Austin. Through Ashley’s compelling portrait photographs and my short, digestible written vignettes, viewers can, in essence, get to know some of the individual refugees that have resettled in the capital city.
To a large extend the refugee community of Austin remains isolated, though they ride the same buses as you and I, though they shop at the same HEB and their children attend the same schools as ours. Language barriers can keep refugees from reaching out to their English speaking neighbors. In addition, cultural and religious differences often inhibit them from taking a step toward Americans.
The aim of “Refugee is Not my Name” is to allow a wide sampling of individuals from the refugee community to show their faces, say their names and make their unique voices heard.
By nature of the word, refugee these individuals can never return to the country their hearts call, home. After waiting many months, often years, these refugees have landed in Austin and strive to make it their new home. “Refugee is Not my Name” is an artistic effort to welcome these new neighbors from around the world to our beloved capital city of Texas.
In December, 2017, “Refugee is Not My Name” will be printed as a feature article in Tribeza, an Austin curated magazine with wide  It is our aim that this publication serves as a springboard to launch the more complete version of the project as a full gallery exhibit. It is our aim to have a gallery space secured for the exhibit to launch in January or February, 2018.
I’ll keep you updated as the publication of “Refugee is Not My Name” draws nearer.  I am so excited for you to discover some of the refugees that I have gotten to know over the last year. They are incredible individuals.
Here’s a photograph I took of Ashley photographing Basim, a refugee from Iraq.  Basim was a violinist for 19 years in the Iraqi Symphony Orchestra.  He now lives in Austin where he seeks safety and a new musical adventure.

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