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Jared Huffman for Congress

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San Rafael Organizational Meeting

Jared Huffman addresses volunteers at opening of his San Rafael headquarters.

I offered to be a volunteer photographer at the Jared Huffman for Congress organizational meeting in San Rafael yesterday.  I have no idea if the campaign is going to take me up on the offer, but I sure hope so. He looks like a winner and I’d like to be there clicking away at the finish line.

I’m skeptical about most politicians, but Huffman seems different. I first heard him speak about six years ago, when he began his campaign for the California Assembly. There was something natural and unaffected about his presentation, with none of the pomposity you often hear from ego-driven Americans running for public office. And I agreed with his positions on every issue he addressed. At the time I was working at San Quentin Prison, and so he really caught my attention when he clearly articulated the reasons for shutting down this obsolete structure and doing away with California’s flawed death penalty.

Six years later, after a successful career in the Assembly, he’s now turned his attention to national issues, and again he matches my interests and values, with strong positions on the environment, health care, jobs, education, minority rights, and sensible debt reduction.

And after six years of mixing it up with swarms of California politicians, the crud doesn’t seem to have rubbed off on him. He’s still the brilliant, effective, but low-key “Mr. Nice Guy” I remember.

I’m sure he’s going to be elected to Congress with or without my photos, but I’d be pleased if I could play some small part.


Written by Ron Greene

January 23, 2012 at 10:21 am

Redwood Sidelines

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Friday, January 20, 2012 | If the San Francisco Niners don’t beat the Giants this Sunday and win a ticket to the Super Bowl, this will be the last weekend I’ll be thinking about football until next season. That said, here’s another batch of photos from this year’s Redwood High School football games. (Larkspur, California)

While I enjoyed the action on the field, the sidelines were equally interesting. What I liked was that it reminded me of street photography, but with prior permission! Everyone at the games knows there are photographers around and that there’s a chance of being photographed. There’s no problem pointing a camera at someone, no issues around violating the social contract.

The team didn’t do well this year, as you can guess from the expressions on many faces near the end of the season. I’m already looking forward to next year when I hope they have better luck. If they control the ball more there will be more photos of the team on offense. All the photos from the season are on the VarsityPix web site. If you happen to be interested in photographing high school sports and live in California, you might want to visit the VarsityPix site and contact Bill Schneider. He’s the friendly CEO who will get you started.

Young fan with sunglasses

Cheerleader pledge

Jumping cheerleaders

Three coaches

Written by Ron Greene

January 20, 2012 at 10:57 am

High School Football

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It’s nearing the end of the football season here in the US, so I figure I’d better post some photos before people lose interest.

Here I am mugging for the camera, Heights High, Cleveland Heights, Ohio, 1954

I hadn’t been on a football field since 1954, until I read an article in our local paper and decided to give it another try, this time behind a camera.

Being back on the field was an enjoyable experience, although somewhat frustrating for lack of feedback. Although I think I did an acceptable job, I’m not sure I improved from first game to last. I’m hoping a future revision of VarsityPix includes forums where photographers can learn from one another. It would also help me to know which of my photos were most liked.


Some of my favorites from the 2011 Redwood season.







Written by Ron Greene

January 15, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Most Dangerous Man in America?

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Professor Richard Wolff Speaks at Occupy Marin Event

I had never heard of Professor Richard Wolff before last Saturday, and now I’m wondering if he is to become the Most Dangerous Man in America.

Saturday he spoke at a forum in downtown San Rafael, CA, organized by Occupy Marin. He held the group of 130 in attendance in rapt attention as he explained his take on the Occupy Wall Street movement.

I had hoped he would explain how to channel the energy of Occupy into a voting block that would elect progressive candidates in future elections. This is what I personally hope will come out of the Occupy movement.

I quickly learned that he didn’t share my wimpy desires. He made it clear that in his opinion all proposals for reform using the current electoral process are doomed to failure. This is because the system is rigged not just in favor of the super rich, but also rigged to insure that any meaningful reforms that do slip through will be eventually undone by monied interests.

Is he a wacko lefty or a clear-eyed visionary offering a much needed corrective to mainstream pundits? You decide. His web site makes it clear he is an expert in Marxian economic theory with a serious distaste for Capitalism.

His talk was short on the exact mechanics of fundamental change, possibly because this is where furious resistance will likely occur. On a less controversial note, he did recommend the Spanish Arizmendi model (Mondragon Corporation) of worker-owned and operated businesses.

It seems reasonable to me that relatively small groups of like-minded people could create working collectives, functioning democratically for the common good. This has been done many times before, and examples are in place in the San Francisco Bay area.

But where does this leave the millions of other workers at their small and large worksites? Wolff didn’t directly address how to cause revolutionary change at the Microsofts of the world in Saturday’s talk, but it seems he would like Occupy to lead the way.

Can you imagine the effect if Occupy could somehow mobilize thousands or even millions of workers to sit-down at work and demand economic and democratic equality? If Dr. Wolff becomes a leading influence in this direction, I’m sure he would find his life’s work fulfilled, and proudly accept the title, Most Dangerous Man in America.

In the meantime, I’m out looking for progressive candidates.

Marin County Audience listens as Dr. Wolff explains his distaste for capitalism, January 7, 2012

Occupy supporters demonstrate in downtown San Rafael, CA

Written by Ron Greene

January 10, 2012 at 10:13 am

Diane Linn: Ritter Center Director

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This morning I was happy to read in my local newspaper, the Marin Independent Journal, that Diane Linn has received the Heart of Marin award for nonprofit leadership. She’s the executive director of the Ritter Center, a program in Marin County that has provided services to homeless and low-income citizens for over 30 years.

I’ve been helping out in small ways recently, so I’ve gotten to know some of Ritter’s clients and their day-to-day struggles to stay afloat. It’s an amazing diverse population, many recently unemployed, many living on the streets for up to 30 years. As you might imagine, those who have lived on the streets longest tend to be the most dysfunctional, either because of physical disability, drug and alcohol addiction, or mental impairment. I’m personally most concerned about this segment of the homeless population, the most impaired, and the hardest to find permanent solutions for.

The Ritter staff does a remarkable job with the resources available, but it’s never enough. Appropriate housing is a key stumbling block. Linn is spearheading a drive (Housing First) to offer permanent housing for all of Marin’s approximately 1,300 chronically homeless, but it’s a long way from fruition.  She believes, as I do, that housing is a basic human right and a major first step in providing a comprehensive solution to homelessness.

In the meantime, lots of people sleep in the bushes every night. And this is Marin County, one of the wealthiest locations in the United States.

Diane Linn, Director of The Ritter Center, San Rafael, Californa

Marin County has a number of programs helping to shelter the homeless. One is called REST, Rotating Emergency Shelter Team Project, which provides temporary winter shelter in local congregations during winter’s coldest months. Homeless people line up every evening for scarce sleeping spaces.

Ritter Center helps clients find overnight shelter in congregations during winter months, Marin County, California 2011

Written by Ron Greene

January 6, 2012 at 2:43 pm

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The Challenges of Street Photography lll

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I was planning to end my short discussion of street photography for now, but friend David Stensby pointed me to a post on Kirk Tuck’s Visual Science Lab. He’s well worth reading. Among other things, Tuck provides a thorough discussion of the laws on street photography in the United States.

With few exceptions (national security, etc), photographers in the US have the right to photograph anyone who is clearly in public. According to Tuck, you can even photograph a person who is on private property as long as he or she is visible from the street. This all assumes you’re not going to use the photograph for commercial purposes. You’re free to show your work to others as “art” or “editorial commentary.”

But Tuck argues that just because we have a legal right to photograph someone in public, this doesn’t mean that you should without permission, whether it be a subtle nod of the head or a distinct “yes.” He argues that in a civil society we should respect a person’s personal space, regardless of the photographer’s legal rights.

“If I’m part of society I need to understand that there are some unspoken rules that we all (to some extent) share.  One of those is to respect a person’s sense of security and safety.  Another is to respect a person’s circle of comfort and finally a respect for a person’s ability to control their own public image.  I may have the right to do something or take a photograph of someone but that doesn’t give me the ethical or moral strength to create unpleasant situations for the subjects.”   (The Visual Science Lab 05.08.2011)

Kirk goes on to say that he takes most of his street photographs with permission, and that “sneaked images seem like a cheat to [him].”  The exception is when something is fast breaking or funny. If noticed, he tries for a smile or some sign of approval. I wonder what he does when his shot contains several people, more than could be reasonably asked. That might need many smiles and nods, too many for me.

It’s hard to argue with Tuck’s insistence that in a civil society photo enthusiasts should be guided by moral restraints — social contracts. On the other hand, many good photographs, including some of my own, wouldn’t have been taken if permission were required.

Paris Jews at Prayer 2006


Washington DC Fountain 2010

Written by Ron Greene

January 5, 2012 at 2:22 pm

The Challenges of Street Photography II

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To follow-up on the Challenges of Street Photography, here are two examples of people objecting to my camera pointing at them. The first was on the beach in Carmel-by-the-Sea in California. The second was taken in my wife’s home town, Einbeck, Germany. I was interested in the Humphrey Bogart poster in the background saying “Smokers Welcome.” He seemed to smoke constantly in his movies. But times have changed. If Bogart were alive today I wonder how he’d feel about his likeness being used to promote smoking.

What’s your favorite quote from Casablanca?  Mine is, “It doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t add up to a hill of beans in this crazy world.” The time was 1942. It seems some things never change. 2012 is shaping up to be an interesting if frightening year.

Carmel-by-the Sea, California

Smokers Welcome -- Einbeck, Germany

Written by Ron Greene

January 1, 2012 at 8:38 pm

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