The Books in Our Bags

In Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer—a botanist, member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, woman, mother—offers her stories and reflections on how she has come to know the world. Through each of these lenses, Kimmerer lyrically reimagines the nature of our connection with the places we call home.

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My Favorite Finals Weekend Memories

There are various adjectives I could use to describe the weekend in its entirety, but the best way for me to adequately express how profound the experience was to me is homecoming. I am always grateful to the Foundation for giving me the opportunity to live this beautiful and oftentimes crazy life. Final Selection Weekend is a special time, and if I could impart any kind of wisdom on incoming finalists, I would say to enjoy yourself, to welcome UNC and the Morehead-Cain with open arms, and to be present. This weekend changed my life, and I hope that many of y’all will come away with nothing less than that.

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year 3

In looking back on it all, I can proudly say that this was my favorite year at UNC… it was a dream. I’ve begun to realize that while my freshman year exists in an entirely different world, these past two years feel as though they are linked by a story that is grander than the confines any one letter could properly express. To sum it up simply, I would say that sophomore year was about change and junior year was about growing into that change. Finishing up this letter now, I am filled with bliss because things are clear, I know what I can accomplish and I am truly living.

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Perfect Places, Part 10

Here's to a year that finally taught me how to appreciate the beauty of every experience I've ever had... to the places that have taught me the importance of creating, sharing, evoking, mesmerizing and inspiring... most of all, to the people that have relentlessly been by my side helping these places become home for me.

This is for you.

To another year of feeling the world around me and having the honor of capturing moments alongside the ones that make these places perfect.

When the Local Becomes Global: Curing the Fast Fashion Epidemic

From major cities with populations of over 10 million, to towns with populations that barely surpass 50 thousand, many innovators in the fashion world believe that efforts to re-localize economies could present a feasible opportunity for achieving sustainability in the coming years. Through localized economies, the industry could inspire a reversion from the mechanistic modes of production and consumption, that have become fundamental to the institution of fast fashion, towards ones based on community. 

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the songs of 2018

This year, I became fully aware of how powerful this medium is. I began to understand that I could more clearly express myself and my headspace – which oftentimes is quite difficult given how abstract those feelings can be – through the moods, colors and life songs create. 

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Perfect Places, Part 9 [Thanksgiving]

over the course of the past month or so, I have been looking through all the pictures I have taken on my cameras and phone… sifting through about ten thousand images took a long while, but it was an incredibly cathartic exercise.

this thanksgiving, I was and am grateful for the moments that taught me the importance of spontaneity, vigor and passion. I have recently begun to understand more clearly how powerful living for each experience is — not planning too far in advance and not thinking too deeply about the past. I’ve created some of the most vivid memories over the past four or so years… I’m grateful for each one and all the people these have brought into my life.

so thank you all, friends and family near and far, for giving me the opportunity to grow alongside you.

Perfect Places, Part 8

All I really have to say is that junior year has been incredible — life in Chapel Hill is better than ever and I’ve never been more excited about life than I am right now. And so, to get this going, here are some of the people that have made all of this possible. Huge love always.

Paso a Paso. – Vintage Blue Originals 006

In this Original we spoke with three UNC students that spent their summers pursuing their happiness. From Kenya, to Colombia and onto our nation’s capital, we seek to highlight something a bit more abstract in this piece – ­something that will hopefully inspire a new conversation regarding what we do with our time off from school.

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day to day // as seen on instagram

Life is not always happy or easy, but it is very beautiful. Songs too are not always upbeat or danceable, but they’re artistic statements worthy of celebration. This playlist by no means has a particular “vibe” – it merely intends to take you along for the ride. I hope the songs, in the order they are presented, can depict that for you.  

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Perfect Places, Part 6

With each installation of this project, I have come to understand more deeply what "perfect places" actually means. I would've never imagined that I could so easily combine my interests for landscapes and locations, with the love I have for the people that bring those to life for me. The last two weekends have confirmed that my notion of "place" is undoubtedly founded in an uninhibited joy for life... as always, grateful to know these people, and even more grateful to share these experiences with them.

Perfect Places, Part 5 [Southern California Road Trip Edition]

This semester has gone by rapidly, as there has always been something to look forward to. From long weekends spent with friends, to anticipating warmer weather, to planning spring break, and onto dreaming of summer, spring is the best time of the year… yet it goes by in a whirlwind. For this exact reason, I've found myself living moment by moment, without any regard for what's to come ahead to what's already happened. So I've figured it's time to think back and look ahead because it's been a hectic semester, but in the best way.

The most important thing I hoped to get out of my spring break was taking time to recharge and do something a bit wild. I wanted to go somewhere new, explore and make this break from school my own. With the help of some incredible people, I had that immense opportunity. From getting lost in Joshua Tree National Park, to exploring around San Diego, to discovering secluded beaches in Dana Point, it was everything I hoped it would be. This break gave me the perfect amount of time to come back to myself, and inspired me as I head into this final stretch of the year.

It's On Us. – Vintage Blue Originals 004

“My most vivid memory is my sophomore year at the event. When I got there I had this moment when I saw all these people assembled at the event, and had given up their time to be there,” Cassidy discussed, as she begun to see the event as someone who survived sexual assault, “It was this real moment where I could reclaim my community. I felt like UNC was a place where people support me and embrace me. I was so in awe that this was a thing that people were committed and excited to do.”

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Bounce Back. – Vintage Blue Originals 002

“When I came home and felt in a safe enough space, I started speaking out about the things that were happening. I urged those around me to check their community members, and understand that some were allowing this [abuse] to continue. Through that advocacy, many women started reaching out to me and asking me to help them through emotionally and physically abusive situations. I began realizing that this wasn’t just a personal issue. The personal is political, this wasn’t just a terrible thing happening to me, but really a systemic issue of men taking advantage and women being victim-blamed. Because of this experience, I decided that I wanted to create a place in my community where people who have had these struggles could come and know that they are supported,” said White.

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Why Wait? – Vintage Blue Originals 001

“I don’t think that anyone has one clear passion. We are all dynamic individuals, so I try not to put myself in a box. I think the coolest projects come from people combining different interests and life experiences. Those things that do not really seem like they can connect, but then you find a connection and you run with it. It can produce something no one has ever seen before. That philosophy motivates me to say yes, and try as many different things as possible,” said Diekema.

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Perfect Places, Part 3

This semester I put a lot of my energy into figuring out where I belonged. I think everyone thinks about this subconsciously because we all naturally gravitate to those places. Despite that, I had a more intense desire for understanding, and I consistently wanted to put my finger on it. About halfway through the semester, I began this series so I could recount those memories that made me feel like I belonged… I never wanted to forget them.

Photography has been central to this experience. I have always been a personal artist, but after taking a photojournalism course that forced me outside of the parameters of my own being, I realized that my interactions and feelings are the essence of my work.

So here we are, the end of another semester... and as many people know, “leaving,” even if it’s only for a month, is always a bit ~difficult~ for me. In an effort to bring things together, I want to conclude this first stage of the series in a bit of a different way. While my previous posts were odes to certain individuals, this post pays homage to actual physical locations that remind me of those people... because through them, these locations have become so-called “perfect places.”

Here I share the first and last pictures that were taken of me this semester, and some shots from in between. Kenan, Smoothball, UNC, Surf City, Carolina North Forest, Maple View, Rosemary Street, random pastures, the Lodge, and so many more. Thank you for the memories Fall ’17 it’s been better than I could have ever asked for.

Perfect Places, Part 2

Grateful for many things, but this Thanksgiving, I am especially grateful for the people that have helped these “perfect places” become home to me.

Home. From 18 years living in Miami, to my brief months in Alaska and Cape Town, and onto currently living in Chapel Hill – I have begun to understand that “home” is not bound by time nor is it bound by specific places; it doesn’t need to be physical, it doesn’t need to be tangible. Home is a feeling... it is a sense of belonging.

So thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to all the people that have helped me come to this realization. From my parents and brothers that are always there for me, to my extended family that always makes me feel loved, to all my friends that make life all the better, and onto the strangers that have unknowingly redirected the trajectory of my life... thank you.

Perfect Places, Part 1

While locations can be defined through addresses or in relation to a landmark of some sort, a sense of place is far more difficult to quantify. The more I think about it, the more I realize just how much my sense of place hinges on the people I surround myself with, and the memories I share with them. For this reason, I have been making an effort to take more pictures of my friends... not doing anything particular or out of the ordinary, but simply living our life in this great place. These “little moments,” as I have begun to refer to them, are many times overlooked because we yearn for those momentous occasions. Despite this, realizing that the little ones can be just as meaningful and just as sweet is something I have been internalizing. So, these are some of my favorite shots from this semester, and hope to continue working on this project as the year progresses. Stay tuned…