In 2003, local straight-ally photographer Jacques-Jean Tiziou — the guy behind the prolific How Philly Moves project — took a trip to Immokalee, Fla., where he met and was moved by an impassioned group of activist migrant workers called the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). From that moment on, he has worked to document the group’s efforts to bring attention to the unsavory working conditions they face in the fields of many of Florida’s big-biz agricultural corporations. And by “unsavory,” we’re talking “modern-day slavery … beatings and abuse,” says Tiziou.
CIW is known for its lengthy, almost parade-like marches across the States to protest for workers rights. In 2004, Tiziou followed them from Louisville, Ky. to Irvine, Calif., where they protested Taco Bell’s decision to purchase tomatoes from growers who paid their workers sub-poverty wages. In 2006, they traveled to Chicago to rally outside the McDonalds headquarters, and in 2009, they made a successful trip to Philadelphia to ask Aramark to address farmworker wages and working conditions in the tomato fields of Florida.
On March 3, they took off on a 200-mile March for Rights, Respect and Fair Food, which will take them from Tampa to Lakeland, Fla. This week, a last-minute schedule change opened up Tiziou’s schedule so that he’ll be able to fly down next Monday to join them, but in order to properly document the occasion he needs funds — funds he’s hoping to generate through Kickstarter. He started a campaign yesterday, and has already received $4,562, enough for him to shoot the march and be able to post images daily on the CIW site. His ultimate goal, however, is $10K, which he says will pay for DVDs of max-resolution images he’ll be able to provide to CIW.
So what would drive a guy to drop everything and take on this task at a moment’s notice, you ask?
“Photography for me is two different things, it’s both my business and its also my activism,” says Tiziou. “It’s the skill I use to change the world the best I can. If I just do the work the media market values — where the photo budgets are — then I perpetuate the status quo. So I’m trying to shift the media market a little bit [through crowd-funding] to bring more value to what the CIW is doing.”firstname.lastname@example.org.