If somebody were to have told me (twenty years ago) that I would be writing reports on drug prevention on a hot Friday night, I would have belted out a hearty laugh, followed by a shot of straight Tequila.
My typical Friday nights were spent in one of two ways:
a.) I was in church with my friends and family
b.) I was out running the streets, higher than a kite and no doubt on my way to becoming quite smashed.
Sometimes in that order.
If I didn’t puke, I generally wasn’t having a good time. This went on for a good twenty years. I suppose that my extensive experience on the subject fuels my passion for it. I know many people who think you can’t touch a drop to drink (or you’re a raging alkie) or that if you smoke a joint, you’re on your way to harder drugs, such as cocaine or heroin, seeing how pot is considered a “gateway drug”.
But I don’t think this is so. Many things change the brain’s chemistry and can cause addiction- not just drugs. I’ve had many Twinkie battles (when I had a chronic case of the munchies) and I was certain the Twinkie would win, but again, not so. Will power and a solid education go a long way. “Just Say No” simply doesn’t work, and the DARE program was an epic failure.
So what’s the answer?
I ponder these things. Drugs and alcohol littered my youth- they were my second skin.
Now, I haven’t smoked a joint in six years, and haven’t had hard liquor in six as well. I don’t care much for the taste of alcohol these days- that’s not to say I can’t have a beer or two, or a glass of wine with a salad. I just fell out of love with it, that’s all.
Photography has taken the place of drugs I believe. My art is satisfying enough for me.
When I’m excited- I take pics.
When I’m sad- I take pics.
When I’m stressed- I take pics.
When I’m angry- I take pics.
By doing so, I alleviate much of the stress associated with these intense emotions. I can add descriptions to my work so that the viewer can perhaps step into my shoes. It’s absolutely therapeutic. I remember the day I quit smoking cigarettes (six years ago also). I was wondering what in the world I would do when I was stressed. No weed- no whiskey- no smokes! Where’s the fun?!
Then I picked up a camera. 🙂
Maybe someday I’ll design a program for kids and teens, that incorporates “phototherapy” into their lives. It’s not too expensive- everybody has a camera these days, and they can express their pent up emotions through their art.
Good grief, am I really rambling on about drug prevention on a Friday night?!
Yes. I’m afraid I am…
And here’s the Executive Summary I turned in today:
(Copying, “borrowing”, or outright stealing this work for the use of plagiarism is absolutely prohibited and any breach of this written warning could result in prosecution.)
In 1983, Daryl F. Gates founded the Drug Abuse Resistance Program, or DARE. The program offered a ten week, in-school, interactive learning module taught by local law enforcement officers and others. Authorized workers and guest speakers were to undergo 80 hours of training in the areas of childhood development, communication skills, and other interpersonal tools. Funding for the organization was based on certain criteria being met: The information was to be research-based, and effective. In 1998, funding for the program was cut as a result of failing to meet the required regulations. The Department of Education (DOE) has withdrawn from the program completely and refuses to give DARE any future funding. Recent scientific studies have proven DARE to not only be ineffective, but counterproductive as well. It is difficult to say whether the law enforcement officers’ lack of therapeutic qualifications played a part in the failure of DARE’s program. Perhaps it was a combination of factors that simply weren’t cohesive. Some of the teenagers in the program may have viewed the police officers as a threat. It is a fair assessment to say that minorities and inner-city kids may have been preconditioned to fear police officers, especially if they might have been told the same division put a parent or family member behind bars. Perhaps too, the overexposure to a variety of drugs gave the young DARE members more temptations than they might have had without the program.
Attempts at primary prevention education have been challenging over the years as well. Targeting grade-schoolers, many programs have used catchy slogans, such as, “Just Say No,” without reaping necessary and expected benefits. A major problem with this technique that must be taken into consideration is the exposure to a host of new drugs that many children are not aware of beforehand. By announcing the dangers of these items, children are being tantalized and seduced by an idea, “the forbidden fruit”.
Scare tactics is another method that has been ineffective. When presenting exaggerated effects of drugs to children and teens, but especially teens, they will often discredit the material altogether. When teenagers are shown dramatic images of horrific drug-related events, the emotional connection and fear are more temporal than long lasting. Children lack the foresight to understand what 20 years of hard drinking may do to the body, even knowing, he or she may not care. Connecting with these kids on his or her level is crucial. Targeting a demographic is necessary, but so is having the precision and ability to actually reach these children.
Another aspect to consider when using scare tactics is the often romantic appeal of a thing when it is presented as “off limits”. That is not to say legalization of drugs or underage drinking should be an option, but perhaps emphasizing nausea as an effect, rather than euphoria, may tarnish its overall attraction. The effects of drug and alcohol use are tempting to children and teens because they like to feel good. Toddlers spin in circles to mimic euphoria, even before they are old enough to form sentences, much less understand the concept of drugs and alcohol and their effects on the body. No matter how well packaged or distributed antidrug campaigns may be, unless the parents or caregivers of the child are reinforcing, in the home, what he or she is learning in school, the whole of it will be counterproductive.
Programs like the Child Development Project (CDP) have been shown to significantly reduce drinking and drug use among adolescents and teens between the ages of 5-12. The CDP strives to promote closer bonds between students and their peers, teachers and students, and students and parents. Another useful prevention program is Class Action, which is a universal school-based alcohol-related learning module. Class Action targets children between the ages of 9-12. This program in particular has proven to reduce the onset of drinking among school kids, and has reduced binge drinking among high school students.
One reason for the success of Class Action is the interactive peer-led relationships between the students and their mentors, or speakers. The representatives focus on turning negative peer pressure into positive peer pressure; thereby changing the messages of alcohol uses and abuse altogether. Students who heed the warnings will perceive drinking as something that might be shunned by their peers, in turn, molding their choices into healthier actions. Unlike DARE, which is a tertiary prevention program, the CPD and Class Action are primary and secondary prevention programs.
Avoid using scare tactics in secondary and tertiary prevention programs. The fear-related material can be effective in creating a necessary protective boundary in grade-schoolers. The same fear may compound stress in teenagers, causing them to actually want to try drugs or alcohol, and the same could be said in tertiary programs. Scare tactics are best used during primary prevention, when children are most impressionable.
Avoid using law enforcement officers in secondary and tertiary prevention programs. They may induce rebellion in teens, and resentment among addicts. Again, law enforcement officers are presented and often perceived as “the good guys” to grade-schoolers. A two step interactive transitional program is recommended that would bridge the gap from grade-school over to middle school, and then middle school to high school, promoting the positive images of law enforcement officers. Telling children to “stay away from bad things” simply does not work. Law enforcement officers would be encouraged to engage in activities that children and teens participate in most: gaming, texting, and hanging out at their favorite hot spots.
Abstinence rewards in school is another recommendation.
Reward middle and high school students who abstain from alcohol and drugs.
Develop a program specifically for middle and high school students offering monthly voluntary drug testing. Rather than spend money on building more incarceration facilities, increase funding for voluntary drug testing in schools. Rewards include: Ipods, clothing cards from their local malls, and ITunes cards that allow unlimited downloading of songs. By associating positive material gain (rewards) with abstinence, the fear and anxiety associated with drug testing would be diminished, if not altogether diffused, and kids and teens would develop an appreciation for drug testing that could possibly carry over into adulthood. Just as word-of-mouth among peer groups is drugs and alcohol’s number one promoter, so too, the Abstinence Reward Program (ARP) could be widely spread and promoted by peers among peers.
Catwalk/My daughter, Heidi./Lensbaby Composer pro-Double Glass Ops./Manual ex./RAW/GIMP
I wandered around the streets of my hometown on New Year’s Eve in search of “subjects”. I wanted to shoot people but the place was like a ghost town! I’m so drawn to shadows and still life, I’m wondering how I will ever break out of this pattern if I want to venture into street photography. I don’t want to be a simple point-snd-shooter. Composition means everything to me, as do strong lines. I drove to Times Square once, in New York City, and shot street photography at night. My bags had been packed and waiting by the door to go to Texas (from Indiana). my Aunt had been sick and my daughter and I were on our way to see them. They cancelled at the last minute, and so we found ourselves with packed bags, $1,000 and no where to go. I told my daughter to pick a place, anywhere in the U.S. and that’s where we would go. She said, “What about New York?” And so, the next day, we found ourselves driving straight into the belly of the beast: Times Square. Here are some of my photos from that trip: (All photos are shot in manual + natural lighting/no flash.)
Times Square at night, New York, New york
Canon Rebel XSI Sigma 17-70
Modern Day Vintage w/ film grain- Canon Rebel XSI + Sigma 17-70
A mass of people simming in the city sea. W. 45th St.
Near Park Avenue, Manhattan, New York
Canon Rebel XSI Sigma 17-70
I had crawled up to this pigeon in the rain.
The guy was eating. I was watching him. The pigeon was watching me.
Then I was watching the pigeon.
Then the guy was watching me. Then he jumped out of the frame.
I smiled politely. Then I snapped away.
Hurley’s. Manhattan, New York and a little bit of GIMP.
Canon Rebel XSI/Sigma 17-70
Muesum of modern Art
New York, New York
A small crowd gathers to study Monet’s Water Lilies.
Canon Rebel XSI- Sigma 17-70
Overlooking Broadway from the Crowne Plaza Times Square hotel. Nice place! Even if the eggs are $9.00.
Coffee for breakfast.
Hanging out on Broadway at Times Square. Everything sizzled with energy. The smell of hotdogs permeated everything and there really was steam coming out of the sewers. Just like in the movies. Horns honked. taxis were a streak of canary yellow and the rain drizzled lightly. It was another world. Swarms of people hustled about- headphones attached, eyes making no contact- disappearing into the night.
The beauty of motion blur/long exposure. One of my many passions in photography.
Broadway in classic “Old Hollywood” black and white.
I was almost laying in the street for this one. I like wide angle shots, and prefer verticals over horizontals. I’ve been shooting verticals for years- and my eye is trained for this type of composition. I feel so vulnerable regarding horizontal composition, in comparison. I’m hoping to practice up in that area over the next year.
As seen from my hotel window at night, overlooking Broadway. I was sitting on the executive office desk Indian style, lens pressed to the glass- full panoramic view. I could see the people in the buildings across from me working out at their office gyms, after hours. I wonder if they could see me.
I was fascinated that behind all of the glitz and glamour of Broadway, this is what it boils down to. The viewers arrived (on Broadway) around the corner in limousines, draped in diamonds, but the stars came in through this humble stage door, accompanied by the grimiest dumpster I had ever seen.
Museum of Modern Art
New York, New York
When I walked into the room, it was as if this guy had been waiting for me.
I immediately sunk to my knees and hunkered down to the floor as low as I could go, loweing the exposure so I could get a good silhouette.
I thought it called for a vintage texture (it’s actually about 7 textures combined) and lots and lots of GIMP. I titled the print “Therapy” and sold a matted canvas to a mystery buyer at Redbubble.com for $175.00.
That put a smile on my face.
Museum of Modern Art. I was in the hallway and saw this guy walking up the stairs. It called for a diagonal composition. (Makes me think of Escher, one of my favourite artsits, second to Van Gogh only.)
New York just wouldn’t be the same without its generous splash of fire escapes throughout the city.
But I digress.
Here are a few shots from my walk-around on New Years Eve. The shadows told me it was the right time to go out and shoot.
Film noir/B&W-shadows- it’s where I live.
The streets were completely abandoned on New Year’s Eve. I loved it.
My mother and I rung in the New Year alone in her apartment. She was tucked into her comfy chair and I read to her for an hour out of my book: Anthology of American Poets. (Poe, Dickenson, Longfellow, Frost, and about twelve others.) It was so old fashioned and simple. I took this shot of her two cats in the early afternoon on New Year’s Day. Both cats are black and white. So, this is a black and white shot in black and white of two black and white cats:
My mother’s lamp.
There’s almost nothing more beautiful to me than film grain with a dash of gaussian blur.
In black and white, of course. Heavy on the black.
Canon G3/natural lighting/manual exposure
I took this shot of my son earlier this evening. This is the look I want to achieve with my digital phtography: low-light film.
Exposure: 1/3 of a sec./ISO 100/F. 2.07/handheld/manual/RAW/Canon G3 (I snuck up on him while at the computer.)
When I walked by him, I saw the glow of light on his face (my mind saw it in black and white) and I knew I had to get it.
This was shot in black and white. I find that after shooting in black and white for a while, my eye becomes trained on shapes and lines, and where the light falls off and where it is introduced. I’m forced to see the many shades of blacks, whites, grays, and all of the beautiful tones within. The beauty of shooting in RAW is having it automatically converted into colour once it’s loaded in my editor. (I use GIMP.) So, I shoot in black and white, and the results are colour- but with far better lighting than if I had shot it in colour.