Introduction

We are 25 women from Northeast Oklahoma City. Some of us have lived there our whole lives, some of us are newcomers, but all of us are connected to the area in deep, personal ways. In the summer months of 2016, we committed to each other to begin sharing reflections on how neighborhood conditions impact our safety and our day-to-day enjoyment of the city. Key to our reflections was the reality that race and gender intersect with the urban fabric of our neighborhoods in ways that shape women’s experience of the city. We vary in ages and walks of life but share a desire that our perspectives are shared so that policy makers and the wider region can better understand important issues that impact our lives and those around us.

We are using photography to teach. The photos generally fall into two broad categories. First, we created photographs that teach about challenging aspects of our neighborhoods that impact our safety negatively. As you will see, these are wide ranging images that bring together multiple perspectives on the issue. Second, we also created images that teach about positive and life giving aspects of the area. These are just as important because they help show a holistic view of the area, fight stereotypes, and provide a contrast to the more challenging images.

While we created the photographs individually, we spent a significant time reflecting on their meaning together.  Along with the images, the exhibit also articulates key themes that emerged in our group discussions.  These are combined with the images so that the pictures can be interpreted within their broader meaning. The intent of this project is to use our perspectives to help shape ongoing dialogues about the future of Oklahoma City.

Introduction