Changing the Perception
I Heart Gary Photo Contest Shows City through New Lens
If you have ever attended a community event in the city of Gary you may have seen people wearing a t-shirt that reads “I heart Gary”. At Legacy Foundation, we decided to put that slogan into action by asking people to show us what they love about the Steel City.
The call was answered with 16 photos submitted of children volunteering, walls of graffiti style art, grassy dunes, and picturesque sunsets. Then, we shared the photos on Legacy’s Facebook page for a popular vote. Each “like” counted as one vote and the three photos with the most likes won a small cash prize.
Diamond Green, a seventh grade student at Steel City Academy in Gary, won first place. "I want this picture to show that our city isn't a bad place. In fact, there is a lot of beauty in it if you seek it out,” she said.
Diamond's photo of Davion Lagrone at the Gary shoreline
Tyrell Anderson, photographer at 2.0 Photography, said he wanted to highlight beautiful places throughout the city that are often overlooked.
“Life is about perception. We will never remove our stigmas unless we can effectively change the perception of Gary. One small step is highlighting the positive aspects that we have to offer. That's what I hoped to convey with my submission.” Tyrell’s photo took second place in the contest.
It is inspiring to see the photos depicting Gary as a city full of vibrant art, rich landscapes, and active volunteers. Even more moving is the way in which community members rallied around these photos, sharing them across social media and adding positive comments on the photos. The photos reached over 10,000 people on Facebook.
Tyrell Anderson of 2.0 Photography: photo of a sunset over Gary city lights
Gary Shakespeare Company submitted a photo of one its free performances of William Shakespeare's Macbeth at Marquette Park, which gained the third most votes.
As with other projects that Legacy Foundation supports in Gary (such as the Neighborhood Spotlight and the Choice Neighborhood program) my hope is that there is a shift in people’s perspectives to see Gary through a new lens.
Legacy hosted the contest to help promote the Knight Cities Challenge. The Challenge is put out by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to gather innovative ideas that promote talent, opportunity, and engagement in the 26 cities where Knight Foundation invests. Gary, Indiana is one of those cities. A project from Gary has been selected each year as a Knight Cities challenge winner since the Challenge began in 2014. This year a total of 4,500 ideas have been submitted. See past winners and find out what's next at knightcities.org.
You can see all photos submitted for the contest at https://www.facebook.com/legacyfdn.