Meeting Locals & Shifting Perspectives
Meeting Locals & Shifting Perspectives
February 12, 2018

February, 2018
by Sarah Laughland

Sarah Laughland is a lifestyle & portrait photographer serving the DMV & Southwest Virginia. She’s a performer & creator who adores connecting with people through the art of visuals. She lives for supporting local, strong lattes, and good light. <3

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First off, I want to say thank you for following and learning with me over the last 2 years. I’m an artist, first and foremost, therefore I must respect the lens through which I experience things. I’m an actress and photographer who’s gained a profound respect for those who dedicate their lives to sustaining local economies through farming and craftsmanship. I’ve discovered, since setting out on this photo and story gathering venture, that there is much to be gleaned from the people I’ve met and the stories they’ve told, whether that be verbally or through their actions.

One interview at a time, one photo at a time, I’ve been a witness to these incredible humans that commit themselves fully in the name of sustainability. Farming isn’t a partial commitment job. You don’t kind of do it and get to call it a day. What I’ve learned from watching is that when you saturate yourself fully in a situation, you suddenly find yourself on the other side of a gully, looking back on that worn patch you once stood.

This year I also learned how to can vegetables. My farmer friend, Jason, and I spent a day in the kitchen peeling, slicing, snapping, boiling, pouring, measuring, goofing, guessing, and rejoicing over the finished products at the end of the day. It felt like it didn’t yield much by the looks of it, but it expands when you crack that quart open! I saved enough sweet potatoes, squashes, canned tomatoes, onions, garlic, honey, canned and frozen beans to last me all winter, all bought from the farmer’s market in bulk. That’s no packaging and much less money spent at a corporate grocery store, and for me in general. And it feels amazing. There’s this unexplainable giddiness I get from cracking open a jar of food that I preserved, or heading to my container of sweet potatoes and picking out food that a farmer I know, grew. It makes the food I eat feel precious. I grew tomatoes, basil, and green peppers this year. It certainly wasn’t a whole lot, but it was enough to feel mighty proud. The excitement of walking outside on a lunch break, tossing tomatoes into a bowl and immediately washing them and eating them gave me more than just a dollar or two off, but for the first time I felt this connection. Subtle as it may be—no exploding feeling of change in my soul—but a shift. By taking care in more seemingly “monotonous” parts of my day, I started to feel a greater sense of purpose without the feeling of leaving such a heavy imprint on the earth.

Those of you who know me better know that I struggled with depression and anxiety for a good chunk of my life. It’s a part of what has shaped me into the human I am today, and I don’t try hiding it. It’s human, after all, and what could be more glorious? A large moving cog in that machine of complex feelings is the nagging notion that I’m not contributing to the whole, and that I’m hurting more than I’m helping.

What I’ve come to is this: We don’t have power over a lot of things in our life. That’s the plain truth. But there are things we do have control over. Our hearts are our strength. My tool is the conscientious guide whispering inside me while stepping through the world. Whether we like it or not, each of us affects the very air of the rooms we enter. How incredible is that?! A smile, where we spend money, how delicately we put energy into the world, what we eat, how we dispose of those things. Our hearts and our compassion are our strength.

Enough ruminating for today. This next year brings on more interviews, and more expansion into the world of using less and utilizing more. I’m beginning a compost adventure, and expanding my gardening operation. I think I might even get a clothesline! Ooh, thrills! Thanks for reading, thanks for viewing, thanks for caring.

My canning professor, Jason.

Sweet, sweet tomatoes.

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