On February 1st, 2019 the Bubbler and Madison Public Library will be celebrating the opening of the 2nd installment of the Who Matters? multigenerational photo project.
Originally the idea of senior center multigenerational coordinator Laurie Bibo and Community Engagement librarian Mary Fahndrich, Who Matters? was first envisioned as a small display of pictures from residents of the senior centers of multigenerational photos on display at the library.
Mary reached out to the Bubbler team in the summer of 2017 with her idea, and we were delighted to introduce her to our upcoming Artist-in-Residence Jennie Bastian. The connection with Mary and Jennie was instantaneous and the concept of the project fit seamlessly into the them of Jennie's residency What is the Matter?
Jennie was excited to have the library as a platform to connect her art to the Madison community. She connected immediately to the project. "Laurie & Mary had really amazing ideas of how to bring it together, and celebrate these relationships. As a photographer it was awesome to see how I could work to expand their vision." Bastian told us.
40 friends, families, and neighbors in 1 beautiful project
Families, friends, and neighborhoods were invited to the library for a quick photo shoot, the only rule was they needed at least one member of the group to be 55 years or older.
"We didn't know if anyone was going to come!" Mary told us, but in the first two sessions last summer, over 90 people attended. "This was a great project for the family. Having it at the library made it so accessible to people to have an amazing experience, and then walk away with a free professional photo." Jennie received a stipend as a part of her residency, but the Madison Public Library Foundation generously supported the printing of the photos.
"Everyone deserves a beautiful photo of their family and the fact that they love them is wonderful to me," Jennie said. "People can’t believe how amazing they turn out, but obviously they are these lovely families and these lovely relationships."
Sharing Best Practices
In 2017, Laurie Bibo at the Madison Senior Center suggested they nominate the project for a Special Events award with the National Institute of Senior Centers, and much to their delight, they won!
"We got to do a little webinar about it and share about it - and got so many questions it inspired us to do this template as something that anybody can do in their space," Mary shared. "Jennie’s talent is amazing but that doesn't make it unaccessible to other locations."
In 2018, Mary and Jennie teamed up to apply for a mini grant from the Madison Public Library Foundation for round two of the project. Not only to further connect to the community but also to build the template of best practices to share with a broader audience. "This project is bigger than just us," Jennie explained, "and we should show that there is value in the relationships beyond our own generation and that they are worth celebrating."
The Bubbler at Madison Public Library is so inspired by our artists who so readily share our vision of Learn. Share. Create. We cannot wait for the opening of round two!
Community Engagement with the Library
We asked Mary and Jennie to reflect on some of their favorite parts of the project, and immediately they began telling us the stories of the people they met.
One story that stuck out was of a young mother, her daughter, and her parents who came to the photo shoot all with their favorite books - because they were at the library of course! Their grandfather was recently diagnosed with cancer, and they were unsure of how much time they had together, but this was a truly joyous event for them to share.
"These were really important moments for these families," Mary shared. "We really feel like we know them since we have spent all this time with their photos and their stories, even though we only had 5 minutes together, and I'm so glad for that."