Bureaucrats at their desks

ImageDutch photographer Jan Banning has traveled the world documenting the consequences of war, the homeless and impoverished, and victims of human trafficking. Asked to photograph a story on the administration of international development aid, something he thought to be “un-photographable,” Banning and a journalist set out to visit hundreds of local government offices worldwide. Between 2003 and 2007, they met civil servants in eight countries on five continents. “Though there is a high degree of humour and absurdity in these photos,” Banning says, “they also show compassion with the inhabitants of the state’s paper labyrinth.”

distinctive competence

The U.S. National Park Service Interpretive Ranger depicted above will remain nameless, but it was my good fortune to spend a few hours with her one morning this August. We hiked over big rocks along the ocean in Maine’s Acadia National Park. Honestly, I learned more about rocks from this interpretive ranger than I remember from classroom geology. We also learned about the land’s social history – gifted by J.P Morgan, as a vacation home for a generation of “rusticators” (why isn’t that word more popular?), and ultimately to the National Park Service early in the 20th Century. Continue reading