March 20, 2012 by Alex Hoekstra
Oh man, graduation is weeks away. I’ve spent the better part of the last two decades moving up the academic ladder – grade school, high school, college, maybe beyond? On paper, most of that schooling was intended to prepare me for the real world. The truth is that much of it was spent preparing me for…more school. Now that the end of this ladder is in sight, there’s a big door above it that hides whatever comes next. Is it just more ladder (ie: grad school)? Or maybe it opens up into the big, wide world, where, for better or worse, there’s a whole new ballgame with a totally different way of keeping score. Metaphor after metaphor…you’ll have to forgive me for having my head in the clouds here, but I can think of no better way to articulate what it’s like to peer into the future and wonder what life for me will be like in a year from now, let alone five or ten. For the first time ever, I’m not looking forward to another year of school. That’s not to say that the learning is over. Far from it. I expect – I hope – that my first year out of college will be one (of many to come) full of new people, new places, new opportunities, new mistakes and new lessons. I don’t know how long it will take me to find (or make) a position in the world where I’m productive, comfortable and fulfilled. I have a deep respect for people who love what they do. I envy them. Apple pickers, bakers, garbage men, flight attendants, nurses, professors – anyone who can wake up in the morning and feel so proud to be doing whatever they’re going to do that day – that’s a remarkable feeling and one I hope to earn for myself someday. Today’s project knows this pride. It knows it so well, in fact, that it celebrated it every day for a year (not unlike my own year-long homage the extraordinary).
Work in Rochester is a photo journal of 365 Rochester, NY residents making a living. They’re neighbors and friends, serving one another, providing each other with groceries, or books, or fresh cut flowers, or hot pizza by the slice. They’re working. They’re making. And now they’re being remembered for it.
Clarke Condé spent 2011 documenting the men and women who Work In Rochester for a self-published book titled Work In Rochester. For each day of 2011 Condé interviewed and photographed one Rochesterian doing their job: Laborers, Restauranteurs, Librarians, Politicians, etc. all within the city limits of Rochester, with the goal of understanding how people make a living in this city. The resulting 365 photographs stand as a personal and intimate visual record of the people that collectively create the local economy.
Some jobs are dirty, some clean, some smell like chocolate pie and others like cow manure, but if you can wake up and look forward to it, you’ve got the best job in the world. I can’t wait to peer into the lives of 365 neighbors at work. Help keep America at work by backing this project before April 5.