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Picture Story Project


For my final project in my Photojournalism course this fall quarter, we were to tell an in-depth story through 8-10 photographs. We were to each focus on one primary person. I focused on a woman named Matia Jones. I had met Matia through the Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival committee. I have joined this year to be a part of the publicity subcommittee. I thought Matia was a cool person, so why not photograph her? Here is the story I wrote about her and below the story are her pictures:

Matia Jones, 34, is a farmer, massage therapist, volunteer, jewelry and pottery maker and biker. When I first chose Matia to photograph, I just thought she was a very well rounded person. I still think she is, but now that I know what she majored in in college, everything she does interconnects. Matia went to Western Washington University for a Bachelor’s degree in medical anthropology. Medical anthropology studies “human health and disease, health care systems, and biocultural adaptation.” When I was talking with her, her eyes lit up when talking about medical anthropology. She talked about the layers and layers of this subject in culture – why there is disease, what are the belief systems, why different cultures practice different medical systems, etc. Once you learn what she studied, you can understand why she is a farmer and a massage therapist.

Farming organic foods relates to health and helping people through the access to fresher produce. Matia started volunteering at the Outback Farm, located on the southeastern end of Fairhaven College on Western Washington University’s campus, in 2006. The reason she first started farming at this location was because the area was kind of a mess. A few years prior to farming on the Outback Farm, Matia had studied sustainable and organic farming. With the knowledge she gained from those courses, she wanted to spruce up the Outback Farm and inspire more students to get involved. She met a small core of students that had a similar vision to her, so together, they got two dump trucks full of garbage and three run-down structures removed from the area. As they were working, they kept improving the site and having more students and faculty getting involved. Matia has had ten years of experience with organic and sustainable farming and she loves to share her knowledge onto others. Not only does she think it’s important to be able to access fresh produce, she thinks it’s important to have a space like the Outback Farm where students, faculty and community members can come together and learn sustainable and respectful ways to interact with a landscape. As well as farming at the Outback Farm, Matia has farmed at a different location (on Guide Meridian) where she would send her produce to the food bank. With her volunteer work at the Bellingham Food Bank, Matia would also work as a truck driver by driving to various grocery stores, picking up food, sorting food and distributing it to those in need.

For privacy purposes of the clients, I did not photograph Matia working as a massage therapist. However, it’s important to note that when she’s looked at other cultures through her medical anthropology classes, she saw how these other cultures took more of a holistic approach to their medical field. With massage therapy, Matia is practicing a more holistic method of helping people.

Matia became a part of the core steering committee last year for the Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival. A few years prior, she was just volunteering peripherally. For those who don’t know, the film festival is an event where volunteer committee members have selected inspiring and powerful films that they hope will encourage the community to explore and involve themselves in that issue. Last year, Matia was heavily involved in the publicity subcommittee and organized tables. This year, she is on the film screening subcommittee and helps to do community outreach to extend the impact of the festival to local organizations. She also suggested the overarching theme of resilience and empowerment for this festival and the festival has been doing a pretty good job staying on track with that goal. Matia likes being involved in an event like this because it invites folks to expand their awareness of the world around them and reassess how they are contributing to the wellbeing or suffering of others.

In recent years, Matia has taken up jewelry making, selling the pieces she creates. She told me how she tries to find parts for her jewelry that are fair trade or recycled. That journey to try to find those parts is actually quite difficult for her, however, she likes how it puts everything that she wears or owns in perspective of where it came from. In her home, she says that she has purchased or gathered items that her friends have made, so she knows where everything has come from.

When she was seventeen years old, Matia took up pottery making. Matia doesn’t really sell her pottery that she creates, but she does gift it to those close to her who ask for it. For Matia, pottery is mainly a relaxing hobby. She likes how you have to focus when working on the wheel – to make sure it stays center. She makes many pieces in a day – just grabbing clay, placing it on the wheel, spinning it to it’s creation, setting it to dry and repeat.

Matia’s main transportation is biking. She bikes twelve months a year. She shares a car with her spouse, but she hardly ever uses it – she even has gone without a car for a few years. Matia has even taken a bike trip on the North Cascades Highway with some of her girl friends to her parent’s home in Tonasket a couple of times. She has also logged many thousand of miles with her city commuting over the last few years.

Matia has started applying to graduate schools, in hopes of attending one next year to study policy making. She is excited not to be working at a job and instead, to be working toward making bigger changes in people’s lives.


Matia Jones, 34, rakes leaves at the Outback Farm at Fairhaven College on Western Washington University’s campus in Bellingham, Wash., Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014. For eight years, Jones has worked on this garden to make it a fun and interactive area for faculty, students and community members. (Photograph by Shannon Finn)


Matia Jones, 34, weeds the Outback Farm’s greenhouse at Fairhaven College on Western Washington University’s campus in Bellingham, Wash., Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014. Jones took sustainable and organic farming courses a few years back, and decided to use her knowledge to spruce up the Outback Farm and inspire students to get involved with the garden. (Photograph by Shannon Finn)


Matia Jones, 34, listens to ideas about how to publicize, what to change on the posters, and what films have been selected, at the Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival meeting at the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center in Bellingham, Wash., Monday, Nov. 24, 2014. The film festival is an event where volunteer committee members have selected inspiring and powerful films that they hope will encourage the community to explore and involve themselves in that issue. (Photograph by Shannon Finn)


The Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival committee meets Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, to discuss how to get people to volunteer, know about the festival and where to hold the event at the meeting in the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center in Bellingham, Wash. Matia Jones, 34, a volunteer on the film screening subcommittee, likes being involved in an event like this because it invites folks to expand their awareness of the world around them and reassess how they are contributing to the wellbeing or suffering of others. (Photograph by Shannon Finn)


Matia Jones, 34, smiles and listens intently to new ideas being discussed at the Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival meeting at the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center in Bellingham, Wash., Monday, Nov. 24, 2014. This year, Jones is on the film screening subcommittee and helps to do community outreach to extend the impact of the festival to local organizations. (Photograph by Shannon Finn)


Matia Jones, 34, rides her bike onto Cornwall Avenue in downtown Bellingham, Wash., Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014. Jones has used her bike over various occasions, including a trip on the North Cascades Highway to Tonasket with some of her girl friends and city commuting. (Photograph by Shannon Finn)


Matia Jones, 34, locks up her bike in downtown Bellingham, Wash., Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014. Jones shares a car with her spouse, but hardly uses it as a bicycle is her main transportation. (Photograph by Shannon Finn)


Matia Jones, 34, looks through dried pottery to find her creations at Earthbenders Pottery Studio in downtown Bellingham, Wash., Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014. When Jones was 17-years old, she took up pottery making in her hometown, Tonasket. (Photograph by Shannon Finn)


Matia Jones, 34, works at rounding the sides of the bowl she is creating on the wheel at Earthbenders Pottery Studio in downtown Bellingham, Wash., Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014. Jones doesn’t usually sell her pottery, but will gift it to her friends who ask for the pieces as gifts on holidays. (Photograph by Shannon Finn)


Matia Jones, 34, creates a bowl on the pottery wheel at Earthbenders Pottery Studio in downtown Bellingham, Wash., Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014. For Jones, pottery is a relaxing hobby, where she has to forget all her troubles so she can focus on “not screwing up her piece.” (Photograph by Shannon Finn)

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