Upham's Corner Online

"A Pilgrim on the Common" - Just Published

Posted: August 10, 2011     Nancy J Conrad

On August 10, 2011 Upham's Corner News completed publication of a book, and we would like to share with you our journey. We begin on a Saturday morning.

Every Saturday (come rain or shine or holiday time), cooks gather downstairs in The Pilgrim Church's kitchen at 7am to begin preparing food.

Then more volunteers arrive, pack up the food and head into the church's van for a trip downtown.  The volunteers know that the homeless and the hungry have already started gathering close to Park Street on the Boston Common.  The people on the Common also know to await the arrival of the church's van at 9am.

Unpack the van and setup to serve food, take prayer requests and distribute clothing. 

This is the story that Upham's Corner News (Nancy Conrad) sought to capture in traveling with The Pilgrim Church volunteers on November 27, 2010.

Traveling as a photographer and story teller is fraught with travails and difficulties under the most benign of circumstances but a story about feeding the homeless?  Photographing people waiting in line for food?

I wasn't sure what to expect.  Maybe everyone would shout at me or throw things or tell me to go away.  In fact I did encounter a range of attitudes from anger, with people hiding their faces, to people who didn't care, to people who were genuinely friendly and excited.

Well, think of it this way:  It's a public setting.  Maybe all I needed to do was ask permission.  "May I take your picture?" 

  • Some people said no. 
  • Some were distrustful even after saying no. 
  • Many people in line said "yes."
Many people in line were smiling and excited and couldn't wait to be photographed.  Some people even took the time to pose, review the photo and pose again to get the right shot. And so the story and lots of photos got printed in Upham's Corner News.

Read Story:  Food on the Common - Pilgrim Church Volunteers Distribute Food to the Hungry

End of story, right?  

I couldn't let that story go.  Something about the experience stayed with me.  Was it the faces - faces of the serving and the served? Was it the contrast between my expectations and my experience? I continued to want to share my experience with a wider audience.  I felt compelled to look beyond the Upham's Corner News website. 

Out of this grew the idea to publish online, but not an E-Book - a real book.

A Pilgrim on the Common

BLURB.com provides such a service.  Their software downloads to your PC and provides a relatively simple interface for creating a book.  Still I found myself needing to ask more questions about the church and its ministries to the community.  Partnering with than Rev. John Odams added authenticity to the work I was doing.

I learned that the church not only serves but it, too, is served.  For years a youth pastor, Joel Daniel Harris, from the Canton, Ohio area has been bringing teens to Dorchester to help create and maintain the flower garden - not the flowers per se, but the garden structure itself.

The story of feeding the homeless and the hungry grew to be so much more.

I, Nancy Conrad, aka Upham's Corner News, am so excited about this book.  We invite you to browse it online - fully readable. And if you feel so moved, you are also welcome to order the book. The full profit (about $5 per book) will be donated to Pilgrim Church.

http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/2390586

Browse: "A Pilgrim on the Common"


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