JACKET: COACH. TURTLENECK: VINCE. JEANS: TOPSHOP. SCARF: DONNI CHARM. BELT: B-LOW THE BELT. STYLING: ELIN SVAHN. HAIR: TOMO JIDAI FOR MOROCCAN OIL/STREETERS. MAKEUP: SALLY BRANKA/LGA MANAGEMENT. MANICURE: GINA EDWARDS FOR DIOR VERNIS/KATE RYAN. PRODUCTION: BO ZHANG. DIGITAL TECHNICIAN: ERICA CAPABIANCA.
“Often, in the hour of greatest need, when the system fails, it is neighbors coming together to support one another, building networks of cooperation through mutual aid.”—Shanna Merola
OCCUPATION: Artist, organizer, grassroots media, legal worker.
WHAT ARE THE GREATEST CHALLENGES FOR OUR SOCIETY? It’s been said that unless there is a radical shift in the way we think about the distribution of public resources, the next world wars will be fought over water. For the past few years in Detroit, residents have been hit with some of the highest water rate hikes in the country. Instead of implementing a water-affordability plan to help those struggling with their monthly bills, the city began shutting off this basic human need to thousands of households. The UN has joined with activists to declare that access to clean, affordable water is a fundamental human right, not a commodity to be exploited by corporations.
WHAT ARE THE GREATEST ADVANTAGES OF TODAY? Often, in the hour of greatest need, when the system fails, it is neighbors coming together to support one another, building networks of cooperation through mutual aid. In Detroit, when the water shutoffs began, this took the form of community organizers turning abandoned buildings into free water stations and setting up emergency hotlines. In Flint, Michigan, where thousands of families have been exposed to toxic levels of lead in their water, you have plumbers traveling from all over the country to try to engineer a solution—not to mention all of the neighbors who are going door-to-door to bring clean water to those without transportation. These kinds of newsworthy stories are far too common and often under-represented by mainstream media. For that reason, they become the research and content for collages, like my most recent body of work, We All Live Downwind.