PROJECT DESCRIPTION

My name is Bojan Furst and I am a journalist and photographer based in Saint John St. John’s, Newfoundland, on Canada’s East Coast.

The Small Islands Project has been long time in coming. Over the past three or four years I have been thinking about photographing islands in my native Croatia. However, I struggled with the very basic question: “Why do it?” The fact that I had fascination with those islands was simply not a compelling enough reason that would translate well into the photographs.

The idea ended up on the backburner as life took over.

About a year ago, in July 2007, I had an opportunity to spend a couple of days on Grand Manan island off the coast of New Brunswick. I was working on a story for CBC Radio 1 about a University of New Brunswick scientist mapping the ocean floor in the Bay of Fundy. He was searching for potential tidal turbine spots as well as updating the navigational charts for the area. That story is here.

At that time, I also interviewed and photographed Dr. Jesus Dapena. For the past 36 years, he has served as the island’s only medical doctor. The story was never published, but you can read it and watch a multimedia piece here.

On my way back to the mainland, it struck me how very different Grand Manan is from the Croatian islands I am familiar with and yet they face similar challenges. In both of those places environmental, economic and demographic pressures are changing the way people live and make a living. Ancient customs, crafts and techniques are dying out. The stories islanders used to tell to each other are being lost, dialects are disappearing, young people are leaving or have already left…

I realized that what truly fascinates me about the islands is the way that relative geographic isolation shapes the social, cultural and economic lives of people who chose to live island life. I admire their resourcefulness, their tenacity and their ability to develop unique lifestyles that differ from island to island.

I will do my best to explore what it means to be an islander through photographs, stories, and recordings. I will start with the Fundy Isles and then expand the project to encompass the Acadian islands of the Bay of Chaleur in the north of the province of New Brunswick and, hopefully, Magdalen Islands in Quebec and some of the Islands off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. Eventually, the project will include the Croatian islands on the Adriatic as well. It should be a fascinating journey. [UPDATE] I have since moved to the island of Newfoundland where I now work at Memorial University of Newfoundland and plan to pursue a masters degree in cultural geography. 

This blog will serve as the repository of all that material and a place of reference where I will post links, titles, interviews, photographs and any information I discover during the project life.

There are a few technical parameters you should be aware off. The project will be photographed using black and white film. I like and trust traditional photographic process in ways I do not trust digital technology and storage. I also esthetically prefer the look and feel of a black and white print for this project. I am by no means a luddite. Hence, the technology will very much play a major role. This blog being the centrepiece.

What is the end result going to look like? I honestly don’t know. This blog is certainly going to be here, as well as magazine and newspaper articles, probably a radio piece or two, may be a book, almost certainly an exhibit. I can also imagine a high end, highly interactive multimedia website. We’ll see.

ETHICS

Guiding principles for the journalist as proposed by Poynter’s Bob Steel, are the best set of ethical guidelines I’ve seen so I am simply going to copy them here.

Guiding Principles for the Journalist

Seek Truth and Report it as Fully as Possible

  • Inform yourself continuously so you in turn can inform, engage, and educate the public in a clear and compelling way on significant issues. 
  • Be honest, fair, and courageous in gathering, reporting, and interpreting accurate information. 
  • Give voice to the voiceless. 
  • Hold the powerful accountable. 

Act Independently

  • Guard vigorously the essential stewardship role a free press plays in an open society. 
  • Seek out and disseminate competing perspectives without being unduly influenced by those who would use their power or position counter to the public interest.
  • Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise your integrity or damage your credibility.
  • Recognize that good ethical decisions require individual responsibility enriched by collaborative efforts.

Minimize Harm

  • Be compassionate for those affected by your actions. 
  • Treat sources, subjects, and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect, not merely as means to your journalistic ends.
  • Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort, but balance those negatives by choosing alternatives that maximize your goal of truthtelling.

FINANCES

I hope to finance the project through a combination of grants and fundraising efforts. The first such effort is a special page set up on my personal blog. Essentially, it’s a contest that will allow me to pursue this project and a lucky winner of the contest could walk away with a nice cash prize. If you like what you see here, please consider being a part of the fundraising effort. The financial statements documenting how and where the money is spent will be available on the Finances page of this site. There, you will also be able to track the total money raised.

SPONSORSHIP

I am looking for sponsors for this project. Every little bit helps. Gifts-in-kind that can smooth the execution of the project, cash donations, transportation help, accomodations, help with mounting and framing of exhibits… Sponsors will be acknowledged on the main page of this site as well as in other media if possible.

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One Response to “About”


  1. Bojan – a commendable project.

    One does NOT need to find a reason to study islands. Like mountains, most of us would study, be intrigued, or are just fascinated by, islands “because they are there”. But, if you wish for a more defensible explanation, let me quote Gilles Deleuze (2004: 10): “Dreaming of Islands – whether with joy or in fear, it doesn’t matter- is dreaming of pulling away, of being already separate, far from any continent, of being lost and alone – or is dreaming of starting from scratch, recreating, beginning anew”.

    G. Deleuze (2004) Desert Islands and Other Texts: 1953-1974, Los Angeles CA, Semiotext(e).


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