Riveting narrated slideshow of the world's slums: The Places We Live

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13 Responses to “Riveting narrated slideshow of the world's slums: The Places We Live”

  1. nocchimochi says:

    Hey Cory! I’m glad this came at an opportune time for you!

  2. kosmonautbruce says:

    Check out Planet of Slums by Mike Davis for an amazing study of where slums come from and why we are likely to see many more of them in the future. Having seen some favelas in Rio up close, they truly are amazing places, both good and bad.

  3. Anonymous says:

    You’d be surprised about the levels of poverty in the United States. I can’t recall my source, but I watched a documentary about poverty in the US that painted a picture similar to these stories, albeit more rural and not crowded together. There are still children today, born and raised in the States, that have never seen running water or electricity. If anyone could refresh my memory on the title of that documentary, I’d be extremely grateful.

  4. Avi Solomon says:

    Makes you count your blessings. I was lucky enough to freely roam the Mumbai slums as a kid and was always struck by the joy, faith and mutual help of individuals even under extreme poverty pressure. Once you got richer, you got meaner.

  5. gadfly says:

    ahhh (the pleased sigh, not the alarmed scream), more kottke-cest from boingboing.

    honestly he should just join the team, you’re all completely wonderful.

    anyway regarding the actual link — only truly eye-opening if you know very little about life in these neighborhoods, but for people who meet those criteria, please watch this. otherwise, still a set of interesting and at times heartwrenching stories set in a pretty-cool interface.

    for a lifelong tech nerd who spent a great deal of undergrad time studying world poverty, links like this are just about the perfect concoction, shy of advancing the former and ending the latter in one fell href.

  6. Machinehead says:

    Being a Brazilian I’m very familiar with slums and shanty towns (or favelas as we call them here) but the aspect of this project that strike me the most is the similarities of the life stories of the persons portrayed in it. Almost all of them are stories of people who left their original birthplace in search of opportunities, jobs, money and food. Which tell us a lot about the differences between urban and rural life and about the way people are willing to live in misery as long as they perceive that they have more opportunities of success in a urban environment.

    You can also notice how they have the same choice of materials to build their houses in the different shanty towns spread across the globe and the similarities in the way they choose to decorate their houses, in a kind of “mosaic” and “baroque” way, apparently using any sort of object that is appealing to them in order to give a sense of identity and individuality to their dwellings. Also, you can find a TV set in most of the houses.

    All of this reminds me the lyrics of a music played by a Brazilian band called Os Titãs: Wealth is difference. Misery is misery anywhere.

  7. Nautical says:

    Definitely worthwhile checking these out.

    Though, to pick a nit, the intro text to the Dharavi, Mumbai area claims “an average of 30 people for every square meter”. For my American neighbors, that’s roughly 30 people in 10 square feet. Unless Dharavi is one giant circus car, I don’t think that’s possible.

    Wikipedia says 21,880 per square kilometer (= 1000 x 1000 meters). My math is rusty, but I think that’s more like 0.02 people per square meter – which is just as difficult to visualize as square kilometers.

    This is easier: that’s 2 people for every 10 square meters (roughly 100 square feet, or the size of a small room).

    Considering that’s the average, which includes all streets and open areas, that’s still incredibly crowded. Just not circus-car crowded. (I tried to find a contact to email a correction to, but couldn’t find one.)

  8. passionchamp says:

    What’s shocking is that some people in the US that are losing their jobs and homes resort to suicide rather than downsize. They are the ones that should look at these images and be grateful to move into a small apartment that actually has all four walls and a roof.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      What’s shocking is that some people in the US that are losing their jobs and homes resort to suicide rather than downsize. They are the ones that should look at these images and be grateful to move into a small apartment that actually has all four walls and a roof.

      What a brilliant way to talk someone off the ledge; tell them that their life could get worse. Next on I Don’t Quite Get Empathy: telling terminal patients to be grateful for dying in hospital.

  9. techdeviant says:

    @8 Anon
    I agree that there is devastating rural poverty in the US that many people aren’t exposed to. Before the wonderful no child left behind fiasco, I used to help migrant farm workers’ children with basic math and english education. Alot of these kids (especially the Hmong) came from families of 10+ people, all living in a single room shed or trailer on someone else’s land.

  10. Anonymous says:

    You should also check out an earlier body of work by the same photographer (Jonas Bendiksen). Starting in Vladisvostok, he began a five year journey photographing throughout Russia and central Asia. The photographs don’t carry a social message like The Places We Live does, but I find the photographs themselves are much stronger.

    You can view many of the pictures online, but they don’t quite hold up to actually viewing them on a printed book. (Titled Satellites, go check it out at a bookstore.) http://www.magnumphotos.com/Archive/C.aspx?VP=Mod_ViewBoxInsertion.ViewBoxInsertion_VPage&R=2K7O3R1WU9B4&RP=Mod_ViewBox.ViewBoxThumb_VPage&CT=Album&SP=Album

  11. dculberson says:

    Passionchamp, yes! Once you’ve seen real poverty first hand, it’s hard to think of the US as anything but incredibly wealthy. Even our poorer neighborhoods are pretty damn nice on a worldwide scale.

  12. amdela80 says:

    As someone who’s spent a couple of years in Asia, I have definitely seen some of these slums up close (including some memorable tours of Khlong Tooey, in Bangkok). Each time I’ve come home, I’ve tried to explain to my friends that we are not poor, and we never will be, so quit-yer-bitchin’. To me, it’s incredible that these people live so poorly, yet support each other so strongly, and help in any way possible, and here, in Canada, I’ve lived in a nice house in a nice town for 2 years, and never met any of my neighbours. Sad.

    I’m def going to push as many people as possible to check out this heart breaking project. An incredible piece of work that makes me realize, again, just how damn lucky I am to be a middle class Canadian.

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