37 yeard old Ovidio of Loreto, Mexico participates in the community-wide effort to sweep the streets of dried mud and palm debris following Hurricane Odile that ravaged Cabo San Lucas and communities along the southern Baja California Peninsula.
The hurricane reaching a Category 4 rating on September 14, 2014. Initially forecasted to curve westward out to sea, Odile wreaked havoc on the area, stranding approximately 26,000 foreign tourists, killing 15 people over its 9 day run, destorying airports, toppling powerlines and effectively cutting off most communication for many days, even weeks in some areas. Total property damages were estimated at $1.5 billion (U.S.) dollars.
While my 360° underwater film project in the Cabo Pulmo Marine Protected Area was cut short due to Hurricane Odile, the story and life lessons I learned along a wild, adventurous and emotional 11 day journey home to Los Angeles was an experience I would not trade for anything.
The powerful imagery of an individual sweeping and cleaning has held a special place in my heart for many years. Growing up, my Mexican mother would sweep and mop the floor every weekend. In my late teens and early twenties, while living in Northern Chile on a humanitarian service assignment, I witnessed men and women sweep their porches and storefronts with great pride each morning as a sort of ritual. While their bodies were occupied on a physical task, their mind seamed to be engaged in deep personal thought.
Now in my thirties, I find myself sweeping my own porch and garage with these images in my mind. And while I drive in Los Angeles from prop house to prop house, I see this sweeping ritual being carried out in Compton, the Valley, Little Ethiopa, the West Side, Downtown, Koreatown, across all ethnicities and races. The simply act of sweeping one's home or business unifies this city on the simplest level; pride and respect of one's personal space and property.
The practice of cleanliness is at first, profoundly personal, rooted in self respect, rippling outward, the action positively invites others into that personal space. So it is with this imagery that I began a new series and dialogue: The Sweepers. What is on their mind?