All posts by Russ Campbell

The Front Steps Project: Maynard – Jane

Jane –

Can you all hear me!?

As I have told many folks since this all began, I am an introvert. I have been training for this all my life! I live alone most of the time, and am retired. I have actually loved my time painting, reading, Netflixing, jigsaw puzzling, walking, knitting…..eating…… But as much as I feel so very fortunate in so many ways, including enjoying my own company, I’m realizing, as we all are, how much I ache for my family and friends. Talking at a distance, whether 6ft or 100 miles away, only makes more obvious the fact that you’re missing out on that big hug, kissing up your grandkids, squeezing the hand of someone who needs it. Touch is the important sense that is collectively making us sad. And I hear the huge sigh when all this is “over”.

But I will say, again, I am one of the privileged. I hope at this time that you each can reach out in some way to help those who are not so fortunate. I’ve seen so many generous people here in Maynard doing just that. To all of you, I say Thank You…..Can You Hear Me!!!!?

The Front Steps Project: Maynard – Peg and Deb

Peg –

Time on our hands and currently no place to go. Our friend offers to swing by the house and, at a safe distance for all, record our COVID-19 “stay-at-home” experience with his camera lens. Two things come to mind: one, we are definitely starved for social interaction and for news of friends and folks in town (after all, Maynard is one big extended family); and two, we want to let everyone know, by means of social media photos, that we are well, happy, being productive in smaller ways, and staying positive.

Russ nails the photo shoot. Everyone exits the scene with a smile. Life goes on in a truncated version. This is our first experience with “life interrupted”. We are dealing well with this temporary disruption , knowing that we will soon be back to a regular schedule and routine, however modified or changed by world events.

The Front Steps Project: Maynard – Cristine

Cris –

Before the Pandemic, I was busy being a Mom, a Chemistry Teacher a LifeCoach and a Group Fitness Instructor. All that came to a screeching halt on March 12, which also happened to be my birthday. In the month since then I have learned many things and all of them are hard truths that took a pandemic for me to realize:

  • I love the people I used to interact with on a daily basis – family, students, co-workers, The Thoreau group fitness participants & instructors
  • I profoundly miss being able to hug those people I used to see daily
  • I can stay in touch with my family even though they are hundreds or thousands of miles away. Distance is no longer a viable excuse to not stay connected
  • I appreciate the people that have braved this pandemic and continue to work. I know it isn’t a choice for most of them and I have a deep appreciation for their sacrifice.
  • I am grateful for my health and the health of those I love.
  • I love being an educator and I love the connections I can make with the students I teach.

The Front Steps Project: Maynard – Mary

Mary –

“A big everyday change is just greetings and hugs when my husband comes home from work. We are a very affectionate family and normally for a photo we would have been sitting a little closer, arms around eachother, heads leaning together. But now because Ben is working in emergency medicine throughout this, we have a big procedure when he comes home. You caught us just as he had just pulled up from work so you can see him in uniform- and I kind of wanted that as part of this family memory – how Ben was working on the front lines of this.Before this we would have all had a big hug when he came home.

Now, Ben won’t touch us at all until he changes clothes and a has chance to scrub down.He leaves his boots outside the back door and his uniform goes right into the laundry, and only he touches it. Just that interruption of a simple kiss and hug hello when he comes home is a change I think about every day. Despite trying to stay positive for each others sake, the interruption reminds us of what danger we are all in. You can even see In the photo he is willing to sit next to me but he is sitting up very straight and trying not to even let his shoulder touch mine. It’s one of the things I actually like about the photo because in the years ahead it tells its own story.

Everything he does lately seems to bear the weight of someone else’s safety and health, even just a hug hello.”

The Front Steps Project: Maynard – Rachel

Rachel –

“Since everything started there there are many things about daily life that have drastically changed. What stands out most is how much I miss my friends and family. I already worked from home before the virus shut everything down, so I feel grateful in that regard. This situation has allowed me the space to think about the people, places, and things that mean the most to me. Right now the most we can do is take it one day at a time.”

#thefrontstepsproject #thefrontstepsprojectmaynard Update #4

Strange how all this has altered our sense of time, isn’t it? My last update was ONLY 3 days ago but it FEELS like much longer… like a week ago at least.

The donations to the Maynard Community Chest keep rolling in and we are very close to halfway to our $5,000 goal. (if you’ve received your photos and haven’t donated yet, please do so now, here!).

Meanwhile, I’ve been zigging and zagging all over town – somehow always finding myself pedaling over the top of Walnut Street next to The Mill – and meeting so many terrific, kind, and friendly people.

We really live a special place.

Here’s some selections from recent sessions…

Thanks for the Feedback!

With your help we’ve hit $2,330 of our $5,000 goal! Sign up here.

Here’s the Cioni family. Were they happy with their photo? Here’s what they said:

Hi Russ, 
These pictures are so perfect…we can’t thank you enough for including us in the project!  It was wonderful to meet you, and we hope you know that this experience is sure to be one of the things we’ll treasure most when we look back on this time.  We are so grateful! 
Best, Cate, Joe, Joey, Sam & Tommy 

#thefrontstepsproject #thefrontstepsprojectmaynard Update #3

Folks, we are over 1/3 of the way to our goal as of this today! That’s $1845 in one week!

Other stats:

  • 66 people/families have signed up
  • 27 sittings have been completed and delivered
  • 17 sittings are scheduled to be taken
  • 14 signed up and yet to schedule
Does it get any cuter than this?

Here’s the Crossland family, whom I photographed a couple of days ago. Patty, second from the right, is the president of the Maynard Community Chest – she put her money where her mouth is, made a donation and received this super fun photo of her family!

You can sign up for your session here or just make a donation here.

Meanwhile, yesterday morning, I caught up on all of the prior day’s portraits. Then, in the afternoon, I set out on my bike to do six more. That’s me in the lower left with my bike, “Mumen Rider,” over by The Mill.

It’s a single speed commuter bike. Yes: no derailleurs! For most of Maynard, it’s got the perfect gearing but those trips up Butler, Vose Hill and Fairfield Street are really a challenge.

It’s been great pedaling back and forth across town, going up and down streets both familiar and new (to me) and getting a different perspective on a town I’ve grown to love over the last 15 years. Certainly, having the opportunity to make new friends is the cherry on top!