Following up her 2012 “Streets of Afghanistan” project social activist Shannon Galpin has launched a new initiative to raise awareness for the plight of women and girls in Central Asia. Afghan Dreamers is a new book now in production with the help of Make Stuff Sharp that aims to further incorporate art as a powerful vehicle of change meant to transform one of the most violent and politically charged regions of the world.
“Art has a power to reach people viscerally in a way that other work doesn’t,” Galpin said in an exchange on Facebook. “It has the power to crack the walls of apathy and cynicism that people build up around them, and break open the vision of what could be. This book project is a direct extension of the Streets of Afghanistan project for me.”
Last year Galpin, founder of the non-profit Mountain2Mountain, set up 7 life-size photography exhibitions around the city of Kabul. Her purpose then was to demonstrate through pictures the cultural strength of the Afghan people so often hidden behind the veils of poverty and war. Galpin aimed to upset the status quo and reveal breathtaking images of great depth and beauty that so few people have the chance to see. This new book is the next step in her ongoing mission.
“Afghan Dreamers was a project I wanted to do after being chosen as a subject for Make Stuff Sharp’s first book American Dreamers,” Galpin said. “I saw myself alongside Arianna Huffington, Chris Anderson, the founder of TED, and other amazing dreamers and was struck by the idea of the American Dream. Its not the American Dream. Its everyone’s dream. EVERYONE dreams of a better life for their children, their country, the world. Dreamers and visionaries are not limited to the west or even the first world. Dreamers come out of villages in northern Afghanistan.”
Musicians, media moguls, and visual artists throughout the region are sharing their unique vision of life in Afghanistan. Despite decades of armed conflict the Afghan people continue their aspirations for a brighter future. “It is arrogant to think that a warzone doesn’t breed dreamers, poets, entrepreneurs, musicians, athletes, and activists,” Galpin said.
Working with co-author Anne Brones Galpin will be heading back to Afghanistan later this year to begin a series of profile interviews with leading local artists. In addition to crowd-funding through Rally.org a portion of proceeds from the book will go to support a Dreamer’s Project fund with graffiti artist Shamsia Hassan as well as others working to tell the stories of this rich and culturally diverse community.
“It is our mutual hope that we could produce this book in Dari and Pashtun for Afghan readers as well so that this isn’t a western project about Afghanistan,” Galpin said. “Its a project about voice that has no geographical boundaries.”