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The Tibetan Photo Project- Founders News- 2003

Film Clips and Trailors From The tibetan Photo Project on Youtube 25 clips

December 2003

We don't need a whole lot and we have gone to our limit before asking, but we need help to keep this up and running. We are not looking to go overboard and when we have enough, we will let you know and put a hold on asking for money as this is not the main goal of the Tibetan Photo Project. We are asking because we need it to get through the next few months. If you have questions, drop us an e-mail We would like to start of by wishing everyone Happy Holidays. Thanks to all of you for your visits to
over the past year.

Also, thanks for introducing friends to the project and for passing along this newsletter.

One of the goals the project makes possible is how it creates a vehicle that gives media a reason to tell the Tibetan story. As the collection of the first photos taken by Tibetan monks living in exile continues to grows, the project is being recognized by art and culture editors and reporters.

To date, we are aware of over 60 articles in newspapers and magazines. Additional photo credits for the project as stand-alone photos have also taken the project international, including the November issue of Integral from Spain.

The Tibetan Photo Project has also been the subject of several articles and features on the Internet where information is published from several places around the world. One of the latest can be found from Steven Niven who produces Be sure to check it out.

As we prepare this news letter we have received notice that we have just been linked by the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

Our friend and a very good Tibetan photographer, Tenzin Wangden Andrugtsang, has been studying Web design in Dharamsala and has produced a very unique and educational site at

To borrow from Wangden's opening on why the site was created; "It is known to almost all Tibetans young and old about Andrug Gonpo Tashi's selfless sacrifice and dedication to Tibet. From the day he decided to resist the Chinese occupation, he had put aside all other responsibilities, be it for his family or anything else. His sole aim now was to protect Tibet's Independence and the Rights of the Tibetan people."

Wangden's effort preserves a very important part of Tibet's history, which is likely to be eliminated from China's official version of the "peaceful liberation of Tibet," that killed 1.2 million Tibetans and imprisons thousands today.

Wangden is a second-generation Tibetan living with his family in exile. He is a former secretary in the Office of the Dalai Lama and Andrug Gonpo Tashi is his grandfather. Please give the site a read.

December Presentations We will be sticking close to home in Northern California in December, but, we have two slide show presentations planned. We will show new photos at the Mendocino Art Center on Sunday, Dec. 14, at 1:30 in the afternoon in the Nichols Gallery and the premier presentation will be given at the Greenwood Community Church in Elk during the evening on Dec. 17, at 6:30 p.m.

We had a great series of presentations this past fall in Colorado Springs at Colorado College, UCCS, The Business of Art Center in Manitou Springs and at All Souls Unitarian Church. Again the local press was very generous with publications and distribution of information on Tibet in the hundreds of thousands of copies between the combined circulation of The Independent, the Gazette, Slice, Go! Scribe and Catalyst newspapers. The local NPR station also provided terrific coverage. The shows would not have been possible without the efforts of Sheri Morse.

To highlight year for the project: It was linked by Harvard University's Asia Center for the Dalai Lama's visit to the university in September. A project photo was used by the International Campaign For Tibet for the visit to Germany by His Holiness. Following an invitation to make the second round of presentations at Colorado College, the project will be featured in and article by Anne Christiansen the December issue of the College Alumni Magazine.

Publications, calendars and events are lining up for next year and as those are published or confirmed, we will keep you posted.

The Website gets visitors from around the globe and we are proud to say that the Tibetan Photo Project is regularly visited from inside the People's Republic of China.

We are always looking for new venues and the means to bring the slide show presentation to your community. If you have any leads, know of any venues or can provide any resources to make that possible we would like to hear your ideas. The slide show presentations give the press an opportunity to tell the story.

We are still working to develop a series of prints that will create gallery and museum shows that will also create a vehicle for press coverage for the Tibetans. This is a slow and expensive process. If you can help, contact us by e-mail at

Once again, we wish you all peaceful, safe and happy holidays. Thank You and Tashi Delek!

November 2003
The Tibetan Photo Project in Colorado Springs

In October, we completed a 5-date/5-venue slide show schedule of the Tibetan Photo Project in Colorado Springs. The venues were donated and sponsored by the Business of Art Center, Colorado College, UCCS and All Souls Unitarian Church.

We had been in Colorado Springs in March. Turnouts for the October presentations showed an increase in attendance. A goal of the presentations and gallery shows is to create a vehicle that attracts media coverage that will tell the Tibetan story and raise awareness.

The coverage in Colorado Springs included a full-page color article through the Gazette newspaper in their weekly Slice insert (Circulation 70,000). The project also received press coverage in the Independent, Springs Magazine, Pikes Peak Bulletin. Catalyst - Colorado College Student Newspaper, GO! and a full page 1 feature in Scribe, the student newspaper for UCCS. A very favorable review in Scribe also followed the UCCS presentation. KRCC radio also ran several PSAs.

Wrapping up the Colorado Springs presentations, Colorado College conducted an interview and will produce a full color feature in their Alumni magazine that will be sent to 30,000.

What they said:
"The photos give Tibetan culture a human face. Unlike the overly-reverent, preconceived images taken by Western photographers, they give an insiders view of a 2,000 year old culture." -The Slice-Colorado Springs

"Audiences leave seeing China's treatment of Tibet as a microcosm of how the communist country deals with the world." -The Slice-Colorado Springs

"Tibetan Photo Project is a magic view into a world no Westerner has seen. These unique photographs were created by Tibetan Monks themselves and give voice to their story and culture." - Springs Magazine -Colorado Springs

"The gift of rare glimpses into the lives of some of the 2,500 monks of the Drepung Monastery."- The Catalyst Colorado College Student Newspaper

"Insightful...touching images" - GO!

"Wonderful images of the Tibetan people"- Scribe.

We are very proud to announce the addition of "Refugee in India," The Photos of Lobsang Sang Topgyal In October of 2003, the Tibetan Photo Project received its first e-mail from Lobsang Sang Topgyal. Lobsang has been documenting the lives of Tibetans. We are showing some of his photos and have included some of his e-mail excerpts as we received them without edits or corrections to language or spelling.

September and October 2003
Media coverage notes, Sept. and Oct. One of the main goals of the Tibetan Photo Project is to create a vehicle that creates a new voice for the Tibetans and broadens awareness. The slide show presentations have been successful in attracting the interest of new avenues in the press and this has allowed TibetŐs story to be told in new media.

Colorado Springs has a population of half million and we have had great cooperation from many retail stores, markets and on campus at five college location to place 1,000 posters and by the first presentation we will have distributed between 10,000 and 15,000 handbills which will broaden awareness. Again it is good friends that make these numbers of promotional material available at zero or low cost.

For the Colorado Springs presentations, The Scribe devoted page 1 of their Sept. 24 issue to the Tibetan Photo project, two and a half weeks before the first presentation. The Scribe is the weekly paper for the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and the front page feature was written by student reporter Sarah Melchior. Distribution is 2000 copies on campus.

Harvard University Asia Center continued to link the project to announcements for special events and presentations into mid October in honor of the Dalai Lama's Sept. 12 speech.

The Fort Bragg Advocate ran "Save Tibet. Why?" as a Community Forum in Sept.

June 2003
Published June 12, 2003, Fort Bragg Advocate-News

The Tibetan Photo Project started during the 2000 Mendocino Music Festival when Joe Mickey, a professional photographer, teacher and the sports editor for the Advocate, was introduced to a sponsorship program for monks living in exile in southern India. Mickey sent a disposable camera and was provided a glimpse into the everyday lives of the monks. This was the first time the monks had used photography in their efforts to preserve their culture which has been systematically destroyed by the Chinese over the last 54 years. Almost immediately, Celebrity Sazzy Lee Varga offered to build and support a Website and the Tibetan Photo Project was introduced to the potential of a world wide audience. By June 6, Varga's Web experience had the project listed as the top site to appear in a Google search for "Tibet photos." The search yields 230,000 potential sites according to Google. The project has received two letters of support from the Tibetan government in exile and the Office of the Dalai Lama. Mickey had been giving North Coast standing room only presentations of a slide show version of
the Tibetan Photo Project. In January he was invited by Ginger Morgan at Colorado College in Colorado Springs to give a series of presentations on the project in March. In a city of half a million people, the project received significant press in the areaŐs major papers, including a feature article by Mark Arnest, art critic for the Gazette, and a feature by Noel Black, art editor for the Colorado Springs Independent. The entertainment magazine, 'Springs', also told portions of the Tibetan tragedy suffered under Chinese control. "Every time it appears in print that out of a population of six million, 1.2 million Tibetans have been killed by the Chinese government and that only 13 of 6,000 monasteries are left standing, the project is filling its main purpose to get the story told in areas of the media where it would usually not be talked or written about." Mickey feels this is important not only for the survival of the Tibetan culture, but as China is rising on the world stage as both an economic and military force, it is important for Americans to understand the nature of the Chinese government. "Hu Jintao, made his political reputation as the Party Secretary of Tibet, the perspective provided by the Tibetans experience with Jintao becomes very relevant," Mickey says, noting that Jintao implemented martial law and a brutal crackdown on the Tibetans in 1989. Mickey notes that by looking at the Chinese leadership through the experience of the Tibetans he is not surprised by the effort China made to under-report the SARS outbreak in order to try and protect their tourist trade . During the war in Iraq, CNN reported that the Chinese were active in trying to hack US military and government computers. It has also been noted that China has sold the mechanisms to disperse chemical agents to Iraq. "Through its exports, foreign investment and the tourist trade, China has been growing its economy at around 8 percent per year. It has been growing its military by as much as 17 percent," Mickey said.

Media building blocks
The first media to pick up on the project included the Mendocino Beacon, the Fort Bragg Advocate-News, the Lake County Record-Bee, the Ukiah Daily Journal and The Willits News. San Francisco Chronicle Art Critic Kenneth Baker gave the project three inches and a small color photo, resulting in 1,000 hits on the Website and the donation from Katrina Smaters of Los Altos of about 40 original black and white negatives from a 1932 mountaineering expedition into Tibet. The trek inspired a book, "Men Against the Clouds," a classic account of pioneering American climbers and early reports of a mountain higher than Everest. On a national level, Art & Antiques was the next publication to pick up on the story and several regional publications also published information, including a cutting edge art and culture magazine, Head, in Santa Barbara, and, Aquarius, out of Atlanta, Ga. Aquarius will run its third major feature when the photos form the 1930s will be featured in a fall center spread. The new age tabloid has a circulation of 50,000. The next major development for the project came when Parade magazine introduced 16 million readers to the project with a 3-inch story that resulted in nearly 40,000 hits to the Website. In February, Patricia Lawrence of Caspar, who produces Travel Radio for an audience of 11 million listeners on National Public Radio, invited Mickey to be interviewed for the half hour show.

Momentum keeps growing
Mickey returned from Colorado Springs to a shipment of 50 cameras from Kodak that were generated from a letter by Erlene Gleisner seeking support for the project and sent to the CEO of Kodak, Daniel Carp. "When you consider the level at Kodak where this contribution was generated," says Mickey, "this is an extremely significant donation and we are not yet a nonprofit so there is no write-off here for Kodak." The momentum of the photographic industry taking note of the project has moved up another notch. Mickey received an e-mail from Mason Resnick, the managing editor of Popular Photography, he wrote an article on the project that appears in the June issue. Popular Photography is the largest consumer magazine on photography. The Coast Observer in Gualala gave the project a page for a slide presentation at the art center. Through May, international interest has increased with press packet requests from several magazines including Conscious Living in Australia, Photo Life in Canada and Amateur Photography in England. On the Web a Buddhist Webzine based in Canada and a photography Webzine in Argentina have requested material for publication. Mickey's photo of the Dalai Lama has was chosen for an announcement of the Dalai Lama's visit to Germany. The California Institute of Integral Studies requested a photo to announce a September conference on "Wisdom and Action."

Keeping up
While the project is blossoming on its own, Mickey says it is also out pacing him. "The images from the 1930s and the new images by the monks need to be printed for museum and gallery showings. Those costs are significant. And not to look a gift horse in the mouth, shipping the 50 cameras from Kodak to India and processing 50 rolls of film will take a long time given the costs."


China is growing in influence on the world stage. For several years it has been increasing its military spending at a rate that is over twice the growth rate of its economy. The next leader in China is likely to be Hu Jintao. His political rise, is due in large part to his implementing and maintaining of a brutal hard-line policy during his term overseeing China's control of Tibet.

There are many wonderful works that look at Tibet from the outside. The Tibetan Photo Project is designed to provide a voice to the Tibetans by exhibiting their views through their own works of photography. Their vantage point on China and their experiences in Tibet and in exile are extremely relevant to anyone trying to understand the geopolitical, military and economic designs of China in the future. The intent is to provide a view through the eyes of the Tibetan community, create a vehicle that provides an elementary introduction and links you to further study and understanding while giving a personal voice to the Tibetans that participate in this project. Because of its unique perspective, the project which began in 2000, is also catching the eye of the art world with write ups by art columnist Kenneth Baker of the San Francisco Chronicle (Feb. 5, 2002), the June 2002 edition of Art & Antiques Magazine and the Santa Barbara art and culture magazine, Head.

Please feel free to contact us about a slide show presentation and gallery exhibitions and prints. Thank you for stopping by the Tibetan Photo Project. We hope you will return often, tell your friends and please be sure to explore the links.

The needs of the project are outlined at and Help Photo Project

Visually Yours,

Joe Mickey & Sazzy Lee Varga

Contact us via e-mail at

For the latest news on Tibet please visit Connect with Tibet

ARCHEIVES - Founders News

2007 and 2008





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