Lomography and analog film are integral to Scrappers, a documentary in photographs of the rise of urban armies of the poor and low income devoted to a new economic boom in scrap metal.
The author and photographer, business and economics journalist Steve Bennish, explores one of the darkest corners of globalization in the United States.
Scrap metal is among America’s top exports in an age of downward mobility, deep industrial decline, and political drift, indecision and rancor.
This book offers a vision of what we are becoming as a nation.
It is also a glimpse of a grim future we still have a chance to avoid.
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A state bleeding to death
The third-world is a place we read about in the New York Times, or watch in the movies, or is on some far-off continent. But in Dayton, Ohio, the third-world is emerging underneath the office buildings and highways of the first-world. U.S. trade policies of the last 30 years are bleeding Ohio of its manufacturing, its jobs and its life. What remains are abandoned factories, abandoned homes of former workers and society's weak who make a living selling the remnants of these very buildings as scrap in order to meek out an existence.
It sounds like the plot of a dystopian science fiction film, but it isn't, it is the story of "Scrappers." It is the existence of many who can't find jobs and who can't find hope. Steve Bennish, a reporter at the Dayton Daily News experienced in covering political economy, business and crime, captures this emerging world in black and white, and put names to faces and lives to stories as he documented the sad tale of Dayton, what was once the Silicon Valley of manufacturing and is now the poster child for laissez faire globalization. This work should be a clarion call to everyone involved in government and business.
Latest reviews of Scrappers:
"A powerful presentation by Steve Bennish, a terrific reporter at the Dayton Daily News."
- Eddie Roth, director of operations at city of St. Louis, Missouri
"A century ago, Dayton was the Silicon Valley of its age, and its decline is both astonishing and tells a broader story of what has happened to America. It's a fine work, both arresting and heartbreaking."
- Jon Talton, economics columnist, The Seattle Times. Blogger at Rogue Columnist. Author, "The Night Detectives."
"My friend and colleague Steve Bennish just published his first documentary project on homeless scrappers in Ohio. A fascinating set of images that highlight a previously untold vignette of the new economy and desperate times for some.
- Larry C. Price, veteran daily newspaper photographer
"Scary, powerful and sad. We have NO industrial policy and the elite wonks are afraid of one. How does a nation of our size/wealth stay that way?
Not by exporting jobs and raw materials. Value added is mandatory, unless we want to turn into Russia. The politicos are afraid of a trade war. Well, we're in one now. Screw the other guy's feelings. Our people need jobs."
- Ivan Stoler, American businessman and manufacturer
"An illuminating look at the decline of the American manufacturing belt and how desperate citizens are cannibalizing their future just to feed their families."
- Marty Steffens, Society of American Business Editors and Writers endowed chair, University of Missouri-Columbia
"I just went through this, what a great piece of documentary work. I love the fact that it's shot on film, it has a feel and texture to it. You maintained a sense of style and composition throughout while still making each image unique. You need to find a place to exhibit this as prints, excellent job!"
- Skip Peterson, veteran daily newspaper photographer
"Scrappers offers a heartbreaking look at the Great Recession’s human toll in Dayton, Ohio -- men, women and children forced to collect scrap metal to help support themselves. Bennish’s uncanny ability to spot a compelling story behind the mundane is on full display here. Who hasn’t seen a down-on-his-luck man or woman schlepping trash bags or pushing a grocery cart full of crushed soda cans or scrap metal, only to forget it seconds later? Bennish ups the ante by tying these stories to one of the most misreported and misunderstood stories of our times -- the economic fallout from the nation’s foreign trade policies."
-Tim Tresslar, author and former Dayton Daily News business reporter