Funded! This project was successfully funded on January 18, 2012.


Envisioning positive change and mobilizing Chicago's South Side community through large-scale public photography instillations.

Presenting a new vision of the world we inhabit. • Working together to make it real.

On January 5th, we reached our initial $10,000 goal, and have since surpassed it! The additional funding will be used to create more installation sites.  We are incredibly excited to get started! 

See Potential uses documentary photographs to pre-visualize a better future. In the South Side of Chicago, a lack of access to affordable, healthy foods is holding a community captive to circumstance. With the tools available to us today, urban decay is an opportunity for self-sufficiency to blossom. We (the community) can create self-sustaining, hyperlocal systems to cultivate well-being in systemically neglected communities.

In partnership with Orrin Williams, the founder and director of the Center for Urban Transformation (CUT) [], we will use public art as a platform to transform urban blight into community engagement.

We will work with community leaders and local artists to create large-scale photographic installations to portray redevelopment strategies for a transformed landscape. These installations will inspire and mobilize the community to redirect their attention towards simple, holistic solutions that reframe our relationships with food — and consequently, life.

Having a vision for a better future is the first step towards creating a positive change in our lives.

“In order to transform communities, you need to get rid of the vacancy. Only then can you change people’s ways of seeing and imagining their neighborhoods.” -Orrin Williams, Founder & Director, Center for Urban Transformation

VISUALIZING CHANGE We’re transforming urban blight into photographic artworks that enable community members to imagine CUT’s revitalization plans for shared community spaces such as:

- Locally owned corner stores that will sell nutritious food and provide on-site, healthy cooking classes.

- Year-round, indoor growing sites using aquaponics technology will train and employ community members and supply food to local healthy corner stores.

- Cooking schools or community centers refashioned from blighted homes that will provide holistic living practices through diverse forms of community outreach and education.

- Community gardens created in empty lots.


Distribute information about healthy living and gather community support through a dynamic text messaging campaign.

Once the installations are complete we will host a block party at each site to generate enthusiasm and further explain the details of the project. We will also publicize SEE POTENTIAL through local organizations and media outlets.

Each photographic installation will include a text panel encouraging onlookers to send a text message in support of that specific site transformation. Using a custom-designed SMS text messaging infrastructure and GPS technology, we will collect all messages and record the location from which each text was sent. By pinpointing the different locations and by tracking the amount of public support at each site, we will be able to present a series of interactive, web-based maps to potential funders, policy makers, and city officials.


We’re looking for people who have produced substantive documentary photographs of the South Side community to contribute to this project. All photographers retain the copyright to their images, and their names will be credited. We strongly encourage emerging photographers, especially those living in south and west side communities to submit their photographs. If you’d like us to consider your work, please send a sampling of five images to Thanks!

Thus far, collaborating photographers include: Andre Lambertson, Carlos Javier Ortiz, Emily Schiffer, Emmanuel Pratt, Jack Bridges, Jon Lowenstein, and Joseph Rodriguez.


Orrin Williams, Founder and Director of the Center for Urban Transformation (CUT), a non-profit organization, which researches and implements economic development plans for a sustainable urban community.

Judith Helfand, will collaborate with us to build the GPS texting and mapping infrastructure. Judith is a Peabody award-winning filmmaker and Director/ Producer of COOKED, a feature documentary-in-progress about extreme heat, poverty and the politics of disaster and I LIVE HERE (working title), an interactive mapping and engagement platform, focused on community-driven solutions. This is being developed with CUT., Digital Democracy and an evolving team of community organizers, public health practitioners, geographers and digital pioneers including SEE POTENTIAL, which will be integrated into I LIVE HERE and maybe even the movie:

TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATION If you would like your contribution of $50 or more to be tax deductible, please select “No Reward" when you back this project and you will receive a formal thank you letter from the Magnum Foundation that will serve as a receipt for your donation.

Contributions in support of this project are payable to the Magnum Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity, and, to the extent permitted by law, are tax deductible for U.S. taxpayers less the value of any goods or services received.

Video created by Magnum in Motion

Graphic design by Alicia Lange

SEE POTENTIAL is an extension of the photography documentary project Emily began last summer with support from the Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund.

(Prototype for an installation featuring a community center)

(Prototype for local grocery store with free cooking classes)

(Prototype for community garden)


·      To identify locations and secure permission to install artwork at each site

·      To compensate participating photographers and designers

·      To print artwork on weather-proof banners

·      To install banners and distribute information about the project

We are looking to fund the first step of this project now. Going forward, we plan to create an interactive website that maps neighborhoods showing sites for potential redevelopment, the status of that development, and the level of support for each site.

Choices for Kickstarter print rewards:


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    18 backers

    Symbolic support, show us that you care and help our project to be seen on Kickstarter

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    35 backers

    Personal thank you on our project website

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    A 4 x 6” postcard featuring a completed SEE POTENTIAL installation site with a personal thank you from Orrin Williams and Emily Schiffer.

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    103 backers

    Set of five 4 x 6” postcards featuring completed SEE POTENTIAL instillation sites, and a box of community garden-raised organic mint tea.

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    19 backers

    A DVD with exclusive, behind the scenes footage of the instillation and outreach process. AND a SEE POTENTIAL bumper sticker.

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    5 backers

    An easy to follow and beautifully designed How to Guide to Aquaponics and window farms (indoor growing systems that raises vegetables and fish). And an 11x17” poster featuring a completed SEE POTENTIAL installation site.

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    21 backers

    An 8x8” print on archival matte paper by Emily Schiffer (your choice from the three images featured below) with a note by Orrin Williams handwritten below the image.

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    8 backers Limited (12 left of 20)

    A Limited Edition signed, handcrafted book (20 total), with high quality prints of images from our public art project and quotations from the community.

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    Sponsor the printing of a banner that will be installed in Chicago's South Side as part of public art project (your name will be acknowledged on the installation site).

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    An exclusive 14 x 14” photograph by Emily Schiffer with a note by Orrin Williams handwritten below the image (your choice from the three images featured below).

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    Three 14x14” photographs by Emily Schiffer with a note by Orrin Williams handwritten below the image.

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Funding period

- (43 days)