I’ve written before about Jim Mortram’s Small Town Inertia/Market Town photos. They’re at the heart of an ambitious and very human project, one that never fails to remind me what’s possible through unassuming, honest art. So many of us see and admire the results of his work on our monitors, but Mortram remains involved in the lives of the people he documents. The most notable instance of this is perhaps his effort on behalf of David.
His life was likely unremarkable before a bicycle accident robbed him of his sight in middle age:
“David had been very active. Walking, cycling. My memories of him were his always cycling past me as I would walk into town. The summer before last the bag he was wearing over his shoulder had come loose, entangled in the front wheel of his bicycle and he had been thrown over the handlebars, face-first to the road, breaking his upper jaw and neck in two places. ‘I was choking on the blood,’ he told me.
‘In the ambulance they got a bucket and it poured out of my mouth… so much blood! I could still see then… right up until I fell into a coma.’
David was taken to the hospital; bones mended, wounds healed, but the obstruction of a feeding and air tube in his mouth prevented his being able to alert nurses or doctors that his sight had vanished for almost a week after awaking from the coma.”
Among the many changes David faced in the aftermath of the accident was a sudden inability to read. He’d been “an avid collector of books” but was left sightless, with absolutely no light perception. Mortram documented him for two years, and finally hit on an idea to help with this phase of David’s life. He set out to raise funds for an audio scanner, which would allow David to place printed material on the scanner and hear it converted to speech. The sum was relatively modest by crowd-funding standards: 3200 dollars. He posted David’s story and the specifics of what was needed to Hope Mob, and within days, people had contributed the needed funds. Now the scanner has arrived:
I’ve not read much this week for various reasons. There are piles of books in every room, some in front of me, others inescapable even from my peripheral vision. And there it is, that luxury: I can see them whenever I finally free up some time to read. I’m sorry if I said that badly, or if it sounds hokey or obvious. It won’t after reading David’s story.
– John McIntyre
* Jim Mortram’s work is only possible thanks to donations from people who believe what he’s doing is important. I do believe it’s work worth supporting; I’ve helped out in the past in whatever small ways I could. There’s no question that the money you give will be used judiciously. If you want to donate, the best way is to send funds to firstname.lastname@example.org, via Paypal.