Mark Dolan, associate professor in SIU Carbondale’s School of Journalism

This is Carbondale -- Mark Dolan, associate professor in SIU Carbondale’s School of Journalism, discusses the new book, “This Is Carbondale,” a year-long effort by photojournalism students. This is the sixth in a series of books that features local communities. (Photo by Steve Buhman)

February 22, 2017

‘This is Carbondale’ showcases students’ talents

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A new book that chronicles the spirit of Carbondale residents and the campus community also serves as a showcase of the talents of Southern Illinois University Carbondale students. 

“This is Carbondale” was unveiled Feb. 17 at the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce’s Centennial Celebration Banquet. The 136-page book is available for $20 at the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce office, 131 S. Illinois Ave. 

The year-long project was the sixth in the “Weekend” series of books highlighting people in local communities. Other books from 2009 to 2014 were: Murphysboro; Cobden and Alto Pass; the Tri-C communities of Cambria, Carterville and Crainville; Chester; and Harrisburg. Each previous edition comprised about 80 pages and was the culmination of an intense, three-day photojournalism project each October. 

While many of the more than 200 photographs in “This is Carbondale” were the result of two intense weekend workshops in March and October involving students and photojournalism professionals, other photos were shot by students throughout the year, Mark Dolan, associate professor in the School of Journalism, said. 

Dolan and Kavita Karan, interim director of the School of Journalism, said that students benefit from the intense workshops that are a part of the effort. 

“The weekend workshops and the final production of the books like ‘This is Carbondale’ provide photojournalism students with the best hands-on experience,” Karan said. “The students first work with the faculty and professional photographers in taking the pictures and then work on the editing, captioning, layouts and the final production of the books. It’s truly a wonderful practical learning experience for our students.” 

Les O’Dell, the chamber’s executive director, initially approached Dolan a few years ago to suggest Carbondale as a “Weekend” book subject. But the size of the project for a community of Carbondale’s size and cost was initially a stumbling block, Dolan said. But O’Dell persisted, and the result was two workshops with 15 photojournalism professionals and 16 photojournalism students, several of whom were also involved in the book’s design and editing. 

The project was funded by businesses. 

“This has been a great project that serves as a simple example of ways that the business community and university continue to work together,” O’Dell said. “We are delighted to offer this book that captures the essence of Carbondale and showcases the talents of SIU students.” 

Photos used were shot exclusively from January through December 2016, and include the last public lecture Dec. 21 at the Student Center of then-United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon before he left office. 

The myriad of photos includes a full range of activities that make up the community, including schools, celebrations, worship, and fun activities, along with university life. One challenge of shooting a community over a year was trying to keep abreast of events and goings on, Dolan said. 

A strength in each of the “Weekend” series books is that the region comes together to help in challenging economic times, Dolan said. Communities are willing to assist the participating students and visiting professionals. There are not many photojournalism programs in the nation “that can point to these kinds of books,” he said. 

“None of us have much when it comes to finances. But if we collaborate and come together, we can combine the resources we do have,” Dolan said. “And not just our financial resources, but also our creativity and our energy. When we combine those resources, we can make great things happen. I think these projects have been wonderful examples of town/gown relationships and what can be accomplished when we all work together.”