Jeff Barnett-Winsby


I was born and bred in the Midwest, a product of college towns and peripheral rural communities. I regularly traveled between divorced parents, which led to a sense of always “showing up” into an established space/set of relationships. So I was always an outsider — left to fend for myself as an only child and latchkey kid. This perceived/imagined/real status as outsider made me into a bit of an observer and ultimately led me to photography. As a photographer, I could poke around places without creeping people out.

I'm not sure how anyone ends up anywhere. No matter how much I've tried to plan or control my path, I haven't been aware of the huge decisions as I've been making them — or, rather, I haven’t been able to see how those decisions would ultimately turn out. This used to bring me fear, but I've found comfort in it as I get older.

What motivates me to do “this” are a couple of traits/truths about myself. First, I've got a number of skills that make me suited to this type of work (don’t ask me what they are, I'm not that self-aware.) Second, I think I may not have been suited to do anything else when we decided to do something — when we started, I still felt too young to be taken seriously and may have seen this project as a place to experiment while I grew up. But while I remember freaking out about what my future was going to hold and how I should be courting it, I found myself growing increasingly dedicated to working and being here. I liked doing something that was meant to help. I liked exploring different roles and meeting new people. I liked that what we wanted to try or do was never much of a hard sell. I liked that people liked what we did.

I think a lot about accountability in our town. You're always visible here, and your reputation can be quite fragile. So I feel proud that I've been welcomed into this community, and feel fortunate to have found myself with the very relationships I couldn't have as a kid.

I care deeply about the well-being of the people in this community and the opportunities to engage with, serve with, and know them.

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