About Me

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Spofford, New Hampshire, United States
Jeff Newcomer has been a physician practicing in New Hampshire and Vermont for over 30 years. Over that time, as a member of the Conservation Commission in his home of Chesterfield New Hampshire, he has used his photography to promote the protection and appreciation of the town's wild lands. In recent years he has been transitioning his focus from medicine to photography, writing and teaching. Jeff enjoys photographing throughout New England, but has concentrated on the Monadnock Region and southern Vermont and has had a long term artistic relationship with Mount Monadnock. He is a featured artist in a number of local galleries and his work is often seen in regional print, web publications and in business installations throughout the country. For years Jeff has published a calendar celebrating the beauty of The New England country-side in all seasons. All of the proceeds from his New England Reflections Calendar have gone to support the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at the Cheshire Medical Center. Jeff has a strong commitment to sharing his excitement about the special beauty of our region and publishes a weekly blog about photography in New England.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Photo for the Evolving Commons


It is exciting that Keene State College's  Eight Biennial Symposium, "Finding Your Place in the Evolving Commons" is coming into reality this week.  I was honored to be asked to use my photographs and design to help in promoting the symposium and providing a visual metaphor for the theme.

Every other year the College dedicates itself to studying an individual topic of broad interest and importance to both the  campus and the community.  In past years symposiums have dealt
Keene's Commons
with such topics as sustainability, social justice and ecology as well as the impact of globalization.  This year the focus is on the broad concept of the "Evolving Commons",  exploring the many ways that society understands and manages the resources that we share to make civilization work.  In New England, we understand  the idea of a Commons as a physical space held by the entire community for the common good,  but today we must acknowledge that the commons is no longer limited to a small community, but is often national or global.  Also, it is not restricted to a physical space.  The commons may even be just a set of beliefs that provide a safe place to discuss and dispute the meaning of  our world.   Increasingly that debate is occurring in the virtual commons of our digital universe.

Whew!  I have been hanging out with academics for too long. They
Keene State College Gateway
are as proficient as photographers at flowery obfuscation.   It should be sufficient to say that the symposium is organized around over 40 speakers, panels and presentations with subjects broadly ranging from, Environmental Justice, to a workshop on Ethiopian Music.  The program is packed with an amazing range of topics and prestigious presenters.  It runs from this Sunday, November 3rd through Friday, November 8th.  Most of the events are free and open to the public.  For a full listing check out the Symposium Program.

My involvement in the Symposium began last spring  with an
Marlborough Town Library
email  from Kim Schmidl-Gagne, a member of the College Symposium Steering Committee.   The committee was interested in  using some of my photographs to help in the promotion of the project.  What followed was an education about how things get done in academia.  At our first meeting, rather than merely showing my images, I presented a proposal for the
Chesterfield Town Hall
Symposium poster based on a winter image of the Central Square Commons in Keene.  I felt that the tracks in the snow drew the eye to the central subject.  I composed the image to provide open space for the text and applied a touch of tone-mapping to add a bit of pop. We agreed on four additional images which were emblematic of different interpretations of "The Commons", including the college gateway, the Marlborough Town Library, the Keene Pumpkin Festival and the Chesterfield Town Hall.

The committee loved the poster, but Keene State is a college and in
Final Poster by Committee
academia nothing is ever that easy.  My work had to be approved by ranks of other officials.  The Graphic Design Department had to be sure that I was using an approved font and color scheme and I could only apply one of the standard logos.  Happily the wonderful people in the Symposium Committee shepherded me through the maze.  In the end my work came out largely intact and can be seen on the posters throughout the community, on promotional mailings, and even on bookmarks.  The committee has been generous with providing credit on all of the materials and arranged a show of my work during Tuesday and Wednesday of the symposium.  Oh, and I also got paid.  Come by the Atrium Conference Room on the first floor of the Student Center on November 5th or 6th.

Even Bookmarks

This was truly a special opportunity.  It is almost always the case that when I submit my photographs for publication in print or on the web, I must surrender how my work will be presented into the hands of  a designer I will never meet.  I appreciate that on this occasion Keene State College trusted me with the opportunity to follow my images and vision to completion.

I hope that you will come by for some of the presentations.  I expect that by the end I will be able to write a much more succinct and understandable description of the true meaning of "the Evolving Commons".

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