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Last winter, the San Diego Foundation funded 15 artists, giving a total of $285,000 for creative projects in partnership with local organizations like Jean Isaacs San Diego Dance Theater, Malashock Dance, San Diego Asian Film Foundation, and Lux Art Institute.

Justin Hudnall was one of the artists who won a grant in 2011. His sponsoring organization was San Diego Writers, Ink and he received over $18,000 to complete "The Far East," a project that is both print and multimedia and "based on the personal stories of the inhabitants of San Diego’s East County."

The project culminated in "the first published book of a people's history of East County," Everything Just As It Is. Director of San Diego Writers, Ink Amy Locklin praised Hudnall for his intensive work interviewing participants in San Diego's East County.

On Friday, November 30, Hudnall and participants of his project will celebrate the completion of the project at 3rd Space (4610 Park Blvd) in University Heights at 7:00 p.m. "[S]ee selections from our photo archive on display, enjoy readings by select contributors, and hear about plans for what's to come in 2013," stated Hudnall. Everything Just As It Is will be on sale, and the public is invited to celebrate local stories.

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MiriamRaftery Dec. 2, 2012 @ 11:31 a.m.

This book is an offense to East County residents, reinforcing negative stereotypes. The "art" depicted in photos and paintings omits everything beautiful about East County. Instead we see graffiti, a used condom, chain link fences etc. While as a journalism I understand the need to show all sides of life in communities, that is not what was done here. See my editorial, "Far East Project Presents Skewed and Offensive View of East County": http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/node/11845#comment-28592

If they were so proud of their work, why didn't they debut it in East County but instead chose an urban area in San DIego? Why were rural residents' issues such as wind farms and powerlines, water shortages, hunger in the backcountry, ignored? Why was the natural beauty of our region omitted entirely from the visual portion of the book (though there are some nature shots on the website). Why was a Citybeat writer chosen to head a project about East County? Readers, please post comments of your own. Thus far our mail is running overwhelming against the Far East Project book, with the only support coming from its participants.


sydbrown Dec. 4, 2012 @ 1:04 p.m.

Talk about Balkanizing the peripherals: a small nonprofit magazine viciously attacks a small nonprofit art book created by its community members.

As the mentor of the Far East Project: Everything Just As It is, I admit bias, but that does not take away from the colossal fact that I am sickened by Miriam Raftery’s review of the book. A lifelong resident of East County, I have been teaching creative writing at Grossmont College for twelve years, and I can attest to the authenticity and artistic merit of the book. The Far East features the types of stories and poems one reads in a creative writing program at a community college in San Diego’s East County. This book reflects the troubling and triumphantly beautiful—yes beautiful—experiences of so many of us who grew up in the East County. Most of my students, myself included, did not grow up “atop Mt. Helix” admiring “stunning scenic shots.”

Personally, the book causes me to celebrate the power of art, and I am not alone. At the Far East DEBUT at Grossmont College’s “Lester Bangs Memorial Reading,” the authors were flooded by audience members who thanked them for writing stories and poems in which they could see their lives. Some of them cried. In written responses to the book, students and community members have repeatedly described the book’s literature and art as “real” and “powerful.” Raftery's judgement of the book as “offensive” and “unconscionable” (along with many other nasty adjectives) belittles the lives of East County residents and those published in the book—many of which are my current or former students and academic colleagues.

The Far East: Everything Just As It Is does not claim to be a comprehensive look at the region, nor was it intended to be. A close reading makes that immediately apparent. I am not sure how the editor of East County Magazine claims the authority to demand that the San Diego Foundation, “restore the trust and support of East County residents.” I am one East County resident—with roots going back a century—who disagrees with her, and I know there are plenty more. For the most part, Raftery reviewed the book she would have liked published (she even asks for the money!), not The Far East—a cardinal sin in journalism. In addition, she illustrates an unsophisticated understanding of literature and art that only serves her limited and conventional definition of beauty. Art reflects the world and relieves suffering—this book has helped the East County community in which I live. I am proud to be a part of it.

Finally, I discovered Raferty’s “review” in an email this morning with the message: “I will say the project has succeeded.” Baudelaire said it is the role of art to “shock the bourgeoisie,” so perhaps I should be happy.

Sydney Brown English Professor and Creative Writing Program Co-Coordinator Grossmont College


gideonse Dec. 4, 2012 @ 1:13 p.m.

"Thus far our mail is running overwhelming against the Far East Project book, with the only support coming from its participants."

Do you have any mail from anyone who is opposed to the book who has actually read it -- or even seen a physical copy?


margarita Dec. 3, 2012 @ 9:10 a.m.

Miriam - I was born in El Cajon. My parents were highschool sweethearts at El Cajon Valley High. They met at the Mother Goose Parade. My grandmother went to Grossmont. -- I went to the closing ceremony and listened to the people who spoke. I was moved to tears and inspired! I was proud of my roots in El Cajon.


shaggy Dec. 4, 2012 @ 6:50 p.m.

Hey, Ms. Raftery If you really want the most beautiful parts of East County to shine, you probably shouldn't go about discrediting its best poets and writers, just saying. None of us intended to offend anyone, we calls em' like we sees em' as the saying goes. You claim your magazine does "Hard Journalism" We do hard poetry. I wrote nothing in that book but the honest to God truth how i see it. It's unfair of you to ask me for anything more. So please try to be a little more open minded and quit pickin' on my poetry class friends! They're awesome, and incredible talented and they ARE the most beautiful part of east county. Sincerely, Ryan "Chief" Woempner.


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