1 Earth City (NYChildren) Story

by Danny Goldfield

In 2003, while driving home across the United States from Los Angles to New York City, I stopped at a gas station in Mesa, Arizona and met Rana Sodhi, a Sikh whose brother was shot down in a hate crime in front of this family-owned gas station 4 days after the attacks on September 11, 2001. In 2002, Rana’s second brother was driving his taxi in San Francisco and was shot to death.

Rana’s response to these violent acts against his two brothers was a refusal to hole up and live in fear. Rana said, “It is important for me to get out of my house and meet my neighbors.” By reaching out to those who might not otherwise know him, he hoped to reduce the danger to himself, his family and his community. Driving later that night, inspired by Rana’s neighborly spirit and simple prescription to make the world safer, I was struck by the idea to photograph a child from every country on earth and find them all living in New York City, where I lived at the time.

I started with no camera in hand showing up in neighborhoods around the city. I would go with a friend or volunteer and show up at immigrant service organizations, churches, mosques, restaurants, hair salons, government offices, and more. We would get to know leaders and others in the community who would introduce us to families who might want to participate.

On September 21, 2011, Rana was my guest in New York City to attend the opening of a work-in-progress exhibition of this project at the so-called Ground Zero Mosque. With media cameras rolling and flashing, Rana cut the ceremonial red ribbon to open the show that his good will inspired.

In 2013 I left New York City with the project incomplete, 170 of 193 countries completed. Now it is March 25, 2021 and I live in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The pandemic is subsiding and I have been vaccinated. With all that I have seen and learned these past years culminating with the pandemic, I want to return to New York City and finish this project.

One more thing, the original name NYChildren does not work anymore. The new name is “1 Earth City (NYChildren)”.