'Together We Thrive' book features Jan. 8 memorial photos
"Indeed all of our hearts were broken on Jan. 8," said Janet Marcotte, explaining the genesis of her book of photos of the informal memorials that sprang up after the shooting. "But our hearts were opened in ways we couldn't have imagined before."
The book, "Together We Thrive," pairs Marcotte's photos with passages from President Barack Obama's speech at a Jan. 12 memorial service at the University of Arizona, which honored those who were killed and wounded.
Describing seeing "the beauty in the memorials" that spontaneously appeared at University Medical Center, Giffords' Tucson office, and the site of the shooting at a Northwest Side Safeway, Marcotte said "I decided I'd create a collection of images to share with Congresswoman Giffords—I knew she'd never see this outpouring of love."
"The images and the words of the president remind me that we can't control what's going to happen in our lives and our community, but we can and must determine how we're going to respond," she said.
The memorials were a "demonstration of the Tucson that we know and love," said Ron Barber, an aide to U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who was shot on Jan. 8.
Six were killed and 13 wounded, including Giffords and Barber, when a gunman opened fire at a "Congress On Your Corner" constituent meet-and-greet. Jared Loughner, 22 at the time, has been charged with attempted assassination and 48 other federal counts in the shooting.
"I was very, very moved," Barber said of a visit to the UMC memorial he made while still receiving intensive care following the shooting. "In fact, you couldn't go there without being moved."
"It was a remarkable showing of community spirit and unity. The tangible aspect that those memorials provided was really important to our healing process as a community," he said.
The book is "another tangible way of remembering—not just that terrible day, because that certainly will be seared in our memories—but really remembering what came out of it," he said.
"The memorials were a representation of a community spirit of compassion and love that is fairly extraordinary and and we're all so fortunate to be a part of," Barber said.
Unlike many of the memorial photos that were published elsewhere—which featured glowing candles and softly lit faces, the 22 images in "Together We Thrive" were taken during the day.
"I love the light of day," Marcotte said. "That was what was attracting me as I looked at these images—the beautiful light. It felt more hopeful."
"Together We Thrive" benefits Barber's Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding, and the Tucson YWCA, which Marcotte heads. Copies are available for $20 on the YWCA website, and should be available on Amazon.com soon, Marcotte said.
Sales of the book will fund anti-bullying programs in our schools, community mental health awareness, and promote civic engagement efforts, Marcotte and Barber said.
The initial run of 5,000 copies was accomplished with about $25,000 of in-kind donations from Arizona Lithographers, TBRich Design and others. Additional copies will be printed if there's demand, Marcotte said.