Eliah Lyles and his four siblings live in Germantown, Philadelphia. Their parents, both artists, decided to homeschool them because they were dissatisfied with the city’s public schools.

Thavery Hov, 20, never meant to have children so young. She was just a teenager when they were born, had dropped out of high school and had been in jail.  “If I didn’t have my kids I still would’ve been on the streets,” she says.

Thavery was never very close with her mother, a Cambodian refugee with severe PTSD. She wants to be close with her four year-old daughter, Jazzynae, and hopes she doesn’t repeat her own mistakes.

The lotus flower tattoo on Thavery’s neck symbolizes her transformation. “A lotus flower grows from muddy, dirty water,” she says, “but when it blooms it grows into a beautiful flower.”

Thavery lives with her boyfriend and their two children in a small, one bedroom apartment in East Oakland.

A young boy rides a ferry in the swampy backwaters of Kerala, India.

A boy gets a haircut in a two-seat barbershop in Udaipur, Rajasthan, India.

A young man looks after a men’s restroom in Mysore, Karnataka, India.

Although only ten years old, Nazir Ebo already works as a professional drummer in Philadelphia’s jazz community. His older brother, Justin Faulkner, has toured with Branford Marsalis and inspires Nazir daily.

The fourth graders at Prince Hall Elementary School in Philadelphia get to miss math class to learn ballroom dancing. But they also have to dance with members of the opposite sex.

Horn Pa, a Cambodian refugee who resettled in South Philadelphia, left a gang and a life of crime to become a Buddhist Monk. He meant to visit his neighborhood monastery for a week, but stayed for several years.

Two men perched atop a portable toilet to see the crowds at Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2008.

Travis Pol, a high school student from San Leandro, California, attended Occupy Oakland’s General Strike on November 5th, 2011 with thousands of other protesters.

A line of Oakland, California police officers prevent Occupy Oakland protesters from entering the freeway.

While Occupy Oakland was gaining national attention in 2011, there were other local protests occurring. When Oakland Unified School District announced it would close five of its elementary schools, parents, students, teachers and community members voiced their outrage. A teacher from one of the five schools, Lakeview Elementary, led his students on a protest march to a school board meeting.

Featherweights Roberto Bonilla and Eric Hunter fight at The Blue Horizon boxing club in Philadelphia.

Norm Provost calls himself the unofficial mayor of Peak’s Island, a small island off the coast of Portland, Maine. He likes to spend time in the island’s abandoned navy barracks, this one now covered with graffiti.

Lubec, Maine is the easternmost town in the United States. An isolated, winding peninsula on the northern coast, it feels like one of Maine’s many islands. Though work is scarce, and winters are long, Lubec’s stunning landscapes take hold of many lifelong residents, as well as newcomers looking for a different kind of life. 

Tommy Blake, 23, has lived in Lubec for his whole life. Even though he has seen friends and family lose work and struggle with drug addictions in this shrinking town, Tommy has resolved to stay. He deals with substance abuse issues himself.

Tommy’s says that his frequent headaches are “from years of being a drug addict.”

Tommy’s father and grandfather were both fisherman and he always assumed he would be as well.  Most young people have to leave Lubec to make a living, but Tommy is determined to stay and fish. “I’d rather fish and be on the water than anything else,” he says. “If I’m not on the water I’m not happy.”

These days many fishermen have licenses to drag for sea urchin. Though their nets pull up starfish, scallops and clams they must throw everything back but the urchin because of laws that protect against overfishing.

It’s hard to make a living as a fisherman year-round, so many people have to look for other work during the off-season.

At the end of each day buyers from Portland scramble to purchase the best-looking urchins and then ship them to Asia, where the roe is a popular delicacy.

Tommy and his teenage girlfriend have a son, Kohyn, together. Though the winters are harsh and work is scarce, Tommy doesn’t want to leave Lubec like so many others. His parents now live in Bangor, Maine, to be close to a drug treatment program, but they visit their new grandson often.

Tommy is slowly fixing the trailer he grew up in for his new family. He plans on turning his old bedroom into a nursery for Kohyn.