Long Exposure Photograph of a one-room schoolhouse that rests deep in the belly of Kansas, built by the sturdy Volga Germans in the late 1800s. The entire swath of land is protected by barbed wire and cow pies, so the evening shoot required meticulous climbing and creeping. As a bonus, a wooden barrier blocked the school’s front entrance, which forced some epic yoga moves in order to belly-slide through a small opening, careful to avoid the rusty nails poking up from the wood, desperate to snatch clothes and skin. Inside the roof–nearly completely caved–more crouching to tuck into corners and light each window with a burst of blue. Steps away rests its abandoned Lutheran Church counterpart, and just yonder from an active cemetery. As the story goes: centuries ago the Volga Germans (Germanic people who had migrated to Russia with the promise that they would be exempt from military service) immigrating to the States, and specifically Russell County, Kansas, after Czar Alexander revoked their military exemption. At first, these immigrants were shunned by the community. But in due time, they proved their moxy by not merely holding strong against the relatively inhospitable conditions – an environment they knew well from their generations in Russia – but the prosperity they infused into the region from their hard work and determination to remain in Kansas.
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