For some years I have been intrigued by the urban chicken-raising subculture. Owners of city chickens have different reasons for caring for these once farm-bound animals: some want the eggs; some use the fertilizer they produce to improve the soil in their gardens. Others see them as a learning experience for their children. Whatever the need, there is a common thread: a love of chickens. And this thread is wrapped as tightly around the owners who use chickens as workhorses as it is around those who see them as developmental tools. Chicken firmly in hand, each owner believes his or her chickens are treated better than those raised on corporate farms, and they have all given me deeper insights into the culture of “local.” As the world becomes more connected, and we can travel vast distances in short amounts of time, the desire for a local, rather than global, economy grows. It is my hope that city chicken-raising will spur new ideas about developing and sustaining local economies.

Nick Pironio is a Raleigh-based photographer interested in projects that illuminate the human condition. His portraits document various subcultures in American society, and as series they help define our culture and the evolution of human interaction. Nick has been a working photographer for the past decade, and his work has appeared in countless newspapers as well as such publications as Wired, Garden and Gun, Elle, and National Geographic Traveler. Nick is currently working on a project photographing the home interiors of people with visual impairments.

This was the final project for the Certificate in Documentary Arts at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. See more Spring 2013 final projects at cdsporch.org/archives/18602.

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