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Miracle Village.

Photographs by Sofia Valiente. Text by Ben, David, Doug, Gene, Kenny, Lee, Matt, Mike, Paul, Richard, Rose and Tracy. Foreword by Joseph Steinberg.
Fabrica, Treviso, Italy, 2014. In English. 130 pp., 57 four-color illustrations, 7½x9½".

Publisher's Description
Miracle Village is a project by Fabrica, the Benetton Group’s communication research centre.

Buried in the sugar cane fields of southern Florida, on the southeast corner of Lake Okeechobee, lies a small community called Miracle Village. Here, 52 off-white duplexes once housed migrant workers that would work in the surrounding fields. Now, they house over 100 convicted sex offenders.

Miracle Village was founded four years ago by a Christian ministry aiming to help post-prison sex offenders reintegrate into society and settle down. Among the lifelong, nationwide restrictions that inevitably follow former sex offenders, finding a home can seem the hardest: they must live at least 2,500 feet away from any bus stop, school, or place where children congregate. Therefore, Miracle Village is isolated: five miles from the closest town (population 8,000) and 40 miles from the nearest city.

For over a year and a half, Sofia Valiente has befriended, lived among and photographed the residents of Miracle Village. All but one are men, and all are in a process of coming to terms with the lifelong label of “sex offender.” Miracle Village recounts their stories of solitude, estrangement and rehabilitation through a collaborative process that involves personal writing by subjects in response to Valiente’s questions; in the process, she chose 12 individuals as guides into the community where everyone shares the same label.

By combining portraits, vernacular texts and photos of personal objects from the past, Miracle Village considers the daily life as well as the emotional life of its subjects, addressing trust issues, desire for intimacy, fear, psychical and psychological isolation, stigmatization, families lost and families gained, and an overwhelming gratitude to have found a home.

Miracle Village was published in September 2014 and it was produced under Fabrica’s Editorial Area, which investigates social and cultural changes through long-term journalistic projects.

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