The Project

Hard.Land is a modern multimedia project – a journey through Blue Collar America to meet the people struggling to keep the American Dream alive: The Middle Class, the unemployed, the new poor, the workers on low or minimum wage – and those who have lost benefits and had a cut in their salaries.

We – The World Press Photo Award photographer Espen Rasmussen and former U.S. Correspondent Roy Freddy Andersen – will March and April 2014 travel from Chicago to New York by car to meet regular people and to see and tell about the consequences of globalization, robotisation and growing inequality in the U.S. Tens of millions of good paid blue collar and industry jobs are replaced with low income service jobs – or none jobs at all. The result is that the once flourishing middle class is shrinking and many are falling into poverty with few chances to climb up on the social ladder again.

To quote Carol Graham at the Brookings Institution:

The United States has long been viewed as the “land of opportunity,” where those who work hard get ahead. Belief in this fundamental feature of America’s national identity has persisted, even though inequality has been gradually rising for decades. But, in recent years, the trend toward extremes of income and wealth has accelerated significantly, owing to demographic shifts, the economy’s skills bias, and fiscal policy. Is the collapse of the American dream at hand?

This is issues pivotal to the political agenda, currently raised by the President in his State of the Union speech. To find answers on some of these questions is why Rasmussen and Andersen will go on this journey. We will interview people, regular Americans, about their situation, their dreams and their thoughts about politics, and their hopes for the future.

We will also meet people who are fighting back. And we will look into cities and communities that have a drive for turning things around. We will meet those who belive the future is now.

The results, the stories, will be published in news media outlets and in a world wide distributed e-book, in fall 2014. Hard.Land will involve interviews, photos and film/videostories of the real heroes. Hard.Land is supported by and partly funded by «Fritt Ord», The Freedom of Expression Foundation in Oslo, Norway.

Hard.Land is named after the famous song This Hard Land by Bruce Springsteen. The first lines in the lyrics goes like this:

Hey there mister can you tell me what happened to the seeds I’ve sown?

Can you give me a reason sir as to why they’ve never grown?

They’ve just blown around from town to town

Read the full lyrics here.