Roll Down The Windows, Unlock The Doors

Jack Alterman

In a desire to “roll down his windows and unlock his doors” and get to know his neighbors, Alterman launched a photo project called East Siders Matter. Here he shares his story of how the project came to be, how it impacted the neighborhood, and how he came to know his community better, with a clearer picture of the dynamics of rootedness, change and gentrification, through his camera lens.

With refined aperture and clear focus, this Charleston native has been documenting his community for decades, using his lens to capture the dynamics of rootedness, change and gentrification.

As a Charleston native and professional photographer, Jack has long been a close observer and capturer of his surroundings. He paid attention when his parents packed up their car and traveled the nine miles out to Sullivan’s Island for the summer—a short drive through the Charleston’s East Side neighborhood. “Roll up your windows and lock the doors,” his mother would warn as the white family traversed this predominantly black neighborhood. Today, that neighborhood remains predominantly African American, however gentrification is rapidly changing the face, and future, of the East Side.