Life After Steel – by Eric Kruszewski

Eric KruszewskiEric Kruszewski is a self-taught photographer based in Baltimore, Maryland. Eric’s initial education was through engineering school, thus leading to employment dismantling chemical weaponry, securing biological agents and processing nuclear waste. But business trips to sensory-overloaded Central Asia rattled his tech foundation and uncovered a passion for photography. After a 10-year stint in engineering, Eric resigned (March 2012) to practice his photography full-time. Now having traveled to almost 40 countries, Eric documents social, economic and cultural issues both abroad and in his backyard. His work has been published by organizations such as National Geographic (online), The Wall Street Journal and ABC News. Eric is an executive board member with the Young Photographer’s Alliance. His work is represented by National Geographic Creative.

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Sparrows Point, the industrial area near Baltimore, was the hub of Maryland’s steel industry since 1889.  For over 120 years, operated mostly by Bethlehem Steel, its plant produced material that helped build such iconic structures as The Golden Gate Bridge. However, in May 2012, the plant filed for bankruptcy and nearly 2,000 people lost their jobs.

Bobby Curran, a resident of Dundalk, Maryland, began working at Sparrows Point immediately after finishing high school in 1973. After 39 years of continuous employment, and merely two years shy of retirement, Bobby lost his job after the mill permanently closed its doors.

In order to assist the laid-off employees, State and Federal agencies developed a program to allow mill workers to enroll in college. By becoming a full-time student, and thus re-training for a new profession, mill workers could keep their unemployment benefits.

Bobby began with a full curriculum, 12 credits, that consisted of Algebra, English and two Sociology classes. This video follows Bobby during his re-training. Stressed from the rigors of college education, Bobby resigned from school only three weeks into the program.

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