Friday, May 9, 2008

Please take a look at my Media Archive.

My media archive is available at Some of the videos may not be accessible until they finish uploading.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Saturday, May 3rd. A Day at L.A.N.D.

On Friday, May 2nd, I walked along 39th street with Toni Anderson engaging community members about possible change in the neighborhood and informing them of today's meetings. I learned a great deal about the climate of the community, and how difficult a task it can be to improve a neighborhood when the majority of the residents won't contribute to the effort.

It seemed only natural that I extend Friday's LAND visit to Saturday, May 3rd. The day began at 10 o'clock. Two staff members from HRI, Housing Resources, Inc., came to LAND to give a presentation on how to stop foreclosure. Despite the previous day's promoting efforts, not a single resident attended the meeting.

Delores did not seem entirely disappointed - she said this type of thing was usually hit or miss. The people at LAND know that the services they offer are important whether or not residents take advantage of them on any given day.

John Juedes, a fellow classmate, also attended this meeting. We took advantage of the time discussing many of the current projects that Delores was working on, both related and unrelated to LAND. I found it fascinating how Delores, who is so dedicated to LAND, also makes time for her studies as a fulltime student at UWM.

As one o'clock rolled around, the second meeting began - focusing on the 39th street project. Four people attended this meeting: two seperate homeowners and two children. The focus of the meeting was primarily for Delores to inform the residents about the plan she had for improving 39th street by adding natural surveillance (increasing lighting and visibility), buying boarded up homes and remodeling them, and selling them to new homeowners. Although this plan of action was created a long time ago, Delores wanted to have the residents be a part of the decision making process.

LAND has high hopes that the 39th street project will create a model for improvement of other neighborhoods.

Friday, May 2nd Service Learning

Last Friday, I had the opportunity to participate in some of LAND's day to day work in the community. I was at LAND researching information for my lead piece as the day was coming to a close.

Toni, Delores and Isaiah had planned to go out to 39th street to hand out some flyers reminding residents of several upcoming meetings and to encourage residents to attend - specifically two that were planned for Saturday, May 3rd.

The first meeting was hosted at LAND by HRI, Housing Resources, Inc. I found this very interesting because I actually implemented their website. However, this wasn't the primary focus of our excursion.

The true purpose was to engage residents on 39th street about a "pilot project" focusing on crime prevention through environmental beautification. In general, the philosophy behind this project is that drugs and crime are attracted to areas that aren't well maintained, including blocks with boarded/vacant houses and open lots.

LAND had been given a $5000 grant to start the project on 39th street, and if it succeeded over time, they would use it as a model for other target areas.

As we were walking down 39th street, we encountered a wide variety of people. We encountered a couple of new homeowners with a young child who were passionate about improving the block. We also ran into some young boys on the porch of their home, and Toni asked them if they had summer jobs lined up and tried to convince them to come to LAND and work over the summer.

As we were talking with the two boys, a car with spinners on the wheels and a huge stereo system that shook the ground below us drove by. The drivers of the car called out to the boys and they shouted back. Toni looked at them disappointedly and asked, "What was that?". Embarassed, they said their friends were driving the car. At this point, Toni wished them well and encouraged them to come to the following day's meeting, and we continued on.

We encountered several other residents who were enthusiastic about talking with Toni and seemed grateful that she was trying to better their neighborhood. But, it was clear that the motivations of LAND and that of the residents weren't exactly identical. Nobody that we spoke to showed up the next day.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Final Project Update - Change of Concept

After my visit to the L.A.N.D. offices on Monday, April 14th, I decided (specifically influenced by advice from Toni) that my previous final project (commemorating the Peace Walk of 1994) may have not been the best choice, for several reasons.

From a practical standpoint, it would be tremendously difficult to locate residents who were around at that time and remember the walk and its effects, so most of my content would be from the media's point of view. I would prefer to focus on a more grassroots issue.

Secondly, Toni advised that my project should focus on a more positive issue. The peace walk was motivated by recent acts of drugs and violence.

So, after searching through L.A.N.D.'s document binders for hours, I found something of particular interest to me. Beginning in 2002, L.A.N.D. had a child organization named P.A.L., Parents against Lead. Lead poisoning is and was a very important issue affecting Milwaukee and there was even a large lawsuit filed by the City of Milwaukee against several major paint producers that eventually even L.A.N.D. itself was drawn into.

Katina Coleman, a former employee of LAND was a community liaison for this particular issue. She went door to door, sent out letters, and organized groups to promote awareness of the issue. She encouraged families to get their young children tested for lead, and in cases where high levels were detected, she visited the houses and tested problem areas (windows, stairways) for lead levels.

There is a wealth of information about this topic. I am hoping to get three brief video statements - one from Katina Coleman, one from the City about the Lead Abatement program, and ideally one from some of the residents whose children were affected by lead poisoning.

Regardless, I can't wait to get some footage together!

Final Video Project Proposal (First Draft)

I decided to take on this project by myself. It’s just my personality, it can’t be helped! I love doing things by myself. Since I have a strong background in video editing, the hardest part of this project will be building up the courage to approach people and discuss the things that I hope to discuss.

Most of my inspiration for this project comes from the packet of newspaper articles that Professor Greene distributed on the first day of class. One article particularly interested me – that of the community march past several important community sites, including drugs houses that were later shut down and a murder scene.

I would like to interview some of the staff at LAND and find the locations of some of the sites that were visited on the peace march and visit some of the sites with my video camera, and show the improvements that LAND has made in the community. I would also like to stop at other places where LAND has influenced had on the community such as the St. Thomas Aquinas Church, the Lisbon Ave. Health Center, and of course HomeSource. I would ideally like to interview some community members that have been affected by LAND and document them on video. I have so many ideas to pack into a short video, so I believe some trimming down of content may be necessary.

But overall, I would like to focus on a fairly straightforward history of the impacts LAND has made on the community, rather than focus on one event in particular.

Snapshots of the Views, Residents, and Businesses of Lisbon (Photo Essay Artist Statement)

I visited the L.A.N.D. service area on March 22nd, with nothing but a camera and notebook in hand. I had a goal: to engage in conversation with a few community members and use the information they gave me to create a photo essay. I didn’t quite know where to look or how to start such a conversation.

I visualized Washington Park in my head as a place bustling with activity. Unfortunately, due to sixteen inches of snow on the previous day, this dream was not realized. There wasn’t a soul in sight. I saw a peculiar building in the center of Washington Park which turned out to be the Urban Ecology Center. There were a large number of cars in the parking lot, so I decided to have a look to see what was going on. As I walked in, an older African American man clad in a fancy suit asked me how he could help me. A quick glance around revealed that everyone was dressed well, and I can only imagine how much a white 20-something with a notebook and camera would have stood out in the crowd. Embarrassed, I quickly detailed the nature of my Photo Essay. He explained that they were throwing a retirement party for his mother. Although the encounter would have been impossible to document on film, the experience of such a gathering gave me vital clues to understanding the nature of this community.

Next, I walked to 42nd and Garfield, a pleasant residential neighborhood with decent-sized houses. I was most fortunate to encounter Wilmore, a resident who was attempting to remove some of the snow that had fallen the previous day. As we passed, he looked up and said hello. I took advantage of the opening and explained my intents. Wilmore was very proud of his neighborhood. He said that the block he lived on was mostly working class, and it certainly showed. I asked him if he had seen any changes in the past or if he saw anything big coming on the horizon for the community. At this point, Wilmore mentioned that he had only lived here for a little over a year – but luck had it that one of his neighbors, Ms. Aniakudo, had just pulled up to her house. He informed us that she had lived on this block longer than anyone he knew. Ms. Aniakudo was delighted at my interest and invited me inside her home to talk. I asked her primarily about the businesses of the area. She said the number one issue that most residents have with the businesses on Lisbon is surprisingly parking. She commented that the area she lives in is slightly more upscale than some of the surrounding areas.

I felt that this experience brought me closer to the reality of the Lisbon community. I was surprised by the amount of beautiful things that I saw that I felt drawn to take a picture of. My encounters with the residents were completely positive, albeit embarrassing. This experience also planted a desire in me to improve my ability to engage in conversation with people who have so much to share.

Photo Essay

Several weeks ago I ventured into the L.A.N.D service area and created a photo essay documenting my experience. I am please to have the opportunity to share it with you today.

My journey began near Washington Park.

The Urban Ecology Center, located in the center of the park.

A view of the neighborhood from the park.

A walk in the residential area near the park (42nd and Garfield)

Ms. Aniakudo, my Garfield Ave. Guru

Ms. Aniakudo says parking is a huge problem for business in the area.

New buildings arise where old ones once stood

A community gathering place

One last view of the park

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Found Footage: L.A.N.D. encourages Minor Home Repair

L.A.N.D. has made an effort to encourage the improvement of Milwaukee homes by providing money to homeowners who wish to make exterior home repair. Below is an image I found on the web of a father of four attempting to make some repairs on his roof.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Welcome to my Blog

Welcome to my blog for Film 150: Multicultural America. I am looking forward to putting together a rich multimedia presentation for your enjoyment.