civic media: week two


This week in Civic Media, we had the opportunity to watch a documentary about homelessness called On the Streets.


Side note: I am constantly amazed at how many of the topics discussed throughout my various classes at St. Joe’s seem to connect with one another. Vastly different classes, such as Theology and English, seem to connect through various topics throughout my communications courses. (love it!)


This documentary, On the Streets, explored the various areas and communities of homelessness in Los Angeles. By putting personal faces to the severe statistics of homelessness, I was able to connect more deeply with the problems of poverty, lack of job opportunities, and homelessness within our society. Together, these three elements create an unbreakable cycle.


On the Streets brought an even deeper question to light – what does the term homelessness mean to you?


“You don’t call it homeless, you call it houseless…Homeless is a state of mind.”


Through my experience with PSIP and Magis, two service opportunities at St. Joe’s, I learned the importance of addressing those living on the streets not with the label “homeless,” but rather, “those experiencing homelessness.” This important distinction in viewing an individual and recognizing their worth was further expressed in the documentary through the words of a man living on Skid Row: “You don’t call it homeless, you call it houseless…Homeless is a state of mind.”


Many of these individuals featured in the documentary felt strongly about their place of living as being their home. The people surrounding them on the streets are not only their neighbors, they are their community and family.


Another important element addressed through On the Streets was the severity of the constant cycle of homelessness that many families experience. Some individuals begin living on the streets after their caretaker or guardian passes away while others are unable to support themselves after serving time behind bars. Without programs to help these individuals and facilitate the transition from prison to everyday life, they are unable to find a job in order to survive and support themselves. This creates an unstoppable cycle for families and their children, as they are unable to get back on their feet.


I believe that something must be done in order to stop this cycle, and it starts with taking the time to learn about the deeper issues at hand. This includes those elements that are accelerating the cycle of poverty and homelessness within our communities. I also urge you to take time to volunteer with those less fortunate in your community.


Forming those very personal human connections with others in your community can be a life changing experience. By forming a deeper and more intimate human connection with these people, you are able to see through their eyes and place a more vivid face to a truly horrible statistic. That is exactly what On the Streets was able to do for me.


As Jena Lee Nardella says in One Thousand Wells, “I simply loved being the bridge between two worlds that shared the same zip code and yet seemed so different.” You can be that bridge. You have the opportunity to form that connection between two worlds.


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civic media: week one

what is civic media?


What is civic media?


That is exactly what I was asking myself before walking into my 11:15am class titled, “Communications Civic Media.” Curious to learn more, I was eager to absorb as much information as possible within the 50-minute class period.


Out of all of my classes that I have taken at St. Joe’s, my communications classes always capture my attention. I constantly feel myself walking out of each and every Comm class, filled with even more ideas and new concepts than ever before.


This week, throughout my Civic Media classes, I learned what Civic Media truly is and was able to apply it to a wide range of events. Now, I had a name to describe something that was happening all around me and within society.


By breaking apart the term, civic media, I was able to further understand the deeper meaning of this concept.


Civics = the rights and responsibilities of citizens in relation to each other and their government

Media = the platforms and tools that we use to spread and share our ideas, thoughts, and beliefs


Thus, civic media or civic engagement, is the use of social media platforms and other outlets in order to create some sort of change. Through this expression and circulation of ideas, individuals have the ability to bring a community together, even creating an impact across the globe, to achieve some type of change or movement.


After learning this, I realized that countless events have occurred just throughout my lifetime that were further accelerated by the use of social media. I immediately thought about several different movements, such as civil rights, women’s rights, and LGBT rights. These movements have been discussed and shared countless times across various social media platforms, such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.


Whether you are one of the people at the scene live tweeting an event (thick civic engagement) or if you are at home observing and replying to tweets (thin civic engagement), you are creating an impact. Through your words, you are allowing the conversation to spread and are opening the door to expose deeper & underlying issues.


I encourage you to stay alert – observe what is happening around you, both within your community and across the globe & see the impact that civic engagement is playing on various movements.


(PS – an easy and fun way to watch and interact with these movements as they unfold is by visiting the trending hashtags page on any social media platform, such as Twitter)



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