civic media: week eleven

healing and hope

 

This week we began the planning of our documentary on homelessness. This documentary will focus on homelessness but will be centered around a story of healing and hope. As a class, we will work in teams to create this documentary.

 

When deciding which team to join, I thought that I would work best on the planning team, as my organization and love of planning would allow me to help establish an outline for the project. On Monday, we worked in our groups to begin developing our thesis, characters, resolution, and script for the documentary.

 

I am very excited to work with my class and develop this story, which will focus on Richard Ramson, or Ram Riches. He is a rapper, artist, and poet from Philadelphia who strives to bring the streets of Philadelphia to life in order to disrupt the preconceived notions that many people hold. These preconceived notions are primarily focused on homelessness and housing insecurity.

 

As well as developing our documentary, we also spent time diving into the issue of LGBTQ youth homelessness this week. By opening up these difficult discussions, we uncovered many of the main concerns and questions that circulate this topic.

 

LGBTQ youth homelessness is a difficult topic to grapple with, as it doesn’t offer any “attractive” one liners or clear statistics. For this reason, it is not an issue that is openly talked about across the media or among individuals in society, especially in comparison with other issues of today, such as marriage equality.

 

Furthermore, there are many barriers that stop authority from achieving an accurate count of LGBTQ youth. These individuals are increasingly difficult to account for, as many of them do not outwardly identify as homeless or LGBTQ. Moreover, much of the LGBTQ youth are not easily reached, as many homeless individuals will avoid those who look like an authoritative figure and homeless youth usually try to remain constantly mobile.

 

The topics that we have discussed in class thus far, especially those concerning LGBTQ homeless youth, housing insecurity, and the broader issue of homelessness, coincide perfectly with the service site that I had the opportunity to visit this week, Project HOME. Project HOME is a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia that works with those individuals experiencing homelessness, as well as those who are beginning their journey to reenter society from homelessness. In terms of social justice, they work to fight the root causes of homelessness and end the cycle of poverty in the community of Philadelphia.

 

During my time at Project HOME, we discussed the alarming young age of children living on the streets, especially focusing on the large portion of those youth who identify as LGBTQ. Many of these topics related to those ideas that we discussed concerning the Family Acceptance Project and the importance of feeling accepted, loved, and protected in your home.

 

At the end of our visit with Project HOME, we narrowed down the main causes of homelessness, with the top cause being a lack of affordable housing. This factor is the number one cause, as it draws a direct line between those individuals experiencing homelessness and the absence of housing options in the community.

 

As I work with my class to develop our documentary on homelessness, I look forward to further learning about the various issues that correspond with this topic. Furthermore, I am excited to learn more about Richard Ramson and his story, as well as help his vision come to life through our documentary. It is through the work of my class in our documentary, as well as the work of nonprofits, such as Project HOME, that elevate the voices of the homeless community and advocate for change.

 

thanks for reading

– madauer

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civic media: week three

join the conversation

 

Following the documentary we watched last week, On the Streets, our primary focus for this week was to begin the creation of our own activism video.

 

Together, my group decided that we would begin by asking students around us about some of the issues or problems they see college students facing today. Then, we would show them a clip from On the Streets, featuring Louis, a PhD student who lives in his car while completing college courses. After watching the clip, we will ask them if their feelings have changed and if they knew that many students experience homelessness every year. Through our video, I believe that our goal is to urge our audience to look at some of the deeper issues within our society, those beyond the surface of our everyday struggles.

 

I am very excited to see the finished product once we complete the editing process. I have never actually filmed and edited a video like this before, so I am experiencing mixed emotions of nervousness and excitement to see how it turns out. It will definitely be a learning experience for me, but I am looking forward to it.

 

Video activism also ties in with the other various themes we have touched on this week, such as viral cultures, memes, and the increasing engagement of young people across social media platforms amidst various movements in our society.

 

By researching past movements, such as the Women’s March in D.C., we were able to see the increasing trend in young engagement across platforms, such as Twitter and Instagram. By using hashtags, such as #womensmarchnyc, members were able to share, tag, and contribute to the ongoing conversation about women’s rights.

 

Further, this engagement reflects the importance of both thin and thick engagement, as some live tweeted and shared content from the scene of the event while others shared their ideas and posts from at home. Despite their differences, both types of engagement contribute to a conversation that has the ability to grow, both online and off.

 

Touching on the Informed Citizen Paradigm, it is important to note “how young people have gone digital and become skeptical of conventional politics, parties, and politicians” (Bennett and Segerberg). Through civic media, citizens have now resolved to go out, get involved, and make changes. This shift is related especially to the ever increasing content and activism online, such as that related to #womensmarchnyc.

 

By contributing to this ongoing conversation, whether it be with the Women’s March or something else you are interested in, I believe that there is something special about sharing your thoughts, feelings, or beliefs on a digital platform and engaging with those outside of your direct community.

 

So, I encourage you to think about what you are truly passionate about – what do you want to see change in the world? Or, what do you love about the world? Tweet your thoughts, be present in your community, and engage with others online.

 

thanks for reading

– madauer

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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.

 

thanks for reading

-madauer

 

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