Author: AnnaSmollen (page 1 of 3)

For our final week of classes, we used a majority of our class time to edit the final 30 minute documentary. The editing team received all the footage from the production team, and discussed the layout with the production and planning team. As a class, we decided to split the video up into four different sections. The sections that we planned on included student interviews, expert interview, Ram Riches event, and a shelter volunteer interview. The finished video turned out well but did not hit the 30 minute mark. We were able to split it up into the sections that we originally planned on having. I think the video is informative and shows a lot of different perspectives and opinions on homelessness. I also think that our call to action at the end of the video is beneficial, and our voice overs tie  the whole video together. 


In these interviews, I asked about homelessness and what the three interviewees were exposed to in the areas that they live in. I then asked about homelessness in relation to criminal activity, and how social media can help the problem.


Interviewee is from the United Kingdom and is conducting research in a lab at the University of Chicago in Illinois for a year. Individual is a female and is 20 years old. She attends school in the UK at the University of Bath. Interviewee has known the interviewee for 15 years. The interview took place in my home in New Jersey in my dining room.

Question 1: are there a lot of homeless people around where you live in Chicago?

“There are a fair amount of homeless people in Chicago but generally closer to downtown. There are a few that wander around but they’re generally avoided as they’ll walk down the road in broad daylight with cars having to avoid them. I’d say in downtown, there’s someone every few blocks.”

Question 2: Are there a lot of homeless people in the UK?

“In the UK, it’s the same situation kinda. More people downtown than in the residential areas of my city of Exeter. However I do see more in Chicago than at home. The homeless people in Exeter seem more vocal and aggressive than Chicago, I get more wary walking past them after dark as often I see them drunk or behaving aggressively. They tend to stay in the same areas though, as if they have their own turf.”

Question 3: When you see a homeless person, do you look the other way and keep on walking?

“I tend to look away from homeless people and keep walking but occasionally I’ll bring them some food like a pack of bananas or a sandwich. I try not to give money because I don’t know what they’ll spend it on, particularly in the UK when they sometimes fully admit it will go straight to alcohol or drugs. I figure if I bring them food then I know what they’re getting, and they always seem grateful for it.”

“Also I feel like I can’t stop my life for every homeless person, because there are so many. So it’s more I kinda give some food away if I’m coming back from a weekly shop etc. I try not to go super out of my way to help them, because also it’s kinda depressing to think about it.”

Question 4: would you assume a homeless person is more likely to be incarcerated than a person who is not homeless and has committed the same crime?

“I don’t really know. I don’t think so, often the homeless people I come across are war veterans with PTSD, or that’s what they say on their cards in Chicago.

In Exeter? I’m not sure, over there they seem more rough. Like there is more evidence of alcohol and drug abuse in their appearance and behavior. I don’t really know how it is in other areas. In Bath actually there’s more war veterans as well actually, and they’re very peaceful. I don’t feel at all unsafe in Bath, but I do see them drinking from time to time.”

“Also everyone comes from different backgrounds, I assume that homeless people might resort to stealing from a shop than the average person but it’s about the situation, it may be because they’re desperate or something.”

Question 5: What are your thoughts on the concept of homelessness being a crime?

“I’m not sure how effective it would be to make homelessness a crime. It’s an interesting idea, as they made suicide illegal in some parts of the world to allow police to be able to enter a home like “if they suspect illegal activity occurring”. But hey, that topic is also fiercely debated but I respect that reason for making suicide illegal.

I think that if someone is doing things that encourage the route to homelessness then potentially that should be criminalised? But often it is, like if someone’s doing drugs and spending all their money on that then drugs should be illegal.

But often homelessness is just due to a series of unfortunate events. It would be more beneficial I think if the programs around supporting homelessness were more effective. But also the stigma against hiring homeless people needs to be addressed. Because often homelessness is a result from fucking up their lives and doing crime, and therefore they tend to be less trustworthy. But others genuinely want to work but there is that stigma. I don’t know, like even personally I would probably rather hire someone not homeless because I perceive someone with a home as having a more stable life and stable attitude. But hey, that could be completely wrong, who knows what happens with people in private.”

Question 6: do you think there should be programs in prisons to help homeless individuals for when they get released from prison or would that be a waste?

“Programs in prison? I think it’s definitely worth trialling. Potentially might not work for the prisons that are more aggressive like for people with life sentences for severe murders or whatever.

But often homeless people resort to crime as a result of being desperate. So it would be good to try help them have more stability and options once they’re outside. Education schemes have been effective in some areas, there was one place that started teaching inmates how to cut hair and it helped severely reduce aggressiveness of the place while also giving them a new skill they could pursue once released. I don’t know where that happened, might need to google that.”

Question 7: do you think social media can help the homeless problem?

“I reckon social media can definitely help against the stigma of homelessness. It’s not something that’s often discussed really, other than maybe the Thanksgiving posts about helping out at a shelter.

But there’s also the difficult balance between people posting about it for awareness and those that get criticised because it seems like they’re doing it to promote themselves and make themselves look good.

Generally, I think any attention to the situation helps other people discuss it more and consider it, but I reckon it would backfire if some celebrity or whatever participates in a campaign and then know very little about the facts or what there trying to promote.

But then that’s just kind of a classic example of human narcissism and stupidity.

But yeah I reckon social media could be beneficial. It depends on how people use it to be honest, as many use it for like “highlight reel”. I do, for sure, I don’t want other people knowing about my business, but I follow other accounts for travel and food inspiration. Charities I’m sure use it to try raise awareness but homelessness is sorta less cute than trying to help a baby leopard or tiger.”

Concluding Remarks:

It was interesting and beneficial to have interviewed someone who has lived in another country and has experienced a completely different homeless community from the one I know in the New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia area. She offered a lot of interesting points throughout her interview, and was thoughtful with all her answers. I specifically appreciated her response to Question 5, and liked how she delved into her answer and offered her personal point of view if she were put into that situation.


Interviewee is from Virginia and is a student at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Individual is a male and is 20 years old. The interviewee is one of the roommates of the interviewer, and have known each other for 2 years. The interview took place at a campus dorm in Saint Joseph’s University.

Question 1: are there a lot of homeless people around where you live in Virginia?

“Uh not in my neighborhood.”

Question 2: Are there a lot of homeless people around where you live in Philadelphia?

“Uhm there’s definitely more than where I live in Virginia.”

Question 3: Why do you think there aren’t many homeless people where you live in Virginia?

“I’m in a nice neighborhood. It’s like cookie cutter white person-ville.”

Question 4: When you see a homeless person, do you look the other way and keep on walking?

“Depends what they’re doing.”

Question 5: Why does it depend on what they’re doing?

“Cause if they’re like inebriated and aggressive then yeah i just ignore them, but if they’re not an they wanna talk to me and ask me for money then I’ll talk to them but I almost never have cash on me now.”

Question 6: would you assume a homeless person is more likely to be incarcerated than a person who is not homeless and has committed the same crime?

“Uh yeah I guess.”

Question 7: What are your thoughts on the concept of homelessness being a crime?

“What? Excuse me.”

Houston has a law that allows for the police force to arrest individuals for simply being homeless.

“I think that’s pretty questionable.”

Question 8: do you think there should be programs in prisons to help homeless individuals for when they get released from prison or would that be a waste?

“Yeah seems like a good use of tax-payer money. We do tend to waste it on dumb shit so maybe we should put it to good use for once.”

Question 9: do you think social media can help the homeless problem?

“Social media. No. The Internet. Yes. Taking selfies with homeless people won’t help anyone or anything.”

Concluding Remarks:

Although this interviewee provided short answers, he gave an interesting answer to Question 9. What I found interesting is how he views social media as simply a platform to take selfies and not be able to make a change with. I agree with him that the Internet can definitely be used to help the problem, but social media can help spread the word.


Interviewee is from New Jersey and is a student at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Individual is a male and is 20 years old. The interviewee is one of the roommates of the interviewer, and have known each other for 2 years. The interview took place at a campus dorm in Saint Joseph’s University.

Question 1: are there a lot of homeless people around where you live in New Jersey?

“A lot? No.”

Question 2: Are there a lot of homeless people around where you live in Philadelphia?

“Specifically this area? I wouldn’t say there’s a lot. Actually I would say there’s none at all.”

Question 3: When you see a homeless person, do you look the other way and keep on walking?

“Sometimes, depends what they’re doing.”

Question 4: Why does it depend on what they’re doing?

“Uh if they’re being more active about it then it can be uncomfortable but if they’re being more passive then I don’t look away.”

Question 5: would you assume a homeless person is more likely to be incarcerated than a person who is not homeless and has committed the same crime?

“Yes. That’s such a leading question, Anna!”

Question 6: What are your thoughts on the concept of homelessness being a crime?

“I’m strongly against that because the situation they’re in is like a cycle. Like some have mental health problems that need treatment not punishment.”

Question 7: do you think there should be programs in prisons to help homeless individuals for when they get released from prison or would that be a waste?

“Yes, of course! Another leading question!”

Question 8: do you think social media can help the homeless problem?

“Huh, I don’t know I’ve never thought about it. I think more of the help has to come from mental health programs. The world doesn’t need anymore social media.”

Concluding Remarks:

This interviewee offered similar answers as the second interviewee. This interviewee also doesn’t think social media can help homelessness. I do agree with him that mental health programs should be the primary ones helping, but once again social media can be a primary use for spreading messages.

We were split into groups for our final documentary project this past week. I will be working on the editing portion of the documentary, and am excited to start getting the footage from the production team. I started with creating the beginning and ending credits, and so far it is going well. I think it will start to get slightly overwhelming once the ball gets rolling. Hopefully, my team will be able to stay organized and will split up the work evenly so that not one person is doing all the work.

One of the focuses of our lessons was LGBTQ homeless youth. These youth face discrimination among the homeless. Foster homes won’t take them in and they face abuse in shelters. There’s not as many resources for them, and they already faced the struggle that is coming out to parents who don’t support their child’s sexuality. There are resources for parents that help them be more supportive, so that their child will not feel the need to run away from home. One resource that was discussed was the Ali Forney Center. This center wants to protect LGBTQ youth from being homeless, and gives them the tools and support to live on their own.

Fela Kuti Video

A video about activist and musician Fela Kuti.

I was working hard on my Fela Kuti video this week. I wanted to present him as an activist who was able to ignite change through his music and the person he chose to be. I have worked with voice over’s before, so I was familiar with how these types of videos should be laid out. I’m happy with the final product, and think it focuses on how Fela made a movement out of his music that is still popular today.

An reoccurring idea that we have had throughout our classes is how we can be global citizens. We can’t just focus on where we are now since we are privileged. There are underprivileged people in the community right next door to ours that we need to acknowledge and lend a hand to. This is important for our world perspective and how we should try to take care of our neighbors, even if they’re no where near to us.

A problem that was focused on this week was women in the workforce who are underpaid in  the Global South. Companies are focused on making a profit and not the well-being of the people who make their products. Activists are stepping up to defend these women and young girls. Some of the most profound activists in this day and age are young girls. Girls like Mari Copeny and Malala Yousafzai are changing the world with their actions.

The focus of this week was hip-hop and how it is more than just entertainment. Hip-hop goes beyond entertainment, and beyond music. It has a deep cultural meaning that can ignite change. Through graffiti, dancing, and music many individuals are given a creative outlet to express how they feel about what is occurring in society today, and the oppression they feel.

One hip-hop artist that I studied was Joey Bada$$. He uses community engagement in a majority of his recent music by pointing out social issues that he feels are being ignored. He feels strongly about the poor leader that Trump is proving to be, and thinks that his election is a step backwards from the racial progression that the Obama presidency made. Although the Obama presidency made some progress, it wasn’t enough to fix all the problems that black American’s face daily.

Chance the Rapper is another hip-hop artist that we focused on who dedicates his time and money to organizations that he wants to help. He uses his musical platform to deliver powerful messages that reach wide audiences.

I had the opportunity to visit a mural that I had wanted to see ever since we studied it in class. The mural is called journey2home and seeing the finished work amazed me. It was incredible first watching the video of how the mural came to be, and the story behind it. So much work went into creating this narrative about an issue that impacts young people’s lives every day. Housing insecurity and homelessness is something that isn’t talked about enough, and the whole point of this mural was to start a dialogue. The program that helped the young adults affected by housing insecuirty and homelessness who painted this mural also taught them affective ways to get the message out there and start a conversation about what can be done.

The focus of this week’s class was murals. Murals are a very effective way to get a message out into the open, and make a change in the neighborhood. We began learning about several different murals that advocate for a particular message. They push for change, and are able to make a difference in society simply by being an artistic piece. The murals we studied this week were not only eye catching, but they also made you think. The artists are able to stop people walking by, and get into their heads if only for a few seconds before they continue on with their day. These artists are advocating through artwork which is a powerful way to move a community.

Data visualization will be an important concept that we will be using in our Homelessness project. It will be helpful to be able to show our audience important data that will aid in supporting our activism. This data visualization will make our audience more informed with the issue, without being confused by complicated data.

We also studied this week the sensitivity that an advert or video must be mindful of when creating something that promotes a certain message. The Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad had a good message in theory, but they executed it poorly by suggesting that racial tensions and police brutality can be stopped simply with a celebrity handing off a pepsi. Videos must be framed well and transmit the right message without being offensive.

Homelessness Video

A video created to combat homelessness in which we interview community activist Jessica Arends on her work with homeless individuals. We hope to raise awareness on the needs of the homeless community, and how we can help them get back on their feet.

This week was focused on young people being engaged citizens and how one is able to be an activist. Social media allows for anyone to be an activist as you can create and share videos, pictures, music, etc. that have to do with what you are passionate about. We have been given the opportunity to create an activist video on  homelessness. I was nervous at first as I have never created a documentary on such a hard-hitting part of our society. My group was able to interview a fellow Saint Joe’s student who works directly with homeless people every weekend. It was a very eye-opening interview. She was able to talk so passionately about the issue at hand, and what it’s like to talk and be with these individuals who are struggling. She told us all about the program she works with and the great things that they are doing to make a change in the community. This is where online activism will come into play. This person is not just sitting at home and sharing articles or events on Facebook about how to make a difference. She is actually going out into the world and making a change in these people’s lives. Online activism is great for spreading the word, but it needs to go one step further than just sharing and liking. Young people are becoming more and more involved in politics and the world’s issues, and social media is giving platforms for all these individuals that can use it as a stepping stone for making a change in the world. It’s becoming easier and easier to organize protests and movements, and young people are taking responsibility by making their voices heard.

Civic Media focused on homelessness this week and what it means to be homeless. Something that I now know is that homelessness is a state of mind, and you’re really on homeless if you believe yourself to be. Many different people live on the streets for different reasons. They all have various kinds of backgrounds, and education levels, and family situations. They have all ended up on the streets, whether it be temporarily or for the rest of their lives. The important thing is that we are activists for them. Although homelessness will not be able to be completely stopped in our lifetime, we will still advocate for change. Video advocacy is one medium that we are able to promote social change with. In the next few classes, we will be given the opportunity to hone our creativity and create a video that calls people to action on the issue of homelessness. I hope to create a video that informs a viewer, and also makes them want to learn more. I want them to stop watching the video and think about what they should do next to join this movement.

This week in Civic Media, we discussed the many different situations where social media was able to be used in activism. Social media has been able to trigger protests, and then continue to be used throughout the activist’s demonstrations. Even though social media was never intended to be used for political purposes, it has become a pivotal part in protests all around the world. Technology has allowed civic media to be beneficial and worthwhile in our society. To step back, what is civic media? Civic media is using a platform to empower and engage a community, either on a small or large scale. It is able to point out problems and issues in our society and get people to rally behind those issues. It can connect many different people and opinions, and overall can make individuals more well-informed. When Michael Brown was tragically murdered by a police officer for not doing anything wrong, Twitter was a platform where you could easily follow what was going on in those protests. For me, I was not as aware of police brutality before this kind of civic engagement. It felt like I was experiencing first-hand what was occurring in Ferguson, Missouri because of how up-to-date my social media was. I could see pictures, videos, interviews, all happening right then and there. Similar to what happened in Arab Springs, because of social media, a whole global community was able to rally behind the censorship that was happening. Nawaat was also censored which angered people and thus made people learn and adapt other ways to get to see their messages. Media was meant for interactions, but it can’t just be that. We have to engage with others and by trying to make changes in society, media becomes a more engaging way of life.


Pattern Ted Talk

The Ted Talk I decided to watch was by Arthur Benjamin. He discussed the magic of Fibonacci numbers. I was to focus on a Ted Talk that focus on patterns, and so when I googled “Ted Talk about patterns” I was excited to see how Arthur Benjamin would talk about patterns in relation to the Fibonacci numbers. In class, we have mainly focused on patterns that aren’t numbers or letters. This was a different pattern that I wasn’t used to when it comes to Visual Rhetorics. He began by saying that in school, students always ask when they will need to use math in the real world and how they never get a straightforward answer. He then goes on to discuss  what kind of  “number patterns” the Fibonacci numbers display, and how there are many kinds of patterns hidden that you can discover using mathematics. Benjamin finds math to be a lot more fun than I do and says that  “as much fun as it is to discover these patterns it’s even more satisfying to discover why they are true.” He closes by showing some examples of how the Fibonacci numbers can be used, and saying that schools should focus more on application instead of calculation. 


img_3498I particularly enjoyed myself doing this project. We had to create our own pattern stamp by carving something out of a potato. After, we would put paint on the pattern and repeatedly stamp it onto paper until it was filled up. Then, we then had to collaborate with a partner and each use our stamps on a different sheet of paper to make a completely  different pattern.

After trying twice on two potatoes, and cutting my hand three times as well, I decided that I wanted to use a circular pattern. I definitely did not expect carving to be as tricky as it turned out to be. I then got black paint and a paintbrush and started experimenting and practicing with my new stamp, which according to some of my classmates looks like an ear, an avocado, and a doughnut.

After I was done practicing, I got paper and started my pattern. I think the stamp created and cool pattern after being used so many times. I also like how there are different shades of black. It makes it look less uniformed and more unique.

Next up was the collaboration pattern that I did with Brendan’s stamp.

Both our stamps started off going in a straights line and then bounced off of each other. The rest of the path they take is bouncing off the paper and eventually going off the page.

Rhythm and Balance

_dsc0144I modeled this piece after the Notan Project we did in the beginning of the semester. This is where we played with empty space using dark and light paper. I did the same thing using a leaf. I ripped shapes out of the edges and put them on the outside.


It’s hard to tell what I was trying to accomplish here. It didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. The wind started picking up around this point and I had to keep putting the pieces back. This was around the time where I realized how hard making art in the outdoors is with the elements.

Andy Goldsworthy often plays with light and dark elements in his work. He makes components where there is solid color and then pure black. Mine doesn’t have the same eerie feel. There isn’t a part where you have no idea what could be behind that darkness. It has a certain abruptness that startles the “rhythms of daily life.”


As I said in one of my other Andy Goldsworthy posts, I think that its interesting when nature is organized in a way that is not natural. It’s an interesting concept for me because of the way it looks and that I’m not used to it being such a way.

_dsc0134I had to focus on modularity for this piece, and so I started by making a
square with sticks and then organizing as much as I could into that small area. I used sticks, pine needles, pinecones, and chestnuts.

I first put different sized sticks in.


Then the pine needles.


Next were the chestnuts.











And finally, the pinecones.


After looking at many of Goldsworthy’s work, I concluded that he hasn’t created any sort of text (he has created a cute turtle). However, he does like to use sticks in creative ways. Therefore, I decided to use sticks to create a _dsc0129grid. My idea was to use pine needles to spell out my initials within the confines of the grid. Although this is not something that nature would make, it’s not as creative and refined as the kind of things Goldsworthy makes. His work is very mystical and intriguing. He leaves me in awe with his art.

I was able to complete my idea, and I think it turned out well.





Goldsworthy doesn’t focus too much on texture in his work. I like to view _dsc0124his work as almost organizing nature and turning it into something beautiful that nature itself isn’t capable of. I wanted to use opposing textures for this work and used chestnuts. One texture is spikey, the other is smooth. I organized the two opposing textures into opposite sides. I wanted to keep in mind a quote from Two Autumns“the most simple things can be the most profound.” My idea was simple in separating the textures, but I think it shows how contrary they are and how they have come from the same place but are still incredibly different. This idea is similar to how  Goldsworthy can make “connections and relationships between places in different parts of the world” because of his art. 


Andy Goldsworthy focuses on color when he makes his creations using leaves. He sees one color in a leaf and “out of a sense of curiosity (he) starts collecting the colors to see how many colors there are. And to see the range of colors” (Two Autumns). He is able to make a work of art sometimes using one color of leaves, or multiple colors. My favorite creation of his that was shown in the documentary Two Autumns was when he found a rock in the midst of a river, and covered it in red leaves. It looked like the rock was entirely red and was meant to be red in the first place. After finishing, he felt like he knew the rock on a deeper level.

My creations using leaves weren’t as elaborate as Goldsworthy’s. I tried using color with leaves in two different ways. My first creation was modeled after one of Goldsworthy’s where he pinned a line of leaves together and sent it down the river. The line began with one color and then gradually changed to another color several times throughout the line. I wanted to so something similar and so I collected leaves and set them up going from dark to light.

I made another project and focused on the color yellow and set all the different shades of yellow leaves that I found in a circle to resemble the sun.