Here Comes the Neighborhood is a “short-form docuseries” that puts on display both the talent of street artists, as well as the revitalizing effect that art can have on communities. The first season focuses on the arts district of Wynwood Miami, which has invited over thirty artists to decorate its walls.
I like the genre a lot. They have high production values and are condensed into 3-6 minute video shorts. They develop a really striking and romantic sense of place in what most people would find to be a blighted neighborhood. After the first couple of episodes, the producers have developed short artists bios with interviews, shots of their art, and travels around Wynwood. Each episode does a pretty compelling job of portraying art as a transformative agent.
Is art enough to transform a place? I wonder how much a novel, ambitious art project can really do about the familiar old problems of poverty, drug addiction, inequality, etc.
You can’t beat a cute animal video.
Cloying music and all, we still love this bat after not very long — and most people would not say that a bat is a “charismatic” animal. Species conservation and rehabilitation is sustained by videos of cute photos and videos of baby sloths, pandas, penguins, etc. Conservation may be a rational, scientific undertaking, but the money is all in the cute.
The students of the first semester of New Media for Environmental Communication finished their final projects, and we are all very proud of the work that came out of it. Visit the Our Work page to see our digital storytelling pieces. You can also visit our YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/environmentandmedia) to see the videos.
As a form of media, TED talks have been so influential to how we make presentations, organize information, and present new ideas to a broad audience. Most TED talks are in the 10-15 minute range, and they are able to attract such a broad audience and to foster interesting and civil comments discussions (a real rarity).
In this talk specifically, Jae Rhim Lee discusses death, chemical accumulation in our bodies, and more earth-friendly burial practices. She incorporates a lot of great elements that make her environmental talk stand out from many others: read more…
People hotly debate the topic of “peak oil” and how long we have until our fossil fuel reserves run out. GE posted this natural gas data visualization based on data from the BP Statistical Survey of World Energy 2010.
The main questions that they are trying to illustrate answers to are:
I like this advertisement because it is uses a pretty cheesy trope to jump right into its message and kick you straight toward participating in their campaign. In 30 seconds you know where to go. The Just Label It website is user-friendly and direct — perfect for the semi-interested web viewer who is sympathetic to their cause.
The people behind this campaign obviously spent a lot of time simplifying their goals and their message so that videos like this could come out and be shared very easily.
Are online petitions successful? …We will have to discuss that in a different post.
Vanishing of the Bees (2010 – trailer after the jump) is a documentary that explores the impacts and causes of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a widespread epidemic of bee deaths in the US and other countries.
There are many things to learn from this documentary, examples both positive (+) and negative (-):
+ Goes in depth into the causes. Sometimes it is hard to answer questions in a video, while still maintaining an appealing narrative and engaging with a variety of people.
+ Effectively engages with a range of experts. In this movie we hear from beekeepers, scientists, and general environmental experts (celebrities, maybe) like Michael Pollan. The filmmakers use these interviews effectively…at least in the beginning of the movie.
+ Precautionary principle. They educate the viewer about the precautionary principle and the difference between US and European environmental policy without boring you or being too preachy. It is hard to talk about abstract concepts in a movie. read more…
Chevron Thinks We’re Stupid is a campaign started by (among others) the Yes Men, noted for their hoaxes in misrepresenting themselves as corporate executives and politicians as a form of activism to draw attention to issues that they believe are under-reported in the media.
The site gives a platform for activists to post posters and videos (example after the jump) that spoof Chevron’s “We Agree” campaign. The creators detail how activists have used different physical and digital media to criticize, condemn, and undermine a campaign that Chevron has dedicated tens of millions of dollars toward.
Here are a few interesting things to consider about this site and style of activism:
WildlifeDirect is an interesting organization with an innovative website and content design for fundraising, yet there are a few drawbacks to their model. Their main goal is to help conservationists raise money for their projects through blogging.
They do not funnel the money through WildlifeDirect; they only link to blogs where users can read content for a specific organization or project (e.g. elephants in Botswana, sun bears in Malaysia, tortoises in Seychelles, etc.), follow the progress of their activities through photos and first-person accounts, and (hopefully) donate.
I would like to point out a few interesting things (pros and cons, maybe) about this model:
NPR posted this remarkable infographic (April 24, 2009) that illustrates many different variables in the US Electric grid from the power grid, sources of electricity, solar power capacity, and location of power plants.
Above is a screen capture of analyzing the breakdowns of the sources that states get their electricity from. It’s fun to play around on the site and learn more about a topic that often soars over our heads (hardy har).
This is a great example of data visualization used to demystify a complicated topic. Note in “The Grid” section how they illuminate (hardy har) the details of a project that would come about with proposed legislation. Users can also get a better idea of how the grid is currently structured.
This American Life, a narrative radio program based out of Chicago, produced a story titled Game Changer (1 hour, free to stream online) about the discovery of large natural gas reserves under Pennsylvania. They explore different perspectives on how the discovery was made, how it has played out in state and university politics, and how it affects local governments and citizens around Pennsylvania.
It is a pretty amazing piece of journalism about resource extraction in that it is able to lay out a few perspectives on the issue and develop compelling stories about an issue that is often covered in complicated proceedings. The producers also do a good job of giving offering competing viewpoints, yet they do not mask their sympathies toward the people who advocate for regulation.
Scale is often difficult to portray when discussing environmental disasters. BBC has a great site Dimensions that “takes important places, events and things, and overlays them onto a map of where you are.” There is a section for environmental disasters that shows the areas affected by the Bhopal disaster, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Chernobyl radiation cloud, and a few others.
It is fun to play around with and allows the user to type in postal codes from around the globe. This kind of tool gives us another way to grasp the severity of these occurrences by getting a better idea of the area affected and comparing that to areas that we understand better.
There are still many questions to answer, though. How much mass is in the garbage patch? The BP oil spill was 205.8 million gallons (780,000 m3) of oil, which is about half of what the US imports per day. But it’s still difficult to grasp how much that is. How many swimming pools? How many gas tanks?