Local startup Sustainabutter’s Story.

Hello all!

I decided to film an interview about Sustainabutter LLC, a local start up based out of Dillon Colorado. I hope you enjoy the video and throw some support his way! Don’t forget to buy local!

 

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Where investigative journalism and New Media meet.

The movie “Spotlight” featured investigative journalism. While there is always a necessity for investigative journalism it does feel archaic in the realm of New Media. Not old in the irrelevant sense but that I don’t know of many time where it can be the dominant way of covering a scoop anymore. Not once in the movie was Facebook mentioned, Twitter and no one had a blog. Its hard to believe that a story can wait so long to be discovered and written about. New Media-not always-but often concerns itself with what is happening here and now. Or what just happened or what will happen just up ahead.

However for the spotlight journalists I don’t know that it would have been helpful. Certainly the journalists couldn’t tweet their “exciting news or advances they made in the story that day”. It also wouldn’t have been advantageous to look up the Facebook accounts of the priest and victims. Rape and abuse is not something that people willingly admit to the world let alone the world wide web even anonymously.  Jada Yuan, in his interview with Tom McCarthy the director of spotlight, makes the observation that the movie is about, “the quotidian craft of newspaper reporting — knocking on doors, staking out the courthouse.” Investigative journalism was essential to tell the abuse story. They had to go door to door and physically walk and talk their way through their leads. McCarthy added, “I think we’ve lost track of that a little bit with citizen journalists and everyone having a camera and a tweet.”

What I mean when I say its feel archaic is that investigative journalism feels the most primordial in the breakdown of journalism’s evolutionary history. It also was possible because they were working on an local story. So the spotlight reporters could go outside their door and fill in the pieces to the puzzle. But it is so important and the vital lifeblood of good journalism.

In light of all of this I don’t know another time when investigative journalism is relevant except with events the have already happened. Its hard to find a story that hasn’t leaked or been told online. The swiftness with which news now travels through new media doesn’t really allow a slower paced journalism. To be fair, in the movie, there was a danger of another newspaper getting access to some documents before the globe did. But because this was a scoop that happened decades earlier it wasn’t necessarily a race-the Globe and its journalists were able to take their time with the story.

Take for example Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks. He released thousands of documents to Glenn Greenwald, a journalist for The Guardian. Now before the world found out that Snowden was the leak Greenwald had ample time and less competition to print his stories. But after the world became privy New Media was ABUZZ with the scoop. It was no longer private just Greenwald’s scoop. Consequently, Greenwald was now competing for the scoop with other media outlets AROUND THE WORLD.

What is the most interesting ,however, is that a very local story in the BOSTON GLOBE that was reported on by investigative methods turned out to be a story the world over shared. This spotlight story once it went world wide through the efforts of new media gave a voice to other areas that might have been ignored otherwise.

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Comments and their Nonpurpose

In the article, Why some publishers are killing their comments section, Ricardo Bilton explores the trend of online media outlets disabling their comments sections. If anyone has ever read a comment feed online you won’t find it hard to believe that such outlets are taking this stance. Some comments sections have become so uncivil that buzzfeed wrote a funny post on the horror. Who has some of the worst trolls seeking attention online? According to buzzfeed, the New York Post and CNN make the list, Facebook and Youtube are top contenders as well.

The fact that some organizations don’t even offer the  chance to give your cyber two cents like The Atlantic is not surprising. Personally, I support strategic moves like this 100%. Today it seems that if someone doesn’t get to say their opinion online than its not heard. In the same vein people think that commeting online is their chance to unleadh their “truthful, most harsh opinions and they do so. Now, I do think there is a real chance for intellectual dialogue online. However, there are some problems with the cyber platform.

First, there is a different etiquette for talking online than talking in person. And all can agree that the former is less superior than to human interaction.  For example, grammar is very important. You have to make your first impression by the written word only. No facial expression, grunts, sounds, mannerisms find a home here. If what you said online would make the person cry if said in person are you really conducting yourself in a civil manner thats open and honest to successful dialogue? No. But this is the nature of online debate. In this platform it is easy then to take advantage of a kind of anonymity. You can kind of say what you want without repercussions. And sometimes, this leads be people to say outrageous things.

 

Huffpost got it right when they announced that commenters would have to link their accounts to their facebook account. This is going to force people to be more civil online. Usually your facebook friends include your mom, coworkers, newly made friends you are trying to impress, and lastly your rigorously devout christian Aunt Jackie. More than likely you will think twice about the content of your posts when you have to be aware who might be able to read your response (all 700 of your “friends”).

Also, online sometimes online is not really a platform for dialoguing. Rebecca Rosen, a writer for The Atlantic wrote in 2011,“Even in places with smart, thoughtful readers, the comment sections tend to be more like lists of unconnected ideas than genuine conversations”. How often have you initiated a conversation with a person via their online account and they never answered you back? They never even acknowledged your reach out. This simply does not happen in person. If someone enters in your personal space you have to acknowledge them. Online, people choose to ignore, respond, and dialogue in a way that does not follow the the norms of in person interaction. So when then Atlantic choose to not offer a commenting section on their media site they are simply acknowledging that sometimes its an uncivil and therefore useless platform.

To further support their position the Atlantic wrote an article on how commenting affects a sites quality and traffic. In the article, Adam Felder makes an argument that putting tighter restrictions on comment etiquette nurtures a space where conversations are civil and intellectual. Also, putting less notoriety on the comments draws more attention to the article and its content-where it should be in the first place. And in some instances it increased traffic to the media’s site. Food for thought.

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Joyce’s Joyful Childhood

Joyce is an immigrant from Kenya. She is currently pursuing her bachelors of nursing. I am always intrigued by other cultures so I was excited to interview Joyce about growing up in Kenya.

Where were you born?

I was born in Vihigo County, Kenya. At this point I pull up google maps. We zoom in on her area of Africa and she visibly gets excited. “Oh, there’s my village! Mbale!” She says, pointing. Joyce didn’t know her village was big enough to make it on the map. But, in fact, there is a dot for Mbale. I was born in the village and only the only people who move away are women who get married. But these women still have ties.

How big is your Village? What is the population?

I don’t know. I don’t really think of it in those terms but instead by the familiarity of knowing everyone.

Is there a more important heritage, your father or mothers side?

The fathers side is more important. Men carry on the family name. Men will inherit the family land. Just recently can women also inherit the farm, even if they are not married. Mostly men inherit and the land is divided among the family. The youngest does get the biggest part because he usually stays with the parents til their old age and will take care of them. Then the oldest brother will get the second biggest part of the land. And so on…this is the case even if men are unmarried. Parents are buried on the land. So even if the land is up for sale the family cannot sell the part of the land that has parents buried in it. This is an attempt to preserve the burial area. In some cases the family forgets about the burial place and then it is sold.

What was it like growing up in Mbale?

The best. (She says this emphatically and incisively, no hesitation). I was constantly surrounded by family members. People [in the community] would always tell me, “You are related to this person through this, and so on…”. It was a collected family. I didn’t have to look for friends because someone was always around. But we didn’t have much: no running water, no electricity, no indoor plumbing. We had a farm.

What did you grow on the farm?

Maize, corn (she adds to clarify), beans in between the corn, vegetables, banana plants, papyrus, mango trees, avocado trees, cows, chickens, goats, sheep.

Is this what was on everyone’s typical farm?

Yes. Well off people live in the capital-[live a lifestyle you would find ]like america-and a few miles away you find these villages.

What was a typical day for you?

School for 8 hours. In school we had lots of recess time unlike here in America. WE had our own desks that we were required to bring from home. I would come home, fetch water[at the local water well] and do chores. And chores were just something you had to do. We would never get rewarded for it and we get punished if you didn’t do them. Also, your neighbors could beat you and your parents don’t disagree.

How would you get beaten? A stick?

A stick or pinches.

At this point I prompt her for a story where she remembers getting in trouble.  She hesitates, experiencing the shame even all these later) Well I remember two times : One time my grandma bought me a new sweater. I wore it to school one day and my friend said, ‘Oh it’s not right we need to fix it. So we pulled the thread out to fix it. So we did and we unraveled the sweater. [Afterwards] I couldn’t even put it on. When I got home my grandma kept asking, ‘Where’s the sweater? Where’s the sweater?’ I didn’t have it and she figured it out. I got in trouble and she pinched me. Another time, I was always told to stop climbing the trees. I climbed a tree and fell and got hurt and started crying. My grandma came over and beat me first and then checked to see if I was hurt. I had to go to the hospital after.

What did you do for your birthdays? How were they celebrated?

Nothing. Birthdays are not celebrated.

Really? So no cake or special treat?

No.

So is it even a day that’s remembered by a person?

Sometimes. Sometimes its forgotten. Usually other people tell you. I only celebrated it while in college. Christmas, however, is very special.

Is there anything you miss about Mbale?

I miss my family. I miss having people to rely on, being by each other constantly. People stop by constantly. Everyone shares.

Is there anything you wish Americans knew more about your culture or traditions or Africa?

We recognize the beauty we have in our head ( she says pointing to her head).Even though our culture can be hard to understand just try to understand it. [With cultural traditions]….be open minded, try to understand there are roots to our traditions. For example we don’t have Halloween in Africa but you celebrate it here. I have often refrained from doing cultural things here because of the feeling that I wouldn’t be understood or that someone would judge me. At home we have this tradition that a mother and her newborn baby don’t leave the house for 1 month after the birth. When the baby is one month old we shave their whole head. It often makes their hair grow  back better. This is not something I did here although I wanted to because of the feeling that I would be judged.

 

 

 

 

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On the subject of “The Giant Pool of Money”

I listened to the NPR program, “The Giant Pool of Money”. Recorded in 2008, this is my second exposure and understanding of the crisis. The finance and economic principles discussed are very heady and sophisticated. Very intimidating. “Above my pay grade,” as Mr. Obama has once said ( quote is taken out of context, FYI). Coincidentally, I just recently watched the movie The Big Short. The movie is centered around a handful of people who saw the housing bubble and its impending crash. Because of their keen insight their foreknowledge enabled them to profit by making credit default swaps off faulty mortgage loans.  The financial practices of CDO’s, NINA loans, and others that created the “housing bubble” were explained in a clear and coherent manner in the movie. The movie was enlightening, however, it didn’t explain the whole story. The podcast is a great compliment to the movie and goes more in depth.

One quote that is a continual theme of the effects of the housing bubble is said at the beginning of the program, “I can’t have a future. I will fail after a while.” That’s the saddest part of this economic crisis: Wall Street steamrollered the inevitable default of mortgages of hardworking Americans. Their dreams of owning a house became a fleeting reality and transformed into a bankruptcy nightmare.

When I think about who is at fault in this I can see irrespnsibility on both sides, the applicants and bankers. Bankers for approving the loans and being driven by enormous amounts of monetary incentives. For example, giving loan approvals upwards of 400,000 dollars to an applicant that makes barely 35,000 is crazy. In the podcast it was said that to qualify for NINA ( no income verification) loans people just had to have “some kind of credit score and a pulse”, that’s it. ON the other side, were Americans irresponsibly overestimating their potential to buy a house that was way out of their price range? Mortgage brokers sought out these low income families and offered the hope of the American Dream.

Whats so appalling is that after the reprehensible actions of the bankers we bailed them out. They then paid themselves millions of dollars in bonuses with the money. They never became accountable for their actions. Only one banker out of all of them did face conviction in the end. Has anything changed? Is there new and mandatory regulations? No. Its happening again. The Obama admin is encouraging banks to approve sub-prime loans again.

This is all  very discouraging. I don’t see where the accountability is in all of this. And wealthy people became more wealthy while the middle class is left suffering, doomed to fall to the next lower economic class. More broadly, I see this information as the total undoing of the promised American Dream. Its loosing its allure. Owning a big house, getting an education to make a secure living for oneself…it seems as if it could all fall apart and the individual could lose everything they worked for. Whose looking out for the citizens? Will I have a future in America? The government cant guarantee this. Its very hard to trust these institutions on Capital Hill. Their actions are making them look like thieves.

 

 

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On the subject of New Media

Connect and Collaborates podcast with Kristi Strother was interesting. New Media  was at the center of the discussion and some sub topics included Spiral of Silence and Selective Exposure. I have to say that I felt the opinions expressed in the podcast were general broad strokes concerning the subtopics. Now, generally I can agree with Kristi when she voices concerns about Facebook filtering our information and individuals voicing less of their own, different opinions. However, I have to disagree if these concepts don’t leave room for the individuals voice and speak some of my own points of further musings.

As a millennial I often feel overexposed  and overwhelmed with news and information. and as a result certainly informed with the news of today. For example, I always have my smartphone on me as most millennials ( and non millennials alike) do. Because of this I am always checking my Facebook or searching stuff on the web. I am always connected and sometimes exhaustively so. If I am on popular sites majority of the time I think it’s impossible to eschew breaking news. If perhaps I don’t see it, someone in my circle of friends will and share the news.

Also, just because milennials aren’t subscribing to traditional news outlets like CNN or NBC or FOX doesn’t mean they aren’t informed. I think we are getting information from more varied and diversified media outlets. Shows like the Daily Show and Last Week Tonight deliver popular news but with a comedic slant. John Oliver talked at length about net neutrality and how the Federal Communications Commission or FCC might threaten it. His 13 minute show drew millions of views. He asked every viewer to g to the FCC website and tell the FCC how much they care about net neutrality. His viewers were so responsive to his message that they crashed the FCC site by commenting over 45,000 times on their website. The FCC had to send out a tweet explaining their site was experiencing technical difficulties due to heavy traffic. Not in the general sense  but more specifically-some of us are engaged, some of us are informed.

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Denver Coffee Shops- Kaladi Brothers

Coffee Haus: Kaladi Brothers

Where: 1730 E Evans Ave, Denver

Hours:M-F 6AM to 7PM Sat 7AM to 7PM Sun 7AM to 5PM

Menu: Full Coffee bar and pastries

This Sunday morning I ventured out to Kaladi Brothers cafe. I love Sundays,by the way. Its probably my favorite day of the week. On Sundays there’s no deadlines, no expectations, its the most chill day of the week. Usually, I don’t have a schedule on this day so there is no impending deadline that takes away from just living the day at the pace I want to, which today, is s-l-0-w.

 

I first learned about Kaladi brothers last summer when I was sent to train here during my very brief stint as a barista. Since my training, my loyalty runs deep. And for good reason.

Today I wasn’t looking for a community feeling so much. I had work that needed to beseatingatkaladi done so I wanted a place that would be conducive to that plus serve good coffee. That is Kaladi Brothers. Most of their seating is tables for two with some bigger community seating. But this is perhaps a smaller coffee shop compared to the rest. That being so, claiming a seat during the busy hours can be tough. They do encourage sharing your table if this happens, so come prepared to meet your neighbors.

 

 

There is a steady stream of walk ins. This location is not too far from the DU Campus sostadning room only there is a lot of college students as well. Kaladi coffee is special though. They air roast their coffee beans instead of using heat. The result? You get a roast with a full, complex flavor without the acid or bitter taste that can come with drum roasting. We’ve all had the experience of drinking a bitter  cup of joe. Here, that doesn’t exist, ever. Every cup is consistently smooth and good. Their beans are so good they source them to 36 locations. This is just counting the ones within a 30 mile radius of Denver.

 

           The staff is very friendly: excellent espresso seems to attract excellent baristas. Most of them have worked 8+ years at a coffee bar, making them pros at customer service and lattes. They are always jesting with each other or smiling. You can tell they honestly love their jobs and take pride in what they do. You want a barista to remember your name  and favorite drink in earnest? Come here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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