Welcome to (COM408) Media, Art, and Social Activism at AUR

We are a 400 level course in the Communication and English Program at The American University of Rome in Rome, Italy. Bloggers are Professor Kristen Palana and the students. Stay tuned for more and watch this space.


Group 4!

Asking your friends for money is inevitably awkward, especially if they are cash-strapped college kids like ourselves. But our experience with crowdfunding has shown that it is much more than simply pestering acquaintances for donations (although we’ve done our fair share of that, too). It is about effectively sharing a story that people can rally behind – a story that inspires people to care, and inspires people to act. That concept was at the heart of every unit covered in COM 408: Media, Art and Social Activism this semester. As the semester wraps up (seriously where did the time go?), our class still has one important goal to achieve: Raise funds to finance Yasini “Yacn” Biggo’s tuition, so he can graduate from The University of Dar Es Salaam, become a successful lawyer, and protect women and children from Tanzania who are isolated in society. Because this is a hefty task, our professor divided the class into teams based on our strengths and interests.

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The Creatives (Group Three): An Aesthetic Journey

During the initial research stages, the three of us set out to learn more about Tanzania in order to gain an insight into Yasini’s background and experience. We knew that Yasini’s motivation for earning his degree is to help vulnerable women and children in Tanzania, he explained that these demographics are often denied basic rights such as the right to own property or to work. We also found out that many women throughout Tanzanian communities are still accused of which-craft. Belief in witchcraft is still strong throughout many Tanzanian societies, it is estimated as many as a thousand Tanzanian women are targeted and killed annually.

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Group 13: Editors

We are Team #1, Bianca and Kathy, responsible for setting up the Indiegogo account, deciding user permissions and setting up other authors as needed.  We also have to place the text, photos, videos, perks, etc., on the fundraising page as they are received in from other teams, and communicate with other teams to ensure everything gets done in a timely matter.  Together with Prof. Palana, we were to make sure the Paypal account was set up properly as well as make sure the Aura’s House linked page was good to go.  Lastly, we were to make any necessary edits or changes to what was provided by the other teams, so as to make sure the project was unified and of high quality. Continue reading

Group 2: Writing for Crowdfunding

Kasey and I seem to have a mutual affection for writing. The composition of language was something that seems to be a challenge we both enjoy. However we did not anticipate the difficulty we would have when writing for a crowdfunding campaign.

Kasey as well as myself had never been faced with the task of writing to garner donations. We had previously written about causes, and we had both previously had experience writing persuasively, but this assignment required a much different approach and skill set. Continue reading

Week 12 Homework

Please make a GROUP blog post with your team about your crowdfunding experience so far. Talk about the items on the rubric you were asked to prepare and contribute and how it all went and what you still plan to do.

You can co-write this post with your teammates by emailing a .doc back and forth and then having one person post the final version on behalf of the group. Due: Tues. April 28, 2015 at 10:35AM.

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Weeks 11 and 12: Games/Interactive Media and Protest Art

Games and Interactive Media:

Free Rice
Earth Girl

If You Love it, Change It- Social Activism in Gaming.

Protest Art:
33 Revolutions per Minute.

A History of Protest Songs
James Brown: Say It Loud. I’m Black and I’m Proud
Public Enemy: Fight the Power
100 Best protest Signs from Rally to Restore Sanity

Video: Art With a Message

Pasta Nera: when Italy had nothing left to give but love, pasta and polenta.

PastaNera_Foto_22How does an entire country manage to forget over 100,000 of its children were put on trains and sent away from home? How can a country so critical of itself forget one of its kindest deeds ever? How can it be that one of its most organised and successful campaigns of social activism be relegated to the archives instead of championed as an exemplary example of what even the most poverty stricken citizens can achieve? While Pasta Nera does not try to answer these questions of why, it brings to light this wonderful story of great human generosity in a time of immense need, of the coming together of north and south in a postwar Italy reduced to rubble, and of the power of women at a time when they had very little money and even fewer rights. Continue reading

Week 10 (and Homework): Radio, and Podcasts

Radio and Podcasts
A conservative list of America’s Top 25 Radio Hosts

This American Life
The Moth

Watch this

1. Read all Week 10 handouts and Week 10 links.
2. Due Tues. April 14: Final Project Proposals
3. Start doing research for final project.
4. Continue your work for the class crowd funding project.
5. By next class (Thursday) return The Transformative Power of Art last page with your answers.
6. By Tues. April 14 Watch this and have your final project proposal ready. Also be ready to present orally your team’s progress regarding the class crowdfunding project.

Blackfish Writes Sea World’s Obituary

Blakfish_quad_Web_400_300_85Blackfish since its release has drawn an immense amount of attention, thanks in large part, to its popularity amongst celebrities and inexorable social media presence. Blackfish follow the life of Tillikum, an orca that was involved with the death of three of his trainers, a consequence of his captivity. The documentary does a masterful job of detailing the dangers and inhumanity of whales in captivity–from their capture to their monotonous existence of being imprisoned in a pool. The whole narrative is set at an alarming pace, marked by a stark sense of doom and danger–the documentary reads more as a terrifying thriller movie. It is in equal parts entertaining, disturbing, and profoundly moving–in a word perfect documentary filmmaking.

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10 Arrests in 87 Minutes: How the NYPD Actively Suppressed the Occupy Movement

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10 Arrests in 87 Minutes: How the NYPD Actively Suppressed the Occupy Movement is a short film by two video activists, Paul Sullivan and Justin Sullivan, documenting 10 arrests during Occupy Wall Street’s first anniversary celebration. The protest that occurred on September 17th, 2012,  “Occupy Wall Street”, had over 180 arrests in downtown Manhattan and 10 of those arrests that took place over the span of 87 minutes were witnessed by the 2 brothers. The short provides a look at protestors individual arrests and displays NYPD’s action during crowd-control situation. For years, the NYPD have been criticized for their calculated actions and means of controlling such events and it has brought into question whether or not they are intentionally attempting deny civilians of their freedoms and/or taking advantage of their positions in law enforcement.

Paul Sullivan walks around downtown Manhattan with a camera strapped to him allowing the audience to experience the protest as another civilian walking the streets, however as he does so, he directs the audience to look in a certain direction or take notice of what is happening in the corner. Sullivan states what is happening and points out if there is a peculiarity in the action, informs the audience of any appropriate laws or current upholding legal barriers that are crossed, and even hints at his own beliefs in doing so.

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