Blog #11a: Social Networking

Phyllis Ryder’s essay, Public 2.0.  Social Networking, Nonprofits, and the Rhetorical Work of Public Making, although primarily addressed social networking with a specific homeless shelter in Washington D.C., has some applicability to my own service site at the Turning Point Boys House.

Miriam’s Kitchen had two primary goals with their use of their facebook and twitter accounts: first, to deepen relationships with their followers, and the second is to receive monetary donations and support. The great thing about social networking is that the information is readily available, and updates can be regularly checked by followers. Instead of a follower having to go out of their way to search an organization, an update can automatically appear on someone’s newfeed. Also, if someone’s friend posts a status about helping an organization, that is easily and readily accessible to a possible donor. “Twitter and Facebook, says Roccanti, are about building relationships that allow people to have a direct effect, and to “build relationships on their timeline”: she allows people to “choose when and how to engage.”” (Ryder, 33) I think that this is an interesting point– people have busy lives. But a lot of people find a few minutes to check their Facebook page or Twitter and keep informed. I have looked on the Turning Point Facebook page, and they have a lot of posts related to donations and monetary support. They currently have 315 likes, and if this number grew I think that this could impact the number of donations that they receive.

I think an interesting point that Ryder’s essay makes is that the Facebook and Twitter pages are more accessible to donors and volunteers, more so than the guests of that particular organization. Ryder explains that many of the homeless people who have eaten in Miriam’s Kitchen and used their services do not use their Facebook or Twitter pages because of their desire for privacy. I think that this is very applicable to the guys in Turning Point. I think that there would also be a concern, as Ryder mentions, about the guests feeling regulated by the staff and volunteers who post on the Facebook and Twitter sites. I think that the use of social networking for these non-profit organizations is limited to the communities that that can give help or spread the word; which are typically not members of the communities that are being served, because this could feel like a restricted space, or a breach of privacy. I think that this limitation is a significant one, however the benefits of social networking should not be underestimated or undermined by this limitation. I think that if Turning Point grew their social networking sites, I think that this could have tremendous benefits for them and this would be something to be desired and encouraged.

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Posted by on April 25, 2012 in Uncategorized


Blog #11: Anderson and Digital Community Publishing

“In Erin Anderson’s essay, Global Street Papers and Homeless [Counter] publics: Rethinking the Technologies of Community Publishing, she discusses how community publishing initiatives might extend the scope and impact of writer’s work by critically examining the ways in which technology influences the production and circulation of a writer’s public discourse.”

Anderson’s essay attempts to integrate “the technologies at play in both of these settings– the street-paper-as-localized-community-publishing-enterprise on one hand and the street-paper-movement-as-translocal-media-network” (Anderson, 78) Anderson suggests that in addition to the homeless and marginalized communities selling and producing papers using print technology, that if they had access to digital media this would also raise awareness in addition to providing a practical means of support.

I think that Anderson has a great idea here. Digital technology has revolutionized the way information is circulated. Print technology is physically limited in the way it can be circulated, and it is very difficult to try and circulate printed media in a mainstream way that is easily accessible and financially responsible. Digital technology is accessible from anywhere that has an internet connection. Anderson’s suggestion that members of the marginalized communities participating in the street-paper-as-localized-community-publishing-enterprise would benefit from digital technology is definitely true in that it can raise awareness from any part of the globe. I think the main difficulty is the access and education. Unless there is a financial gain from this use of digital technology, the financial costs do not necessarily produce the financial benefits that print technology would. Raising awareness is something very important that should not be underestimated, but in a capitalistic society financial responsibility is also very important. I think that print technology does also produce awareness, but at a local level. However, I think in our increasingly digital world where information is a click of a mouse away, we are moving more in a direction that Anderson suggests. I think that as technology improves, it will become more financially responsible and accessible for all people. I hope to see the future that Anderson suggests.

At my service site, one of the main goals of my service is to produce a printed journal, therefore a lot of the work I do have that intended goal in mind. We do, however, have a website that features their work digitally. Thanks to the hard work of Stephanie Train, the writing that the guys at Turning Point Boys House produce is available digitally. I think the work that we do at the CLC is right on track with what Anderson suggests, and I think that in order to take it a step further the guys would have to do their own digital publishing, such as blogs. I’m not sure how feasible this is considering the resources at Turning Point, and during our workshop we have composition books not computers. Again, I think this is a matter of financial resources. However, overall I think the CLC is being successful with the goal of raising awareness at the local level with print technology, and also more widely available digitally over the internet. I think we would make Anderson proud.

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Posted by on April 1, 2012 in Uncategorized


Research Update!

Another intern here at the CLC, Stephanie Becker, recommended a great article entitled “A Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity” by Milton J. Bennett, M.D.. In this article Bennett presents a model that moves from the Ethnocentric Stages of Denial through to the goal of Ethnorelatives Stages including Integration. One of the goals is “Acceptance of an identity that is not primarily based in any one culture. Ability to facilitate constructive contact between cultures- for one’s self and others.” (Bennett, 11) Bennett provides sugestions to challenge and support learners through the different developmental levels of intercultural sensitivity. For my research project, I want to encourage learners to say “In an intercultural world, everyone needs to have a transcultural mindset.” (Bennett, 12) Through my lesson plans I want the underrepresented to serve as resources to multicultural learning.

In some other reading I have been doing, I am looking at a book right now called “Literacy and Bilingualism” by Maria Estela Brisk and Margaret Harrington. They write in the very beginning of the book; “Bilingual students perfectly fluent in English are different from native speakers of English who do not know another language or have no experienced another culture. The additional and different knowledge they bring to schools must be considered in the teachers’ perspective of the students, teaching strategies, and curricular considerations” (Brisk, 1) I want to create lesson plans and writing prompts that encourages the encorporation of that outside knowledge and empowers students as writers. In the back of this book “Literacy and Bilingualism” there are appendices with information about books and resources with multicultural themes which is something I am going to be looking at and considering. There are different books and stories listed addressing different areas of multiculturalism, such as mixed race adoption and pressures to assimilate. These different topic areas could be useful as I move forward, thinking about focusing my writing prompts focusing on specific ideas associated with the issues of multicultural identity.

I have sent out some emails to a couple students and teachers asking about various resources available that would be helpful. There are also a number of books in the CLC I am going to be taking a look at, including “And don’t call me a racist!” by Ella Mazel. Also, “Paint Me Like I am” composed by WritersCorps has a number of wonderful poems in it. I am thinking about organizing the lesson plans/writing prompts thematically as inspired by “Literacy and Bilingualism”:

  • Overcoming the hardships of immigration
  • Pressures to assimilate
  • Multiculturalism in the family
  • Incarceration and culture
  • Personal bilingual/bicultural identity

This is where I’m at so far. Lots of ideas and resources are still in progress. More to come soon!

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Posted by on March 18, 2012 in Uncategorized


Blog #10 – Digital Literacy and Storytelling

I went to the Center for Digital Storytelling website, and their mission was posted on their “About Us” page; “The Center for Digital Storytelling (CDS) is an international non-profit training, project development, and research organization dedicated to assisting people in using digital media to tell meaningful stories from their lives.” ( They run workshops for a number of diverse groups, and have published the digital stories that they have produced. A found a couple particularly interesting:

  •– “New Orleans” by Gina Allen. This is about Allen’s struggle being one of the only African American students in her school as she grew up in Florida. Later in life she moved to New Orleans to be closer to her family and to have a stronger sense of community. Her son told her that  he “did not want to be black,” this statement was concerning to her, and she told this digital story almost as a reassurance to him.
  •– “Dealing With Alcoholism Through Music” by Kurt Frank. Kurt Frank describes his struggle with alcoholism in his family, and dealing with his Aunt’s death. He became depressed when his parents drank heavily and fought every day during high school. He found music as a way of releasing his negative feelings and harvesting these feelings into something positive with his guitar.

In “It’s Kind of Twisted”: Professionalizing Discourse During Youth Documentary Making” by Paul R.J. Teske, the article presents research on multi-media production by a group of youth making a documentary. Teske says “…opportunities to engage youth in substantive disucssions about how to express thoughts and emotions across modes of communication are rare, even though these are alos the modes of communication that they consume and produce most frequently outside of school.” (Teske, 107) According to Teske’s article, what the Denver Center for Digital Storytelling is doing is rare– they are running workshops and empowering others by enabling them to tell their stories using digital media. Kurt Frank’s digital story is a perfect example of this because of how he incorporated different elements of digital storytelling. It was very transformative, and he moved through his story by using visual and audio components, as well as his verbal storytelling.

The research study completed in Teske’s article is somewhat different from the Denver Center for Digital Storytelling because they conducted a small study in which four youth participated in a service-learning course with documentary making. This was a collaborative effort, and the Denver Center for Digital Storytelling seems to be more focused upon telling an individual’s story.

There are some similarities between digital storytelling and the writing workshops Elliot and I do at the Turning Point Boys House. We publish their writing in a journal every semester which is in print form, rather than the digital form on the Denver Center for Digital Storytelling’s website. Also, Teske writes; “Video production is a continuous state of progressive revision much like writing” (Teske, 112). However, ultimately both writing and multi-media production are ways for people to present their stories. I think it would be a wonderful opportunity if the guys at Turning Point were able to have access to these multi-modal tools of communication for them to create and express their stories. It would be interesting to look into this for next year.

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Posted by on March 4, 2012 in Uncategorized


Research Update

For my research project I am planning on creating a series of writing prompts geared towards a bilingual and multicultural classroom. I have been doing some research, and have created a few of these lesson plans so far. A few resources include:

I have used a few of these writing prompts with the guys are Turning Point so far this year, and they have proved very successful. I am very excited about what I am coming up with for prompts, but I am also excited about the writing the guys are turning in. They have submitted a number of poems already, and there has been a great energy from them so far this semester.

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Posted by on March 4, 2012 in Uncategorized


Blog #9: Writing, Violence, and Trauma

Jenny Horsman’s article “But I’m Not a Therapist” was a very inspirational read, that challenged me to a course of action. Although Horsman’s research was primarily focused on trauma and violence experienced by women, I think that her findings are still applicable to my service site at the Turning Point Boys House. “Seeing the complexity of awareness for both workers and learners around issues like presence, trust, boundaries and crises adds an awareness to why learning to read is such a difficult and lengthy process.” (Horsman, 3) I think that the intimate relationship between the facilitator and the participant is very important, and the issue of trust and boundaries involved in this process need to maintain a certain balance. During my time as a facilitator at the Boys House, it initially took a while for the guys to get used to my presence, and for them to also trust me. However, there are certain boundaries that need to be maintained. For example, expanding and opening up on experiences with drugs in a reflective way is different from glorifying the use of drugs. There are certain boundaries that I am responsible for as a facilitator, and there is a certain level of trust that needs to be built in order to address the issues of trauma.

At the Boys House, the guys do not talk so much about physical or emotional trauma, but more about institutional and social trauma. Horsman also addresses the problem of institutional trauma when she talks about the off-balance Wheel: “…it is not surprising that literacy learners who are not judged as excelling in the mind, often feel that they are not valued. As I described this off-balance Wheel, a survivor and advisor to the project used it to illustrate that ‘healing for individuals can be problematic if we think of healing as learning to function better in a ‘sick’, off-balance world.” (Horsman, 5) The concept of the Medicine Wheel suggests that there is a delicate balance between four aspects of the person– body, mind, emotion, and spirit. Then Aline LaFlamme redrew this wheel to account for how society actually balances the medicine wheel– LaFlamme gave a significant portion of teh Wheel to the mind, two smaller sections for the body and emotion, and then an even smaller section for spirit. If the way that society views the individual is off-balance, individuals who are trying to maintain an equal balance between the quadrants can be viewed as abnormal. The guys at Turning Point comment on various institutional and social problems that they have experienced. The following is an excerpt from a poem written last semester by Earl entitled “Fear”:

Fear I will go to the hood and get jumped

Fear that n***** that don’t like me get me dumped

Fear the pigs say don’t move and I jump

Fear my brother looks at me like a chump

Fear my little son won’t know me

Fear I do good and the bloc disowns me

Fear to do good cuz I get looked at like I’m stupid

Fear I get too caught up in the community, revolution, in, progress, movement.

I think that this poem by Earl exemplifies the struggle that he has experienced with his community. His line “Fear I do good and the bloc disowns me” shows his struggle with the competing forces within own life. He has an internal desire to succeed, but this is in direct conflict with his desire to be accepted by his community.

I was inspired by Horsman to a call of action, and as a facilitator I need to empower the members of my service site with control, connection and meaning. “Control is an important terrain for those who have experienced trauma.” (Horsman, 4) Being in control suggests a certain responsibility for oneself. In order to set goals for the community literacy work I am doing, “…you have to believe that you have some possibility of control, to have connection at least to the self, and to believe that life can have meaning.” (Horsman, 4) An important lesson I have learned from reading this article is the importance of these three factors, and I am going to try and come up with workshop sessions that empower the guys with these three ideas.

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Posted by on February 13, 2012 in Uncategorized


Blog #8: Reflecting on Semester 1 at the CLC

I looked on the website and followed the following link to view The National Assessment of Adult Literacy’s (NAAL) website: The NAAL assesses community literacy in a variety of different ways: using background questionnaires, a prison component, State Assessment of Adult Literacy (SAAL), a health literacy component, Fluency Addition to NAAL (FAN), and the Adult Literacy Supplemental Assessment (ALSA). All of these various components are intended to capture a complete assessment of Adult Literacy in the United States.

After reviewing the NAAL’s assessment of community literacy, I think that it is fairly comprehensive for the people who are being surveyed. I especially appreciate the prison component. However, I think that for my service site at the Turning Point Boys House I think they need to be assessed slightly differently because of their age. The NAAL assesses only adults of sixteen years of age or older. A lot of the guys at Turning Point are around sixteen, but some are younger. They are all still receiving their education, and I think that should be taken into account. I also think that there should be a separate assessment for people who learned English as a second language. Although English is the language primarily spoken in the United States, there is no official language. The United States is becoming increasingly diverse, and I think that it would be important to take that into consideration in the assessment as well.

In terms of personal assessment of my work through the SpeakOut! Writing Workshop at Turning Point this semester, I think that the guys have become more critically aware of themselves as writers. When the semester began, it was very important as a facilitator to gain their trust. As the semester continued we built stronger relationships together, and learned more about each other through engagement with each other’s writing, and by also engaging in critical dialogue. A very important aspect of this growth was building a personal relationship with them, and through our dialogue and discussion of different poems and literary works they gained a heightened understanding of collaborative and also individual literary expression. I had a lot of fun last semester learning about such a unique and diverse group of guys at Turning Point, and I can’t wait to get started up again this semester.

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Posted by on January 30, 2012 in Uncategorized