Blog 11 update

I drafted our groups storyboard and wrote the narration we will soon be recording for the completed piece. Calvin and I have had a great system of me storyboarding and scripting, and him editing and producing the audio content. Calvin has rearranged and edited the sound clips I storyboarded. After he rearranged things, I wrote the script for the narration and did some edits of my own to the order of audio clips and eliminated some superfluous segments. Tomorrow, Calvin should have a completed draft of the interviews. Once I have that I will finish my draft of the scripted narration. Once we have those two components, I will be sending both items to Andrea Seabrook to provide feedback on both. Calvin and I will collaborate on the final product based on her feedback and record the narration.

Calvin has been a great partner. I feel really good about how everything is sounding. With Andrea’s help, I’m sure the narration will tie the piece together into a tight story that reflects the themes brought up in the other groups pieces.

Radio Feedback and New Storyboard

Kalima Young’s visit, along with the class feedback last week were very helpful. It was challenging and fruitful. Kalima’s feedback about the radio piece’s sterile and slow pace along with her observation that the first section risked re-traumatizing friends and family of Freddie Gray, inspired me to discard the entire first section of our radio piece. Christina’s observation about the academic tone of the interviews caused me to search other groups’ interviews for more “street” sounding interviews to intermix with the excerpts of oral history that provided most of our material.

In accordance with my individually assigned group work, I began writing narration for the radio piece. I rearranged sound bites and added new ones to fit into the story arc highlighted by the narration. Our radio piece is near completion. This coming week, Calvin will finish editing the interview excerpts and he and I will begin recording the narration. I have copied the updated storyboard below—narration is in bold:

As the final chapter of a series that examines changes in Baltimore’s downtown, today asked people about the events surrounding the death of Freddie Gray last April. In the moment, thousands gathered to call for justice and reform in the city. Many protested peacefully, while others expressed themselves in destruction. We asked people how it felt to participate and witness what has come to be known as the Baltimore Uprising. A year later, people’s perception of the unrest differ, even among residents of the city.

 

What was your experience during the Uprising?

UMBC student activist and part-time Sandtown resident Vanessa Barksdale recalled the feeling of seeing the National Guard descend onto Baltimore.

VB 5:17-5:38–Describes it as a scene out of the hunger games

VB 5:47-6:07–Felt like a different planet

Chyno, a Baltimore resident and employee at Pinch Dumplings in the Mount Vernon Market described the scene at city hall when he arrived there on April 28th

Chyno 16:59-17:24 So many sirens

UMBC professor and Mount Vernon resident Charles Cange struggled to balance his feelings of support for the activist cause and feelings of violation when vandalism and looting struck the street where he lives.

Cange 03:42-04:00 I support the cause, but when it was in my backyard I felt violated

A security guard named Andre Harris questioned the motives of many who participated in property destruction and theft.

Christoper Wright and Andre Harris 07:22-08:13 Some people were just out there for free stuff

Other observers and participants were less concerned with crime during the Uprising. They saw police behavior as the greater problem. Student activist and East Baltimore resident Markele Cullins describes his observation of police conduct during protests.

MC 23:35-24:06 Police harassment during the Uprising

Contrasting the scenes of chaos on April 27th, Chyno describes one of the many community cleanups where hundreds of residents came out on April 28th to repair their neighborhoods.

Chyno 18:14-19:15 It was heartbreaking and empowering

In 1968 following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., police kept property destruction away from downtown. Police formed lines on boundaries between black and white parts of the city. Markele Cullins and Terrance Pope describe how last April, protesters came downtown, to the heart of Baltimore.

MC 4:58-5:12 Hit them where it hurts

TP 18:20-19:19 Why protesters went where they went

 

A year later, most people are still asking what has changed? On May 1, 2015 six officers were indicted for murder. Six officers still need to be tried. Some residents are skeptical whether the Uprising accomplished anything.

 

What has changed since the uprising?

Leonard Prescott 03:16-03:37 Changes after death of FG

Most people we talked to, although not able to identify specific change, expressed that they had more hope for the city’s future.

VB 18:10-19:09 Have things changed? Yes, people are asking more questions

Chyno 17:35-18:21 At least people are talking

TP 59:53-61:12 Butterfly effect of change

MC 26:52-27:55 What has changed since April 2015

TP 61:58-62:49 either shaking off or embracing its history

 

What still needs to change

Whether people are happy with the changes that have occurred over the past year, nearly everyone we spoke with agreed they wanted change. But what kind of change? We asked people, what change do they want to see in Baltimore?

VB 21:01-23:20 What still needs to change

Leonard Prescott 03:44-03:56 People need to change, crime

CWAH 08:16-08:27 As far as the future, we just need to put color aside

MC 28:14-29:10 What needs to happen is development without displacement

VB 24:52-25:55 What the uprising accomplished

YP 66:55-67:54 I want to see people be more successful

TP 66:35-66:39 America is a large ship

Story Arc

Below is the preliminary storyboard for Calvin and I’s radio piece on the Baltimore Uprising. We look at the ways the Uprising has perhaps changed Baltimore. We start by asking people how they felt when they heard about the death of Freddie Gray. I think this provides a nice narrative hook. People talk about the sensation, they allude to what issues face Baltimore, and capture a sense of what the Uprising felt to many people in Baltimore. Then we move to asking them about their experience in the Uprising. For a brief period Baltimore felt like an unfamiliar place—a whirlwind of emotion. After their experience of the Uprising, we ask what has changed. Overall, our interviewees are hesitant to say things have changed. In some sense the city feels the same and in another it feels slightly different. Some of our interviewees are hopeful about change, but others are skeptical at whether the Uprising made anything better. Our final question is asking people what still needs to change. This will hopefully make the listener look toward the future. People suggest a range of things that need to change in our interviews.

Hopefully our piece shows that there is a range of emotion and opinions about the Uprising and about Baltimore in general. Overall I hope we present a positive perspective on what people want for their community. I think this narrative will give listeners a better idea of what the Uprising meant to its participants and an appreciation for the complicated motives within such a mass-movement. If there was a single thesis for this narrative, I hope it would be: Baltimore is at a crossroads—the fate of this city is in the hands of its people.

This week I continued listening to other groups audio and pulling out useful quotes. I added clips to the storyboard and reorganized it under questions. I think our group is very close to having a completed draft of audio. At this point it might be a little too long. The next step might be pairing it down.
How did you feel when you heard about the death of Freddie Gray?

Vanessa Barksdale (VB) 1:26-2:22–reaction to Freddie Gray’s death

Markele Cullins 0:34-1:11 Reaction to the death of FG

Terrence Pope 41:11-42:31 Reaction to death of FG

 

What was your experience of the Uprising?

VB 5:17-5:38–Describes it as a scene out of the hunger games

VB 5:47-6:07–Felt like a different planet

Chino 18:14-19:15 It was heartbreaking and empowering

Cange 03:42-04:00 I support the cause, but when it was in my backyard I felt violated

MC 23:35-24:06 Police harassment during the Uprising

Chino 16:59-17:24 So many sirens

TP 55:03-55:25 Authority only authority given

18:20-19:19 Why protesters went where they went

 

What has changed since the uprising?

Leonard Prescott 03:16-03:37 Changes after death of FG

AC21:01-21:56 What has changed?

VB 18:10-19:09 Have things changed? Yes, people are asking more questions

Chino 17:35-18:21 At least people are talking

TP 59:53-61:12 Butterfly effect of change

MC 26:52-27:55 What has changed since April 2015

TP 61:58-62:49 either shaking off or embracing its history

 

What still needs to change

VB 21:01-23:20 What still needs to change

Leonard Prescott 03:44-03:56 People need to change, crime

AC 42:21-42:50 Urging universities to invest in their community

MC 28:14-29:10 What needs to happen is development without displacement

VB 24:52-25:55 What the uprising accomplished

TP 66:55-67:54 I want to see people be more successful

TP 66:35-66:39 America is a large ship

Listening and Storyboarding

This week I began the process of marking our audio to be edited into usable chunks, and creating a summary guide to the topics of each chunk. I am roughly halfway through that process. Calvin and I then pulled a selection of those segments out to create a thematic arch. I pulled three interviewees reactions to the news of Freddie Gray’s death, their brief description of how they experienced the Uprising, how they think the Uprising has changed Baltimore over the past year, and finally how they see Baltimore going forward. I roughly ordered these segments in a way that made narrative sense to me. Most of my interviewees were upset by the death of Freddie Gray, but not necessarily surprised. They hoped that the Uprising would illuminate for white people what black people know from a very early age—that police violence is a real and dangerous thing. They also see Baltimore at a nexus where the city could take a turn either for better or worse. I hope that Andrea Seabrook can provide more guidance on how to present these audio segments in a way that is gripping and how to provide narration to string these voices into a cohesive story.

I also had the privilege f interviewing Charles Cange this week. Professor Cange worked with the No Boundaries Coalition on a survey project that generated qualitative data and stories from residents of Gilmor homes about policing in their communities. Professor Cange provided useful summary of what residents had to say, and his own analysis on how Baltimore is changing. I think the interview generated a lot of useful audio.

Preliminary intro and project update

1)            Last April, 25 year old Baltimore native, Freddie Gray was killed by police. Over the next few weeks protests drew thousands of residents to marches and rallies across the city. The rapid mobilization of activists and drama of conflict with police left many onlookers confused. What led to such an uprising? Freddie Gray was certainly not the only young black man killed by police in recent history, yet his death sparked the largest series of protests in recent Baltimore history.

Wanting to understand this event better we asked leaders and participants in the protests of last April two questions. The first was: what led to the Baltimore uprising? And our second question: what lasting effect has the uprising had on Baltimore city?

2)            Over the past few months I have done secondary and primary source research on Baltimore’s history of police violence, segregation, and activism. Additionally I have recorded approximately three hours of audio with four different activists who were involved in protests. Calvin and I are in the process of contacting several more activists to interview. This week, I have been going through our existing audio and pulling out good audio pieces for radio. Next week we will hopefully be able to schedule at least two more interview to provide more diverse perspectives on the uprising.

AMST 630: Small Assignment 2

  1. Revisit your assigned audio interview/s from Bromo Speaks: Listen again and look for themes related to CHANGE and pull out direct quotes that may help us in this semester’s radio series. (See blog 3)
  2. Listen closely to the recordings from this week (posted under Audio 2016 folder àInterviews) Pull out good quotes – reflect on what questions and methods worked well and what could be improved:

 

Baynard Woods:

(2:05) That Battle, though, seems to be the primary thing that has gone on through the history the market. The tension between the vendors and the management–the vendors often being new waves of immigrants. Then with all the changes that have happened in the neighborhood around it.

(2:24)I started looking into the market so much because a city is impossible to understand, it’s too big. This market contains all the good things and the bad things about Baltimore. All the things Baltimore struggles with and all the things that Baltimore is great at–it’s the city in microcosm.

(4:34) We were about to move to Baltimore. we wanted to look around at what neighborhood we might want to live in. We started the day at the market and ate oysters at Faidley’s and just walked around and head out from here to go check out the rest of the city. It was spectacular. I fell in love with it at that minute and with the city through the market at that minute.

(5:30) It seemed for a while there were more drugs being sold outside the market and now there’s less lately.

(5:42) Mainly it’s just all the bullshit people say about the market is different. All this shit about we have to make it vibrant and stuff. Look around this is as vibrant as anything can get. All the media stuff just goes around in cycles about it.

(6:24) This is what the market feels like is all of this life jostling into each other. It’s a vital jostling where everyone bumps into each other with a little gluttony. With Fried Chicken or crabcakes or egg sandwiches and beers and music everything is jostling. And to me that is the beauty of the world and city life is like.

(7:25) Drug people don’t bother me at all. I think they should leave them alone and start bothering the people who are cat calling women instead.

(7:56) Cities are on the course of becoming playgrounds rich people. I think that’s bullshit. I think the market is what they are trying to push and turn it into a playground for rich people and I think that this is what cities should be. It has all the great things and all the terrible things of what cities should be and what our city should be

Minas

:28 The people change. Used to shopping like you go to a supermarket. Before they don’t have so many variety in supermarkets. They come here they have the meat places, the fruit places, ??? ….Now they have the supermarkets have everything and they only come here for something fresh or something for the holidays.

2:27 They planning to do renovation. They don’t give us any detail–the who the what the when. I think they are cleaning better, the electricity, and plumbing… a new face

2:53 I don’t know what the change means to everybody. But If I’ve had a job for so many years I’m not going to change, I’m going to work the same way, and serve the same products.

3:49 Baltimore is improving the face, everything is changing so they decide to change the Lexington Market to. I hope it is for the better.

Steve Hyon

:30 I translate for some of the people in this market who have trouble with the language

1:35 Somewhat uneasy because of uncertainty. Not just me, overall that’s how people feel

Nancy Faidley Divine

7:29 They’re talking about changing the market. The plans that I’ve seen–I think it’s going to take away the feeling of the market. Granted it needs some more diversity. It seems like primarily one ethnic group which I don’t think is good. I think a lot has to be done for the neighborhood. Putting 26 million dollars in here is not going to change the neighborhood. I think they have to do some very drastic things–some dramatic things.

8:55 Weve seen neighborhood changes, good and bad.

9:46 I would like to have seen them do some more things. I still have people come up and say to me that they are scared to come in here because of the people standing around on the outside street. And that’s not in here but because they have to walk through it they are uncomfortable. Especially with the stuff on the news.

11:04 Unfortunately the riots didn’t help. We had a pretty good reputation for the harbor and all the nice things and the good things that are happening here. Just because you have these drug gangs.

11:43 I was a school teacher and I don’t think teenagers organize themselves that well.

12:41 They are talking about closing everyone down for two years. You don’t get business back. We had some very famous resaurants here in Baltimore. Once they closed, nobody heard about them anymore.

Chantae

:40 All the buses run here. Everyday when we got out of school we’d come down here to get some food. Then we’d go to work.

1:10 It’s different. They have light up Lexington. they are trying to appeal to a different crowd

1:47 It’s like gentrifaction. It’s good and bad.

2:04 I like gentrification because it offers a different perspective. We can’t go toa farmer’s market so where else are we going to get fresh produce.

2:49 I think it can add a different audience. I don’t think the people who come here will stop coming here.

5:03 It has a bad rep. If you look around you can see why. Because of certain people who come here. They aren’t bad people they are just poor people.

5:43 When you gentrify a neighborhood they talk bad about it, but at least the houses are occupied. When they gentrify they don’t make it for the people who lived in that neighborhood before.

Cincade Huntley

15: My father brought me down here as a young lad. We got some Peanuts–roasted hot peanuts for fity cents. They are a dollar now, but you know, still pretty good.

1:08 Everything is not as bad as some people would say about the city. There is a lot of good people and a lot of ??? that’s trying to get of their feet and just survive every day and be a testament to the community

1:30 I actually still see some of the old vendors from when I was a kid

1:39 Change is good, but sometimes money that is used for certain projects could be used in other areas

2:52 I think if it’s more of a farmer’s market atmosphere it would draw in a new type of customer which would weed out some of the people who hang around. I think that would be a positive thing.

3:40 The market for the most part is one of the safest places to come and commune

In reflection, I wish I was there. My classmates spoke to some really interesting people who had interesting and thoughtful things to say about the Market and Baltimore in general. Obviously we need to be better about getting people’s last names. I would also like to hear more stories from the interviewees. It is great to get their perspectives and opinions, but especially for people who have been coming to the market for decades, they surely have interesting anecdotes from their own experiences in Baltimore.

I think we found a lot of material that will paint an image of Lexington Market and even got some specific views on changes in the West Side. I’m excited to see what else we here from people.

Adventure 1

Describe your experience of our walking tour… be specific: What did you see? What did you notice about the people and places? Analyze the patterns. What are you still curious about?

The walking tour was a pleasant way to see new sites and have familiar ones put into a new context. North of Franklin the streets are less crowded. I enjoyed the peasant walk up Howard as long as I didn’t look left. When I looked left I saw a hideous concrete wall that read “University of Maryland Medical Center.” I am not trying to complain about hospitals. Hospitals are good—we need them. What I am fruitlessly complaining about is how megalithic institutions strip local character from neighborhoods.

South of Franklin, the city has a different feel. People walk in crowds, they shout at each other across busy intersections, and they walk in and out of the dozens of bodegas, restaurants, and businesses that draws people to the area. This image of city life is most apparent on the streets right around Lexington Market and in the market itself. Life is happening there.

When I walk around the west-side of downtown, I feel very strongly that there is something here I want preserved. I imagine that this was what life was like for my grandparents sixty years ago. Life was lived in public. People worked, shopped, and ate alongside their friends and neighbors.

Things have and continue to change downtown though. I know I build up an idealized vision of what my part of town is, but when you ask the people there they have as many things to say about how life changes as they do how it stays the same. The superblock was one example of how things have changed downtown. I have heard about it many times in conversations and on public radio, but I have either never seen or never noticed it for myself. The sad image of some of Baltimore’s most beautiful storefronts—vacant and lifeless—is seared into my brain.

While I have built up an idea of what the Lexington Market is, I am curious how that lines up with the perspectives of people who have actually grown up there. The poverty of the area is evident and people aren’t entirely thrilled. James, who we interviewed at the Lexington Market, talked about how the area is an open air drug market. He hoped that it would change. We all want change, we just need to make sure it is the right change. I’m excited to talk to people and hear from them what change is good and what change is bad for downtown’s west-side.

Reflections on Andrea Seabrook’s visit

It was a pleasure to have Andrea Seabrook join us for class last week. She did a brilliant job distilling our class goal to its most basic level, storytelling. Her perspective on how to do that was also valuable. Her emphasis on focus and clarity will help the class improve on the excellent work previous classes have done. Finding a central question that guides each interview and all of our research will help create a more cohesive final project that will provide listeners with a self-evident topic and themes for each piece.

Andrea’s simplification and precision on the process of creating radio stories was useful. Andrea also provided a poignant reality check about the differences between academia and journalism when it comes to telling stories people want to hear. I frequently use jargon and emotionally neutral language when examining the past, stripping significant humanity from the stories I tell. One of her final pieces of advice, to edit the audio and not the transcriptions, was a tip that would have never occurred to me.

In our discussion, we arrived at a tentative structure for our radio stories. Four segments, each with a different focus, will all lead to a final piece that shows how each element of our neighborhood relates to the uprising. The sub-segments will be Food Markets, Theaters/Entertainment, Streets, and shops. The final piece will simply be on the uprising and will hopefully tie elements of each of the preceding stories together. This structure could juxtapose the geography, economy, and demographics of downtown in illuminating ways for WEAA listeners. Connecting these distinct stories together as they relate to the uprising is timely and ambitious. It will be incredibly challenging to find so many complete stories in such a short time. Then it will be equally, if not more difficult, to synthesize them so that they are coherent as a collection that leads to a discussion of the uprising. I think we should swing for the fences, but also temper our expectations.

My research has been on the April uprising, I think that knowledge will be useful for our class as we identify the elements in each story that relate to the themes in the uprising. Also, I have already conducted three interviews with April protestors and will conduct more as part of my research in the weeks to come. These interviews will likely provide valuable material for the class radio segments. I enjoy talking to people, asking questions, and rooting out the stories people are eager to tell. I am excited for the class trips downtown to interview Baltimore residents. I also think I can be helpful when it comes time to analyze our audio and begin storyboarding the radio segments.

Andrea brought new excitement and vision to our class. Our new structure is ambitious, and even if we fall short of our own lofty expectations, we can make good radio.

Thoughts on the Previous Class

I fall in love with the Lexington Market more each time I hear the music and color in the background audio of my classmates’ interviews. As I interview my own subjects, I consider having them meet me there just to have the hustle and bustle of the market in the background, but better judgement prevails and I choose quitter and controlled environments. I had the privilege of listening to several interviews, each one of them interesting and brief.

I applaud the interviewers for their courage in approaching strangers and initiating thoughtful conversations. I found myself wanting more, especially with Minas and Steve Hyon. Both of them were immigrants and stall owners at the market. Hyon referenced that he translates for many of the other stall operators who do not speak English. His role, bridging the gap between native, naturalized, and newly immigrated workers in the market seemed like a unique perspective I wish could have been explored more deeply. Minas categorized the work he did as hard work, and the work his brother-in-law went on to do after he graduated from MICA as not-hard work. I think follow-up questions about that would have provided an interesting prospective from an immigrant about how perspectives and immigrant businesses change over time.

The interviews with Baynard Woods and Nancy Faidley-Divine were longer and full of material ripe for radio. The transcription for Faidley-Divine was incomplete. I transcribed some as I listened, but more still needs to be done.

I think as a class, we can do a better job this semester in crafting deeper questions before we begin the interviews. Also, we should prepare ourselves to ask follow-up questions during the course of the interviews so we are not just relying on scripts. There is a lot to build off of. It is very exciting.

Interview and Reflections

Part I

Last April, at UMBC’s Teach-in event, Vanessa Barksdale was moved to join many of her fellow students to get on a bus and join protesters downtown. This week I interviewed Vanessa about her experiences as a student activist during the uprising. Vanessa spent part of her childhood in Park Heights and part of it in Baltimore County.  Growing up partly in the city and being a young woman of color, Freddie Gray’s death at the hands of police was especially difficult. She said, “I remember sitting down, I remember just like my stomach, like turning up into a complete knot.” She expressed the disbelief she experienced hearing about how someone could get in a police car and have their spine completely severed. It terrified her.

On her first march, she marched along the inner harbor and up the Fallsway by the city jail. It too was terrifying. She watched the police watching her, and saw the tanks and armored vehicles down the streets on both sides of her and her fellow marchers. She described it as feeling “like a scene out of the hunger games.” She said that it felt like “an alternate universe… or a sci-fi movie” seeing the city she group up in so militarized. Repeatedly she expressed her fear and that the visual message of the police and National Guard was that the state had the authorization to kill her, and if she strayed down the wrong street she could die. One of her most moving stories was about an interaction she had with a police officer. She approached an officer to ask when businesses in the Inner Harbor would re-open. The officer’s aggressive response “YOU CAN’T GO PAST HEAR! TURN AROUND!” was extremely frightening to Vanessa. She went on to tell me “I know people say that your words can be violent, and that was the most violent way that anyone could ever say a sentence.” By the end of the story Vanessa was in tears, remembering the fear she felt then.

Like many participants in the Black Lives Matter movement, social media plays a huge role in Vanessa’s connection to activism. She tracked marches and found events to be involved in through twitter, as well as getting most of her news through social media as well. Twitter represents an alternative to mainstream media for many young people including Vanessa. In response to CNN’s sensationalizing the altercations with police and property destruction, Vanessa said that at each of her marches and all her time downtown she never saw anything that matched the national media narratives.

Vanessa thinks the uprising has had a positive effect by mobilizing institutions and starting conversations about systemic problems. This kind of mobilization is certainly reflected in Vanessa’s own journey to activism. Vanessa is in school for social work, but she did not have a history of activism before the uprising. Since then however, she has been involved and is even considering further education in policy to continue her activism on the political level.

Self-Reflection:

Vanessa had excellent things to share. At the beginning of the interview, I remembered I needed to stop verbally affirming her speech with uh-huh and yeahs. Listening to the interview back, I am very self-critical by how repetitive and long-winded my questions are. For the most part, my questions did result in great responses, most of that was Vanessa of course, but my questions were mostly open ended. I think being more direct, concise, and clear would make it easier for the person I’m interviewing.

Part II

I think there are a couple of directions the class could go for the over-arching theme of the project. The Baltimore underground would encompass a lot of the places and interests the class has focused on. From the 7-eleven where the Ouija-board was invented, the Theosophical society cult, Grandpa’s and Grandma’s, and the history of the Psychic Annex, there are a lot of strange stories in Western Downtowns history. In another direction, there is the often referenced two Baltimore’s narrative. The predominantly white, gentrified parts of the city with private markets, art studios, and theaters, and the predominantly black businesses and homes that preceded the arts districts and speculative investing. The uprising plays a significant role in this second narrative as we can see the marginalized people of Baltimore “taking out their pain” as John Comer put it, on the face of white Baltimore. If we pursued this second topic about two Baltimore’s, we could hopefully show that Baltimore is not so simply divided into a black and white binary and the stain of change is not always negative, we could flesh out complexities of gentrification and investment.