Summer Immersion 2015 Group Project Requirements

We anticipate that your group project will bring together some combination of video, audio, stills, webtext, interactive graphics and other digital elements to create a unique story form. Toward that end, a successful project must fulfill these three requirements:

  1. Your group must decide on an anchor element around which the whole multimedia project is structured. Possible focal points for your project may include (but are not limited to):
    • A. A long-form Webtext anchor piece (or series of smaller text pieces) totaling at least 1000 words. You must use the best practices of web by including links, photos, infographics and other digital or visual elements.
    • B. A video anchor piece that may have narration or may be a first-person/natural sound piece. This piece should be at least two minutes.
    • C. An audio anchor piece such as a tracked, stand-alone radio report, a first-person/ambient sound piece, or an audio slide show. This piece should be at least two minutes
    • D. A digital anchor piece such as an infographic, google map, or interactive (like a timeline).
  2. Regardless of what your group chooses as an anchor element for your project, you must also make use of other content, including multimedia, digital, and audio/visual elements. Your project must use three of the four elements listed below:
    • A. Some form of video. If your anchor element is not a video piece then this might include two or three short video interview clips or MOS/voxpop videos
    • B. Some form of audio. If your anchor element is not an audio piece then this might include short audio clips of interviews, an audio Q&A, a voxpop sound piece, or one or more short audio slide shows.
    • C. Some webtext (totaling 600 words). If your anchor element is not a longer text piece then this might be two sidebars related to your larger project, a Q&A with an interview subject, or a short profile of someone connected with your story. These elements must also follow the best practices of webtext and include links and photos (and perhaps small digital elements).
    • D. Some digital elements. If your anchor element is not a digital element then your project must have at least two digital elements – an infographic, an interactive (like a timeline), a data visualization, etc.
  3. Your group member bios (with still photos) must appear as part of your project. These will go on a separate page and do not count toward the text requirements.

Design, placement, and organization of your project elements is totally up to you and the constraints of the template you have been given.

Source profile assignment

Complete a profile of one source connected to your final projects. Due Friday, 8/14, 6 p.m.

Can be a text story or a digital element, including an infographic, an audio slideshow or a scripted video piece.

Keep it relatively short (for text, about 500 words; for audio/video, 1-2 minutes).

To submit, create a WordPress post and then link it in the comments of this post.

Class playlist


Assuming you are all civilized human begins, you have Spotify… what I want you to do is select THREE song available on Spotify that represent your taste and music… and add a link to each of the songs in the comments section of this post.

Thus creating our Summer (Jams) Immersion Playlist.

No judgement in song choices… well, at least we’ll try.

Here’s a link to the class playlist:

The Last Paper Expert in Los Angeles


On a quiet corner one block west of MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, sits McManus & Morgan. Stepping into the art supply store is akin to journeying back to Los Angeles’ art scene’s halcyon days, with its walls lined with exotic parchment sheets and shelves brimming with stationery.

At the counter in the back of the store is where you’re most likely to find Gary Wolin, the proprieter of the establishment and one of the lone paper experts left in Los Angeles. A quiet man with a husky voice and a likeness to Sir Ian McKellan, he’s weathered the highs and lows of running a business in the ever-changing MacArthur Park.

Wolin, a native of Detroit, came to Los Angeles as a teenager in the mid-40s after his uncle called his father to ask if he was interested in owning an art supply shop. His father, who had a background in art, was indeed interested and hopped on the first flight to Los Angeles to purchase the then 20-year-old business.


Wolin’s father had originally been a traveling salesman, who would only be home for a few days each month, so growing up their relationship was nonexistent. But that changed with the acquisition of McManus & Morgan.

He and his father spent a week driving the family’s possessions from Detroit to Los Angeles. “We moved out here and jumped into it. And in moving to the art neighborhood of Los Angeles, we realized there was going to be a lot to learn,” Wolin said.

The whole family got involved in the business, with Wolin taking a huge interest in the day-to-day operations. Enough so, that he eventually took over the business from this father.

“The thing that my father created, that was of significance, is what you call a multiplex. We created pages on a stand for every single kind of paper here so that you just flip through,” Wolin said. He very proudly shows the multiplex that his father created to customers when they come in looking for a specific type of paper.

There was a point back in the heyday of the business where Wolin could drive around Los Angeles and say ‘That’s a customer. That’s another customer’. But “time has gone by and all the relationships have changed. Business was just phenomenal back in the day,’” Wolin said.


Business started dropping off in the mid-80s with the onset of technology and the change in the demographics of the neighborhood. “Westlake/MacArthur Park is important to our business and it used to be that a lot of our customers were from the original art neighborhood of Los Angeles, but now it’s very little. People in the neighborhood are not currently art people,” Wolin said.

Although Wolin runs the business single-handedly and there’s no definitive person to pass the store on to, he plans to be there until the very end. “At this moment I’m very positive and the revival of this neighborhood has been a long time coming. I’m glad I stuck it out. There is definitely a future out there,” Wolin said.

Crowdfunding scam victim implores donators to think cautiously

Justin Mitchell thought he was contributing to a worthwhile investment when he made a $160 donation to mPrinter, a portable thermal printer that was campaigning on the crowdfunding site, Kickstarter. What he received were false promises and a product that was neither completed nor fulfilled its duty to refund his money.

Unwilling to let others fall victim to crowdfunding scams, Mitchell, a web designer and developer, started his own site,, hoping to expose fraudulent Kickstarter campaigns so that the public becomes more aware of these scams.

“I had gotten to the point where I lost the most money in one sitting on that project, and that was just the last straw. I had to do something,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell is representative of thousands of backers on crowdfunding sites like IndieGoGo and Kickstarter who have been duped out of their money – a total that has exceeded an estimated $27.7 million as of May 2015 – attempting to fund projects that could not deliver or had no intention of delivering their promised products.

Exposure of these scams has come to the forefront in recent years. Recently, the Federal Trade Commission successfully settled a case against a scam perpetrated by Eric Chevelier, showing the governments willingness to crackdown on people preying on the generosity of others.

However, Mitchell feels that there are bigger fish to fry.

“Kickstarter has created a platform and they’ve just backed out completely, and in essence have created a platform for scam artists to thrive,” Mitchell said of Kickstarter’s refund policy. “There’s no process for the creator to go through the refunds, none of the money is held in escrow; there’s just no way from them to do it.”

Another problem that Mitchell points out with Kickstarters is their policy of taking 5 percent of the money donated to successful campaigns – even ones identified as scams.

“Kickstarter made money off of [Chevelier’s project],” Mitchell said. “He’s being sued for failure to deliver, but Kickstarter got to keep all the funds.”

Though Mitchell has made it his goal to expose scams and revealing holes in crowdfunding platforms’ refund enforcement policies, it is not his only aim. He also holds awareness in high regard and does not hesitate to spread a message of caution when contributing to campaigns.

“Looking up the creator’s name, Google search the images, and check the comments before you back a project,” Mitchell says of the steps to take. “Take the time to go through back through those comments and see if there’s people saying, ‘this isn’t real.’”

Mitchell may have been a victim, but his resolve to prevent anyone else from falling into the same trap he did may help the community recover from its latest outbreak of frauds.

A Deputy in the Field

Ana Gomez has been a Field Deputy for 2 years with the office of Councilmember Cedillo. Her days usually last 12 hours, with special events or dinners about once a week keeping her out until 10 or 11pm. She often works 6 days a week.

On any given day, she drives all over the city to attend various meetings and speak with workers in the Westlake/MacArthur Park, Pico Union, Koreatown, University Park and Temple Beaudry neighborhoods. For example, a day recently involved a site visit to a location that will be the future site of a small beautification project in the Westlake Neighborhood, a stop by City Hall for a small stop sign installation ceremony in Pico Union, a meeting with a non-profit Executive Director about building renovations, picking up permits at the Department of Water and Power, and that was all before she headed back to the office for paperwork. Her office work spans from presentations for Neighborhood Council meetings to running logistics for event planning movie nights, parades and clean ups.

Gomez’s main responsibility is to be an advocate. She is a sounding board for her communities and receives residents, businesses, volunteers, workers, and stakeholders’ complaints and concerns. She has gained the trust of people in her community and often extends her workload to ensure communication. “Some of those issues are easily resolvable so those are generally qualified as casework…I sometimes handle that casework on my own because people know me and they will always refer back to me on their issues.” For one community in particular, MacArthur Park, Gomez is attending to public safety, cleanliness and programming by helping organize multiple departments to work together: Sanitation, Recreation and Parks, and the LAPD.

Gomez says she has an “interesting” relationship to MacArthur Park. “Being an immigrant I have a great passion for the immigrant community. I loved the work that I did in Boyle Heights, but it is nothing like the challenges that people face living in MacArthur Park. The number of people and activity is incomparable.” She has particular drive around the homeless community, and has done extensive work to reach out and provide resources for them. That community in particular, she says, is the source of a lot of chaos in the community. She works at length with Neighborhood Council members, non-profit organizations, city and county agencies that provide services to the homeless, while working with angry business owners who are inherently frustration with the presence of the homeless in the community.

Gomez can name the challenges of MacArthur Park, noting range and variety of the resident as the biggest one . Attributing to this, she says, is the “general understanding that MacArthur Park is a pit stop in Los Angeles. The different needs and points of views and the sheer number of residents are some of the biggest challenges. ” She notes the fast changeover in the population, but also gains pleasure in knowing many long time residents.

Not so smartwatch: Crowdfunding campaign backer still waiting for two-year-old technology

Orange County real estate agent Michael Wiener has committed himself to the principles of hard work and integrity. These two principles are something that he has built his business on, he says.

Although he is paid for his skills as a seller, Wiener is also a buyer in his spare time. The self-described entrepreneur often contributes to online crowdfunding campaigns. He contributes money to back projects and helps bring creative projects to life. Rather than back books or films, Wiener funds campaigns where he is offered a tangible reward in return.

“It seems like a great way for an individual to get funding to be able to create something that starts out as an idea that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to produce or bring to market,” Wiener said.

Over the past few years, Wiener has contributed money to 20 different projects via the global crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. In 2013, he paid $200 to back a project claiming to deliver its supporters a “next generation smartwatch with brand-new technology.”

“At that point, that was long before Apple or really anybody else had a smartwatch on the market and to me that was a very appealing product,” Wiener said.

Since its creation, the project titled “AGENT: The World’s Smartest Watch” has surpassed its $100,000 goal and raked in more than $1 million in donations from 5,685 backers.

It is now more than two years after the campaign’s start date and Wiener and the other backers have yet to receive the AGENT smartwatch.

“This smartwatch will not be smart … If it comes out today, it’s going to be two years behind the times,” Wiener said. “Pretty useless, I would think.”

Wiener has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against Chris Walker, the project manager and campaign creator of the AGENT smartwatch.

He said that Kickstarter’s Integrity team must hold creators responsible if they do not deliver what their campaign promises.

“The project creator has to have a legitimate project that they can create and Kickstarter needs to hold them to that … there needs to be some sort of recourse if they don’t fulfill their obligations,” Wiener said.

The crowdfunding platform encourages its creators to be honest and ethical while conducting business on the website, according to Kickstarter’s Trust and Safety guidelines.

“Personally it just feels like somebody stole $200 from me. I was just scammed out of it.”

Wiener says his experience with the AGENT smartwatch campaign has “absolutely” made him wary of backing other Kickstarter campaigns, although he has backed other projects since AGENT.

“I have backed some others since this, but I do my due diligence. I research the company and the individual,” he said.

Bryan M. Sullivan – Source Profile

Entertainment lawyer, Political Activist, Crowdfunding Author: these are some of the titles worn by Bryan M. Sullivan. His versatility and passion radiate from him, and it is clear that this man is driven and purposeful. Sullivan is a problem solver, and he is good at what he does.

In 2000, Sullivan earned his law degree at Boston College, then spent 10 years working for Glaser, Weir Fink, Jacobs, Howard and Shapiro LLP. There he built a working knowledge of law and an impressive clientele including Miley Cyrus.

Afterward Sullivan and four other partners left the company and founded Early, Sullivan, Wright, Gizer and McRae LLP. In the past 5 years the now multi-million dollar company has grown to 15 attorneys in four locations across the U.S. Sullivan is known for innovative thinking and risk taking. Founding his own firm was one of those risks, but now he knows it was the right move to get him noticed and really build his reputation.

Sullivan’s accomplishments show how valuable and versatile he is. He’s won numerous awards including several “Top Attorneys Under 40”and “Super Lawyer” awards. Sullivan is a dedicated non-profit and political activist, and he was awarded with Liberty Hill Foundation’s 2012 NextGen Leadership award because of his efforts in the non-profit community. He is involved with I Vote Inc. a youth voter engagement group and the Lion Fund for Children, a group that assists victims of sexual abuse.

In 2006, Sullivan co-founded BASTA Inc. a non-profit housing rights organization where they changed how evictions are done in Los Angeles. Most notably, the group assists tenants in landlord disputes by demanding jury trials, potentially diminishing unfair evictions. With this housing background he was appointed Sullivan to the Affordable Housing Commission by Los Angeles Mayor, Eric Garcetti. He served for a year before resigning to work on the mayor’s reelection campaign.

Even with all of his involvement in law and the non-profit sector Sullivan added another facet of his expertise, crowdfunding. Sullivan co-wrote two articles on with regards to crowdfunding and the legal ramifications that are just waiting to happen.

With all of his responsibilities one might think that they would each be neglected but all that Sullivan works on flourishes. His peers respect his work and he has truly earned his place in the world.





Making the Impossible Seem Real

“I was kind of a latchkey kid,” he explained, “My parents worked a lot so I’d get home from school and watch TV. Movies kind of made the impossible seem real.”

Scott Kim knew from a very young age that he wanted to be a filmmaker. Having grown up in New Jersey with two working parents, he spent a lot of time alone with his television set. “I loved the underdog stories like Rocky, where the odds were stacked against them to get to their dream.”

Kim applied this indomitable attitude toward his own life, as he earned his Bachelor’s from Ramapo College of New Jersey and shortly thereafter joined the U.S. Army.

In the Army, Kim was a Public Affairs Specialist, which he describes as “basically a journalist.” He wrote stories and took photos both for the Armed Forces Network newspaper and for American media companies such as CNN. “It was cool. We were basically the pubic relations for civilian media. Some of our events aired on national television and radio.”

However, Kim’s love for storytelling was not to be confined to journalism alone. Upon leaving the Army, he used his G.I. bill to attend the Los Angeles Film School, where his lifelong dream of filmmaking became a reality.

“I used to read comic books as a little kid, and now you have comic books being made into films. It was exactly what I’d always wanted.”

At school, Kim worked hard to define his strengths and hone his skills in the filmmaking medium of storytelling. This experience led him to many Production Assistant jobs post-graduation.

However, as many artists in Los Angeles tend to find, gathering investments for your film budget can be difficult. Kim found a way around this by funding one of his short films with a crowdfunding website called “Kickstarter.”

Not only was his campaign successful, but there was also a certain level of artistic camaraderie on crowdfunding sites. He helped to support the artistic efforts of his cohorts, and they supported him in return.

While Kim currently works for the IT department at Creative Artists Agency, he still manages to produce and direct films and commercials in his spare time. He is a firm believer that crowdfunding sites are a great gateway for struggling artists.

“At the end of watching a movie you kind of ride that high where anything is possible,” explained Kim. “Despite recent scams, I think crowdfunding sites are a great tool for independent artists.”

“At the end of a movie you kind of ride that high where anything is possible,” Kim said, “Crowdfunding sites allow that to happen for LA audiences.”

Planning Change with Dr. Lens

Michael Lens looks at every city with expert eyes. Lens is a professor of urban planning at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Policy. Lens sees himself as an advocate for change.

“I came to the field as somebody who’s always been interested in how public policy affects people in poverty and can help make it less frequent. For people who are in poverty, [I want to know] what can the government do to make lives better. ”

Lens is tall and distinguished. His face is framed with wire-rim glasses and hair is cropped close. Lens explains tedious zoning policies with an enthusiastic and conversational approach.

Lens completed his PhD in Public Administration at New York University in 2011. At NYU his doctoral research explored the effects of housing vouchers on New York City communities.

Lens’s research earned him academic clout, garnering awards and speaking invitations across the field. Last year, Lens’s report on job accessibility and housing subsidies won Best Paper of 2013-14 in Housing Policy Debate. Another 2013 piece investigating crime in low-income housing was distinguished in the Journal of  the American Planning Association.

Lens is dedicated to creating social change through influencing policy.

“We spend a lot of money on trying to help people afford housing and their’s a lot of things that housing affects beyond just the shelters. [Housing] is a big policy area for people who are interested in helping the lives of the poor”

The Luskin School supports Lens’s passion and commitment as a researcher. At UCLA, he’s the associate director of the Lewis Center for Regional Policy Study and a research fellow for the Ziman Center for Real Estate. 

In 2013, Lens and UCLA colleague Paavo Monkkonen received a substantial grant from the MacArthur Foundation. The expansive project examines local government behaviors during housing crises and is funded over several years.

“[The grant] is such an honor. They let you be very independent with how you get the work done, it’s really nice.”

Lens is private, a husband and father of two. He likes how academia complements his family commitments.

“I have a wife whose job is even busier than mine, she’s a lawyer, and we have two kids who are busy themselves! 

I find that a stable academic job is pretty conducive to that balance… It’s somewhere where you can be productive but also set your own hours. Today I’m picking up one of my kids and then coaching basketball. Not a lot of workplaces allow that. That’s a pretty special opportunity“

He tweets occasionally; mixing policy, news, professor gripes and some pop culture gems. He quotes hip hop lyrics, dripping with professorial snark.

Lens is a dedicated academic with the perspective and expertise to impact real change. His influence on the Los Angeles community and the field of urban planning will be lasting. Lens’s work funded through MacArthur Foundation is set for publication in 2016.

Sharing Is Caring

Brandi Veil shares a lot more than just her houses with strangers on Airbnb.

She shares her heart.

In addition to being an Airbnb host, Veil is also a mother, educator, wellness coach and “sharing advocate.” As a sharing advocate, Veil believes sharing is about an exchange of human interaction that will help the economy grow. She started her own project, “Sharing Heals” based on this idea.

“Sharing Heals is a project focused on transformation through sharing,” Veil said. “The project aims to connect people on a deeper level of human experience through their stories while giving resources for earning a heart-based income.”

Veil’s idea of “sharing” began after a series of life changing events. In 2005 Veil had a major car accident that affected her physical movement temporarily. At 16-years-old, Veil lost her home during Hurricane Andrew and became an emancipated minor so her parents could rebuild their home. Now she is using Sharing Heals as a platform to connect with other people.

“If we can use the tools, technology, ‘sharing economy’ and self-awareness, we can shift to a more conscious consumer marketplace,” Veil said. “It is a way to help people connect to one another and the planet once again.”

Through various social media platforms, Veil promotes the Sharing Heals project and encourages peoples to “create wealth” by exchanging ideas and experiences with one another. She hosts live Google Hangouts and posts videos on her YouTube channel.

Veil’s project is just one of many ways Veil shares with the community. She is the founder of “Learn.Help.Teach.” or LHT, an organization that helps professionals practice sharing or pitching their ideas to audiences. The purpose is to build confidence in their speaking and presentation abilities.

Veil not only shares spiritually and emotionally, but she also shares her home on Airbnb. She hosts gatherings for Sharing Heals and LHT from one of the properties listed on the renting website. This has been Veil’s main source of income and she believes this new way of connecting with other people also helps the sharing economy.

“After the crash in 2010, my event company was broken up and I decided to go on a social mission,” Veil said. “Sharing Heals is only the first part of it and Airbnb launched that for me.”

Veil has had over 150 reservations since 2012. With every person who stays in her home, Veil aspires to create a unique sharing experience. She adds personal touches such as cutting flowers, writing personal letters and being a personal concierge for dinner and events in town.  She also offers healing and meditation sessions for her guests.

“My legacy is that everyday I have a chance I use wisdom and deep connection to my inner guidance to carry out the task at hand for a new world economy, one of a better good, more connected world,” Veil said.

Through Veil’s projects and her campaign to connect with others, she strives to “heal” the economy by sharing. Veil suggests that people should do the following: Use new technology to even out the playing commercial field; think local to global; love your neighbor; share your hurt, your car, your knowledge, etc.; and raise children with a deep understanding of gratitude.

The slogan for Sharing Heals is: “We are economic transformation.” With her projects, Veil hopes to achieve a “caring economy.”

“Sharing economy is only the beginning of a caring economy, one that is self-reliant and expanding into the global markets that serve the greater good,” Veil said.


Brandi Veil Infographic

A unique artistic exchange through cultural immersion






Click here to watch the video interview.


Building an Intentional Community

Olivia Samad doesn’t go to church, she isn’t married and she is an only child. Living in Los Angeles she says, “I still need community.” For three years she has been working to establish the city’s first cohousing community, inHabitLA. A lawyer by trade Samad is a founding member of the organization.

Different from a condo, a co-op or a commune, cohousing members own individual units that are supplemented by common facilities. Often called an intentional community cohousing aims to increase happiness by building community.

“I want to be an example of how we can do housing in the future,” she says. While cohousing’s main function isn’t for affordability, a lower cost of housing is often the result of living in a denser community and sharing resources. For example, in a typical single family home each home would have a guest bedroom. In cohousing the community would share guest bedrooms and use them only when necessary.

“It’s something that makes people really happy,” she says talking about the sense of community. Samad was first introduced to cohousing in 2000 when she moved into a cohousing community in Washington DC. Prior to living there she had never heard of it before, but instantly enjoyed the sense of community that it created.

In addition to community, most cohousing sites have a lower carbon footprint than a single family home and place a strong emphasis on having connection with their surrounding environment. For Samad being close to public transportation is also important when selecting a piece of land to build.

After moving back to Southern California in 2003 she starting working toward making cohousing a reality in Los Angeles. For the past three years she has been working on getting inHabitLA off the ground.

“A lot of what cohousing facilitates is a healthy cohesive neighborhood,” she says. Living in a shared community single parents, senior citizens and families can share dinners, guest rooms, kitchens and other community facilities.

Samad is in the process of searching for land. She has eight families that are serious about joining inHabitLA and another 100 on a list waiting for land to be purchased before moving forward with any decisions. She is optimistic that in three years the community will be up and running.

“This is the year we’re going to find a sight and a developer,” she says confidently.