Broken Bootstraps: building empathy with video games

Broken Bootstraps: building empathy with video games

According to a Boston Magazine article from February 2016, Boston’s cost of living is 39.7 percent above the U.S. average, with groceries and health care running 26 percent above average, while the median household income in the city remains on par with the rest of the country. Only nine percent of today’s rental housing listings are within reach of households with $50,000 annual incomes, while a tiny one percent of listings are affordable to households with $25,000 annual incomes. 

Where do you fit in? 

Click here to play Broken Bootstraps

Today was Northeastern University’s School of Journalism hackathon Urban Tensions, run by professors Matt Carroll (of Spotlight fame), John Wihbey, Dietmar Offenhuber and Aleszu Bajak. The program itself was split into two halves: three 5-minute “lightning” talks followed by about 4 hours of actual creation. The idea was to build visualizations based on data available in Boston specifically.

We had three guest speakers, and I’m going to focus solely on Christine Dixon’s talk as it was what sparked my idea. (If you want to know more about the hackathon itself, Rowan Walrath posted a Storify from the event. Check that out here.  Continue reading “Broken Bootstraps: building empathy with video games”

Standing Up For Black Lives: How Asian Americans Are Showing Their Solidarity

Standing Up For Black Lives: How Asian Americans Are Showing Their Solidarity

At a protest in the Commons following the election, I’ve been thinking a lot about the phrase “Black Lives Matter”. Sure, I say it and I believe it, but am I doing the work in my every day life to back up those words?

As my final for Dan Kennedy’s Digital Storytelling and Social Media, I chose to focus on the work being done by the Asian American community in Boston to support Black folks. There’s more work to be done than simply covering the work others do, but for now, we still need to give voice to marginalized communities, especially when they are doing cross-community work the way the Sticky Rice Project and Asian Pacific Islanders for Black Lives do. While these pieces are by no means exhaustive, please enjoy my video below, and check out the accompanying article and slideshow!

Continue reading “Standing Up For Black Lives: How Asian Americans Are Showing Their Solidarity”

APIs for Black Lives Matter pt 1

For my final project, I’m interested in focusing on the involvement–or lack thereof–of Asian Pacific Islanders (APIs) in the Black Lives Matter movement, with a focus in the Boston/Cambridge area. I am in contact with the Sticky Rice Project, a subset of the community organizing program Asian American Resource Workshop. The Sticky Rice Project is currently running an anti-Black racism workshop to combat the prejudice that often runs in the Asian American community.

I have a contact at the Sticky Rice Project that I’ve spoken to about the project, and have reached out to the Black Lives Matter chapters to try to set up interviews. I’m also going to reach out to leadership in the Asian American organizations at BU, BC, Harvard and MIT to see if they are running any sort of anti-Black racism programming at their universities. I know that Northeastern is doing this sort of work, so I also intend to interview the staff members at the Asian American Center to get a perspective about what work is happening at Northeastern.

I intend for this story to be primarily video driven, perhaps with the written story focusing on Northeastern itself. For the slideshow aspect, I intend to focus on the action that community groups are taking, so for example, marches, demonstrations or programming that the groups are involved in.

DivestNU is in-tents About Climate Justice

DivestNU is in-tents About Climate Justice

Walking through Northeastern University’s main quad, it’s hard to miss the protestors camped out on Centennial Common. Student activists from DivestNU have been occupying the quad since Monday Oct. 3rd in an effort to pressure the university to cut its ties to the fossil fuel industry.

DivestNU, a student-led campaign, has formed a coalition of student organizations on campus, including the Northeastern Black Student Association, the Feminist Student Organization, Students for Justice in Palestine, the Progressive Student Alliance, Students Against Institutional Discrimination, and the Husky Environmental Action Team. This coalition is key, according to DivestNU organizer Austin Williams, because divestment isn’t simply a climate issue, but a social justice issue.

“The cruel irony of climate change is that the folks who have contributed the least to the problem are the ones who are going to be hit first and hardest by its impacts,” said Williams. “So we don’t think of this as a green or an environmental issue, but rather we try to frame it as a justice issue and focus on how climate change is going to exacerbate the existing inequities in our society.”

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Nicole Erickson, president of the Feminist Student Organization, agreed, saying that, “[climate change isn’t] gonna be hard for President Aoun, it’s not gonna be hard for the people saying it doesn’t exist because they have all the resources to work around it. The people who are really going to be affected are the ones I’m out here for today.”

Those people, Erickson points out are those who historically get the short end of the stick: women, children and other marginalized people. Geographically, the areas most in danger are nations in the global south, from coastal flooding in South Asia to droughts in Sub-Saharan Africa. We see the effects with Hurricane Mathew–a rising death toll of over 400 according to the Haitian government. (Edit: as of Saturday morning, it’s over 800 deaths.)

Climate change-related disasters aren’t limited to natural disasters, but man-made ones as well. And that causes dangers for workers, making climate change an issue for labor rights groups as well, such as the Progressive Students Alliance, says Student Government representative Pratik Dubey, of PSA.

“Labor rights and climate justice are typically two fights that are pitted against one another but we recognize that in reality you can’t have climate justice without labor justice,” said Dubey. “Take for example, the Deep Water Horizon oil spill. The accident itself killed many workers, and in its aftermath, the spill itself ruined the livelihoods of all the people that depend on the Gulf Region for work.” (Mac McClelland has two great pieces on the DeepWater Horizon spill, the first on the runaround of the oil industry, the second on the effects on those living in the gulf. Definitely worth a read.)

When I asked protestors how long DivestNU would occupy Centennial, they said as long as it takes for the university to enact change. Let’s hope for their sake that it happens before the effects of Hurricane Mathew reach New England.