I was granted sabbatical release for the fall 2018 semester in order to continue work on the Arkansas River documentary project. The hour-long documentary, The Arkansas River: from Leadville to Lamar, was completed and aired on Rocky Mountain PBS in May of 2018. In addition to the broadcast, twelve public screenings were held up and down the basin (literally from Leadville to Lamar). These public screenings were organized by the Arkansas River Basin Water Forum as part of their PEPO (Public Education, Participation and Outreach) program. After the program was screened, a panel of local experts were invited to address topics raised by the film or by members of the audience. In addition to these screenings, the program was included in a private film festival in Denver.
While the program clearly achieved its objectives as evidenced by the discussions and dialogs that ensued, I recognized that additional stories needed to be told to more fully develop several of the topics. To this end, and with funding provided by the Rawlings Foundation, I proposed to create the additional content and make it available on a website where visitors could explore at their own pace. This content would take the form of webisodes and short 360 degree video clips that would allow website visitors to explore the issues in greater depth. (Fall 2019 UPDATE: The website was recognized by the Broadcast Education Association [BEA] with an Award of Excellence at the Super-Regional Conference in Boulder, CO. The website was entered in the Faculty Division of the Interactive Multimedia competition.)
In order to present this new content using the latest innovative technologies I explored new hardware and software tools that are providing increased levels of interactivity. 360 videos and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) software allow data to be presented in visual ways that allow end-users to see relationships that are otherwise difficult to present using more traditional media (e.g., text, photos, linear video)
Using a Garmin VIRB 360 camera to capture 360 video views of the Arkansas River basin and then plotting them on an interactive map allows visitors to the website to “visit” places in the basin that they would otherwise not have an opportunity to see. ArcGIS Storymap software was used to present these short 360 videos in a format that invited users to explore the basin.
Storymaps also allow for storytelling using mixed media (text, images, video) in ways that take advantage of each medium’s strength. Following is a Storymap that was produced to allow Western Slope voices to be heard on the topic of trans-basin water diversions. This Storymap is just one of several components of a website that will become a destination for those seeking in-depth information about the Arkansas River basin and water issues related to the security of this vital resource.
Training completed as part of the sabbatical project:
- Intro to Mapping and GIS for Journalists
- Creating Story Maps with ArcGIS
- Masterclass: Ken Burns teaches Documentary Film
- Video Production for Journalists in the Information Age
Websites created as part of the sabbatical project:
Additional scholarly/creative activities accomplished while on sabbatical:
- Article: Real Research on Fake News, for publication in the January 2019 issue of JoME
- Promotional video for UCE, a local non-profit addressing HIV/AIDs and STDs awareness in Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi
- Presentation: Building Resistance to Brain Bugs: Unconscious Bias and Media Literacy for Pikes Peak Women and Citizens Project
- Travel to Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, with a group of CSU-Pueblo faculty/staff to explore international/cross-cultural opportunities for CSU-Pueblo students.
- Travel to Cambodia for tourism, visiting family, and shooting video for a promotional video for EMI (Engineering Ministries International), a non-profit that provides architectural, engineering and design expertise in the developing world.