Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Article: Global Cal Poly Pomona 2007 - 2008

April, 2007

Images of Peace: A photo essay

In 2000, the Seeds of Peace CD-ROM won the silver CINDY award for educational interactive media. Nearly eight years later two members of that original team, Karen Brzoska and myself, April McKettrick, continue to create dynamic, multimedia projects as Instructional Designers in the division of Instructional and Information Technology (I&IT).

The Seeds of Peace Project touched our hearts for many reasons but for me it is always the visuals that stay with me not only in my archives but etched in my memory as well. This project had a humanistic approach that, when combined with technology, reached the teens effectively. Working with those who have experienced generations of hatred, fear, and preconceived ideas of “the other side” was a challenge. Our approach to finding solutions was visual and interactive, breaking down barriers by showing kids how alike they were, not how different they thought they were.

Our experience began in 1999 with a trip to Maine where the camp for Seeds of Peace is located. Each year like the swallows to Capistrano, over four hundred and fifty teenagers from all over the world find their way to this remote location. Our team met up with the Seeds of Peace team to create the educational CD-ROM called “Peace in the Middle East: Empowering the Children of War to Break the Cycles of Violence.” The title alone was indicative of the challenge lying ahead of us in ‘Teaching Peace in the Middle East.’ Nevertheless, we were up for the creative challenge before us and jumped right in.

We met up with ten of the most amazing individuals that I will never forget. These children, wise beyond their years, had been raised in fear and witnessed atrocities that you can only hope your children will never have to experience. Yet here they were at this camp in hopes of finding peace, some with desires to become leaders, but all willing to create something completely unknown with strangers and all with the same goal of making a difference.

It is no surprise to me that eight years later I can still recall vivid memories of the Seeds of Peace kids and write about a project that touched my life in a way that most projects do not. As instructional designers we assess each project based on a series of criteria - but this one proved to have many obstacles. Not only did we have to gain the trust of our subject matter experts, we had to constantly keep in mind the delicacy of the content, respecting every word said with the sensitivity that was so deserved. We brought the ten teenagers to Cal Poly Pomona for the next phase of the project and engaged in sixteen dynamic days of content gathering, storyboard development and intensive multimedia workshops where Karen and Dave began to formulate the CD’s structure with the Seeds of Peace project leader.

Next, the entire team headed for the Middle East for three weeks of filming and photography. The team traveled to each of the teens’ homes where we had opportunities to meet with their families for interviews. This was an incredible time because not only did we get to experience the various cultures, but we were able to see the pride that these families had in their children and in their accomplishments.
360-degree Quick-Time Virtual Reality (QTVR) interactive movies proved to be some of my favorite elements of the finished CD-ROM because they gave the teenagers a chance to experience each other’s spaces. By using the mouse to navigate, the teens could move around each other’s bedrooms and check out elements like posters, photographs, school uniforms, and furniture. Clicking on embedded hot-spots would activate a video pop-up and the teen would talk via video about special things like a popular music group on a poster, or a school uniform being the “ugliest uniform in the whole wide world.” It was great because every kid thinks his or her uniform is the ugliest uniform in the whole wide world. Now the walls began to come down and kids started to see likenesses where before they could see only differences. The learning objects were achieving the outcomes we were hoping for as communication tools. We were beginning to break down the barriers because the kids saw their commonalities and they began to think of each other as fellow teenagers and fellow humans.

Headquartered in Jerusalem, we arranged to have the teens pair up and visit various historical locations that they chose to see and discuss, as well as take us on individual tours of some of their favorite spots. Some of these places included the Western Wall, the Masada, the Holocaust Museum, Gaza, Hebron and Petra, Jordan.

Many of the pictures in this photo essay have never been published and are some of the favorite images of my career. I hope you enjoy.

Peace doesn’t begin with deciding who is right or wrong, but with respecting one another’s views and understanding why someone else feels the way they do.

Once there is respect, there can begin to be peace.

Article: Global Cal Poly Pomona 2006 - 2007

It is hard to believe that ten years have passed since our team spent eight days in Abidjan working on the Electronic Learning Network (ELN) project. Designed for participants in Winrock’s African Women Leaders in Agriculture and the Environment program (AWLAE), the CD-ROM and internet based curriculum was designed to provide women scientists with the skills necessary to assist and educate rural women farmers.

Incorporating methodologies of storytelling, poetry, fable and song, scenarios exist within modules, allowing participants to become active learners. The users are able to follow characters as they are faced with decision-making challenges based on case studies presented throughout the CD-ROM.

Lead by former Instructional Technology and Academic Computing (ITAC) Dean, Dr. Lev Gonick, the project team consisted of Karen Brzoska, Dr. Liliane Fucaloro, Rodney Azarmi and myself, April McKettrick. At that time in my career I was campus photographer for Cal Poly Pomona and primary photographer for ITAC. My roles and responsibilities for the ELN included visual communications - all still photography to be used on the CD-ROM illustrating digital storytelling, poetry, fable and scenario.

Perhaps it is the amazing people you meet, for such a small moment in your life, that you know you will never see again. Their hospitality, their stories, and their images become etched in your memory. Or maybe it is the look in the children’s eyes. They don’t have to say a word, their eyes tell the entire story, and you realize that your life will never be the same just for meeting them. Lastly, there are the stories that you and your colleagues share that still make you laugh and reflect years later. I’ve come to a conclusion that it is the combination of all of those experiences that stays with you, year after year. Fortunately, as project photographer, long after the memories fade I will still be able to revisit these locations, the people and the experiences each time I look at my images...

Abidjan, West Africa, is very close to the equator. The extreme vivid colors, so pervasive throughout the region, still remain etched in my memory. Blue skies more blue than any I had ever seen. Greens in the landscape were saturated and lush. Plants, flowers and trees abounded with flowering rainbows of color. It was almost too much for the senses to comprehend. As a photographer trying to document the area and create a collection of images for the project, it was difficult deciding what to capture on film; every object, person and place was a candidate for an artist’s canvas.

This photo essay is from one of our many destinations - Yamoussoukro, the capital of the Ivory Co

ast. There we saw the only “wildlife” during our entire stay in Africa – crocodiles. These particular ones are kept in a lake and

just outside of the main city, situated on a large parcel of land is the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro.

The basilica is the largest and tallest place of worship in Africa. With a cross atop its massive dome, at five hundred and eighteen feet tall the basilica can be seen for miles. In the outer regions before entering the basilica, two of the locals stopped to have their photo taken while the structure of the basilica and its elaborate fencing served as backdrops. A very weak fence gives you a false sense of security, but I did manage to get close-ups of these massive reptiles.

From an artist’s perspective it is an amazing architectural structure. The inside is breathtaking; when the sun hits the stain glass windows at just the right angles, rays of colored light dance across the deep, dark wood pews that radiate in circular patterns from the center. Doors open out leaving more natural light in, creating depth and perspective.

On the particular day we visited, the voices of young children practicing in the choir echoed throughout the basilica. As with everything else I experienced during my short journey in Africa, the moment was overwhelming. The outside is impressive with domes, ornament, arches and crosses, while the inner structure is vibrant, alive with colors, shadows and shapes. Sculptures, carvings, columns, arches and Italian imported marble fill the interior of the church with a surface that totals 30,000 m².

Yet in the midst of something that is so beautiful and architecturally grand, an underlying controversy exists. The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro is built in a location where many in the society live in poverty. Despite the conditions of the people, the President of Côte d'Ivoire, Félix Houphouët-Boigny, had seemingly wanted to create the greatest church in the world. In 1989, at the cost of three hundred million (US dollars), he achieved his dream. The cost, doubling Côte d'Ivoire’s national debt, put the basilica into the Guinness World Records as the largest church in the world.

Article: In Celebration of Teaching and Learning

January 28, 2000

Earlier in this decade, my role at the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona as the University Photographer, began to expand into project management. This first project that I was assigned to project manage was a table-top type book that incorporated photography of our technology savvy faculty. Using a Hassleblad camera, I took black & white studio photographs of selected faculty incorporating into the photographs a secondary element that was reflective of who they are, their teaching style, or a technology component. An unveiling ceremony was held to celebrate the book, the faculty who participated in the project and the staff involved in the production of the showcase piece.

Article: Industrial Photography

April 1, 1993

During the nine years that I worked for the Lockheed corporation, I had amazing opportunities to photograph some of the most prestigious aircraft in the world. Some of my most favorite moments included photographing the record breaking flight of the SR-71, the homecoming of Desert Storm’s F-117’s, and the debut of the F-22. Many of the photographs that I captured were published in aviation publications around the world, but occasionally I was given the chance to write articles to accompany my photographs.

In April of 1993, Industrial Photography published my article on “Lighting at Lockheed.”