I love books.


This isn't really VISTA related, but I just wanted to give a shout-out to the Portland Public Library system, which is super-great. Due to lack of funds, VISTA's often have to find free entertainment, and for me, that means the library. The Portland library system allows me to check out 150 items at once.

OLLIE gigs and Dental complaints


I'm just finishing up week one (week two for some schools) for the Winter session of OLLIE. The groups we are working with this time already seem to be an infinite improvement over some of the groups from last session. I'm not going to put all of the blame on the schools and students though.

What's Going On.


Hey everybody! Long time, no blog.

Things have been crazy around here as of late, but now that it is spring break, I have one week without OLLIE gigs to catch up on everything that I have been neglecting. That means four short movies to edit, some DVDs to create, and a website to build. We'll see how much I actually get done.

In other news, I managed to put together another Kirsten Academy class (after nearly 3 months without one). The topic this time was stop-motion animation! Check out the movies we made here. We used a program called iStopMotion, which can be purchased online for about $40. Recently, however, I was talking with Andrew of YVXN/NYMAP fame, and he recommended a program called FrameThief, which is actually free!

Comment from danielle martin on March 27, 2007 - 12:21am

Hey Gariet,

Good to hear you're getting a breather.

Did you catch the stop motion animation we made with the new CTC VISTA mascot, the robot at a MA area meeting a couple months ago? (Did you get yours?) Julie edited it and posted it on her blog.

I'm SO in for a robot inspired animation show-off!


Comment from gariet cowin on March 27, 2007 - 1:20pm

I can't believe how many robots you have! This is just like when I was a kid, and I could only afford 1 stormtrooper figure. And my friend Matt had a whole army of them! I want more robots!!!

And yeah, I got the robot. And it arrived on my birthday, so that was pretty sweet. I thought it was a birthday robot at first, actually. But I guess everybody got them.




It's painfully obvious that I grew up in the south when I get excited over 1/2" of snow (mind yer snickering, Boston-folk), but I should also add that our lab closes when schools close. That means I have at least one day of peace and quiet. Ahhhhh.... Well, apart from the racket caused by the construction next door anyway.

Life at C4K is chugging along nicely. Our recruiting has been up and down (12 last month, but only 4 this month), but the ups seem to have been enough as the lab feels more full than when the year first started. Workshop attendance is still relatively low (3-4 on average), but those that do go seem to enjoy it. I've also started gravitating towards guided activities versus class settings. The more successful workshops have been things like making popup cards, CD art, posters, etc. I've been trying workshops that lead into the tougher topics like digital video and audio with things like dubbing and digital storytelling, but we're still having a tough time getting kids to try them.

Comment from lauren bratslavsky on February 1, 2007 - 1:27pm

Hey Raymond-

what are your guided activities like for your workshops? And are they contained within one workshop day or over a course of time? I'm working on our youth media lab here in Cincinnati and looking for ideas to for weekly, self-contained activities. Do you have anything written up? I have two activities so far, I'ld be happy to share them too.

And great ingenuity with the barcode system!

Comment from Raymond Varona on February 2, 2007 - 11:38am

Workshops are typically 1.5-2 hours in length and tend to be more like guided activities than formal instructional classes. I usually spend less than 30 minutes on instruction with the rest of the time spent with one-on-one guidance as they work through the main project. I've been on and off about writing things up, but can easily dig through my notes and get back to churning out materials. Here's a list of the workshops I've offered thus far, or at least the ones that I still have notes for:

  • Voice Recording and Manipulation
  • Silent Movie Making
  • Poster Design
  • Photoshop Composites (your head on a movie poster)
  • 3D Imaging (using Bryce)
  • CD Burning
  • CD Case Art
  • Computer Hardware (assembling computers from individual components)
  • Digital Photography (camera use, retouching and enhancement, "glamour shots")
  • Dubbing (recording dialogue over movie clips)
  • Fonts (finding and installing custom fonts, text properties and effects in various apps)
  • Greeting Cards (popup cards)
  • iMac Intro/ComicLife
  • GIMP Intro
  • Fashion w/ Photoshop (use of masks/layers to change colors/textures)
  • Photoshop Intro
  • Digital Painting (w/ Photoshop)
  • Music Remixing (w/ Garageband)
  • Webpage Design (basics w/ Dreamweaver)
  • Rotoscoping (Animating a lightsaber onto DV footage)


If there's any in particular that you're interested in let me know and I'll look to getting those written up.

Issues and Updates


It has truly been a while since I wrote a blog. Anyone who reads Laura's blogs, however, pretty much knows what I'm doing. My friends here in San Diego call Laura my "life partner" because we spend so much time together - living, commuting, working. Thankfully, we get along and haven’t killed each other yet :). I feel like recently most of my time has been spent in trying to overcome a lot of bureaucracy.

Comment from gariet cowin on January 9, 2007 - 4:24pm

You know what also would have been nice? Somebody explaining that there is a BIG difference in the amount of food stamps you get if you sign up BEFORE the PSO, rather than after.

But cheer up! At least you have a super sweet life partner. I have to settle for my imaginary co-worker. And he's an asshole.


Comment from danielle martin on January 9, 2007 - 7:00pm

You would have gotten more in food stamps if you signed up before the PSO? I only ask because we've got a new crew starting next week so I want to give them the right story...


Comment from danielle martin on January 9, 2007 - 7:13pm

Hey Corey,

My mom has this little saying I say to myself very often in my VISTA service: "Nobody said life is fair." [I know, it used to piss me off when she said it, but I'm old enough to be ok with the fact that at some point you turn into your parents.] I know for myself, I try to remind myself that the challenges of doing a year of full-time volunteer service are only marginally comparable to the experiences of the people I'm trying to ultimately serve. Unfortunately we live in a country that doesn't have a national healthcare system and where only a quarter of the population even get a chance to get a 4 year college degree. I'm not trying to be unsympathetic - I'm admittedly idealist enough to think NOBODY should have to jump through ridiculous hoops to not be sick and get an education. So the system stinks, let's change it. Let's write some letters. Or help us make it clearer for the next set of VISTAs.

That being said, I'm impressed with all the amazing stuff your doing at Pangea. I'd love to keep hearing more often about the great things you're accomplishing this year (and hope you share some of the lessons learned and resourced you developed) and hope you let us know when we can help.


PS Tell Mike D. that I love him right back...him and his positive attitude ;)

vaguely related to VISTA life...


Hey, everybody. I just wanted to let you all know that I updated my Kirsten Academy blog. I don't know if any of you are interested, but for the December class, I managed to raise over $450 for charity, and my friends all got a lot of cool art. Total expenses for me: $15 (a few snacks, and a SASE for an artist who said she probably wouldn't get around to sending me any art unless I sent her one).

Making it...


I have been wanting to say something about making it on low income.

One, I don't have any secret to doing so. But I aught to, I suppose.

I think I'm a bit different. A lot VISTA talk was about sacrificing by making such a low income for a year. I get the impression that for a lot of you, this is a big change. I, on the other hand, have hardly ever made more than I'm making now. And in fact, had been unemployed since June when I started my service in September.

CTCNet's National Conference Recap


Pat, Shannon, and Danielle at the EmbassyBy Patricia Conrad-Wexler

Attendees of the CTCNET Conference in July 2006 arrived by many modes of transport but I and my director at Young Entrepreneurs Society, Tim, drove to Washington D.C. in a Toyota Prius. It was surely an economical way for a VISTA and the director of a nonprofit to show how folks can get by on almost no income!

Reflecting as I'm exiting...


[From the blog of Ellen-Rae Cachola, August 11, 2006.]

 Mary, Cali, Bobby and Ellen-Rae
HPP Staff: Mary, Cali, Bobby and Ellen-Rae

I must say my favorite memories from the past year is meeting the most coolest people who I consider good friends! I think this project really got me closer with community and technology, helping me to see good side of technology. I know this roots reggae band called Bambu Station that say "technology is the tool for civil-lie-zation." Yet being part of community tech centers have helped me know how to use technology to serve the voices and perspectives of the oppressed/disadvantaged people. Good memories includes the orientations, conferences, blogs, sharing of knowledge, and feeling that many involved were all on the same level of caring and wanting social transformation, which fills me with inspiration still.

Ellen-Rae finished her VISTA service in September '06, but continues to work with Homeless Prenatal Program in San Francisco. Read more from Ellen-Rae's CTC VISTA blog.

Good morning CTC VISTA Project


Good Morning,

Well, the sun is rising here in Michigan on chilly Friday. My computer is now by the window, so I can look out on the sky, the trees, the road, and the apartment complex office.