As We Progress with the Project…


Collaborating on this project has been great.  I can’t ask for a better group of colleagues to work with.  We watch, listen and learn. We are patient with each other.  Group members are communicating and as a whole we are progressing.  The most challenging and time consuming issues for me involve inworld activities.  Logging on and learning the process of maneuvering  the camera and avatar proved challenging.  A little tidbit when logging inworld for the first time: your login  is first name space last name. Remember the space.

I wanted to be part of two groups: public relations and journalism, but decided to stick with journalism. Navigating the inworld platform is not that difficult, but learning the process is time consuming. By Sept. 2, 2015, the journalism group will have written outline/plan detailing goals, strategies and tactics for the entire group and for each individual journalist.  We are focused, determined and working hard to make sure the finished project represents our exceptional talents and efforts.  Everyone on the team understands the final goal is creating a phenomenal 4 to 5 minute machinima.

Today I spent a couple hours inworld with my avatar learning how to build.  I was fine until I got to the hallowing and cutting segments.  I left the virtual world to correspond with journalism group members regarding next Wednesday’s meeting and blogged. Our team goes above and beyond to exceed expectations.  It’s refreshing to know I am collaborating with very talented and motivated people.

Going back inworld, blog more soon.



My Voice: Contributing to the Virtual World Project


We had our show and tell on Wednesday, August 26, where we discussed our own greatest works along with connecting that to how we can contribute to the project. My presentation was on an article I wrote about my life with Asperger’s which was published by The Talon in April 2015. Dr. Witt had stated how mental health is one of the issues surrounding juveniles in the justice system, clearly not strange waters to someone who grew up in the autism camp. This makes me want to fall down on my knees and thank God that none of my struggles didn’t lead to being behind bars for any violent mishaps stemming from problems on the inside.

JJIE recently publish a story of a 14-year old inmate who committed suicide on last Easter Sunday. The lead sentence states “Severe understaffing and failures in training and mental health procedures” were factors in his death. It’s no surprise. It would be an interesting study to see how prevalent such circumstances are today and their correlation to the criminal actions of juveniles in the system.

The misconception, still prominent today, is that suicidal teens merely have a vain desire to “seek attention”. That there is no internal problem with them.  All they want is the proverbial spotlight cast on them by their peers or others around them, perhaps only to hear the wailing cries of “Don’t kill yourself! We love you!”. This is pretty far from the truth.

Many of those who feel the burden of suicidal idealization want to be happy. They don’t want to die, they want to live life and live it to the fullest. Yet, on the flip side, they may have a missing sense of self worth which leads to the conclusion (albeit a delusional one) that the world would be a better place without them.

What of those that get convicted and incarcerated so young? Who feel their life is over? Such a young imprisonment may bring the thought that one’s life is over. Especially when combined with mental health issues going unnoticed or untreated.




Inworld Yet?


Has everyone been in world? I have been working with Gwenette setting up my inworld presence, but have not been successful. Verifying the type of system you have prior to setting up the viewer is highly recommended 🙂 I installed and uninstalled the viewer but still having difficulties getting into the JJIE world.  Stopped by the Center for Sustainable Journalism to see Eric, but didn’t find him. Not sure of his schedule so sent Eric and Derek an email regarding help getting online.  Troubleshooting has been time consuming but the lessons very valuable.  I have no doubt I’ll be in world soon. Happy Friday!


Making Moves: Conference Call with Steve Reba


At 2:00PM yesterday, we had a conference call that changed the entire direction of our story . . .
Leonard has been in contact with Stephen Reba, a professor at Emory Law, who represents youth in the Georgia Juvenile Justice System who have been tried as adults.  In addition, Stephen is Director of the Barton Child Law & Policy Center and founder of the Appeal for Youth Clinic. Currently, at the clinic, there are six law students who are providing representation for youth in the system. Read more about Steve and the Center.  At the Appeal for Youth Clinic, Steve has 50-70 clients. Unfortunately, he is not currently representing any youth age 17 or younger, which we had originally wanted for a story.  He did mention one case that caught our interest, so we asked for more details.

The Youth
– Currently 30 years old
– Arrested and incarcerated @ age 13:  involved in a ride-along armed robbery
– In & out of foster care since a toddler with parents in prison; was taking medicine to prevent him from wetting bed at the time of arrest

His Story – What We Know So Far
– With another 13-year old boy in foster care (brother?), was involved in an armed robbery led by their 18-year old foster brother (biological son of foster mother); the two 13-year olds did not have guns; they each received radically different sentences.  Our youth received 40 years in prison; the other youth received a 20 years sentence.
– Currently in Calhoun State Prison

With this little information, we cannot create our story. Luckily, Steve said that we may be able to go with him to interview the prisoner. Since Steve has all the information on the youth, he will be scanning and sending us these documents so we can be familiar with his story, background, etc.

We also talked a little about what happens when incarcerated kids finally get out of prison. We discussed Alton’s case (From Jailhouse to Morehouse) and how, when he was released from prison, he completely turned his life around for the better. Unfortunately, this is not usually the case for most juveniles who are finally released from jail. Many people end up dying or committing suicide because they do not know how to function in this society, as they have grown so accustomed to the world of survival and violence in prison. Success stories for juveniles who finally get out of prison are very rare. When thinking about this in relation to our youth’s case, we must remember that he was put in jail at age 13 (he did not even make it to 7th grade) and has served 17 years of his sentence. He is 30 years old now.

Our Next Steps
Now, it’s the Journalism Team’s job to get this story rolling.

What We’ve Got So Far
We’ve got a story. We also will soon have all of the documents and information on the youth that we need. Now, we just need to read and become familiar with his story and then get in contact with people for interviews.
Possible People to Interview:
– Steve Reba
– Foster Parents
– Case Workers
– The Prisoner
– Other people who have worked with the prosoner
– All Locations: Schools, detention facilities, court tried at, where crime took place
– We also will need exterior shots or addresses to Google map for each place to guide inworld scenario development

Currently, we are awaiting the arrival of Steve’s case documents via an online drop location.  We journalists realize the need to get this story going as quickly as possible, so that our inworld builders can begin creating the virtual world machinima scenarios.


Introductions & Group Formations


Derek, Eric presenting 19aug15e

Today’s meeting began with introductions.
Each team member presented their prepared personal presentation to the rest of the team. We even had Gwenette listening from inworld, so the whole team was present, except for a few or our professional consultants and researchers. Since there are biographies of each of the team members to view on this site, I won’t re-cap on each presentation. I will say, however, that based on the introductions, we all have some impressive skills and knowledge to bring to the table. At the end of each presentation, Leonard asked us which role we saw ourselves taking in the JJIE Virtual World Project based on our previous work experience.

After all of the presentations, we split into the groups in which we felt we could best use our talents.
These are the groups that were formed (some people overlapped, as they will perform various roles for the Project):
Technology (Virtual World Builders): Derek, Erik & Cristina
Journalism: Ann, Ariel, Camille, Claire, Jackson, Jourdan, Kevin, Linda
Public Relations: Kasi, Linda, Ariel, Claire
Research: Claire & Ariel & essentially the whole group when it comes to all of the research we will have to contribute to make this Project possible

While in our groups, we discussed the next steps to take. The Journalism Crew focused on the stories we planned to cover. We threw around some ideas and circled back around to one story that Leonard had mentioned from the start about a man named Alton Pitre. Although Alton is no longer a youth, his story is very interesting.  He was born in Califronia, was incarcerated as a teen, and then completely turned his life around when he was finally released. Since he currently works for the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, he is an easy, immediate contact for a quick story.
However, we do want to keep searching for stories in Georgia (preferably of youth who are still in prison), so that we can work to amplify their voices while they are in the system.

We talked about the need to do more research on Alton’s story, as well as to be on the lookout for other stories. Claire & Ariel jumped on these Research roles to jumpstart the project. Camille discussed her connections to a youth detention center where she could possibly get us a tour for a visual representation of place (not only for the Journalists, but for the Virtual Worlds group as well). Jourdan also mentioned her connections with a group called Turning Point Therapy.  She may be able to get us connected with the youth there.

By the end of the meeting (and about 2 hours beyond), we were eager to take up our roles and begin our research.


Story Search Success!


As of about 2PM today, we found our story!
I am so excited about the one we finally decided upon after a Conference Call with Steve Reba.
– A now 30-year old man who was sentenced to jail for 40 years at age 13. In-and-out of foster care and under different medications, he was involved in a ride-along robbery in which he did not even hold any possession of a gun. His story seems very compelling and a great fit for our virtual world.
Since Steve, a professor at Emory law and a lawyer who specializes in representation of juveniles who have been tried as adults, has been working with the boy for many years, we will be working with him throughout this project to collect all of the information we need.
Currently, I am waiting for Steve to share the documents of the boy’s background with us so that we can begin our research. From here, we hope to get an interview with the boy and other people (foster parents, case workers, etc) who have known the boy over time.

We want to collect information as quickly as possible in order to relay it to the Technology group so they can begin their inworld construction.
Speaking of technology, I also need to get back to the Virtual side of things and complete some more inworld assignments!


Journalists, Technologists and PR, Unite!


During our meeting this morning, each of us twelve students gave a short introductory presentation. Based on the presentations, everyone seems to come from a variety of backgrounds and each one of us has so many different talents and skills to offer for this project.

After the presentations, we determined groups, which mainly became two somewhat-defined groups: Technology & Journalism (+PR & Research). I loved that we were able to choose our groups based on our past experiences and current interests.  Since I worked at the Writing Center and have always loved writing, I am (of course) a part of the Journalism Team. Along with this, I will be taking over the Process Blog and the Research aspect.

During our time with the Journalist group, we discussed some story possibilities and assigned roles, like interviewers, researchers, etc. As of now, we plan to go with the Alton Pitre story. Although Alton is no longer a youth, his story is very interesting: he was born in California, was incarcerated as a teen, and completely turned his life around when he was finally released. Since he currently works for the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, he is an easy, immediate contact for a quick story. Next step is to research and plan interviews.  However, we do want to keep searching for stories in Georgia (preferably of youth who are still in prison) so that we can work to amplify their voices while they are in the System.

We have a Conference Call with Steve Reba at 2PM today. Hopefully he can help us find more stories!


Instructions to Get Started

Hi everyone,
Here are some quick instructions on how to get started blogging.
– Log in at with the account details sent to your email.
– To create a new blog post, mouse over “+ New” and click “Post”
– Select “Blog” and your name in the Categories section to the right
– Write your post in the text editor on the left
– When you’re done, click Publish. That’s it!

Blog entries won’t show up on the homepage by default, these are more detail-oriented, make as many as you want and detail your experience with this project.

Gwenette will have the ability to promote a blog entry to the homepage, so write them with that in mind!
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me or Gwenette.

Virtually Prepared, but Extremely Excited


Since “virtually” as an adjective actually means “nearly” or “almost,” I wanted to make it clear that I am not quite prepared, but I am extremely excited for the JJIE Virtual World Project. Furthermore, the main reason I used “virtual” is because “virtual” is not only one of the most important aspects of this project, but it is also one of the things I am most excited to learn more about.

Now that the JJIE Virtual World’s Project is finally underway, I am so extremely excited for so many reasons.

First, I am excited to be working with so many extraordinary students, professionals, technologists, and researchers to reach one unified goal: to amplify the voices of the marginalized youth in the Juvenile Justice System with innovative technology.

Speaking of innovative technology: this is one of the main reasons why I am “virtually” prepared. OpenSimulator is something I had never experienced before this project; however, all of my insecurities have been calmed thanks to the help of our Virtual World expert, Gwenette. She has already set up a Virtual World Welcome Workshop on OpenSimulator JJIE Virtual World grid, where a set of tasks is awaiting to help us all orient ourselves.

Although not all of us will be working on the technology side of this project, I think that it is so important for every team member to become familiar with the Virtual World environment. As a journalist for this project, the only way I can fully capture the story for the Virtual World is by knowing the types of questions and information I must collect and relay to our VW creators. Furthermore, if we are expecting our audience to navigate through this world as they follow the youth’s story, then we should know how to do the same.

When I first began my inworld experience, I was completely lost. However, the video tutorials and entire Workshop that Gwenette has created for us has really helped me to become more comfortable in this world. After the Prim-Building Tutorial, I feel like I can actually contribute to this world (to a very small extent), and that I can actually teleport, fly, walk, and use many different forms of transportation to navigate inworld. Although I don’t feel completely connected with my Avatar quite yet, I am sure I will begin feeling “one” with her once I can get her clothed the way I want and gain more inworld experience.

Now, as a member of the Journalism team, my next step is to find a story to bring back to life inworld.

Here’s to my first post — sorry about the length, I am really just so excited – the other ones won’t be as long!