Rockstars & Skate Parks: The Digital Journos Finale

With the culmination of spring quarter comes the end of an era: the #digitaljournos tweets that have been keeping you updated since mid-March. From the birth of the hashtag to the mastering of Adobe Photoshop and throughout a Sarah Koenig-esque GarageBand session or two, the finale of Online and Visual Journalism has arrived simultaneous to news that rock music is becoming extinct, Detroit barely has Internet access, Zuckerberg wants to get personal and a change in the way Apple’s fingerprint privacy setting works, all from the New York Times.

Marching Music: More Memorable Than Rock’n’Roll

This week, the New York Times endeavored to quantify musical legends that have a chance at standing the test of time–and the late 1900’s love, rock’n’roll, didn’t make the cut. According to author, Chuck Klosterman, marching music, that is, the sweet sounds of Semper Fidelis, and reggae with its king, Bob Marley, are more likely to be remembered than any of the pre-millennial generation’s beloved headbangers. Apparently, this is because of the myriad of Metallica types and the ability of none to cohesively and outstandingly rise above the rest to engrain themselves into the genre. Although, like Klosterman said, “Pretty much from the moment it came into being, people who liked rock insisted it was dying.”

 

A Digitally Divided Detroit

Not unbeknownst to most of the American workforce, Detroit is a pillar of the American economy that has been crumbling since the start of the recession in 2008 with consistently high unemployment rates. Now, even more devastatingly, the New York Times has reported another reason for Detroit’s employment crisis: an overwhelmingly large gap between citizens with Internet access and citizens without. Those without access to any online technology or services are unable to search for and apply for jobs. This “digital divide” is separating those that are already unemployed even further; they can’t afford broadband access to check for e-mails from potential employers because they can barely afford food and rent. According to author, Cecilia Kang, over half the city is living in poverty, the skills gap is increasing without Internet access and any possible solutions aren’t currently viable.

 

Zuckerberg Sucking Facebook’s Privacy in the Fine Print

Another development in the world of digital journalism that arose this week was publicized by the New York Times and accuses Facebook of having a one-way mirror into its users’ private lives. Allegedly, in Facebook’s fine print, which users accept as ‘terms and conditions’ upon signing up, there is essentially a waiver that gives the social network and its advertisers access to your personal information. Although this is not news, author, Jim Rutenberg opens this discussion as a reflection on how much trust users are giving the site without really receiving anything in return. On the surface this may seem trivial, but Facebook is rapidly gaining political and international influence, making privacy and access to personal information a concern for, literally, millions.

 

Fingerprint Fivefold: Practical for Privacy?

This week’s tech tip from the New York Times informed readers that one new feature of Apple’s iPhone is an increase in the number of fingerprints that can be registered for its TouchID feature. Now up to five fingerprints from different people can be programmed for recognition in unlocking the smart phones. Fingerprints can be added, erased and named now, making phone access available to spouses, parents and other friends or family if one chooses. However, only months after the Apple vs. FBI privacy push, users of the smart products are nervous that this may be a mechanism for Apple to appease the government by underhandedly increasing possibilities for access to phones.

Since Last Time, Since Its The Last Time

Over the last few weeks, in watching how news has developed and which events are getting coverage, some observations may be worth noting. Personal privacy, especially in the digital world, is on many people’s minds and is being talked about daily. The media has started to cover Donald Trump less as America gets closer to the polls. Finally, recent comparisons of the Vietnam War and the still ongoing War on Terror have surged.

 

So, while the term may be ending, students in DU’s MFJS department’s coverage of the news will not be. Starting with my video production, Downtown Skate: The Denver Skate Park, your knowledge about one of Denver’s hidden gems and cultural pockets will kickflip your summer in the right direction. If you get even more curious, my entire Online and Visual Journalism portfolio, as well as other projects and works I’ve completed can be found on my blog: evansepaige.wordpress.com , and don’t worry I’ll be here to keep you updated all summer long. #TTYL

 

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What Happens When You Zen Out

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Corepower Yoga’s studio on Colorado Boulevard is dimly lit, smells like it’s just stopped raining and has Enya-esque music playing. Designed to relax and empower, the studio relieves the stress of driving over I-25 on Colorado during 9:00AM rush hour traffic; the constant brake-go-brake-go-brake-again-go was an exercise in itself. Padding over on bare feet while tying up a long, sweaty, blond ponytail, Michelle Savage, a Corepower Yoga instructor just finished teaching a Hot Power Fusion Yoga class.

Savage is 21 years old and has completed her Masters in Professional Accounting from the University of Texas at Austin. She trained to become a yoga teacher at 19, following her freshman year as a Longhorn. A gifted student, Savage was the valedictorian of her high school class but does not attribute her stressful subject of study or the academic powerhouse, with one of the top business schools in the country, that she attended, to inspiring her to practice yoga. “My practice gives me the time to separate myself from the world, in order to get a clearer view on what really matters and what my purpose is,” says Savage, who was inspired by her mom and her first yoga teacher.

With over 140 locations worldwide, Corepower Yoga is considered the “Starbucks of yoga” by Inc.5000, and requires a more stringent teacher training program than typical studios. In addition to the required 200-hour training program all instructors must complete, Corepower Yoga requires their aspiring instructors to complement this training with an Extensions Program, taking about five weeks to complete. The program amplifies the yogic philosophy, postures, assists, adjusts and yogic history learned in the typical training program. After this, Corepower holds instructor auditions, ensuring that their newly trained teachers are ready to take on more than just the physical requirements for teaching yoga.

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Savage and Corepower’s values swear upon the importance of maintaining a desire to learn in teachers. Savage says that an imperative quality for yoga instructors is “to always be willing to be a student. There is endless knowledge out there and without willingness to be a student, knowledge is lost.” She insists that the capacity to impact students in the ways she’s been impacted hinges on her desire to learn, spice up her lessons and learn more about the practice and lifestyle of yoga. Having taught at Corepower Yoga in Austin and now in Denver, Savage aspires to embody Corepower’s promise to become the strongest and most true version of oneself after teaching at the studio.

Savage’s studio pays instructors approximately $20 per hour, despite the national average yoga instructor pay of $24.96 per hour. Corepower, however, is a yoga empire, convertingScreen Shot 2016-05-24 at 5.27.37 AM students to yogis city-by-city while defying PayScale’s assertion that most yoga studios are just barely getting by financially. Savage does not care about the money, bred by doctors, mother, a gynecologist, father, an anesthesiologist, looking simply for spiritual balance.

Abandoning her Catholic roots upon becoming a yoga instructor, Savage hasn’t been to Mass since completing her certification. Ensuring that she’s understood, Savage relays how she finds that all religions adhere to a cohesive message to love oneself and others and that she “can live that message and ideal the most when [she is] practicing and teaching yoga.”

Unlike other exercise-oriented professions, being a yoga instructor does not require higher education of kinesiology, anatomy, medicine or physical health, instead focusing on mental and spiritual balance, only able to be tapped into by a personal connection to the yogic lifestyle. Savage was mesmerized by her first Vinyasa Yoga class, remembering being “blown away” by the confidence, grace and clarity with which her teacher’s body moved.

Savage tallies her success on her students’ satisfaction. Telling of a former student that was so inspired by her classes that she pursued Corepower’s teacher training as well, Savage relates this to the inspiration she got from her first yoga instructor. Insistent upon giving almost anyone she interacts with on a personal level a savasana massage, the young instructor attributes her view on bodies as transcendent in comparison to her previously,Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 5.28.29 AM self-described, shallow assessment of body shape. She says of her mental transformation, “I truly believe that becoming a teacher facilitated my maturing from a self-conscious, perfection-driven girl, into a more loving, accepting, humble young woman.” In agreement, the crowd of men and women in Corepower’s lobby, preparing for CoreCardio Training attributed their self-love to yoga, saying they would be different people without having dove headfirst into yogic philosophy.

Yoga as a practice is dominated by women, mostly women with children, and was seen as an activity for stay-at-home moms for many years. Even Savage, who has since changed her perspective, thought yoga was lame because her mom Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 5.29.12 AMpracticed the lifestyle. Since then she has been inspired and never looked back. Intrigued by a never-enough-knowledge mentality surrounding the limits of the human body and the way posture and body position can provoke a range of emotions, Savage feels a connection with other Corepower Yoga teachers through this fascination. Such a compulsion for the knowledge of bodily interactions with the mind and spirit inspired Savage and, upon ending the conversation, she smiled and said, “Well, what would you have done if you went to try a new workout class and found your passion?”

 

Downtown Skate: The Denver Skate Park

“we’re about good vibes and good times”

An easy ride on Denver’ s Light Rail can kickflip you right into the Denver Skate Park, one of the country’s premier skate parks, nestled on the corner of Little Raven and 19th Street. Located in the heart of the 303, the half-pipes and rails are the veins and the skaters are the blood that keepsDenver’s skate culture pumping.

The Heart & the History

Although California’s surfers decided to put wheels on their surf boards in the 1950’s, skateboarding reached its peak in the 1960’s. 1980 came and the anti-establishment movement carried over into the 1990’s, thus, skateboarding really began to grind its way into the alternative scene. After the first-ever X-Games in 1995, locals around Denver, a city that is no stranger to trends outside the mainstream, (see, Colorado’s Recreational Marijuana Lawsmodern cheeseburgers and the first and only rejection of an invitation to host the Olympics) took up plans to establish their own skate park in 1997.

“This whole skate park started in 1997 where we battled with the City Council to bring in a skate park because we were tired of being ticketed and friggin’ persecuted for our sport that we all love and enjoy.”

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A local skater practicing his “ollie” on top of one of the many ramps in the park. Photo by Anna Bernard, 2016

 

By the early 2000’s they had succeeded and the Denver Skate Park was up and running for people of all skill-sets, ages and genders.

Sometimes called “the flagship of all Colorado skate parks,” the Denver Skate Park, a prized monument by skaters around the nation, is in the heart of Downtown and overlooks Coors Field and the Denver skyline. The serenity of the view in combination with the concentrated intensity of the atmosphere culminate this park’s vibes that are conducive to the makings of enhanced surroundings and enhanced skill levels with unfaltering support from other–sometimes even unknown–fellow skate park-goers.

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After weeks of inclimate skating weather in Denver, a 303-based skateboarder got to the Denver Skate Park for an hours-long skate session. Photo by Anna Bernard, 2016

Decks with Depth & Diversity

With skaters around the Denver Skate Park representing a wide-array of ages, genders, sexualities and skate styles, this park is one of the largest and far-reaching in the nation for a reason. Those around the park go by and prefer to be referred to by their nicknames like, “Peanut,” or “Clover” that are representative of their skating style and other personality traits. Each of the skaters interviewed, ranging in age (from 7 years old to 40 years old), gender and skill-set admired the cohesive and supportive culture that the Denver Skate Park offers.

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Three young skater girls grab their boards and some snacks to take a break from practicing new tricks. Photo by Anna Bernard, 2016

“Peanut” is the daughter of an avid and long-time local skater that fought and won against the City of Denver Parks and Recreation Department for this park and said, “We get to do anything at the skate park… we can do anything. There’s no rule about boys [in one] part and girls [in the other] part.”

Easy & Eco

Only a 20-minute ride from the the University Station right across from the University of Denver, skaters and fans can easily hop on the eco-friendly light rail to the Union Station off of the E-line. Then, the park is an easy walk or roll over: about a quarter mile. A local that goes by “Quicker,” says “it’s a quick little ride down Little Raven.”  The Denver Skate Park is easy to get to and is a great option for skaters concerned about their carbon footprint.

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A lifelong skateboarder continues to practice tricks, having skated at dozens of parks before trying his tricks at the Denver Skate Park. Photo by Anna Bernard, 2016

Directions to Denver Skate Park

  1. Get your RTD pass, your deck and hop on the E-Line toward Union Station
  2. Get off at Union Station, about a 20-minute ride from the University Station
  3. Walk towards 18th Street
  4. Turn right onto Bassett Street
  5. Turn right onto 19th Street
  6. Walk/ride a couple feet and you’ve arrived at the Denver Skate Park

After observing the interactions of parents, teens, kids, twenty-somethings and more at the Denver Skate Park, the collective culture of friendliness, good times, development of skills and overall acceptance and encouragement, this public work is a hidden gem, a prized possession unbeknownst to most in the 80202.

Notes: All persons interviewed declined to provide their legal names out of reverence to skate culture, fear of persecution and privacy protection

A special thanks goes to Anna Bernard, a talented fellow Online & Visual Journalism classmate, for her help and contributions throughout the entirety of this project.

University Park’s Construction: Digging Some Holes, Filling Others

Around Denver’s University Park, construction projects are appearing on more than a few streets across DU’s campus. In documenting these construction projects, you won’t have to search long or hard. Not only are new homes and condominiums being built around campus, the University of Denver is revamping its architecture with years of building plans for the university. Less noticeable than the holes being made in the ground are the holes being filled in Denver’s unemployed population. With all these projects in one concentrated area, hundreds are needed to complete the job. After hours of filming and photographing, only a few faces were seen more than once, with dozens buzzing around one construction site.