Saturday, December 11, 2010

Slowing Down from a Soldier to a Park Ranger

This is my thirty-day project about Sergeant Devin Foust, a Park Ranger in Columbia, Missouri who has had to slow down from the high-adrenaline lifestyle that was being a soldier in Iraq in 2004. During his transition period back in the states, he broke his leg on a four-wheeler in Kentucky, which pained him for 5 years after the incident. He met with a surgeon for corrective surgery and has been working on getting his leg back into shape in order to pursue a career with the Missouri Highway Patrol. This is the edit that I have from our class, but I plan to work on this project more in the future and possibly make it into a thirty minute documentary.

Bird by Bird: Final reading thoughts

I would like to say, as I begin, that this book has been the most incredible gift as both a writer and a photographer that I've yet been given.

It's an amazing instruction manual concerning doing -anything- and I am very thankful to have read it this year.

I loved Anne's chapter about "How do you know when you're done." I've always had the feeling that I've never finished anything and it's because I am always left with that anxious feeling where I'm just driving myself insane, particularly with my writing pieces. I know exactly the moment that she is talking about that she describes as the moment where one is actually finished. Now I'll know, once and for all, when I'm actually done with something.

I plan to spend my time in this upcoming year (after I graduate next week) working on everything that I've produced in college and getting them to this stage. I am looking forward to getting much of what I've worked on to the point where I can feel that they are finished, where I can put them down and think to myself that this script or that multimedia piece are what I've never been able to let myself say they were: finished.

I loved the chapter about KFKD and it was incredibly therapeutic for me. I have this radio station on in my head all the time and reading about it has helped me to become much more aware of when it's playing and more importantly, to tell myself that it's time to turn the dial down.

I saw a therapist this semester that helped me deal with my anxiety disorder by allowing myself to feel okay when I'm struggling with anxiety, to always be able to tell myself: Okay, what can I do -now-? This seems incredibly easy advice to give oneself, but it gave me a good script to tell myself when I'm having issues. It took someone else telling me that it's alright to take down the perfectionist bar that I've built for myself. Instead of building up so much anxiety about the fact that I haven't done something to the point that I never do said thing, I just gently tell myself: "Okay, well what can I do now?" and I get up and do it.

Reading about KFKD helped me to see, as did this entire novel that I am not broken, I am not a waste of space and I am not a failure- I'm just a perfectionist and that can be more of a hinderance than a help. I have this book and my therapist to thank for helping me to forgive myself for failure and move past it, to see myself for the person that I am and keep myself moving into the future by focusing on the now, rather than ignoring the present by obsessing over the future.

Bird by bird has filled me with the hope that I needed to move to the next step in my life. It showed me that I already have inside of me what it will take me to make it where I want to go as a writer, photographer, and most importantly, as a person. I just have to keep going and instead of losing faith, curling in a ball and worrying myself to death before I leave my bed, I just have to think:

What can I do -now-

If all that is is making breakfast, that's OKAY.

I can ask myself the same question once I've finished eating my breakfast burrito.

(Thank you Anne Lamott)

I am intensely excited about graduation and I'm not driving myself crazy about getting a job because that will not be happening next week, tomorrow, today, and most importantly right now.

I am focused on this entry and afterward, putting Bird by Bird in a box with all of the things that I plan to take with me after I move out my apartment because it's been the best gift that I've been given for my future. It's a book that although I've read through in its entirety, I plan to read again and again and again, whenever my thoughts dial back to station KFKD.

Thank you Rita, for everything that you've done for me, but especially for assigning us this book. I will keep it with me for as long as I live, especially because I am, first and foremost, a writer. It was on the list that my writing teacher gave to us last week about great books for writers. Honestly, it's a great book for everyone, anyone.

I will be continuing to work on my 30 day project after graduation, working on my technique as a film-maker, working on the extensive footage that I took of Sergeant Foust, on making it into a documentary. I'm really excited that I'll have the time to do this after graduation, that I'll have time, in general, especially to begin producing on my own terms.

Monday, November 29, 2010

CPOY Multimedia Reaction paper

I was at the larger story individual/small teams judging.

I thought the power plant story had beautiful footage that although beautiful, didn't make sense with the story. I was also unable to completely make the connection between the Vermont and Georgia power plants nor the use of portraiture by the creator(s). The piece went on a bit too long and tried to tackle too many characters without much purpose. I lost interest in the piece far before it had ended.

I liked the deepwater video (spilling over) better, though I felt like the mother figure was a bit melodramatic, which bothered me at first. (Much less the second time through)

The pregnancy piece confused me. It wasn't explained why the mother was giving up her son, nor why the adopting mother was able to breast-feed him. A miscarriage was very briefly mentioned, is this why she was able to do so?

"Open adoption," though the point of this piece, is not explained. I left the piece really not having much of an idea about what an open adoption is.

I thought the start-up piece was really quite good and I initially thought this should be the one to bring home the gold, though I agreed with Spilling over to get the gold once I'd seen it through for the second time. I am a bit disappointed that there was no underwater photography because though the one scene skimming over the water showed the oil inside, I was left a bit wanting. It fails to show how big of a disaster this really is.
I also was left wanting with the toxic fumes/respirator angle.
There is nothing in the piece that legitimizes or explains the dangers posed to residents by this disaster (outside of damage to the tourist and fishing industry)

The start-up piece appealed to me innately because it was hopeful.
It showed a father doing what he could to combat issues presented by the recession.
I like that. It's more often in these projects that we see people in idle anguish, rather than in the combative struggle.
I honestly didn't feel the same way about the woman in spilling over.
The judges were moved by her; I wasn't. I felt like she was more of a fraud than a fighter.
The epilogues where they say that she's been going out daily to help in the effort, but it just shows her standing on the front of a hovercraft, which didn't help much.

And honestly, the first time around, I was lost during the scene where she was yelling at the politician. I wasn't taken and "there with her" as the judges were.
The second time around, I felt more in tune with that read of the project, especially noticing the man's body language. I attribute this to my lack of knowledge on the subject at hand, but feel that this is a failure of the piece as a venue for education on the subject in the same way as the open adoption piece.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Character Portrait

So, I am going to get some steady video, some audio of Kyle's current favorite song, a couple more pictures to replace the redundant record store shots, and export at higher quality for my subsequent revision of this piece.

Ya, heard.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

One day Story

Lyle Johnson, left, brings his shoes into Dawson's Shoe Repair on 7th st. where owner and cobbler, Bob Wood, right, assesses what will need to be done to get them back into tip-top shape. The job is a simple one. "Don't worry now, we'll have you dancing in no time," Wood assures Johnson jokingly.

George Wren, 56, previous owner of Wren's Birkenstock, a shoe repair/retail store on Broadway, sews a pair of brown loafers in a room of Dawson's Shoe Repair accessible to customers by way of a small window. Eight months after both the death of Bob Wood's father, Estel, and the closing of Wren's Birkenstock, Wren took a job "doing the rips," or sewing, at Dawson's. Though it used to be Wren's least favorite part about cobblery, 6 months spent selling shoes at Dillard's was enough to make George miss the environment, which to him, feels like home. "Wearing a two-piece suit, that's just not me," Wren said about working at the department store. Aside from missing the environment, Wren has found a new appreciation for the sewing machine. "It's the most creative part of the job. It's like, 'OK, how can this be done?' It's a constant challenge," he said.

Bob Wood, left, reviews a color chart with George Wren, right, in order to find what fabric would best match the red in a pair of shoes needing repair. When asked what got Wren into shoe repair in the first place, he said that he liked working with his hands, the independence, and the dual gratification from the position. "Not only do you get to see what you're accomplishing, you're also helping people with their problems." The two consult a scrap fabric bucket with no close enough matches to satisfy either of them and because the customer did not need them right away, they decided to wait for materials better suited for the job to be uncovered so that the highest quality work could be done on the pair.

Numerous spools of thread of assorted colors hang behind the late Estel Wood's sewing machine, where George Wren waits to repair seams on the shoes, handbags, and other apparel that come through the door of Dawson's Shoe Repair store on 7th Street. Estel's tools, sewing machine, and even his chair and cushion remain in the same spot that they had when he was alive, though his leather apron sits in the display case directly inside the store's entrance. Estel learned under his father, Forrest Henry Wood, and was the lead shoe repairman on the island of Guam for two years during WWII. George admitted that it was a "little weird" at first, working where Estel had for so many years, especially using his tools and chair, but he said that after sewing his first pair of shoes, he looked up and asked Estel if he had done a good job, if he'd done the shoes justice. "And I knew what his answer was too," Bob said with his eyes lighting up. "He'd look at me and say, 'Well do you think that you did a good job?" "Yeah, Estel, yeah I think I did and he'd say, 'Well, alright, then you did a good job." George rushed out to Bob to recount the story and Bob nodded his head, "That's Dad," Bob said, "he'd say, 'you know, you did, if you'd be proud to wear them."

George Wren, 56, recalls his history in cobblery- his apprenticeship in Centralia in the '70s, buying his own shoe repair store behind the Tiger Barber Shop on 9th street in 1981, spending 13 years on Walnut St. repairing shoes in the Berry building, and then 16 years running Wren's Birkenstock on Broadway, where he both repaired shoes and sold Birkenstocks. His store closed its doors on December 31 2009 and George briefly took a job in shoe retail at the department store, Dillard's until Wood offered him a position doing the rips for him in place of Wood's late father, Estel. Pictured behind George is Estel Wood's chair, cushion, sewing machine, and tools, which George uses regularly.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Picture story blog thoughts for 9/10

School Lunches and Polaroids, Lamott
Selecting a subject, Hurn & Jay

School Lunches and Polaroids, Lamott

Once again, I loved and really related to the reading from "Bird by Bird."
(that should be underlined as it is a book)

Not only is the idea of "school lunches" being a point of absolute judgment for kids by kids a poignant one, but it really does have a plethora of creative meat that can be extracted from expounding on the subject.

I thought it was a great metaphor for breaking down the one-frame idea-
ignore the parental notes, the actual lunch sack, or most of the content.

Start with the sandwich, just the sandwich.

I never had a lunch packed for me as a kid (or as an adult, for that matter)
but I can obviously still understand the metaphor.

I was there, obviously.
I watched the lunch swap, though I never once succeeded in making a trade.

My lunches were undesirable in every way, mostly because I was an undesirable
(and packed my own)

I also appreciated the metaphor of the development of a polaroid for generating a first draft.

"And finally, as the portrait comes into focus, you begin to notice all the props surrounding these people, and you begin to understand how props define us and comfort us, and show us what we value and what we need, and who we think we are." (p. 40)

What a great sentence that tells an awful lot. (maybe I'm just fond of run-ons and big ideas)

I loved the exposition about Lamott's experience writing about the Special Olympics.
Partly because I can really appreciate what she's saying because I've attended,
and partly because I now knew exactly what she meant with her metaphor.

I began to be able to truly relate my own experiences with how it -feels- for the development of the polaroid to begin and how it feels when it comes into view.

It starts out slow and begins to avalanche into that amazing feeling that she describes where one feels like they can "write all day."

Selecting a subject, Hurn & Jay

From the very beginning, I responded to the definition of photography as showing not what someone looked like, but what someone looked like under a certain set of circumstances or at a certain moment while relaying that effectively to others.

For me, a photograph is not successful unless it relates something "extra": It makes the viewer feel or think about (or wonder about) the subject.

What I am unsure of is if my pictures carry that unique stamp that tells the reader that in addition to these things that I am the one who is behind the photograph.

The exposition about the photographer needing a curiosity that leads them back to keep trying and failing spoke to my one-day story idea about George Wren and Bob Dawson because thought it's something that I've already had the experience of shooting, I am not satisfied that I am 'done' with the story- either photographically or journalistically or even personally.

The re-staging of George Wren into Bob Dawson's store makes me curious all-over because though I felt like I knew George Wren, I only knew.
I want to know how he has changed with his location, if at all.
I want to know how the story is developing.
I want to know who he has become after his shop closed, after he went to work at a department store, and now for another local cobbler.
I have to.

This makes me proud because this isn't something I've been assigned, it's something that I want to do and to read that it's part of being a good photojournalist makes me feel closer to the craft.

I was able to answer yes to the questions that follow about whether a subject would be good to photograph and came up with an affirmative answer to everything except "is it interesting to others?"

That I don't know.
And although I am sick with worry about how my class will perceive my idea, when it really comes down to doing this assignment, I don't care as much.

This is something that I really want to shoot.
I want to be able to follow a story that I care about and since it's being done for a class and not publication, I feel like I have that luxury, at least a little bit.
(Not worrying whether or not it's really an interesting choice to others. It might not sound interesting, but to me, it absolutely is.)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Reading thoughts for Picture Story

I really enjoyed the reading this week and kind of wish I had the books on campus with me because the last sentence of the third reading was my favorite over-all and I'm brain farting on what it was.

I am leading the discussion on Anne Lamott's "bird by bird" introduction, which excites me because I can personally relate with Lamott's representation of herself as a child growing up as a reader and writer.

The only difference between us is that I think that I slouched sometimes or at least looked at my feet and my parents were not writers nor did they smoke marijuana.

Regardless, I did spend my childhood primarily reading, writing, and being teased as Anne Lamott had been.
And like her, my youth excellence in writing was recognized and nurtured by teachers.

In second grade, my teacher would have me read to the class on a weekly basis and in fifth grade, I was given the opportunity to read a novella that I had written called "Candy Murder" to the entire grade.

Here are some of the notes I wrote about the reading to guide my prompts during today's discussion:

"I just wanted to make comment and get reactions about your feelings connected to the idea that the writer or photo-journalist is the rare specimen of the working class person 'living on their own terms. Why is this true or false? Why is it necessary or not?"

"All ways of life have their pros and cons. What does the writer lose out on by not being a 9-5er? What do they gain?"

"I want to talk about the creative process for a moment. Anne discusses hers at length- the anxiety, time consumption, bouts of paranoia and hypochondria. I was just curious as to others' creative processes because everyone writes differently."

"I love her characterizations of herself as a child because I was so very much like her. Another theme I found important was the thrill and obsession of seeing oneself in print. Reading this supported my belief in the importance of writing above all else, writing as a means of becoming a better writer especially, though I realized that I, myself, have gotten swept up in the obsession of my publication. I laughed out loud about the bits of 'needing an agent' because it's something I've said many, many times, but she really relit my fire as far as focusing on your writing and letting the rest fall into place, as a matter of speaking."

"Let's talk about getting distance following traumatic events before expatiating upon it. Sometimes this is necessary, when have you done this? When have you not done this?"

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

3 ideas for One-Day Story

We were asked to submit three ideas for a story that can be shot in one day in our Picture Story class.

1) This is going to be the 10 year anniversary of the September 11th tragedy which occurred in 2001. Although it can certainly be argued that this is a story that could not only surpass one day coverage, but is a national issue, I think a story on the tragedy that localizes the commemoration of the event could be covered photographically in one day (the 11th). Shots could also be taken in the days leading up to the 11th to show preparations for the date. I am unaware as to what the city is planning (if anything) for 9/11's decade anniversary, though I am sure that it is something that will be visually present throughout the community, whether an event has been planned or not.

2) Also occurring on the 11th is the Central Missouri Humane Society's intermittent "Walk a hound, lose a pound" benefit, that pairs volunteers with dogs from the humane society for some joined exercise. This is an event that I have always wanted to photograph, not only because it's such a (in my opinion) fantastic volunteer opportunity and does both parties a great deal of good, but because I am fairly sure that these events are up to their ears in possibly stories/features. I am also wondering what percentage of animals who are walked at these events find permanent homes because of it- I'm sure there's got to be at least a couple per event.

3) Finally, I propose the story that I intend to do at least at some point during the semester- The recent collaboration of two of Columbia's iconic cobblers, George Wren and Bob Dawson. Bob recently recruited George to come work for him at his shop. George has been working at Dillard's since his business closed its doors a year or so ago. I am familiar with both of them and think that locally, this is a story that will generate some interest. Cobblery is an occupation with alot of history and is often carried down through the generations. Bob and George are both examples of cobblers who are carrying on a tradition of the occupation in their families and are also two of the kindest people I've had the pleasure of meeting. But that's a personal aside. George has been working at Dawson's shoe repair for about a week or so now and though I have Bob's permission to do the story, I have yet to speak with George.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Picture Story: Blog post One

I am drawn to photo stories that have shot variety- that show not only the subject, but that subject's individuality as well as photos that show the "whole picture" of the story.

I like dynamic photos- ones that show emotion, convey information about the story rather than just what they look like.

I did a project on George Wren, a cobbler who owned Birkenstock on Broadway a couple years back in Advanced about cobblery and that though it is in some ways a dying industry, it makes a small comeback in times of economic trouble.

George, at the time, was doing alright due to economic difficulties, but a few months after I did the project, was forced to shut down his business and began working at Dillard's.

I found out a few weeks ago that he is about to start working with Bob Dawson, another iconic cobbler of Columbia and so I am really interested in doing another story about cobblery, improving upon methods used last time.

I took alot of detail shots to allude to economic difficulty and tried unsuccessfully to use background ambient radio noise, which I think ended up seeming pointless and distracting.

In the last story, I stayed pretty much within the confines of Birkenstock, so depending upon interest in the story, I may ask for access to the cobblers' homes.

Cobblery is infamous for its being an occupation most generally passed down through the generations, so I would like to get more of a feeling of the history of these men and their ancestors role in the field.

I want to more seamlessly and less jarringly include ambient sound in my piece, as I think borders on distracting in this photo essay, which I've made reference to in the past:

Another chance for Michael Vick's dogs

I would also like to get the cobblers' customers into this piece- what kind of people get their clothing or accessories repaired or can they even be catergorized?

What direction is the industry going now?

Will George Wren continue bringing his dog to work?
Why did his business ultimately fail?
What was it like working at a department store versus owning his own business?
What made him decide to go work with Bob?
Will they be able to hire back his assistant repairman?

Here is a low quality version of that photo story:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My first website: First Draft

So today we made websites in EPJ and that was really exciting for me because I have never made a webpage before!

Here she is:

Welcome to the Jungle

This is the rubric for the first assignment.
Please, every single none of my readers, (get it? Because nobody reads this!) alert me if I seem to have missed something:

Assignment 1: Your first index.html page with an image & link

For this assignment you are to hand-code a basic web page in html and upload it to a web server. You page must have the following elements:

• A heading of some sort
• At least one block of text. Tell me a little about yourself and your background as it relates to this course. What skills do you already have, and what do you want to learn? Your text should include something in bold and something in italics.
• Color specification for the background
• At least one image
• At least one text link
• A title for the page. This will appear at the top of the browser window.

Follow these specifications for your image:

• 800 pixels wide, at 72 ppi
• Sharpened and toned appropriately for web display
• Converted to sRGB
• Saved appropriately for the web

Name your page index.html and upload it and any necessary supporting files (like the picture) to your Bengal space.

Email the link to your page to and post it to your blog before the end of lab on August 27, 2010.

Friday, August 13, 2010

My last story for the Missourian: Conservation!

I learned a lot about conservation at Jefferson Farms and Gardens yesterday morning.

Mostly, I learned that spirits can not walk in a zig zag pattern.

Yeah, I know, who knew, right?

Here's the story!

Jefferson Farm teaches conservation techniques to property owners
Thursday, August 12, 2010 | 7:50 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — If you want to participate in land conservation, there are lots of ways to do it.

On Thursday morning, two public tours at Jefferson Farm and Gardens were held to show ways to improve land conservation. About 20 people walked or went by wagon around the 67 acres in south Columbia and learned about permeable parking lots, rain gardens, pond management and wildlife habitats.

Porous asphalt: The first stop was a comparison of porous and conventional asphalt staffed by Robert Christensen, owner of Christensen Construction Company. Porous asphalt decreases runoff, which can erode soil and potentially send toxins into water sources. It also deters ice and snow from collecting because of tiny holes within the asphalt, Christensen said.

Porous asphalt is about 35 percent more expensive than conventional asphalt.

Rain gardens: At the next stop, Rebecca Spicer and Catherine Bohnert stood in front of a rain garden, which slows down and feeds on the runoff. The rain garden at Jefferson Farm and Gardens was made with compost, not fertilizer, and it had stones throughout it.

The women drew plants from a bucket to show examples of good plants for rain gardens. They include: palm sedge, water canna, arrowhead, irises, purple coneflowers, goldenrod, butterfly weed (a favorite of Monarchs) and the compass plant.

The stop for pond management was alongside a seven-acre lake. There, Kelly Mottaz explained that planting native grasses around the edges of a pond will limit soil erosion and runoff and deter Canada geese, all of which can worsen water quality.

Mottaz said pond weed is a problem for ponds; the small, floating vegetation reproduces rapidly. Tour guide Rob Myers, director of programs at the Jefferson Institute, which oversees Jefferson Farm and Gardens, said a canoe is sent out once a year onto the lake to clear out pond weed.

Another suggestion to limit runoff into ponds is building a Riparian zone, an area of trees and shrubs placed farther away from the pond to disrupt the runoff flow.

Buffer plants to consider are pickerelweed, prairie dropseed, big bluestem and little bluestem grasses and orange coneflowers.

The important thing is to use native plants, Mottaz said, because foreign plants tend to take over the area.

As for aquatic vegetation, native water lilies are less invasive than foreign species and will not spread as quickly.

Wildlife habitat: At the wildlife habitat stop, Bob Pierce, MU Extension assistant professor in fisheries and wildlife, stood next to a rectangular plot of plants.

"It's not just about food plots (for wildlife)," Pierce said. "You need to create a habitat that works for you."

Food plots are sections of foliage that attract wildlife but are unlikely to be successful if they exceed 65 feet from the tree lines.

Building a habitat for Bobwhite quail, for example, requires a food plot with a lot of foliage cover. Effective plots have 77 plants, such as ragweed, planted five feet apart. Once the cover has grown enough for the quail to feel safe, they tend to move in quickly.

"They say they'll move right in overnight," said Mark McCulloch, a private land conservationist for the Missouri Department of Conservation who was at the farm to speak later about the department's private lands program.

McCulloch said Missouri is the only state that has a division of private land. He said the Private Land Services Division, which is part of the Department of Conservation, began a decade ago, and part of its mission is to assist property owners looking to improve the well-being of their land. He said he gets between 150 and 200 calls a year.

"I will come out for a person with one sick tree," McCulloch said, talking about the range of his duties. "I'll help you out."

Conservation programs: The final stop was to give information about conservation programs offered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Dwaine Gelnar, assistant state conservationist for programs, said the Environmental Quality Incentives Program offers financial help and technical advice for farmers who have signed a contract to improve their conservation practices. A lot of the money goes to grazing lands, improving the health of the native plant population and protecting the water quality of nearby streams.

Nationally, the quality incentive program is allotted $1 billion, Gelnar said, $26 million of which was awarded to Missouri this year.

The 2008 Farm Bill changed the EQIP's fund disbursement focus so that it now targets locally driven initiatives. Applicants must register and be aware that selection is competitive, Gelnar said.

SO I think I forgot to post my Les Bourgeois Story

Which consequently got front page in the print edition

This has been a story that's been in the works for a while.

I went out to meet the head wine-maker and spent about an hour or so audio-recorder in hand, touring the old winery and the new.

My favorite part was the trademarked Big Ass Fan

Hello! I am Gianna's story about the new winery at Les Bourgeois


Les Bourgeois Winery builds new facility
Monday, August 9, 2010 | 5:17 p.m. CDT; updated 9:52 p.m. CDT, Monday, August 9, 2010

By Gianna Volpe

ROCHEPORT — Les Bourgeois, the state's third-largest in production after Stone Hill and St. James wineries, has had a steady growth curve throughout the economic downturn, thanks in part to an increase in off-site wine sales.

"Our grocery store wine sales have increased, but that's true of the national industry as a whole," said Cory Bomgaars, head winemaker at Les Bourgeois. "Restaurant sales have been down. People are still drinking wine, but they're drinking it at home more often.” Bomgaars is also vice chairman of the Missouri Wine and Grape Board and president of the Missouri Vintners Association.

With that growth in mind, Les Bourgeois has built a 14,000-square-foot winemaking facility to streamline production and allow for even more expansion later.

Ideas for the new facility have been incubating for years, Bomgaars said, but the business had its money tied up in expansion outside the actual winery. In addition to the winery, Les Bourgeois includes vineyards, a farm and cliff-top bistro along the Missouri River.

The Bourgeois family turned a hobby into a business in 1986. Ten years later, they purchased the bistro and the farm. "That was a significant economic investment," Bomgaars said. “We had to wait until we were strong enough to take this big of a project on.”

The $2 million expansion includes construction of the building where wine will be made and remodeling of the existing building. Les Bourgeois plans to expand its current tasting room and gift shop and extend educational services.

Les Bourgeois moved into the current winemaking building in 1989 when production was an estimated 20,000 gallons of wine a year; the expectation was that they would need to expand when they hit 60,000 gallons. They are now producing an estimated 120,000 gallons.

“People come through and say, 'I don't believe you do such volume and quality of wine with that space.' It's been a great story, but we're kind of tired of telling it," Bomgaars said. "The story's going to be a lot better with the facility that we've designed to make the wine that we want to make.”

'All in' on new building

Bomgaars credits the winery's staff for success in production thus far and as being integral to designing the new building. "We were all in on it," he said.

Huebert Builders of Columbia constructed the new two-room facility. The building is 24 feet tall at the eaves and 36 feet at the pitch.

“The main reason we need the height on the eaves is for the tanks," Bomgaars said. "When we were looking at our designs, we could have made a shorter building, but we would be limited to having our larger tanks in one section of the building. Now if we wanted to put a 6,000 gallon tank or a 12,000 gallon tank in here, we could.”

So far, the new facility is empty, except for an enormous fan whipping up a significant breeze overhead. The building's upper space will be used for a new laboratory, Bomgaars' office and a sensory room.

At 6 feet wide and 15 feet long, the current lab is cramped because the wine-maker, cellar-master and intern all share the space. The new laboratory will be 30 by 15 feet. A third of the new laboratory space will be for storage of corks, capsules and dry goods. Blending trials for fine-tuning the taste of a current product or experimenting with a new one will be done in the sensory room next door. Right now, they are done at the bistro.

Once the winemaking equipment is moved from the old building to the new one and occupancy is passed on the warehouse side, Les Bourgeois will no longer lease warehouse space at Subtera, which has underground caves in Columbia. Les Bourgeois also hopes to build a warehouse next to the new wine-making facility.

With the new space, cases will be able to go to the warehouse straight from bottling.

Processing incoming grapes will also be much easier. Currently, operators have to dump grapes either into a press 14 feet above their head or into a receiving hopper about 10 feet up.

"It's pretty awkward," Bomgaars said.

Trucks have to be unloaded in the parking lot because of a lack of space inside the current processing room. "We pretty much fill half of our parking lot up when we unload the trucks, and then we process them all into this little space," Bomgaars said.

The new facility features a concrete patio between the new building and the old where customers will be able to view wine-making.

Trucks with incoming grapes will be able to back into a drop-down area next to the new building where the processing equipment will be.

"Once that's done, operators will be able to look right into the machinery," Bomgaars said about eliminating the need to hoist grapes several feet up into a receiving press.

“You're talking about, on a week like this, 40-50 hours of labor that we're saving,” Bomgaars said about streamlining production. He said positions will not be eliminated; current employees will be able to focus their energies on making better products.

Although 50 percent of production is invested in Riverboat Red, a large-volume wine that Bomgaars said is rapidly expanding, there has also been growth in production and sales of small series wines. The winery's collector's series, which Les Bourgeois does three of a year, currently produces 47,000 cases.

One last harvest

Bomgaars said the move will be done in stages. First, they plan to move into the warehouse side of the building, probably in the next month. Moving the tanks and bottling equipment is another story.

Excessive heat delayed bottling for a few weeks, though Bomgaars said they were able to catch up and are finishing now. The winery will need all equipment to be operational in time for harvest, which has just begun, so Les Bourgeois will need to operate one more time in its old facility.

“Our goal would be to get the tanks in here by next harvest or over the course of next year," Bomgaars said.

Once the move into the new building is complete, Les Bourgeois plans to use the old building to accommodate visitors to the winery and educational tours. A row of tanks and some oak barrel storage will be left behind in the old building. Bomgaars said the winery's equipment for sparkling wine will be brought in as well.

The gift shop, which now occupies 600 square feet of the winery, will expand into the bottling space of the old building. Visitors will be able to view winemaking in the new facility through windows overlooking it from the gift shop as well as from the expanded patio area next to the new tasting room.

"Not only will it be good for us, but it’s going to be a good showcase for the Missouri industry," Bomgaars said, "which is a really exciting part of it."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Future of Food

Yesterday I talked to Dr. Rob Myers, founder and director of programs for the Jefferson Institute about today's Conservation field tours.

I talked his ear off-

(I think I say that alot. I must have an aural fixation, I SLAY MYSELF)

-not only about the event, but about the implications and effects of genetically modified foods.

If you haven't seen the documentary, "The future of food," Oh my dog, see it.
It scared the bajeesus out of me.

The scary thing about genetically modified foods is that it's so new that the long-term effects on humans have yet to be sufficiently researched. More importantly, it is not required for a product to identify whether the ingredients in it contain genetically modified foods.

The scary part about genetically modified foods is that their introduction came after a seed was patented- the first time life was patented.

There was a stipulation that these plants would NOT cross-breed with indigenous species, but...... they did.

Farmers all over the country are having their farms infiltrated by companies who test their crops for the genetically modified material and take their plants because the modified plants cross-bred and erased the indigenous coding.

This is a huge problem, not only because corporation's crops are contaminating farmers crops, which are then taken from the farmers, but as these modified plants spread (and many are designed to be resistant to pests, so they can spread quickly) they completely wipe out strains of un-modified crops.

The danger here is that if the diversity of crop types that we have is being funneled down from say 100 species of potato to say, 3, there is huge potential for great disaster should one of those types experience a blight.

Currently, genetically modified corn is infiltrating Mexico and wiping out several ancient strains of corn, a prided crop for the country.


here's my brief about the Conservation Field tours, which had nothing to do with what I was just blathering on about, except in the way that diversity is key in both the event and the issue of genetically modified foods.

Brief for Jefferson Institute's free conservation field tour

Free conservation field tour to be held Thursday
Wednesday, August 11, 2010 | 6:22 p.m. CDT


COLUMBIA — On Thursday, local farmers will have a chance to learn how to make money — or at least improve their operations — for free.

Community members are invited to participate in Conservation Field Tour, a free event held tomorrow from 8 to 10:30 a.m. at Jefferson Farm & Gardens, located at 4800 E. New Haven Road.

Attendees will be able to take an hour-long tour either by wagon or by foot to see demonstrations about conservation.

A variety of speakers are scheduled on topics such as water quality, soil conservation, rain gardens and pond management to benefit both farmers and curious community members. One of the speakers, an MU professor, Bob Pierce, will discuss establishing wildlife habitats.

The event will be headed by Rob Myers, founder and director of programs at The Thomas Jefferson Agricultural Institute. Myers, a former MU professor, has also worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a program director for national education and research.

"The number of American farmers have been in decline," Myers said. Farm operation costs have been increasing, making it more difficult for smaller farms to continue to operate, he said.

Hoping to address the industry's challenges, the Conservation Field Tour plans to focus on sustainable agriculture to help up-and-coming farms and to teach family farmers how to stay in business and compete with larger operations.

Pamphlets from several different organizations also will be available at a booth in the information tent by the main parking lot.

For those who can't attend, Myers offered a basic tip: Mix it up.

"Research shows that farmers with three or four types of crop tend to have less pests," Myers said. "There's a need for farmers to diversify the crops on their farms."

My name is Gianna, I will be your tour guide

I got the chance to talk to a family from Houston yesterday (?) about the photoj sequence of the School of Journalism.

That was something that I really enjoyed.

I blathered on about the classes that she (the prospective student) would be taking and what they would entail.

I told them about MoEX (which the mother was just so relieved to hear about)

I also let her know that if she kept her grades high the first semester that she attended Mizzou, that she would be able to take the first photojournalism sequence class, Fundamentals of Photojournalism during her second semester of freshman year.

I told them that I had been fortunate enough to do so, but following taking Fundamentals, I had put off taking further upper level photo courses because of the intensity, which I regretted.

I told her that if she wanted to succeed in the program that the best advice I could give her was to immerse herself and that she was sure to have fun.

I gave the family a little background about Columbia, what it had to offer, yada yada yada.

I really loved being able to inform an up and coming photog.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Surprise Photo slideshow? CUTE

Turns out someone from photo took some of my biker pics (and Joel's) and made a slideshow for the website.

Here's me sharing it with you(reader)

Let it

I like it, though I wish they had gone through my dump and picked some other pictures that hadn't been used yet.

Old news?! Yuck!
I'm kidding.

I am deciding whether I should still edit a sounds from the rally to go along with a post rally article.
I think that what's been missing from our coverage (and everyone else's) is the SOUND of motorcycles.

PS: Entirely unrelated, but I saw The Other Guys last night and this reporter announced himself at a press release and sounded really ashamed to say he was an online reporter and then another one (from TMZ, HA) said PRINT EDITION, all proud, and, I don't get it- Is there a stigma for being an online reporter?

Isn't that, um, the future?

NBR- Saturday

Joel and I went out to check out the bike show on Saturday- the last full day of the rally.

I was sure sad that we were on deadline- I would have loved to get some shots of Chingy and the other performers.

I still don't know if Michael Jordan was just a rumor!

Anyway, I made some great contacts at the show.

This one woman claimed her husband was the first black man in Columbia to own a motorcycle.

I took her information down because I think that would be a pretty neat feature!

She said that he (her husband) has gotten everyone in their family into riding.
Her 14-year-old son, who I have a picture of in the gallery, is one of them.
I had more information, but couldn't get a hold of her in time to AC, so the caption suffered a little there, but it had the generations right there in the shot, so that was enough to make me happy.

I was honestly awe-stricken at some of these custom bikes.

On Saturday night, while I was bartending, someone told me that three bikes had been stolen.

Two sport bikes scooped out of a hotel parking lot and a Honda goldwing.

I spent this morning going through the police dispatches looking for more info, but then from a google search saw that the Tribune has already put up two briefs about the incidents.
(Which is cool, I love when hearsay becomes didhappen)

The guy who put me in detention the first day of the rally (I say this lovingly and a bit facetiously) saw me at the bike show and said, "YOU AGAIN? HOW MANY TIMES YOU GONNA COME OUT HERE, I'VE SEEN YOU EVERYDAY."

Then he smiled.
We are soooooo friends.

Getting ready to gut check businesses for follow-ups this week.

Not sure how to go about getting the most accurate information for actual attendance and economic impact numbers.

My big bad photo gallery

Friday, August 6, 2010

NBR Day Three

On the third day of the rally, Joel and I were able to see that what I had predicted about rally traffic was true: Thursday would be the first big day for arrivals.

When we arrived, traffic was backed up to the intersection of Oakland Gravel and Prathersville Road and by the time we got into Breeze's cart, a voice over the radio said that traffic was backed up to the highway at that point.

I suggested that for this day, that we focus on night time at the rally as I suspected that most people would be out during that time, seeing as the heat has been something of a issue.

I was pleased to find that the fairgrounds were swarming with attendees.

"Now THIS is more like it," I said to Joel.

I was literally stuck on smile.

I have to say something about the bikers.

Of the 25+ bikers that I've spoken to so far at this event, every single one of them was extremely friendly and informative.

I was under the impression that there would be more a split- some bikers would be unwilling to comment or would be disinterested by my approaching them or striking up conversation, but i have to say that not ONE biker was anything but welcoming, humorous, and friendly.

Here's the article from day three.

I focused on:

1) the increase of visitors
2) the approach of night
3) the beginning of the event's main entertainment
4) a feel for the actual rally scene
5) a taste of how to join the community

Here is the article, which Liz said had good content, but was a rough edit.
My weakness as a reporter is shaping my stories. Knowing how to phrase, be concise.
It's something i'm working on and hopefully have been improving on.
My strength, Liz says, is my content.

These are things that I can live with.

In the cool of the evening, the biker community comes alive
Friday, August 6, 2010 | 12:03 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The radio in Rozell "Breeze" Nunn's hand confirmed it.

"There's a line out to the highway back on gate three," a voice crackled.

As predicted, more motorcyclists and attendees were arriving on Thursday evening, the first night of live entertainment at the National Bikers Roundup. The roundup is expected to be busiest Friday and Saturday evenings; the event wraps up on Sunday.

Riding in his golf cart, waving and acknowledging the shouts of greeting that came his way, Nunn navigated the swelling crowd that moved through the Boone County Fairgrounds on foot and on motorcycles. He dodged kiosks and RVs and handled the radio calls with an expert hand. Founder of the National Bikers Roundup, Nunn has been doing this for 33 years.

That a modest camp-out for African-American motorcycle clubs in the Kansas City area has expanded into a national event drawing thousands of people is a pleasure to him.

"It makes me feel like a king," said Nunn, president of the Atlanta chapter of the Zodiacs, a club he's been in since 1972.

Some attendees looking at vendors' booths as the sun went down wore the clothes of the biking culture: vests with patches identifying their motorcycle club, their chapter and their role within that chapter — secretary or sergeant-at-arms or another office.

"Right now I'm patchless, but that's OK," said Brittni Perry, sipping from an unusually tall translucent orange glass.

Perry of Lansing, Mich., is identified as P1; the p stands for probation. Riders usually have to go through a period in which they are evaluated by members on their dedication to the club. The club Perry is vying to join, The Street Riders, requires a 90-day probation during which prospects are expected to attend the club's meetings and biker events and show respect to established club members. She is 30 days away from receiving a biker name.

Perry had never driven a motorcycle before last week and said it has been the most exhilarating experience of her life. "Whatever you were worrying about or thinking about in your life is gone," she said.

The national secretary of The Street Riders, known as "Qpid," stood nearby trying on helmets. Qpid and Perry are from the Lansing chapter of The Street Riders, a co-ed club. Qpid said her job is to keep track of every new member the club recruits, including when they started. She said that after the roundup, the club plans to visit its chapter in Dayton, Ohio.

"The heat is killing us. The flies are killing us," Qpid said. "We're not used to this. We're from Michigan."

In the background, the sound of music and motorcycles melded, a steady rumbling with tunes weaving in and out.

Motorcycles moved freely among the vending area and even into the outdoor concert arena. "Be aware," a sign read. "Motorcycles are everywhere."

A couple sitting on their motorcycle near the front of the stage identified themselves as "Lady Ryder" and "Chilly Willy" Hicks, Army retirees from Fort Knox, Ky., and members of The Iron Soldiers. The couple of 15 years came to the roundup by way of Seattle, arriving at 1 a.m. Monday. This is their 24th roundup.

"Partying and riding our bikes," Lady Ryder, vice president of her chapter, said, "that's what it's all about. We need the party, we need our bikes, and we need to have a town to support us so that we can support them in revenue."

Phil "Rat" Prince, a rider of 22 years, sat in the crowded concert area on his motorcycle while a band onstage played the blues. Prince, a member of the Flint, Mich., chapter of The Buffalo Soldiers for about three months, said he's been enjoying camping, barbecuing and meeting people from other states.

"Tomorrow, I will shop," he said. "I like to wait until toward the end of the event to make purchases."

NBR: Day Two

On the second day of the round-up, I decided to bring a marantz and get some sounds from the rally.

I am planning on putting together an audio piece following the rally called, "Sounds from the Rally."

This will include entertainment, attendee voices, and ambient sound (chock full of motorcycle revs.

I'm really excited about working on this as it will be my first strictly audio piece.

Thinking about going to the rally tomorrow for the big night of music (Chingy and The St. Lunatics particularly) because I think that would definitely work for my piece.

Curious about this rumor that Michael Jordan is planning to come to the event and has been staying at the Hilton.

Could I possibly meet this legendary giant?

Breeze said that he didn't know about Michael Jordan being in town
"And if I did, I wouldn't be able to tell you."

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Photo Gallery of the opening day of the Biker Rally

My photo gallery of opening day has been on the most read list for a bit now.

I was told that neither AP nor the Trib. got pictures that day, so I have to feel a little proud of myself.

I am totally in my element there. Have to say.

Getting ready to write a story about the night life at the rally.

I wanted to write this story because
1) I had a sneaking suspicion that there was going to be a huge influx of bikers today.
2) There was bound to be more people coming out of their RVS and hotel rooms as it got cooler outside.

I was right.

There were SO many people and Joel and I got our coverage.

Okayokay, I'm going to write, but in the meantime, here's the link to the photo gallery.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Biker Rally Day One

Having no idea how this would pan out, Christina and I headed out to the biker rally this afternoon.

Turned out that she and Joel had been told that the schedule of events would be released at 4 this morning and alas, no schedule.

While we interviewed some folks at the God's Wheel's food drive tent, I asked a nearby booth where I would be able to secure a schedule.

I was told that they could be found at the NBR tent and I walked around, happy as a clam, snapping shots and greeting smiling people until the guy at the NBR tent asked who I was with and why I was wandering around alone.

To make a long story short- I ended up with a guide named Mark who got me a computer-printed rough version of the schedule of events and a few really awesome shots for a photo gallery.

Apparently Vox is going to use a shot of mine as well!
(Coming out Thursday)

I missed the deadline to send in a personal essay for them.

I was going to write an essay about almost dying and all, but, you know, I'm working on the biker rally, so VROOMVROOM.

I really hope whoever does the story on the Aladdin Lamp Collector's Club/takes pictures for it, does it the justice that it deserves.

It could be a REALLY awesome multimedia piece, in my opinion.

Monday, August 2, 2010

National Bikers Roundup 2010

Despite the roller-coaster of emotions that have been involved with the preparation for my coverage of the biker rally, my article made this weekend's front page.

Writing this article taught me a lot about my presentation of myself as a journalist, how things can go wrong, how things can get patched up, and how sensitive of a position that I am in as a journalist.

I couldn't be happier with the results and am still head-over-heels excited about the event.

Here is the web version of the article, complete with two document attachments.

One of the attachments is a notice given out by the Special Business District that I found on the bar at my place of employment, resulting in a "Yoink."

It just had so much information that I felt would be helpful for the public to minimize culture shock between Columbians and motorcyclists.

I was glad that the memo was included.


National Bikers Roundup pulls into Columbia
Saturday, July 31, 2010 | 6:01 p.m. CDT; updated 10:30 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 31, 2010

COLUMBIA — That distant roaring you will soon hear is 35,000 or so bikers pulling into Columbia.

They're coming from across the country on motorcycles and sport bikes for the 33rd annual National Bikers Roundup, which runs from Tuesday through Aug. 8 at the Boone County Fairgrounds, 5212 N. Oakland Gravel Road.

The Boone County Sheriff's Department wants community residents to know the bikers are likely to be in the area in noticeable numbers, affecting traffic, starting on Monday. Alternate routes are listed in a sidebar to this article.

Lorah Steiner, executive director of the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau, said 35,000 is a conservative estimate of visitors and predicted the event will have $6 million in direct impact on the area economy. Hotels farther than Boonville have been booked for this event, she said.

"If you have 35,000 people in the market, and they're spending just $30 a day, do the math," Steiner said. "Average expenditure for someone who is visiting and staying is $100-$125 a day, so they'll easily spend $6 million in the market."

Steiner said Columbia stores have been advised to stock up on food and other camping supplies to prepare for the brief population spike. This is because people will be camping at the fairgrounds and staying in RVs as well as hotels. Four areas will be set up on the fairgrounds for primitive camping. RV hookups will be available at the fairgrounds as well as at nearby Cottonwoods RV Park.

"Hundreds will bring RVs and their cars," Steiner said. "Most people stay in hotels and then use RVs on the fairgrounds side."

Services manager Jody Russell has secured a shuttling service to minimize the traffic congestion and backup at the fairgrounds. Shuttles will run for free on Friday and Saturday between Parkade Plaza and the fairgrounds. Maps to Parkade have been made for distribution to out-of-towners and outlying hotels.

Thousands of copies of fliers with information as to where visitors can go for groceries, urgent care and bike repairs are also scheduled to be distributed.

How the National Bikers Roundup ended up being held in Columbia this year is a point of pride for Steiner.

"We're kind of the mouse that roared," she said about securing the bid. "We have a history that when we go after something — and it sounds self-aggrandizing, but we really do — we have a history of securing those events."

Last year, Steiner said, two staffers from the tourism bureau went to the event in Atlanta. In deciding whether to host the event, the biggest issue on this end was providing security. Security is being handled by the Sheriff's Department, the Columbia Police Department, the State Highway Patrol and Contemporary Services Co. The private firm is being paid $23,000 by the National Bikers Roundup to handle security inside the fairgrounds, along with sheriff's deputies.

"When you have an event this big, there are so many things from the bureau's perspective that we're responsible for," Steiner said. "We want to make sure that this event goes off as well as it possibly can."

Major Tom Reddin said the Sheriff's Department plans to have 20 to 30 deputies assigned to the event inside and outside the fairgrounds. Some of these assignments will include overseeing traffic, entry gate security and two-man foot patrols within the fairgrounds. Reddin said they have been working closely with Contemporary Services, which will send about 40 people to the event, 20 of whom will be on duty inside the fairgrounds at any given time.

"We're just counting down the days at this point," Reddin said.

The Columbia Police Department will be visible downtown, and theHighway Patrol will oversee incoming traffic to Columbia, particularly at the U.S. 63/Interstate 70 junction.

Steiner wants to allay fears, if anyone has them, about the event, saying, "99.9 percent of these folks are coming here to have a good time."

"Of course there have been incidents, but you take 35,000 to 50,000 depending on how many people show up, and you put them in the same place for five days, there's going to be an incident," Steiner said. "There's going to be a domestic violence incident, or there's going to be a fight break out. If you put that many people in a space for a concert for that amount of time, can you imagine what you're going to have? This is just humanity in the normal course of being human."

Steiner said that when the two representatives were sent to Atlanta to secure Columbia's bid for the event, they never felt unsafe.

A memo recently distributed by the Special Business District to Columbia restaurant and bar owners said: "National Bikers Roundup is an umbrella organization that hosts many members from other biker groups. Some are family oriented, some are simply enthusiasts, but there are a very few that align themselves with 'outlaw bikers.'"

The memo went on: "It's important to state that you cannot judge a book by its cover. Meaning, you won't be able to tell an 'outlaw biker' from any other, so welcome everyone equally. But it is vital that you inform your staff to not tolerate any foul behavior and to maintain a high level of attention and service."

The memo lists precautions for businesses, concluding: "This is all precautionary and does NOT mean that this is an unsafe event. Understand that there may be a few bad apples, but the vast majority of attendees are very friendly and very good customers, and it's important to treat them as such."

Visit the Vox website for a photo slideshow and story about the biker culture.


If you go or if you want to stay clear

The Boone County Sheriff's Department recommends alternate routes for traffic near the fairgrounds while the National Bikers Rally is under way, from Tuesday through Aug. 8.

Likely to be heavily congested are:

U.S. 63
Starke Avenue
Prathersville Road
Roger I. Wilson Memorial Drive
Oakland Gravel Road (from Smiley Lane to Prathersville Road)
Brown School Road (from Oakland Gravel Road to Highway 763)
Highway 763 (from Smiley Lane to Prathersville Road)
The following roads will be used exclusively for event patrons:

Traffic on Starke Avenue will be eastbound only.
Traffic on Oakland Gravel Road (between Smiley Lane and Prathersville Road) will be southbound only.

Free shuttles will be available from 5:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. They will run continually between Parkade Plaza and the fairgrounds.


$20 for motorcycle club members, $25 for general admission and free for children 12 and younger.

Live entertainment is scheduled for Thursday through Saturday nights from 6 to 11 p.m. at the grandstand on the northeast part of the fairgrounds and from 6 p.m. to 1:15 a.m. at the arena in the main building.

Bands scheduled to appear are: Zapp; The St. Lunatics; Chingy; Theodis Ealy; Sir Charles; Motown on Wax; Dr. Zhivegas; DJ Diamond Kuts; Ruka Puff; Aloha; Baby Huey; DeAndre Perryman; Alyson Williams; and The Fellaz. The acts are primarily funk, hip-hop and rhythm and blues.

Other events

Demo rides will be done on the asphalt at the fairgrounds.

A bike show will be held in the parking lot of the Atkins baseball field on Saturday.

Activities for children are scheduled both in the air-conditioned part on the fairgrounds in the main building and outside. National Bikers Roundup chairman Billy Walker said activities will include "blow-up games, small carnival rides, video games, commercial video games and possibly a pool."

About 60 motorcycle dealers and food and merchandise vendors have signed up to participate in the event. This includes Harley Davidson, which will bring an 18-wheeler that folds out into a demo area and another with motorcycles in it.

The Sister to Sister seminar held for women at each roundup discusses first aid, breast cancer awareness, motorcycle riding and safety tips, and other topics of interest to female motorcyclists.

God's Wheels is a charity that is sponsored by the roundup. Attendees are asked to bring canned food for donation to those who need it. The cans are donated to the city that hosts the roundup.

Here is some related media about how loud a motorcycle actually is

It's a boy, Mr. Walker, It's a boy

I did a brief following a press release by police about an identity theft scam by a man who goes by the name of Walker.

Here is the brief:

Police want public to be aware of identity theft scam
Friday, July 30, 2010 | 6:13 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The Columbia Police Department wants the public to be aware of suspicious phone calls, e-mails or written letters requesting any personal information, including their social security number or bank information.

"Banks, credit card companies and reputable online retailers such as eBay and Paypal will never contact you and ask to confirm account numbers or social security numbers over the phone or via email," the release said.

The memo details a phone call received by police by a woman on Thursday afternoon. The woman reported she had been "contacted several times by phone at her place of employment by a man identifying himself as John Walker."

The man, who called multiple times over the course of several days, left messages claiming to be several other people, including an officer at the East Lansing Police Department. Walker claimed that he wanted to verify her social security number, giving her the first three numbers of her social security number and asking for her to fill in the rest.

"Walker" called the woman from the number (516) 515-3371, a number that has been found through an internet search to be associated with a number of fraudulent debt collecting scams. He also claimed to be Larry Walker and Edward Walker, in addition to John Walker.

Police said they confirmed there is no Officer Walker at the East Lansing Police Department.

Columbia police encourage anyone in doubt to report suspected fraudulent activity to them at 873-7652.

Humane Society Brief

This was a simple day turn-over that I did within a couple hours.

It's a sort of public service announcement reminding citizens the protocol for dropping off animals with the Central Missouri Human Society after 5 puppies were left in a plastic box with holes bored into it over night and 4 out of the 5 puppies were found by volunteers in the morning, dead.

I went to talk to Shelter Relations Coordinator, Allison Toth for the information and took a cell phone pic of a bunny who had Katherine Reed's face keeping him company nearby in his cage.

I received a wonderful compliment by a reader, which of course filled my little heart with joy.

Ray Shapiro July 30, 2010 | 7:18 p.m.
This is one of the best articles I've read in a long time.
Save me the trip to the door at Big Bear to check this out:
Is the front of CMHS well lit after hours and is there a sign posted about this after hours/emergency option?


here was my reponse, which may be misinterpreted, though it's a topic that I know alot about and feel the information is important for informing the public about how to most responsibly care for a found animal/animals.

It is my hope that the population of animals without homes/proper care will dwindle with a little education:
Gianna Volpe, reporter on this story:
First of all, Thank you so much, Ray.
I'm glad that you enjoyed the article.
The only reason I was aware of the temporary move was because I went to the big bear location a few weeks ago to adopt a kitten of my own.
I am unsure about how well lit CMHS is after hours, but I am fairly sure that there is no prominent signs explaining the emergency protocol, which I think could be a boon to the organization should they decide to place a sign in the windows.
I was very glad to learn that the organization has done away with a drop-off fee, which I'm told helped with some of these middle of the night drop offs, though not entirely.
The reason I think it's so important for people to make sure that the animals are safely changed hands particularly has to do with the temporary location of the humane society.
Paris is certainly a busy, busy road.
Actually I know that down the road next to a Casey's there is usually a litter of abandoned cats hanging around a dumpster.
And next to Darryl's auto repair shop behind Subway on the business loop.
There is, of course, the humanitarian desire to feed feral cats, though I have to say that this absolutely does more bad than good.
Feral cats tend to breed outside of their actual means, so, one fed feral cat soon becomes 6, 12, 24. kittens that are undernourished, prey for larger animals, and who tend to die from lack of care and consistent food.
My father is a health officer in New Jersey, an animal lover who I went on many stake-outs out with trying to reign in an out of control feral cat population whose lives are anything but fulfilling. (and can spread diseases)
Although it's true that not all of the cats caught are able to find homes and some may be put to sleep, the fault of this phenomenon really lies in the misguided feeding of feral cats, who will breed a generation of animals that are unable to be properly fed and cared for.
The humane society does its best work by neutering the animals that are brought to them and then trying to find homes for those animals.
I hope that those who read this article will be more likely to call animal control if they have animals to drop off to the humane society after hours.
Before writing this article, i felt a stigma attached to "animal control" though finding out that they have access to the humane society and can perform intakes helped remove this stigma for me.

Here's the article:

Central Missouri Humane Society accepts animals for free
Friday, July 30, 2010 | 3:37 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — It doesn't cost anything to safely put animals in the care of the Central Missouri Humane Society.

Instead of dropping an animal off anonymously or after business hours, the proper process, Shelter Relations Coordinator Allison Toth said, can take as little as a few minutes.

The shelter has been taking steps to make it easier for people to drop off animals that they find or cannot care for.

"We're an open door shelter," Toth said. "We will not make you feel guilty; we understand that life happens. We just want what's best for the animals."

These reminders come in light of a recent incident in which five border collie puppies were left on the doorstep of the humane society after hours. By the time volunteers arrived the next morning, four of five of the puppies had died. The fifth is currently alive and doing well in foster care.

Animals left at the humane society during the night are fairly common and it often happens on a weekly basis, Toth said.

She said when an animal is dropped off while they're open, a quick intake form is done on the animal. It varies depending on if the animal is a stray or owned. For strays, a basic breed and approximate age will be assessed and for owned animals, temperament and other details might be asked.

Those who find themselves in an emergency or have an animal to drop off when the shelter is closed, can call animal control at 449-1888. Animal control has access to the humane society's facilities after hours to admit an animal safely.

The Central Missouri Humane Society abolished the $20 fee they previously charged until about three or four months ago, Toth said.

She also said changing from having a fee to asking for a donation helped. Some people who dropped off animals could not afford the fee, but now, some others end up donating more than the $20 fee they used to require.

The Central Missouri Humane Society is temporarily located at Mid-City Lumber Co., 4709 Paris Rd., during renovations of their Big Bear Boulevard location. The shelter is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

National Bikers Round-up

The forum

I have been looking for incoming bikers who would be willing to speak with me about their experiences with the National Bikers Round-up, their experiences as a biker, etc.

The event will bring a 35,000 predominantly "black" bikers to a 100,000 predominantly "white" college town, so I have been looking into the history of the event, the impact this is likely to have, and most importantly, real voices.

I found a forum that had some bikers on it and decided to make a post on it.

Here is my post:

Local photojournalist looking to speak with willing attendees of NBR
Hey everyone,

I am a reporter (and photographer) for The Columbia Missourian (a major local publication produced by fledgeling journalists).

I was given the chance to head up coverage of this year's NBR, will be there every day of the event, and am looking for interested riders who would be willing to speak with me at or before the upcoming event about their personal experiences as a rider, experiences with NBR, etc.

I am really excited to be covering the round-up and want to get to know some of you before you head out here.

I am originally from New Jersey and am out here finishing up my photojournalism degree at Mizzou. I've been here 6 years and so I will be able to answer most questions that you might have about the area.

Please feel free to respond if you are interested in speaking with me about the event, your experiences, biking in general.
(I need 5 posts before I can post my email address)

I want coverage of this event to be as comprehensive and interesting as I know the event will be.

I would love to hear your voices!

Please drop me a line and I'll see you there!

Here's the message I sent to another user

I saw your post to the forum and would like to know your thoughts on the upcoming rally.

My name is Gianna Volpe and my telephone number is 573-234-6566.

I am a reporter for the Columbia Missourian and would be interested (and very appreciative!) if I could ask you (or someone from your family) your thoughts on the upcoming rally.

I noticed that you are curious about the history of the group, but not biased.

I think yours is an important voice to include in the article preparing the community for the event.

Here's jangell's post that I referred to in the message

Please forgive the ignorance as I am fairly new to the bike rally thing. I have researched this and some sites call it the National Black Biker Roundup. Others say it's predominantly african american bikers at this event, and still others make no mention of anything other than it being a biker rally. Which is correct? Is anyone welcome to attend? One site I found called it the black sturgis. Personally, I could care less what color you are. If you ride, you're good in my book. Just curious on this particular rally, as I have family in Columbia and it would be a good excuse to go visit them.

Here's the return message that I received

Ok, so what do you mean "prepare the community"? Do you mean prepare them for a lot of black people, or for a lot of bikers? Either way, the only preperation needed is to prepare for business to be booming and lines/waits may be a little longer. If your question is, how do we prepare for a lot of black people, I'm not sure why you would ask this, but I would say you don't, just business as usual. If your question is, how do we prepare for a lot of bikers, perhaps you should call some businesses in Sturgis, Daytona, Laconia, or maybe Fayetteville, Arkansas. They have all been hosting bike rallies for years with little to no issues. And as for the combo, black bikers, I'm sure you will find that they are just like any other biker. In that sense I mean that you would be surprised, they are probably just like your neighbor, or brother, or grandpa, or your mom. Just regular people who happen to enjoy bikes. Basically, from what I read, Columbia needs to calm down. Your businesses will thank you for the influx of revenue.

Here's the first forum response I received from another user

The Columbia Missourian (a major local publication produced by fledgeling journalists).

NOT A MAJOR PUBLICATION!!! joke of a newspaper the ony reason the are still publishing is because they pay people to read this rag!

Here is my response to the insult

Originally Posted by Carl1924

"The Columbia Missourian (a major local publication produced by fledgeling journalists).

NOT A MAJOR PUBLICATION!!! joke of a newspaper the ony reason the are still publishing is because they pay people to read this rag!"

Absolutely untrue.

The Columbia Missourian is a newspaper that was established by the country's first school of journalism and teaches students of their practice how to do journalism by actually doing journalism.

Your claim that people are paid to read our paper is ridiculous.
If we had that kind of money, we would spend it on something that we need, like better equipment.

In any case, I am really excited about the rally and really hope to get in touch with someone who will be coming to Columbia for the round-up.

I invite anyone curious about our publication to google us (or whatever search engine you use)

Here are the two following posts


My wife and I will be attending the NBR in Columbia and would love to talk to you about it. We are vendors as well as bikers (VTX1300 mine, Shadow 750 Deluxe wife's) This will be our 9th NBR Ralley. Although the ralley did get it's start as a minority operated ralley it is open to all and all are welcome. In the early days Honda, Kawaski, Yamaha as well as Harley were participants. Through some misguided direction Harley was allowed to monopolize the sponsorship.

2) Careful guys

Here is the post following the above two that was written by the user who messaged me

???? careful of what??

I am curious as to why, as I read on websites, Columbia residents seem to be "freaking out" or worrying WAY to much about this rally. I got a message from the lady from the Columbia Missourian and they are very interested in this rally. My question is, are they worrying because there may be a lot of black people in town, or because there will be a lot of bikers in town? I live in Carthage Missouri and every year in the first week of August approximately 30,000 Vietnamese come to a Marian Days celebration, which is a religious "pilgrimage"/gathering of sorts for Vietnamese Catholics. All I can say about this is that the businesses in town, and the surrounding towns, are really booming during that time. As far as bikers being in town, I work in Fayetteville, AR and for years have seen the financial benefits of Bikes Blues and BBQ. I REALLY think that Columbia needs to chill, and sit back and watch the revenue pour into their economy and be thankful that this rally chose their town to host it. Theres my .02

And finally, here was my most recent response

Okay, well, I would like to say, first of all, I am not (personally) in the least bit worried or freaking out about this event.

If you're going the culture/race angle, I am from New Jersey, the most culturally diverse state in the country. (Coming to Columbia was a huge culture shock for me at first.)

If you're going the numbers angle, I am from the most densely populated state per square mile in the country. (Coming to Columbia was a sigh of relief for me)

So, any way you play it, I think I am going to feel pretty at home, though perhaps frustrated with traffic. Who knows, nobody's going to be showing up for another week.

Although, I have to say, that as the reporter for the event, I am doing what I can to inform myself about the history and culture of NBR and so perhaps my enthusiasm (which is really just my desire to be a good well-rounded and well-informed reporter) is being misinterpreted.

No worries, though, and pardon the vent.
I look forward to meeting all of you.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Family Fun Fest

Click here to visit Christina Stiehl and I's second audio slideshow

I don't have much to say about this piece except that it was HOT and that it took forever into the night to get exported correctly.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Identifying a good day

Today I am having a really good day and I am feeling pretty much the exact opposite way about being a part of the Missourian than I expressed a few entries back

(where I whined about feeling mediocre and abandoning my professional journalistic future)

Yesterday I had my portfolio review and despite being nervous, I knew that everything was going to be okay.

This is because, for the first time in maybe ever, I have been REALLY challenging myself against flight.

-Enter Tangent-

I hate to sound like a broken record about my accident, but it's really had an impact on my life and how I handle it.

I have really changed how I "deal."

I used to be a stubborn perfectionist-

I did things my way, if at all.
If there was opposition, or I felt like I had tainted my reputation somehow, I bolted.

I'm really a very resilient, strong chick- tough as nails, but I'm like Lancelot:

A talented and legendary knight, but when I got hurt, you'd be hard pressed to find me asking for help.

You'd be better off looking deep in the woods.
I healed myself, alone.

This is because of how I grew up.
We'll make a long story short here- I didn't have it easy.
I was the only person that I could really rely on for consistent help.

That's right, I used to substitute z for s sometimes.

Welcome to my nightmare.

Anyway, after my accident, my confidence was not only shattered

(how could I proceed as a perfectionist? My driving record now had a huge YOU ALMOST DIED IN A CAR WRECK slash through it)

I was also barely audible when I spoke because of the tracheotomy that I received.

Actually, for a month, I couldn't speak at all.

You'd think that I would have written out a lot of notes, but I mostly just mouthed at people constantly, expecting them to understand what I was saying.

I would like to thank Ashley Noelle Volpe here, my little sister, for understanding my mouthing the best.
She knew exactly what I was saying, everytime.

This experience drastically changed my life.

Having before been the one who talked loudly "even for someone from New Jersey," I was now the one who you cocked your head at.

People rarely understood what I was saying.
This entirely cowed me.

I started, -insert shocking music here- LISTENING MORE.

I realized that I really disliked most of the people who talked loudly because usually those were the people who were talking to someone for the benefit of some unknown third party.

Now, I say USUALLY, some of the loud-talkers were people that were like my former self- Exciteable people with LOUD personalities.

I could tell the difference, but was realizing during my time as a low talker that most people probably can't.

Being a low-talker unable to raise my voice, I began resenting even my previous in-group just because I couldn't get even one thought out without repeating myself or straining my vocal cords when they were around.

I resented them because I'd had my voice taken away and I especially resented the loud talkers with nothing to say.

Not being able to talk loud forced me to be a background figure, when before I was only one when I chose to be.

Before my accident, I did what I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted to.
And if I couldn't, I was PISSED and I got MAD and I got LOUD and I am FIERCE and OBNOXIOUS and I suspect I got away with some things just because nobody wanted to deal with a self-righteous little brat.

After my accident, I got yelled at for getting out of bed without calling a nurse, for not telling someone that I was hungry or that I hadn't been given my sleeping medication and I had to prove to people all over again that I am not just some little idiot, I am Gianna, hear me roar WITHOUT BEING ABLE TO ROAR.

So, I've had to try much harder.
And I've had to compromise.
I've had to play nice.

In other words, I've had to start over.

And now I'm remembering that that's all I've ever asked for- a new start.

Learning how to listen is the most important lesson that this accident has taught me.
(Oh god, I'm choking up, stop it, stop it now)

Almost dying has taught me that, despite what I previously wanted to believe, I am mortal.
I can disappear and sometimes, even heroes need help to survive.
And if you want help, you better be on peoples' good sides.

Asking for help and accepting the terms that getting help sometimes has has been the most emotional experience I've had since I moved out of my mother's house when I was 14.

Before I used to take criticism, stick it in a deep hole inside me, and hold grudges or allow the hurt it has caused to screw with me forever.

Now I meet it, I work to understand it, and I try.

I try really hard.

I also recognize that I am a human with needs and instead of treating myself like a superhuman, I treat myself as a person.

I forgive myself.

I try to let it go- I try not to take things personally.

And I keep trying to put myself outside of my comfort zone.

I used to never have a problem being outside of my comfort zone because I couldn't think of what made me uncomfortable.

Now I know what makes me uncomfortable and I am trying to face the challenge head on.

I am uncomfortable with my peers.

I have never felt truly part of any team and I have never been able to relate to people my own age.
Excellent at putting myself in anyone else's shoes, but couldn't tell you my own size.
Get me?

So at my portfolio review, I allowed myself to be nervous, but I also allowed myself the knowledge that
IT WILL ALL BE OKAY, whatever happens.

What made my portfolio session such a HUGE release and catalyst for change was Jeanne Abbott's presence at the meeting.

Jeanne was my editor during my first attempt at reporting.
She was the one who I had to disappoint when I withdrew following Tim and I breaking up the first time.
She was the one that made the perfectionist inside of me sob to see. I was afraid that I could never make my failure up to her.

And when I said at my review yesterday that I had been commenting a lot in lecture in the beginning of the class, but no longer felt comfortable, Jeanne's eyes lit up and she said that she remembered that and I could see that she wasn't mad at me at all and when I talked about how I tend to bolt when stress builds to a certain level, I could see that, at the very least, that she understood.

(Ugh, crying again)

This was like lifting a bus off of my bones.

I could have flown if my wings weren't invisible.

And when Katherine agreed with me on a point about time usage in lecture-


it was like eating the best steak of my lifetime.

I realized from that that I can take ANYTHING you have to throw at me, as long as there's even a hint of validation.

If there's one thing someone can agree with me with, I can deal with just about anything else they have to say.

Liz told me that she's just been having to lasso me in pretty much constantly throughout our experience here and I admitted that that was absolutely true and thanked her for doing it.

And really, what a great way to put it.

That's exactly how I am.

I just. float away if allowed.

The moment I'm not held in place, I'm gone.

(example: this entry getting away from me RIGHT NOW)

After my review, which, I gotta say- I now think Liz, Jeanne, and Katherine are three of the most honest, forthcoming, fair, and insightful women that I've had the honor to meet and work with, I felt PHENOMENAL.

I sat down at my computer and that afternoon, I talked to everyone.

And I don't know what kind of magic pixie dust effect could have caused this, but I almost instantly felt a part of the team and that I am going to be okay, and that I am not a huge fuck-up, I'm just a little socially under-developed.

And that's okay. That's something I can work on.

This morning, another reporter from my class held his umbrella over my head as we walked into the building.

I participated in class and I didn't end up regretting it.

I confirmed my interview appointment because I thought that would be very professional and I didn't let my nerves get to me.

I had a GREAT interview and my courage is rising fast.

Katherine approached me and gave me props.

I feel prepared for the planning meeting about my story on Les Bourgeois on Thursday, I have been crossing things off my to do list like it's going out of style, I have a multimedia project planned for tomorrow evening, an interview from today to transcribe with plans to talk again on Saturday.

-Biggest exhale-

I'm well on my way to finding myself again.
Exponential growth, here I come.