Phonar Nation class, Orange County

June 24th, 2014
From left: Christopher Gomez, Derek Vong, Hugo Rodriguez, Jonathan Worth, Viridiana Badillo, Jennifer Fregoso, Larissa Fregoso and Jessica Jimenez. Photo by Mimi Ko Cruz

From left: Christopher Gomez, Derek Vong, Hugo Rodriguez, Jonathan Worth, Viridiana Badillo, Jennifer Fregoso, Larissa Fregoso and Jessica Jimenez. Photo by Mimi Ko Cruz

Learning Storytelling Through Picture-Taking

Free Online Photography Class Commencing This Summer

Jessica Jimenez always liked taking pictures of things just for fun, but after recently completing a five-week photography class, the 15-year-old now shoots photos that pack meaning.


“Photos can tell really important stories about life, historical moments and experiences,” said Jimenez, one of a dozen Santa Ana teenagers who took part in the class, a pilot for “Phonar Nation,” that will open to the world for free online this summer as part of the Cities of Learning initiative. A number of cities — including Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and Pittsburgh — are taking part in the project, which is supported by the MacArthur Foundation and powered by the Digital Youth Network and Badge Alliance.


The Phonar Nation class, designed by award-winning British photographer Jonathan Worth, builds on his #Phonar (Photography and Narrative) course that he’s taught at Coventry University and online to more than 35,000 students since 2009. The class is ranked No. 1 by The Guardian.


Phonar Nation caters to teens and younger students, but anyone can take the class, Worth said, using any mobile device, equipped with a camera and Internet connection. It will kick off with two five-week sessions this summer — beginning June 23 and July 28 through, a youth-focused project of the Connected Learning Alliance. The CLA is a network that brings together organizations, projects, initiatives and individuals working to leverage today’s technology for more equitable access to learning and opportunity for all young people.


“Anyone can drop in, mix stuff up, step out, come back again — whatever works,” Worth said, “and, together, we’re going to build the biggest and best photography class in history.”


But, it’s not just about taking photos that tell stories, he said. “Photography is going through a second paradigm shift. The first was when photography broke away from painting. The second is the image breaking away from the photograph. It’s about everybody having the capability to make an image and publish it. That’s a profound moment and, suddenly, it’s not just about photography. With an Internet so visually led, this becomes about visual literacy and digital fluency. It’s about being able to read and write with images, being able to speak clearly with images and being heard through all the visual noise.”



Jonathan Worth gives his Santa Ana students pointers on taking selfies. Photo by Mimi Ko Cruz

Today’s youth are growing up with technology, Worth added, “so, the noise is normal. This generation’s kids can make images and share them, but they don’t automatically understand the value of being credible and trusted to get a signal through all that noise.  Look at the staggering stats: hundreds of millions of photos are being uploaded on social media daily. In other words, everybody’s talking at once.”


So, how do you get heard?


“If you don’t feel as though your voice is being heard, then how do you engage? How do you get civic engagement? How do you encourage it? What you end up with is people feeling as though they are anonymized by the network,” Worth said. “What Phonar Nation seeks to do is to start them on a path to feeling empowered by the network.”


That’s what the students said they learned from the pilot class.


“Jonathan taught us how to seek and find meaning behind all images,” 17-year-old Dean Padilla said. “He has an interesting perspective on photography. Now, when I see a photo, I question who took it and why and I try to take pictures that have some meaning to me, some depth.”


Padilla and the other students met on Friday afternoons at The Cambodian Family, a community center in Santa Ana where they were provided iPod Touches to take the course, which was tweaked and improved with their input along the way. They chatted with Worth face-to-face a couple times but mostly online as he taught the course from his home in England.


Christopher Gomez uses his iPod Touch to photograph an outdoor scene. Photo by Jonathan Worth

Christopher Gomez uses his iPod Touch to photograph an outdoor scene. Photo by Jonathan Worth

Supporting them locally at the center was Claudia Caro Sullivan, assistant director of the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub, who helped revise the university-level course for younger learners and led discussions about the weekly lessons; and James McMillan, DML Hub’s systems administrator who provided technical assistance.


The DML Hub, an initiative of the University of California Humanities Research Institute, has been supporting Phonar Nation as part of its research on how to connect youth to high-quality educational offerings in the digital arts.


“Offering quality enrichment opportunities fills a big need in this country,” Caro Sullivan said.


For Jimenez, it’s even proven lucrative. She recently was hired by family members to photograph a wedding and a birthday party.


“I’m actually earning money doing what I love,” she said. “At the wedding, the couple was so in love, you could see it in the way they looked at each other and that emotion showed in my photos. My family really liked the pictures because of the story they told.”


Phalen Lim, The Cambodian Family’s youth director, said the experience was something none of the students could have participated in were it not for Phonar Nation.


“A lot of our youth here in Santa Ana are interested in technology and photography, but many don’t have access to these kinds of learning opportunities,” Lim said. “This really enriches their lives, opens up doors to new skills and possibilities.”




Summer Plunge: Dive Into Coding and Photography

La TechLa on IndieGoGo

June 24th, 2014

techlaLa TechLa sets out to teach 1,000 girls in their 10 city international roll-out of this powerful campaign to bring tech to nuestras niñas in the United States, Puerto Rico and Mexico. The goal is to raise $5,000 in 20 days on the crowdfunding website IndieGoGo.


Black Girls CODE and the Latino Startup Alliance are teaming up to empower young girls of color, by introducing them to coding and the transformative power of tech. Additionally, they are educating girls’ families on how to help support their girls through a STEM education. By combining the power of both organizations, they are developing and building social and economic stability in our communities, by investing in the next generation of girls.


Devices like mobile phones are not just toys they can be powerful tools that can help ensure each participant a bright future. There is a lack of representation of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). More importantly, there is a lack of programs introducing coding skills to girls from communities of color.  This campaign will close on July 03, 2014 (11:59pm PT).


IndieGoGo Link


Black Girls Code


Latino Startup Alliance


Campaign Video:


“KORENGAL” opens in Orange County

June 18th, 2014

korengalThe film “KORENGAL” directed by Sebastian Junger opens in Orange County on June 20, 2014 at Edwards University Town Center 6 in Irvine.


While Junger and his partner Tim Hetherington were finishing work on their Academy Award®-nominated documentary RESTREPO, they envisioned a second film utilizing unused, never-before-seen footage they shot in Afghanistan and on the base in Italy, and making a Part II to their film somewhere down the road. They would utilize the same soldiers in RESTREPO, but to approach their experience from a totally flipped perspective, and to explore new ideas and themes, completing their body of work about the men of Battle Company 2/503.


Unfortunately, Tim Hetherington was killed in Libya in April 2011, and they never got to make that film together. Junger went on to direct Which Way Is the Front Line From Here? The Life And Time Of Tim Hetherington for HBO, and once he was finished with that project he decided to go back to the footage that he and Tim had shot in Afghanistan and make the movie they had envisioned a few years earlier and that film is KORENGAL.


Junger has chosen to take the independent route and release KORENGAL on his own, and has since raised the funds through a highly successful Kickstarter campaign with Saboteur Media.


KORENGAL picks up where RESTREPO left off; the same men, the same valley, the same commanders, but a very different look at the experience of war. The film explains how war works, what it feels like and what it does to the young men who fight it. As one soldier cheers when he kills an enemy fighter, another looks into the camera and asks if God will ever forgive him for all of the killing he has done. As one soldier grieves the loss of his friend in combat, another explains why he misses the war now that his deployment has ended, and admits he would go back to the front line in a heartbeat. Every bit as intense and affecting as RESTREPO, KORENGAL goes a step further in bringing the war into people’s living rooms back home.


Junger’s journey to get this film into theaters has been a well documented battle in and of itself. This weekend every ticket purchased can make a difference.


Korengal is a Saboteur Media presentation; a Battle Films production in association with Goldcrest Films and Outpost Films; directed by Sebastian Junger; produced by Nick Quested and Sebastian Junger; field photography by Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger; edited by Michael Levine; original music by Marty Beller; co-produced by Gretchen McGowan.



OPENS JUNE 20, 2014 at

Edwards University Town Center 6

4245 Campus Drive, Irvine CA 92612


Official Website:


YouTube Trailer:

“Libertador” looks good

June 17th, 2014

Edgar_RamirezA preview of the film Libertador / The Liberator has been released for the epic biography of Simón Bolívar. The motion picture was directed by Alberto Arvelo and written by Timothy J. Sexton. The film stars Édgar Ramírez, Erich Wildpret, and María Valverde.


The lead actor is Édgar Ramírez who has amassed an impressive list of movies just since 2007 including The Bourne Ultimatum, Vantage Point, Che: Part One, Carlos the Jackel, Wrath of the Titans, Zero Dark Thirty and Ridley Scott’s The Counselor. All of this work led to his casting for the lead in the action movie reboot of Point Break.


Libertador / The Liberator is about Simón Bolívar who fought over 100 battles against the Spanish Empire in South America. He rode over 70,000 miles on horseback. His military campaigns covered twice the territory of Alexander the Great. His army never conquered – it liberated.


The soundtrack is provided by Gustavo Dudamel. Dudamel is in his sixth season as Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where his contract has been extended through 2018-19, the orchestra’s 100th season. This score is his first foray into composing for film for which he wrote the score and recorded it with the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela. The soundtrack is now available worldwide and a Suite from Libertador is being premiered by the LA Phil at the Hollywood Bowl in July 2014.


For More Information:


The Preview on YouTube:


Joe Nevarez is writing “The Prism”

June 13th, 2014

joetheprismUnemployed Man starts a Kickstarter for his Science Fiction Book.


Joe Nevarez found himself out of a job last year. As frightening as that was he dug deep to see the possibilities of the situation and took the future into his own hands. Over the last ten months, He has done almost nothing other than write. In the book “The Prism” his science-fiction murder mystery loosely based on his own traumatic childhood experience of losing his mother at age 17.


Nevarez says that in the book “I tell the story of Tomás (which is me) and the unsolved murder of his mother,(my mother Sandra Nevarez 1995) and the underfunded, overworked detectives handling her case.” and he continues “I also touch on other important social issues. The work is fiction, but I’ve tried to find the truth within the words.”


The husband and father of two launched a website in order to give a glimpse of the book and little bit more of himself. This time last year he was driving for the Technicolor film department but due to the digital environment of making movies his job became obsolete.


Nevarez turned to Kickstarter in order to complete the book and have it edited. He states that “If just a small percent support my book, it’ll allow me to continue to keep writing, to keep pushing on.” He has already reached 10% of his goal and every little bit helps. He has until June 28th to reach his goal. Nevarez knows not everyone is a science fiction fan but he is still hoping to reach just enough people to get this done.


The Prism Kickstarter by Joe Nevarez


Change the Mascot Already!

June 12th, 2014

changethemascotIt is hard to believe that Community Leaders, Organizations both Business and Religious, and a united Indian Community cannot change the Racial Slur name of one NFL Team.  In an effort to continue to educate the public about the effort being made to make this happen The National Congress of American Indians bought Television time. A quick scroll in the message area for the YouTube video does present the reason why it has taken so long. There are messages saying that no one cares about this issue and other things easy to say with the anonymity of a computer keyboard. Hopefully, It is just about reaching more than the 2 million people that have already seen the video now. We will see.


During halftime of Game 3 of the NBA Championship, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation aired in seven major T.V. markets a 60-second version of the National Congress of American Indians’ Proud To Be ad, which celebrates Native American culture and opposes the racist name of Washington, D.C.’s NFL team.


This is the first time the ad has aired on television, and it is being run in order to educate the general public about Native American opposition to the R-word. The ad is airing in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Sacramento, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. after airing in Miami during halftime of Game 2 on Sunday night. The advertisement highlights the defining and distinguished characteristics, names and legacies of many Native American tribes throughout the United States. But as the video clearly states, there is one denigrating term which Native peoples never use to describe themselves: R*dskin.


As Chairman Marshall McKay of Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation underscored in a message posted to YouTube: “The R-word is as derogatory a slur as the N-word. When this name first came to be, it was a vehicle for people to bring the victims of violence into an office so they could collect a bounty. I think the Change the Mascot campaign will shed some well-deserved light on the trauma and the disadvantaged people on reservations and throughout the country that are Native American that really haven’t had this opportunity to talk about the pain and the anguish that this kind of racism puts us through. ”


James Kinter, Tribal Secretary of Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation also stated in the video: “The Change the Mascot movement is larger than Yocha Dehe or any one tribe. It’s about all tribal people and non-tribal people raising their voices in protest. ”In a joint statement, NCAI Executive Director Jackie Pata and Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter said: “We applaud the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation for having the vision and commitment to ensure that the American public receives the message loud and clear that Native Americans strongly oppose the use of this disparaging slur.


Contrary to the team’s  absurd claims, this dictionary-defined racial epithet does not honor our heritage. The Change the Mascot campaign continues to gather strength every time that people are educated about the origin of the R-word and its damaging impact on Native peoples.


By airing this ad during the NBA Championships, the message will be brought into the living rooms of millions of American all across the country. ”The moral and civil rights issue of the team’s unapologetic use of a dictionary-defined slur has come to the forefront of American consciousness more than ever in recent weeks. Half of the U.S. Senate recently signed a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell urging a change for the D.C. team’s mascot. Shortly thereafter, 77 leading Native American, civil rights and religious organizations representing millions of Americans wrote to every player in the league asking them to stand up against the team’s use of a racial epithet as a mascot.


For more information:


Youtube Link




Quetzal Flores on Bidding Owl

June 10th, 2014

quetzal_floresWant advice from Grammy Award winning musician Quetzal Flores regarding a music business area of your choice? Then bid now on this 90-minute music business consultation tailored to your interest – touring, recording, promotion, producing, or an area of your choice. This auction ends on: 6/20/14 11:55 PM EST. Quetzal Flores is a musician, composer, and founder of the beloved East L.A. rock band, Quetzal.


In the entire Latin rock scene the name Quetzal resonates with quality, activism and entertainment. Which makes this a worthwhile opportunity for any musician looking acquire knowledge in so many facets of the music industry. Even I am considering bidding just to find out more about events that led to the formation of the band that began with the 1992 Los Angeles uprising, the 1994 Proposition 187 campaign (to deny medical and public services to undocumented immigrants and public education to undocumented children), and the repercussive reach of the Zapatista insurrection in Mexico.


The band Quetzal is an ensemble of highly talented musicians, joined for the goal of creating good music that tells the social, cultural, political, and musical stories of people in struggle. Martha Gonzalez (lead singer, percussionist, and songwriter) calls it an “East LA Chican@ rock group.”


The band sums up their depth to the complex cultural currents including life in the barrio, social activism, strong feminist stance, and their rock and roll musical beginnings. The musicians are known to participate in the much larger web of social, cultural, and political engagement.


The L.A. band took home a Grammy for Latin rock, urban or alternative album for 2012′s “Imaginaries.”


Bidding Owl Link:




Quetzal’s GRAMMY Moment:

Recordar: Songs of Love and Protest

June 5th, 2014

ani_cordero_2014Ani Cordero has created the album “Recordar: Songs of Love and Protest”  that reinterprets 11 classic Latin American songs from the 1930s-1970s with the goal of asking a new audience to “Remember” (Recordar) this music and their writers. The album features songs by musical folk heroes who used music as a way of inspiring social change, including Victor Jara, Ali Primera, Atahualpa Yupanqui, Chavela Vargas, and Os Mutantes.


“Recordar: Songs of Love and Protest” brings together an astounding cast of musicians and friends including, Charles Giordano of The E Street Band, Kelly Pratt from Arcade Fire and Beirut, percussionist for Malian musician Vieux Farke Toure, Tim Keiper, long-time associate of Wynton Marsalis, Omar Akil Little, who also collaborates with world-renowned producer Lee Scratch Perry, and Brent Arnold of Modest Mouse.


Ani was born to Puerto Rican parents from San Juan and the town of Camuy. She grew up in both the states and on the island, surrounded by music. In her teens in Atlanta, Georgia, Ani found a friend and mentor in Dr. Juan Allende, nephew of Chilean President, Salvador Allende, who was overthrown in a military coup d’état in 1973. She was inspired by the “Nueva Cancion” artists who were exiled or killed because of their music’s message of democracy and social justice, such as Victor Jara (1932-1973), and Violeta Parra (1917-1967).


The band Cordero is a vanguard of Brooklyn’s burgeoning arts/rock scene, there have two full-length albums that were released for Bloodshot Records. Ani also plays drums in the NYC rock group, Tuff Sunshine and the cello-rock group, Rasputina. Ani has toured extensively and appeared on many stages as singer and drummer, from Radio City Music Hall to Montreal Jazz Festival, and in Europe. Ani is also a founding member and drummer for the celebrated Mexican rock band Pistolera.


Para más información:



See the new feature video of “Macorina,” the classic 1960s song by Mexican music legend, Chavela Vargas.


The passing of Dr. Maya Angelou

May 29th, 2014

mayaangelouPoet/Mentor/Author/Activist Dr. Maya Angelou passed away on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 proving that even our most beloved can only be immortal through the legacy of work that they leave behind. The internet blew up with postings about how the magic of her written word made a difference in the lives of people from all walks of life.


In 1969, Dr. Maya Angelou wrote the book “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” which became the international bestseller and was nominated for a National Book Award. She lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being. She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace.


I was surprised how hard it was to find a commencement speech or regular interview of her on the internet. Hopefully in time more of those will be released for the public. I did come across one gem out there by “George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight” the interview gives a glimpse of the legendary lady in all of her glory. She answers a question she has never been asked, discusses mentoring of America’s high profile African American talents like Tupac Shakur, Janet Jackson, Richard Pryor, and Chris Rock. She also talks about her work in the community and presidential elections. She also reveals devastation about the death of Dr. Martin Luther King in her life.


On a personal note it was her that influenced the name of my daughter and my favorite poem is “Still I Rise”. She was quoted as saying that she was here to be a “representative of her people”. From the outpouring of love for her on the internet it seems she was more like a representative of a lot more than that.


“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”


For more information:




#YesAllWomen trends on Twitter

May 28th, 2014

YesAllWomenBeginning on Saturday, May 25 the Twitter hashtag #YesAllWomen was posted in response to the deadly shooting spree in  Isla Vista, California that included hate filled rage toward women. Late Friday night in just a matter of minutes six students from the University of California, Santa Barbara were dead and 13 others wounded and instantly became statistics in another mass shooting.


There are many organizations setup to help women in violent relationships or help them in education, harassment or inequality. The #YesAllWomen hashtag though has the voices of young and older women in real time. Their view as real as moments ago to years ago when silence and shame seemed to be the only choice that society would allow.


Originally, the posts were brutally honest, inspiring, heartfelt and enlightening. In time though a rude and hateful backlash began. Those posts only remind the reader of how important this hashtag truly is.


If you visit the Twitter feed the biggest hope one can have is that more of a national or even global discussion and understanding can come from this terrible event.


On Twitter: