Individual Project Brief 2.10.13

What will your individual exploration of the issues in this class focus on?

My individual exploration of the issues in this class will focus on personal responsibility and connectedness in the community of Pittsburgh. Potential impact of Child Access Protection will also be explored. Another issue that will be addressed is urban gun ownership v. suburban gun ownership in our community and the trafficking of weapons.


What is it that you want to know?

Something that I would like to know is if what I want to do for my individual project is appropriate? Or if it will make a big enough impact? I want to make something meaningful and beautiful to help people gain more understanding about the issues but I am not sure how I can make the most of my work, or I guess that is something I worry about. I don’t want to make something trivial. I guess another thing that I want to know is how to best portray the issue without villainizing or victimizing groups of people. I want to make sure that I am being sensitive to the issue while at the same time having impact.


What is it that you want to do?’

I want to tell a story about how all of us are connected within our community, even if it seems like a stretch. My audience in particular is the suburban and white middle and upper middle class of Pittsburgh and I hope to just raise consciousness around how their purchases and habits around guns can affect the lives of others.


What I want to do for the individual project is to:

Write a poem about there being two Pittsburgh’s that seem to not really be connected, but through the death of a mother in Homewood the reader finds out how we could all be connected to her and her death. Then there is a call to action and reflection about the guns in your home and how they are a part of the problem of violence in Homewood.


What will your reference material be for this? (readings, designers, writers etc.)

My reference material will definitely be what I have already read from Private Guns, Public Health. I also plan on talking to Vanessa German. I have been really inspired by her for my individual project because of her work in the community and the poetry that she writes and performs. This summer I had the chance to see her perform one of her poems and I was really moved by the complexity of the material she tackled and by how dramatic her performance was. I plan on talking to her and sharing what I am working on with her so that maybe I can get feedback from her and learn more about her work. I was also really inspired by the interview that I did earlier. I feel like the anecdotal story he shared was really powerful and I want to be able to tell a story that while fictional is able to make people feel that they need to take action. I will also maybe try to bring in some of the stats that Kerry and Vicky shared with us about stolen guns. There is also a Frontline special called “Hot Guns” about how guns are trafficked for violent crime that I think I want to use for research. Also maybe just taking more time to watch the local news for inspiration.


What will the material outcome be?

The material outcome will be the poem itself along with some other sort of visualization of the poem. I am not sure if I will make the poem into a poster (or series of posters) that use expressive typography to better communicate the poem, or if it will be told like a children’s story with illustrations. There could maybe even be a video montage of scenes of Pittsburgh that could go with a dramatic reading of the poem.


What is the scope of this investigation? How big will it be? How many components,

words, minutes?

The scope of the project is somewhat small. I will be a poem that takes maybe only about 5 minutes or less to read.  The components could be posters, a book, or video piece. Maybe if I have time I could do different renditions of it for different contexts.


What is your timeline for progress through this?

Well, I have already started to write the poem, and I am hoping that I can having it finished by feb 17th so that I can share it with a few people and see how they react to it. Once I finish writing I will have more of idea of what visual form the poem should take. I think that only once I am done with it will I know if it will be best as a poster, or book, or just performance piece to be shared by video, or by whoever wants to read it. Hopefully After Spring break I can share what I have with Vanessa German. By April I want to have the poem fully materialized in a way that it can be shared with all sorts of people.


How will you know that you are making progress on this?

I way I know I am making progress is through my ability to share this with others. Really being able to get my ideas out of my head and materialized in different ways would be the best way for me to know I am making progress.


How will you measure your success in realizing your ambition?

I think that I will measure my success through the reactions I get when I share it. I want to share the poem with different people and see their reactions before I make it something to be communicated more broadly. I have to say though that measuring my success when it comes to something like this is difficult. Maybe if what I make could be used to implore more lawmakers to support child access protection laws, while at the same time educating gun owners why they are necessary would make me feel successful in the project.