Veteran’s Choice Program

http://www.gvnews.com/news/veterans-hit-roadblocks-despite-new-va-program/article_77d2d920-f36e-11e4-838a-73a609a7b762.html

Here is an article that I wrote on the Veteran’s Choice Program for the Green Valley News. The article focuses on the confusion that most of the veterans felt regarding the program. Senator John McCain is featured in the story.

Veteran’s Use Yoga to Help with PTSD

http://www.gvnews.com/news/vets-turning-to-yoga-for-comfort/article_718b23c4-ce61-11e4-8275-07cd22cd27c3.html

Here is a link to a story that I wrote for the Green Valley News in the Spring of 2015. The story focuses on how the Tucson VA is helping veterans deal with their ailments by using yoga.

Music Video: Orphan Jane “1000 Little Girls”

Davis and 12 other video professionals from around the world spent three days working on this music video in New York City as a part of the B&H Canon Filmmakers Masterclass. Bruce Dorn one of Canon’s own video professionals supervised the team during the process. The video was shot with Canon’s newest gear.

Here is the behind the scenes music video that the professionals shoot and Maddie Goldberg and Davis edited together.

The Generational Succession of America’s Ranches

America’s Ranchers are getting older and their kids don’t want to pick up the reins and continue the ranching lifestyle. The lack of a young willing ranchers is forcing the older population to find alternatives when it comes to continuing their legacy. Conservation Easements and Apprenticeship programs provide some answers but a lot of ranchers are still forced to eventually sell their land to developers.

The Reintroduction of the Mexican Grey Wolf


Since it’s reintroduction in 1998, the presence of the Mexican Grey Wolf population in Arizona and New Mexico has created controversy between ranchers and pro wolf groups. In 2015 the wolves hit a milestone as far as their population numbers. Additional land was needed to provide the wolves with adequate room so that they could continue to repopulate. This story focuses on the Mexican Grey Wolf and the new legislation that’s been put in place to appease both sides.

Prescott in the Winter

I was greeted by snow when I returned home to Prescott Ariz., for the holidays. What the photos don’t show you is that I was hiking around in two different types of shoes.

Videos from ONA

Google Glass was displayed at ONA14, I went around and asked journalists, google representatives and journalism professors how Glass can and will be used in the future.

 

More than a thousand journalists flocked to the opening night reception at the Field Museum of Natural History. Refreshments were served as the journalists networked to their hearts’ content.

 

ONA Infographic

winter-is-coming

Chicago’s most recent winter was also one of the coldest thanks to a powerful polar vortex. The average temperature was eight degrees lower than the previous winter and over 60 inches of snow fell on the city throughout the season.

The bad news is that Chicago’s upcoming winter may be more of the same. Maybe.

“Any person that claims that they can predict the pattern of the polar vortex isn’t an expert,” said Eric Lenning, a NOAA meteorologist in Chicago.

The polar vortex, a massive air current that circles around Baffin Island in northern Canada, is unpredictable and its impact on a winter season is just as random. On occasion, the jet stream pulls the cold air southward.

El Nino has the possibility to affect the polar vortex this year. The weather pattern’s warmer air can possibly help expand the vortex.

Although predicting impact is impossible, Lenning said, “…historically these severe winters tend to come in twos.” Which doesn’t bode well for the citizens of Chicago.

For 23 days during the winter season, the temperature at O’Hare International Airport dropped below zero.

A version of this originally ran at ONA. Here is the link: http://newsroom14.journalists.org/will-polar-vortex-make-a-comeback-maybe/

ONA Personal Story

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The sound of an acoustic guitar reverberated throughout the church hall as the band slowly took up the chords of “Amazing Grace.”

Chairs pushed back, scraping the wood floors as the congregation rose to join their voices with Pastor Jonah’s as he started to sing. Dressed in a pair of black skinny jeans and a red-checkered, collared shirt, Pastor Jonah looked more like the skateboarders who frequented the skate park down the street from the church in Prescott, Arizona, than a worship pastor.

Unlike the solemn, traditional hymns typical in our Lutheran church, Pastor Jonah’s choices of contemporary Christian songs like “Mighty to Save” and “I Can Only Imagine,” were more like the set list for a rock concert. As Jonah sang through his songs, pockets of the congregation sat down, shuffling uncomfortably. And as Jonah finished his third song, it was clear the church had rejected his music.

Near the end of the song, only he and I remained standing in the auditorium. Our voices sounded small and alone, hopeless against the overpowering silence of the other parishioners rejecting his music. Pastor Jonah was never invited back.

That morning, I lost my faith in Jesus Christ. I was 19 years old and had spent my entire life going to church in Arizona and California. It was the last worship I ever willingly attended.

While my love for my church ended that morning, it actually had been a long, hard process of breaking up.

It wasn’t always that way. I once believed in my church. As a small child, my world was filled with “answers” that always came from Him. No question ever was left unanswered so long as I could invoke His name.

I trace my religious journey back to the country of Angola, where an Irish man and his American wife made a life in the 1950s among the baobab trees just outside the city of Luzo.

From a distance, the suit that pastor Clifford Beggs wore looked well kept and out-of-place among the hubbub of the public square. But a closer inspection showed the wear and tear that came with the beating down of the African sun.

The house that Clifford built for his wife Shirley and himself wasn’t a large house, but it was a house of God. And Clifford wasn’t just a local pastor: He was a prominent missionary for the Lutheran Brethren Church.

He was also my grandfather.

Growing up in Arizona, I thought my faith would be something I would always have: an unwavering passion that would stick with me for life. It was the strong, thick, corded rope that I clung to as I gingerly crossed the rickety and oft times shaky rope-bridge that was my faith over the vast unknown of what I thought awaited me outside the light of God.

And when my faith faltered, my grandfather was there to save me from falling out of faith.

For many years long after he had hung up his favorite suit, Grandpa Clifford and I would sit among the roses that filled the back porch of their house in Oakland, California. My fingertips were freckled with spots of grey and light blue paint from the last 30 minutes that he and I had spent painting model airplanes. His hands were clean but stained and wrinkled from his time adventuring around the world.

Every time he placed his arms around me, his palms soft and warm–my 5-year-old self always thought that it was from all those years carrying the Bible.

My relationship with my grandfather was special. Whenever we were together, he’d fill my mind with tales from Angola and Brazil. His cherry cheeks and straight nose creased as he laughed, reminiscing over old memories and faces. My grandfather’s spirit was infectious to all those he met, including my young self.

“Jesus loves us, Alan,” my grandfather would say, his voice craggy with age. “And when you put your faith in him, he will always provide for you, you’re always part of his plan.”

And I believed him, for the most part. He led my family in believing that prayer and rock-solid faith was fundamental to living a healthy life. Except it didn’t always quite work for me. Getting the right answers matters to me. Answers that are factually driven are reliable and steady; it takes the guesswork out of the equation.

Time and time again, the tall tales of Christianity failed to provide me with the facts that I needed in order to be faithful. Where did God come from? Why does he allow genocide? How can his people deny evolution? The answer I was given to all of these questions: “You just have to believe, Alan.”

My grandfather went home to his Lord on February 17th, 2009. And as he was buried and sealed amongst a bed of roses, a good part of my faith stayed in the ground with him.

With my grandfather gone, the beauty that I had previously seen in faith had all but washed away, and my need for proof took over. Belief was no longer good enough. I decided to find my own answers.

It’s not that I didn’t believe in the teachings of Christianity. Being faithful, honoring your mother and father, being kind to other, these are all wonderful ideas included in Christianity.

But I think am too much of a realist to be a Christian. The freedom that comes with being the master of my own fate is just more appealing than a life of servitude to God.

Over the years, I got tired of dealing with all the pressures of Christianity. From having to reject the LGBTQ community to constantly having my faith being questioned, the entire ordeal was exhausting.

Yet leaving the Christian church was the hardest thing that I had ever done. It spiritually separated me from the only life that I had ever known. It left me feeling empty and directionless.

The only institution that I had left was my education.

Compared to the love and sense of community that came with being involved in a church, college seemed superficial and unfulfilling. The facts that I needed were there, but the brotherhood that I experienced at church, was missing. However it was something on which I could build.

I found that the education system was a lot like organized religion: It had leaders that provided information and peers that I could interact with. The big difference was the validity of the information I was given.

Subjects like human anatomy and journalism were tangible and rational; they didn’t require faith. If I racked my brain hard enough, studied and interacted with my classmates and professors, I was given answers. Real answers, driven by facts, and they could withstand being tested and questioned and replaced with more updated information when necessary.

My passion for education eventually led me to agnosticism. It seemed to me that agnostics did the best with what they were given. The idea of acceptance, believing that no individual had the right answer, in my opinion paralleled much of what the education system taught me.

Just a few days ago, I decided it was time to have the talk with my parents about my change in beliefs. As I was writing this story, I realized how unfair it would be to publish my story without telling the people who helped mold it. Despite my apprehension, it turned out that they were more blasé about my change of heart than I thought they would be. I think they are in denial, and although it saddens me, I don’t regret my decision to tell them.

Life is too short to run from who I am really am.

Desert Lens Video

Desert Lens is a science journalism project out of the University of Arizona School of Journalism’s Science Journalism program. The project is supervised by Prof. Carol Schwalbe, a retired print editor with National Geographic Magazine and the head of the science journalism program, and John de Dios, a freelance video producer for National Geographic News. The story compiles some of the best multimedia and video projects in the Fall 2014 science journalism class.

Aside from anchoring the program, I also served as managing editor for the class and the printed magazine; and also served as the executive producer for the multimedia show. As the executive producer, I worked closely with de Dios in putting the program together; editing the stories together, selecting the stories and putting the show together. This was then reviewed by Schwalbe who served as the News Director for the project.