Digital Technology and Culture senior Aidan Aumell recently used a class project as an opportunity to create a real-world website for Seattle Pops, a popsicle shop based in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle.
The project was assigned in Tor DeVries’s 355: Multimedia Authoring class. Each student was asked to create a website for a fictional business with over fifteen pages of content. “Once I heard about the guidelines about the project, I instantly thought that it would be a good opportunity to help a local small business like Seattle Pops,” said Aidan. He wanted to design a new website for the business that was easier to interact with and would give customers a better sense of the product and the brand. Aiden went above and beyond the assignment requirements, creating an entirely new website on a page-by-page basis with WordPress. He also created an ecommerce site for merchandise. Seattle Pops wanted to stay with their current platform, so he rebuilt his entire design with Squarespace in order to launch it.
While working to create a website that was user friendly and accessible, Aidan put a lot of thought into his design choices. The original home page for Seattle Pops was very long and image-heavy, so Aidan condensed the information and added an informative video to give customers a look inside the business. He created a more attractive menu, adding a photo and flavor description for each popsicle. Seattle Pops often receives massive catering orders from large companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Uber, and Facebook, so promoting online ordering was crucial. Aidan also added new pages for ingredients, methods, and the Seattle Pops team.
The project was a huge learning experience for Aidan. “I did not have prior web design experience before I took Tor’s DTC 355 class,” he said. “Everything I learned about HTML, CSS, and web design came from Tor.”
Aidan first connected with Seattle Pops two years ago, during the summer of 2018. He lived close to the brick and mortar store, which made it easy for him to commute to work. Ever since, Aidan has been spending his summers as a chef producing popsicles in the kitchen. He has also been working as a Social Media Manager for the business since the summer of 2019, so he was familiar with the brand’s online presence before taking on the redesign. It is nice to see a DTC student using their skills to move up the (popsicle stick) ladder.
Digital Technology and Culture alumni Alex Allen was the keynote speaker at the annual TRIO SSS Leadership Symposium on February 22. Alex graduated from WSU in May 2019, double majoring in DTC and Marketing. He took extra time to finish his degree in order to take on DTC as his second major and add a more creative element to his experience. As an undergraduate, Alex was heavily involved with the TRIO Student Support Services Program and was awarded the 2019 TRIO SSS Scholar of the Year Award. The TRIO SSS Program helps students that are first-generation, in financial need, and/or have a documented disability.
In his keynote, Alex shared some of his background with leadership. During his junior year at WSU, he revived a club, Wazzu Films. The club’s goal is to provide students with free opportunities to get involved in film production and learn how to use professional equipment. When Alex first revived Wazzu Films, it had two members. By the end of its first year, the club had 55 members, and over 25 of those members were attending nearly every meeting. In his address, Alex explained the three pillars that enable him to be an effective leader: stepping out of one’s comfort zone, developing a routine, and prioritizing responsibilities through organization and time management.
Alex is also dyslexic. His dyslexia has played a major role in his learning and education, but he views it as a unique strength rather than an disadvantage. Throughout his keynote, Alex explained that dyslexic people are often incredibly innovative and creative. Numerous famous inventors and intellectuals have been dyslexic, including Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, and many others. Alex now sees dyslexia as more of a learning difference than a learning disability, and his experiences in the TRIO SSS Program played a big part in helping him to develop that view.
As of today, Alex has completed two years of experience in professional graphic design, coding, website development, large scale format printing, branding, 3D animation, and teaching. “He is one of our outstanding scholars and we are extremely proud of all he has accomplished,” said Angie Klimko, director for TRIO Student Support Services. Alex will be pursuing a job with a UX, UI, or graphic design company in May 2020, and he soon plans to apply for the Pilchuck School of Glass Academy and an assistantship with a local artist in his hometown. He is also hoping to earn his Master’s in Fine Arts in Visual Design in the near future.
The needs of the partners ranged from simple and minor formatting changes to completely new sites, so each group faced different challenges throughout the project. The student teams worked through a complete web design research, development, design, and implementation process, ultimately creating a detailed report and a working prototype web site for each client.
iBelieve of the Palouse is a nonprofit organization that works to prevent suicide by helping young people form connections in the community throughout the Palouse. iBelieve’s student team created a more visually appealing layout for the content on their existing website. They also fixed the organization’s broken calendar page, making it easier for people to find and attend events.
Lincoln Middle School Boosters helps to support the Pullman middle school’s events and extracurricular activities. Currently, the Boosters club hosts its web pages as part of Lincoln Middle School’s website, but in the near future need to launch and maintain their own separate web site. In short, they needed a completely new site. Students working with Lincoln Middle School Boosters created a fresh look and identity for the club, while maintaining important elements from the school’s site, like its main blue color scheme. The team added pages for all the club’s key needs, including financial support, volunteering, and more.
Sojourners Alliance is a nonprofit organization based in Moscow, Idaho, aiming to confront the barriers that lead to hunger, homelessness, and poverty through direct intervention in the community. The organization provides intensive case management and a safe and comfortable living environment for those in need. The existing website for Sojourners Alliance was very sparse and difficult to navigate, so the students assigned to the organization created a more modern layout, added supplementary content for people searching for assistance, and implemented more effective functions for handling donations and events.
Mack Strong’s Team-Works Foundation provides a mentoring program to empower disadvantaged youth and their families in indigenous, minority, and impoverished communities. The students paired with the foundation redesigned their existing site to be more user-friendly. They added reformatted disorganized content, new plugins, and suggested fixes for the website’s branding problems. “I think they nailed it after our first meeting. They asked a lot of pertinent questions and were able to address all of our major concerns,” said Charice DeGuzman, Executive Director of Mack Strong Team-Works Foundation.
Lastly, White Spring Ranch is a museum and document library whose collection dates back more than a century. The nonprofit organization maintains a historical farm, organizes and preserves the site’s collection of artifacts, and works to make them more accessible to the public. The existing website for White Spring Ranch had not been updated since the early 2000s and was in desperate need of a full redesign. Their student team built a prototype of their new website from the ground up, integrated their existing social media, and proposed a more efficient management system for their extensive archive of content. Currently, White Spring Ranch is adding content to their prototype site, with the intention of launching it soon.
Each group presented their finished website redesigns on December 6, 2019, in the Bundy Reading Room. The community partners were happy with the results, and some will be moving forward with the sites designed by the class. Lincoln Middle School Boosters, Sojourners Alliance, and White Spring Ranch are all currently looking into launching their websites.
Have a community partnership opportunity you’d like to share with the Digital Technology and Culture program? Feel free to fill out this form and we’ll get back to you about possibly partnering with your organization.
Spring Senior Seminar Class Partners with the Coeur d’Alene Tribe
By: Evie Caldwell
DTC 497: Senior Seminar always includes a major multimedia project for a nonprofit organization or other community partner. DTC Director Kim Christen’s Spring 2020 class is partnering with the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. The class is split into five groups, and each group is working on a different project for the Coeur d’Alene Casino and Resort. The students took a trip on the casino bus to Coeur d’Alene on January 31 to meet with their community partners and start on their projects.
The Coeur d’Alene Tribe recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Coeur d’Alene Casino. Because of its status as a sovereign nation, the tribe’s economic situation can be very tenuous. While entertainment is obviously a central goal of the casino, a portion of the money earned goes back into the community for education, social services for elders, and similar shared needs.
Prior to the collaboration some students did not know what to expect working with a tribal nation and their casino businesses. Learning about its importance to the tribe completely changed their minds. “They introduced us to the various ways they share their culture to Idaho communities around the area and how much value they put into things such as education, children in the community and their cultural identity,” said Mario Garcia Leigh, a DTC 497 student. “I took away a new understanding of the Coeur d’Alene people, and I am excited to learn more about their culture and traditions by working with them.” The students are looking forward to partnering with the tribe and contributing to projects with the potential to benefit others.
The casino’s cultural tourism group will be working with the first group of DTC students. The cultural tourism group puts on the annual Anniversary Powwow and offers traditional workshops, and the students will be creating promotional videos for both. They will also be designing brochures.
Two groups of students are working with restaurants in the casino, Nighthawk Lounge and Chinook Steak, Pasta and Spirits. Both restaurants have new chefs and new menus, and they are focusing on bringing in Native foods. The students will be redoing their menus and logos, and one group will also be producing short promotional videos for social media.
The fourth group will be working with the resort’s golf course. The golf club will be hosting a Symetra Tour “Road to the LPGA” tournament for the next three years, and this is the kickoff year. The Symetra Tour is one of the country’s largest events for women golfers. To help spread the word about the tournament, the students partnering with the golf course will be creating one promotional video aimed at sponsors and one promotional video for the general public.
Lastly, the casino has a mobile app which has not had much success in the past. The fifth and final group of students will be working to assess the app and pinpoint any roadblocks currently detering new users. Their main goal will be coming up with strategies to get more people to download the app, such as coupons and social media advertising.
In preparation for their projects, the class has been learning about culturally responsive design and exploring various ways to make sure that design is appropriate. “We must be mindful of ways we choose to create the videos,” said DTC 497 student and Coeur D’Alene tribal member Kyra Antone. “People tend to homogenize Native people, and we can recognize this by overuse of the flute or stereotypical ideas of the ‘mystical Indian’ and that can often perpetuate harmful stereotypes for indigenous people.” Kyra will be one of the students partnering with the casino’s cultural tourism group. Her hope is to take her DTC skills and go back to work for the tribe after graduation, so she is enthusiastic about this chance to collaborate with the casino. “One of the things that is really important for students before they’re leaving is to understand the ‘C’ in ‘DTC’ and that it can come in many different forms,” said Kim Christen. All the students will be striving to make intentional and respectful choices in their designs.
Throughout the semester, the groups will be meeting through Zoom and travelling back and forth from Coeur d’Alene to shoot video. Their final pitches to the tribe will take place in April.
On February 1, Cameron McGill’s first book was published by Willow Springs Books. It is currently available through their website. Cameron is an instructor and Digital Technology and Culture faculty member, as well as a writer, musician, and the poetry editor of Blood Orange Review. His book, Meridians, is a small collection of poems. It is the tenth volume of the Acme Poem Company Surrealist Poetry Series. Cameron will be celebrating the book’s release with a reading on February 11 at Book People in Moscow, Idaho at 7pm. In preparation for the event, we got the opportunity to talk with Cameron about Meridians.
Cameron has been writing for a long time, but his focus has not always been poetry. Before starting graduate school, he worked as a musician for over fifteen years. He wrote songs and played in bands, releasing six albums and two EPs. Although Cameron is still working on music, his attention has somewhat shifted to poetry. Throughout his years of songwriting, his ideas that would not fit into songs started to accumulate. When he realized they were a different medium, it felt like a revelation. Once he began to shape his ideas into poems, poetry took over more of his writing time.
After finishing graduate school at the University of Idaho, Cameron started publishing his poems. He cites 2016 as the year of his first “real” publication. Many of the poems included in Meridians have been published previously, but some are new. The book’s title came about from considering different meanings of the word. It can be linked to line, the celestial sky, the human body, and more. Cameron has been referring to his poems as “meridians” long before releasing his book. Each poem within the category is titled with the latitude and longitude coordinates of a city or place.
One consistent theme throughout Meridians is the idea of revisiting locations to complete memories or better understand them. “It’s about trying to get at describing an emotional connection to certain places through memory,” said Cameron. Anchoring his poems to specific coordinates enables him to locate things very particularly while incorporating surrealism into his writing. His titles provide setting and context, and the poems in his book are cumulative. Looking through every poem from a location provides a clearer picture than trying to understand each one individually.
Cameron and fellow poet Michael McGriff will be reading poems at Book People in Moscow on February 11 at 7pm in honor of the release of Meridians. He hopes many people will be able to come and enjoy a night of poetry.
Anna Plemons Publishes Book on Progress in the Prison Classroom
By: Evie Caldwell
Dr. Anna Plemons has written a new book, a monograph titled Beyond Progress in the Prison Classroom: Options and Opportunities. The book is now up for sale through the NCTE catalog, and it first became available in November 2019. Anna has held a grant-funded teaching position with the California Arts in Corrections program since 2009, and she is also a longtime member of the Digital Technology and Culture faculty.
The Arts in Corrections program is a partnership between the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the California Arts Council. It provides art instruction for incarcerated people in state adult correctional institutions. The program includes visual, literary, media, performing, cultural, folk and traditional arts.
Beyond Progress in the Prison Classroom: Options and Opportunities contains narrative selections from Anna and Arts in Corrections participants. It argues that, when viewed as a microcosm of the broader enterprise, the prison classroom highlights the way that composition and rhetoric as a discipline continues to make use of colonial ways of knowing and of being that work against the decolonial intentions of the field. Anna states:
In Beyond Progress in the Prison Classroom: Options and Opportunities, I suggest that Indigenous scholarship provides a theoretical basis for studying and supporting something other than individualized, economic progress as well as design principles for research and pedagogy that respect and respond to the desire of many incarcerated people to contribute to communities outside the prison.
Anna has been working with the ideas in her book for over five years. The premise of her book grew out of her dissertation, which she finished in 2014. “The shape of the text has changed as my own thinking has changed and sharpened,” said Anna. She believes working with her book series editor also had a positive impact. He was open to including work by incarcerated writers, and well as some of Anna’s own creative nonfiction writing. He also suggested and facilitated the book’s final chapter: a conversation between Anna and two other scholars on the topics of whiteness, appropriation, and decolonial practice.
Over the last several decades, the Arts in Corrections program has been a powerful force for creativity and positivity in the California prison system. Anna aims to recount the program’s story through her book. She also hopes to see more writing by incarcerated people published. “I want to see writing that challenges stereotypes and illuminates the complicated ways that people who are incarcerated engage in relationships with each other and people on the outside,” said Anna. In addition, she intends to be part of a conversation that expands the options for teaching and research in prison.
One of the 2019 Pollart Scholarships for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities has been awarded to Digital Technology and Culture senior Aracely Mendoza. “The scholarship is meant to highlight the work of students that are crossing boundaries and doing innovative things that show the way that arts and humanities will move forward,” said Todd Butler, Associate Dean of Faculty for the College of Arts and Sciences. “Aracely was one of the people whose life had obviously been deeply affected by the Humanities,” said Matt Sutton, History Department Chair.
Aracely is from East Wenatchee, but her family comes from Michoacán, Mexico. She is earning a dual degree in Anthropology and DTC with a minor in Fine Arts, and she will be graduating in Spring 2020. Aracely is incredibly involved on campus, and has been since her freshman year. In addition to her job at Student Financial Services in Lighty, Aracely is a part of Mecha, Mujeres Unidas, Multicultural Student Mentor Program (MSMP), and the McNair Scholars program.
Mecha, which stands for Movimiento Estudantil Chicanx de Aztlan, is an advocacy group that fights for spaces on campuses where Latinx people can flourish and tackle issues of discrimination. Aracely has been involved with Mecha since her freshman year and currently serves as the organization’s secretary. “This organization really helped build my knowledge on what the Latinx community is facing locally, nationally, and globally,” said Aracely. She is also serving as a team leader for Mecha’s annual conference Children of Aztlan Sharing Higher Education (CASHE), where she will be supervising a group of high school students as they learn about higher education and the resources available to them.
Aracely has also been part of Mujeres Unidas since her freshman year, serving as the ChiLaStAl (Chicanx/Latinx Student Alliance) representative for her first year and co-chair for the past two years. Mujeres Unidas discusses issues facing the Latinx community. The organization places specific emphasis on women’s issues.
Lastly, Aracely is currently participating in the McNair Scholars Program for her second year. The McNair Scholars Program is intended to prepare undergraduate students for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities. Aracely’s on-campus activities are directly linked to her research on how the Latinx community in the United States are interacting with their cultural traditions. Being involved in the McNair program has enabled Aracely to attend conferences across the nation to present her research.
Aracely was honored with one other Pollart scholarship recipient at the public launch of the Center for Arts and Humanities on October 24. At the event, Aracely chose to recognize Dr. Raymond Herrera, Dr. Anne Pisor, Dr. Carlos Salazar, and DTC Assistant Director Ruth Gregory for their influence in her studies at WSU. “I am deeply thankful to Ruth Gregory for the nomination and humbled for being awarded it,” said Aracely. “It makes me feel better about what I’m doing in college knowing that there are people who see my struggles and successes.” After graduation, Aracely hopes to go into a PhD program in Sociology. She is working toward a career in social work or social advocacy for underrepresented communities.
Digital Technology and Culture graduate Kira Norman recently landed a job at Airstrafe Interactive, a small indie game studio located in Los Angeles. As Gameplay and Narrative Designer for the company, Kira writes and implements scripts for the narrative elements of the studio’s games. She is also part of the 2D art team and occasionally works on sprites and character design.
Kira graduated from the DTC program in Spring 2019. She chose to major in DTC during her sophomore year at WSU after seeing the diverse range of classes and branches of study she could pursue through the program. She was especially interested in learning about animation. One of Kira’s animations, Witch’s Brew, was featured in the 2017 DTC Showcase. In addition to her work in college, Kira has been creating digital art since high school.
Although Kira was not searching for a career in writing, she stumbled upon the job posting and decided it might be worth a shot. “I wanted to expand the pool of jobs I was applying for,” Kira said. Even though it did not have anything to do with graphic design, she liked the idea of creative writing as a job. The hiring manager for Airstrafe Interactive was impressed by Kira’s webcomic, Crystal Magic, a personal project that she independently writes and illustrates.
When asked what part of her new job she is most excited about, Kira explained that she is looking forward to seeing her team expand. Airstrafe Interactive is currently made up of seven employees, and Kira is enthusiastic to watch the company grow. “We’re pretty small right now, but I hope we can hire on some more people soon!” she said.
Community Partnerships and the Digital Technology and Culture Program
By: Ruth Gregory and Evie Caldwell
Many courses in the Digital Technology and Culture program partner with local and regional groups to provide them with design services as a part of their regular coursework. DTC Assistant Director Ruth Gregory states: “The experience helps community partners who do not have the ability to complete these projects on their own while providing DTC students with valuable real world experience. Since many DTC students go directly into industry that real world experience of working for a client helps further prepare them for life after the program.”
Many of the partnerships are set up through the WSU Center for Civic Engagement. They believe: “Civic Engagement is central to the public purpose of higher education and essential to the student experience, empowering students to become active citizens in a democratic society. The WSU Center for Civic Engagement exists to forge community-campus partnerships that build community capacity, generate knowledge, and solve problems through service, leadership, and scholarship.” Past partnerships include work for a wide variety of governmental entities and non-profits like: Sojourner’s Alliance, Science on Ice, The Whitman County CASA program, and WISH Medical.
Animating a Traditional Story from the Coeur D’Alene Tribe
In spring 2019, students in professor Suzanne Anderson’s DTC 435: Advanced Animation class collaborated with the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Language Program. The mission of the language program is to create new adult speakers of Snchitsu’umshtsn in order to protect the Coeur d’Alene language from dying.
The students in Advanced Animation spent the semester creating animated versions of “Cricket Rides Coyote,” a traditional story from the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. The animated shorts incorporated voiceovers spoken in Snchitsu’umshtsn and music produced by Native artists. Four groups of students worked on the project. They shared their animations with members of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe at the annual DTC 3D Animation Showcase on April 23, 2019.
On April 11, the three groups in Senior Seminar presented their individual logo master sheets to the class. During their presentations, they had a minute to explain the elements in their designs and sell them in a way that spoke to their respective community partner. The presentations were recorded and uploaded online so students could see what their presentation styles were like after the project was completed.
Providing Multimedia Support for United Way of Whitman County
The Fall 2019 Senior Seminar courses created promotional materials for the local chapter of United Way. The local chapter of the international nonprofit raises funds for regional agencies like Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse, Boost Collaborative, Circles of Caring, and many others. United Way is currently going through a name change from United Way of Pullman to United Way of Whitman County and attempting to reach out to a younger audience, so students were able to help with several different initiatives.
Two groups wrote press releases and designed social media posts, flyers, and posters. One group planned a social media and SEO optimization strategy. The final group took photographs and created a short video advertisement. On October 20, each group presented their designs to representatives from the nonprofit. The students were able to receive immediate feedback on their work. United Way will likely be able to use many of the promotional materials created by the class in their future materials.
Have a community partnership opportunity you’d like to share with the Digital Technology and Culture program? Feel free to fill out this form and we’ll get back to you about possibly partnering with your organization.
Digital Technology and Culture alumni Adam Ward has always had a passion for music and design. After graduating from the DTC program in 2013, Adam moved to Portland, Oregon. He is currently working as a Digital Content Specialist for the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center. Adam was able to chat with us about his career and experience in DTC during a visit to Pullman in late August.
Adam originally came to WSU to study journalism, but he was drawn to the DTC program for its connection to new media and its broader range of class options. Throughout his time at WSU, Adam was heavily involved with the student-run radio station KZUU, serving as DJ for five years and music director for four years. He also interned at the Museum of Art during his senior year.
As a Digital Content Specialist, Adam manages the social media accounts for Moda Center and their esports team Blazer5 Gaming. He is also part of the team that manages the social media accounts for the Portland Trail Blazers. He takes photographs, designs posts, edits videos, and in many ways acts as a jack of all trades. “My day-to-day is literally different every day,” said Adam. His current passion project is a social media campaign that bridges the gap between the mainstream stars that play at Moda Center and Portland’s local music community.
Like many creative professionals, Adam struggled with job hunting for his first few months out of college. Connections he made through KZUU gave him a head start, but he still had a hard time landing interviews while living in Pullman. After making the choice to move to Portland, his well-designed resume and hard work won him a job at Habitat for Humanity, where he stayed for three years before securing his current position.
Adam’s advice to DTC students is to get involved in extracurriculars outside of class. “My degree was obviously a huge help, but the extra stuff I did around it has helped equally with my career development,” said Adam. When it comes to DTC, he believes you get out what you put in. He took a wide range of classes and learned about everything from writing to graphic design. His involvement with KZUU was a major highlight of his college experience, and he encourages all students to find a job, club, or project on campus that they are genuinely excited about.