Category Archives: Journalism

This includes stories for class, NAU’s The Lumberjack and professional work at The Daily Sun.

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Former NAU student arrested in Wall Street protests

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Alex Martinez, a former NAU student now attending Queen’s College in New York, was arrested Oct. 1 along with more than 700 others during a solidarity protest with Occupy Wall Street.

Martinez was cited with use of prohibited roadway and blocking vehicular traffic an hour after the march along the Brooklyn Bridge began, but she said the intent of that day’s protest was never to cause traffic issues.

“Our specific goal for that day was solidarity for the people who were actually occupying the park,” Martinez said. “The objective never was to stay on that bridge though: We were just trying to get to Brooklyn.”

This was Martinez’s first involvement with the movement, though she had been following it online.

“Since I go to school and work, it wasn’t possible to actually be a person occupying Wall Street,” she said, but she had wanted to get involved because of “massive amounts of corporate greed, which since I’ve moved here, it’s very easy to see the disparity.”

Martinez moved to New York from Flagstaff because she had wanted to be in place that provided more ways to get involved with activism and had a bigger art and music scene. The big city definitely gave her a clear view of class differences in America.

“You go down one street and there are people sleeping there, homeless, and then go down another street, and there are high rises. It’s very unsettling,” she said. “We live in a country that’s very apathetic to this.”

THE ARREST — “Kenneled in”

According to Reuters, the pedestrians had received “multiple warnings,” but decided to continue the “march on the Brooklyn-bound lanes which snarled traffic in the area until the bridge was reopened hours later.”

Martinez described the beginning of police involvement as complicated, a result of the sheer number of people involved and the attitude from the officers.

“It was very confusing because we were kenneled in — all 700 of us with this plastic orange fence thing, and we were just waiting to be arrested,” she said. “I got the sense from the officers that they were disinterested with dealing with the protesters. A lot were audibly sympathetic toward the protesters.”

Stationed on the Brooklyn side of the bridge, Manhattan Transit Authority vehicles waited to divide up the protesters between Manhattan and Brooklyn police stations. Martinez was taken to the Pearl St. Precinct One in Manhattan, where officers took her mugshot, patted her down, uncuffed her and processed her.

“Sitting in the jail cell was the worst part because I was in there for six to seven hours — in a jail cell for one, and I was with six or seven girls,” she said. “It was filled with a sense of community… and there were moments when we’d all start singing together.”

Before making it the station, Martinez was able to get in touch with her mother on her cell phone: “When we were still kenneled in and in handcuffs, I called my mom, and she freaked out a bit, but she knows I’m pretty active and act on my beliefs. But she said, ‘Let me know when you’re out and if you need anything.’ But I didn’t tell my dad.”

Martinez received a court summons for December but said there may be hope with the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) filing a lawsuit against New York City. In the suit, the PCJF claim the NYPD took illegal action with the arrests, including entrapment.

“I feel the arrests were illegal — if not illegal, unnecessary,” Martinez said. “It was just a peaceful protest. Trying to look at it as an outsider, I don’t think we needed to waste that much time and effort to arrest 700 protesters.”

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was quoted in The New York Times, defending the arrests made Oct. 1: “The police did exactly what they were supposed to do.”

Since, Bloomberg said on Oct. 10 that Wall Street protests are welcome to stay indefinitely. And NYDailyNews.com reported today that the mayor had even briefly stopped by to inform protesters about power washers scheduled to come by to clean the streets. During that time, the area would need to be cleared in stages, but afterward, protesters will not be prohibited from returning.

Martinez said she will continue to be involved but in different ways. She was there in the occupied park on Wall Street this past Saturday and Sunday talking to people and plans to use social media such as Facebook to spread the word.

“Mostly, [I’ll] just [be] trying to work through solidarity with them, like taking people socks and stuff like that,” she said.

While the arrest was a negative experience, she said she does feel pride about taking action for her beliefs.

“I guess I was mostly content because I sympathize with the movement. I don’t think it’s the be-all-and-end-all. I was glad I actually took action, not just writing something on the internet, ‘Oh, I agree or disagree.’ I guess I’m glad I took action, not about the arrest.”

A walk on the wild side

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Feature story for The Arizona Daily Sun:

Dr. Gwendolyn Waring is surrounded by flowers in a meadow at the Arboretum while leading a wildflower walk Saturday morning.(Jake Bacon/Arizona Daily Sun/Order this photo at http://photos.azdailysun.com)

Under the shade of well-loved trees, botanist Dr. Gwendolyn Waring is surrounded by the varied but harmonious native plant species and eager visitors for her wildflower walk.

The Arboretum has been featuring these walks for about five years. The next sessions are July 25, Aug. 8 and Aug. 29. Each starts at 9:30 a.m.

Waring takes the amateur nature explorers through trails in the 200 acres of the Arboretum and provides detailed descriptions and highlights of the inhabitants of the garden.

Near the beginning of the trail, Waring pulls us off the path into a grove of aspens and Columbines. A nearby bird offers a song as Waring explains the plants surrounding us. Aspens, she says, are well known to be struggling due to elks, fires and possibly global warming. But they are still very numerous and one of the most widespread living things on Earth.

“I guess they can stand to lose a little, but still be okay,” she says.

Columbines, Waring tells us, are known well throughout the northern hemisphere and are full of nectar for wandering bees. These particular flowers are a striking yellow with long spurs, and they cover much of the land we travel during our walk.

Next, we move past the herb garden planted by Frances McAllister, a local philanthropist with an eclectic love of organizations who passed away last year.

“It’s kind of a wonderful herb garden,” Waring says. “Can you imagine coming out here in the morning?”

A chorus of agreement replies. This is a lively group. At almost every stop, a visitor has a question.

“Now, can you eat the berries?” one woman asks, gathering leaves of the plant in her hand.

Waring says she doesn’t know and a man in the gathering says, “You can be our test case.”

Many of the participants bring along a nature book, looking up their favorite flowers and stopping Waring to provide her own description of the plants they don’t recognize.

More common than the books are cameras. Wendy Kemp snaps a photo of a purple flower.

“I love it; I just love being in nature — I love the setting in the woods,” Kemp says.

This is Kemp’s first time here, though she is a member of the Phoenix Botanical Gardens. She was excited when she saw information about the walk in Heritage Square, she says.

All the flowers are too beautiful to pick a favorite, she says, but she found the milk flower — which Waring had everyone stop to smell — and the blanket flower — a vibrant ray of blood red, burnt orange and sunshine — very alluring.

Dana Nellen, who is from California, is also a first-timer.

“I am not a plant person, but I love this walk,” she says.

Visit thearb.org for more information about the wildflower walks.

Web site encourages tourism on tribal lands

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News story for The Arizona Daily Sun:

Tourists and Native American artisans of northern Arizona may soon be conducting more business together with the launch of the Northern Arizona Native American Culture Trail Web site — nanact.org.

“What we’re trying to do is build a bridge between visitors to this region and Native American culture, Native American art,” said Scott Neuman, the economic development program coordinator for the Coconino County Community Services Department.

The Web site, which has been a year in the making and is being launched today, will feature 18 trips tourists can take. The trips will send them along roadway paths filled with native treasures. Neuman said the trails will also direct visitors to many destinations in northern Arizona, including the Grand Canyon and many sites on the reservation.

Also on the Web site will be information about the 100 artisans and background about the region and the kinds of art featured.

Funding was provided by the Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor and the Employment & Training Administration.

“The potential for economic development amoung Native American women artisans is why we have provided initial funding for NANACT and its Web site,” said Jenny Erwin, the regional administrator for the Women’s Bureau, which provided $30,000.

Many organizations collaborated on the project, including the Museum of Northern Arizona, the Arizona Office of Tourism, Native Americans for Community Action, Navajo Nation Tourism, the Hopi Tribe, Rio Nuevo Publishers and Northern Arizona University.

“Tribal lands interest not only Arizonans, but also are a significant draw for domestic and international visitors,” said Dawn Melvin, the Native American tourism development manager for the Arizona Office of Tourism.

Neuman said that annually, tourists spend about $687 million in the state.

“But very little of that money actually touches native hands,” Neuman said.

Eunice Bennett, a native artisan said she expects the site to boost her business, which she conducts out of her home. Her work includes silver jewelry, stringing necklaces, dream catchers and handpainted picture frames. She said it is important for people to know the work is original and that NANACT helps to promote that.

“I like to sell my own work only, because that’s what art should be about,” Bennett said. “A lot of the tourists want to know who made it, and they should be told the right thing.”

NANACT was inspired by Handmade in America, a western North Carolina service connecting craft-makers since 1993. Thirteen other states have replicated the model.

A press conference launching the site to the public is today at 3 p.m. in Heritage Square.

Fajita cookoff a tasty cultural celebration

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Feature story for The Arizona Daily Sun:

Ken Dowers cooks up fajitas for the Waste Management team at the Gran Fiesta Del Barrio and Fajita Cookoff at St. Mary's School in downtown Flagstaff on Saturday. (Josh Biggs/Arizona Daily Sun)

Situated in the corner of the grounds of the 25th annual Gran Fiesta del Barrio Fajita Cookoff, three generations of the Valdez family are competing as part of the Waste Management team.

Mary and Albert Valdez’s daughter, Tina Cox, is an employee for Waste Management and prepared the beef for their dish.

Cox says that in previous years, the team had used a recipe, but this year she has decided to experiment with the ingredients the beef would marinate in for two days before being fed to hundreds on Saturday.

“It’s a concoction of everything but the kitchen sink,” Cox says.

Cox says they took third place for beef in their second year in the competition.

“But this year, we’re going to take first place for beef,” she says.

Granddaughter Lydia Valdez sits in the tent propped up next to the cooking station, covered in a children’s blanket.

“It’s pretty cold right now,” she says. “But it smells pretty good out here, coming from all directions, and everybody’s using different ingredients to marinate their meat.”

While Cox is going for an eclectic taste; Anna Gonzales at the local Democrat Party tent describes her sauce as predominantly from fresh chili pods.

VOTER REGISTRATION, TOO

While customers wait for their fajitas, they can also fill out a voter registration form provided next to the cups of pico de gallo.

“We try to perform as much outreach to the community as we can and this is always a good outreach to get out info and talk to people in the community,” says Matthew Capably, the vice chair of the county Democrat party.

This year’s festival, located at San Francisco de Asis Catholic School on the corner of Cherry Avenue and Humphreys Street, is dedicated to Joe Montoya, who died in December. Montoya was a leader in the community for about 40 years.

“We honored him last year at our fajita festival and this year he passed away, so we decided to dedicate it to him, to his life of social services,” says Dennis Chavez, president of the Coordinating Council for Mexican-American Affairs, which organizes the event. “He founded the social services office here in Flagstaff and dedicated his whole life to social service. He was a pretty unselfish man; he cared about the community.”

Money raised from the event provides scholarships for Hispanic students to go to college. The entire festival is a celebration of Flagstaff Hispanic heritage. It includes live music with nine bands performing and traditional Hispanic dances.

SHOWER NO DAMPER ON SPIRITS

Around 12:45 p.m., a shower of rain passes over the festival, creating a quick scramble for cover and the bloom of umbrellas. While many hustle to get out of the rain, children around the kettle corn tent cheer the weather on.

Those near the Waste Management tent, marked by welcome signs for the public, join Lydia, still in her blanket. Even with the signs up, the tent is barely noticeable, hidden in a corner behind a thick tree — the perfect hiding place against wind and rain.

Within 10 minutes, the clouds pass and what had become a nearly deserted festival is once more bustling.

And the Waste Management tent again has a crowd of hungry people.

“About 10 minutes ago, we couldn’t cook it fast enough,” said Ray Wilson, one of the chefs.

Jay and Debbie Bell decide to invest in a lunch from the Flagstaff Medical Center team.

“We went around and smelled (at every team’s station),” Debbie says. “We liked the smell of theirs the best.”

Computing for success

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News story for The Arizona Daily Sun:

Stephanie Kuhar holds a Netbook computer on the sales floor at Best Buy. (Jake Bacon/Arizona Daily Sun/Order this photo at photos.azdailysun.com)


As Archibald Alexander Hodge once said and the Coconino High School Library Media site quotes, “He is wise who knows the sources of knowledge — where it is written and where it is to be found.”

The most direct route to a vast storage of information is on the Web. Eager, young minds can use their developing wisdom to find reliable sources on the information superhighway. Computers provide the on-ramp. So, how do you get to one of those — or, more importantly, does your K-12 child need one of their own?

According to Mary Knight, the technology director for Flagstaff Unified School District, education is moving more toward integrating technology into the everyday learning routine of K-12 students. And all the computers and software they should need for homework and projects are provided by the schools on campus.

“You can’t require students to have things at home because everyone’s situation is unique,” Knight said. “While it’s helpful, if students don’t have that at home, we do try to assist them in locating those resources.”

Many school libraries in the district are open about an hour before and after school. There are also public libraries, as well as FUSD’s Family Resource Center.

For those who are interested in integrating computer-use and education early on at home, child-friendly netbooks are on the market.

PeeWee PC makes two laptops and two desktops and also sells a wide selection of knowledge- and skills-based games. The computers are made with children in mind, both in hardware and software. The keyboards are liquid-proof and the outer casings are protective, and there are many learning programs as well as restricted Internet. The laptops sell for $500 and $600. The desktops sell for $350 and $450.

Asus partnered with Disney to make a netbook that comes in “Princess Pink” or “Magic Blue” for $350. Like PeeWee PC, the Asus ‘Netpal’ Eee PC Netbook has an easy-to-use interface.

When considering buying a computer for a high schooler, parents should consider investing in what may eventually be needed for college.

As a college student, I have two computers: a 5-year-old eMachines desktop inherited from my family and a brand new Mini Dell Notebook, which was a gift. The desktop is still fully functional, though in need of some updates, and is my primary computer.

Although the Notebook, with little memory, could never take the place of a family computer or my primary computer, it provides more than enough services for high school students: Internet access and Microsoft office.

Mini Dell Notebooks start at $299. EMachine desktops start at $229.

The NAU Bookstore exclusively sells Apple computers and many students prefer Macs. Macbooks are $999, though Apple does have Mac Minis for $599 and $799. The back-to-school special this year is, buy a MacBook, get a free iPod Touch.

For less expensive buys, consider used or refurbished computers found on eBay or CraigsList. Keep in mind they may not be computers for the long run.

CALCULATORS, CELL PHONES

The one gadget some students definitely need are calculators. Up until high school, most students can get by with the most basic calculator. For higher level classes, teachers usually ask students to get graphing calculators, generally a Texas Instruments-84 or above.

Check with the individual math teacher before buying a calculator.

Graphing calculators can be found in most stores that sell electronics and usually sell for $120 or more, depending on the model. They are also a hot item on eBay, where TI-84s sell between $50 and $80.

Another gadget most kids feel they need these days is the cell phone. Though they are an unwelcome nuisance in the classroom to most educators, cell phones can be handy for before and after school when parents and children have to coordinate a pick-up location, forgotten homework or a change in after-school plans, like going over to a friend’s house.

For the parent who is uncomfortable giving a child the responsibility that comes with a cell phone but still wants the accessibility and communication, there are several options. Cell phones for younger children usually have the following set-ups: limited numbers that can be dialed or received, no Internet access, no text messaging, prepaid minutes so children cannot go over and some have GPS tracking capabilities. Some of the highest rated on the market are Verizon Migo, TicTalk, Cingular Firefly, Motorola ROKR and Wherifone GPS locator phone.

There are also countless phones for teenagers and many normal phones have parental control options.

Technology is proliferating and education is incorporating it more and more in the classroom, but students can find everything they need at school. Students can even get by without calculators if friends or teachers allow them to borrow. It is entirely up to parents to decide what their child’s technological needs are.
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