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Feature Story: Jack Kosik’s Ark

What happens when individuals with “intellectual disabilities” lose their main center of support? Their parents, what happens when their parents leave this world and leave their sons and daughters behind with no one to care for them? If only there was a facility “designed to be sensitive to the unique needs of individuals who are intellectually challenged” and for a long time there was no such place.  Before 1997 there was no such place in Florida and as well as there being no place there were some troubling facts around this time concerning those with developmental disabilities in Florida:

  • The State of Florida ranked 47th nationally in providing support services for individuals with developmental disabilities.
  • 93% of Special Education Students with developmental disabilities that received a certificate of attendance will be unemployed and most will remain that way for their entire life.

Noah’s Nest, “an ‘in-town’ neighborhood ideally located close to shopping, public transportation, restaurants and employment.  This neighborhood provides eleven individuals with developmental disabilities the opportunity to live independently and freely engage in the community while living in a supported-living environment…” as it is described on Noah’s Ark website.

Kosik sees the Noah’s Landing community to come as a “Mayberry” type place a la The Andy Griffith Show, where everyone in the community helps out one another and takes care of each other.

It’s an in-town housing situation that has about 108 units and 200 tenants with disabilities.  This living area gives individuals the chance to learn how to live on their own, but still be in a caring environment.  That is what separates Noah’s Ark from other programs, because the Agency for Persons with Disabilities only assign individuals to a group home or something of that nature when the parents die or are too old to care for them.

Noah’s Ark allows them to get out on their own when every one else is setting out for college.  And in relation to college Noah’s Ark even has program with Florida Southern College that acts as a Transitional program and is described as: “An innovative partnership with a 90% success rate at preparing ESE students for independent living and acquiring competitive employment BEFORE THEY GRADUATE…” on the Noah’s Ark website and was also named “Best Exceptional Student Education Program in Florida” in 2005.

All of these things combined are what make Noah’s Ark different; it gives off a sense of freedom but not freedom in sense of being alone.  The tenants live in a community where people who care for them surround them, but they still are for all intents and purposes living “on their own.”

Jack Kosik is one of those people, he cares for them Kosik, the man behind “Noah’s Nest” and eventually “Noah’s Landing,” he does essentially every job for the community he has created.  He does everything from changing light bulbs in the units to getting laws changed to make Noah’s Ark possible.  Such regulations that have been changed like, “an Administrative Rule from the Florida Medicaid Handbook that limits how many people with developmental disabilities can live in a given area.” Which Kosik said took nine months to get the rule removed.

There was also a little problem with the neighboring communities having people with developmental disabilities living that close.  This problem was quickly solved when Kosik explained with a presentation what to expect and compared it Lambs Farm in Illinois (a similar community that Noah’s Ark is modeled after in a way), and after this comparison he received approval from the neighboring communities, “If you people are anything at all like Lambs Farm, we got no problems with you!” one of the residents exclaimed after the presentation.  The presentation was a success and then it was time to break ground.

Jack Kosik, who has a developmentally disabled child of his own, was driven to create Noah’s Ark when he had his own fears for his daughter Britney’s future after he would no longer be around to care for her.  “Parents are Afraid to Die…” is a prominent headline on the website and it must be a scary thing to feel, fearing for what will happen to their children once they are gone, but with Noah’s Ark now there is hopefully less to worry about.

For more information: http://noahsarkflorida.org

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TOW: Using Storify

Using Storify is pretty simple…take my word for it.  I’ve used it before, I have proof…I covered the NBC’s Halloween Thursday Night Comedy line-up. Since I have covered at least one story using Storify, I am qualified to give my five tips for using Storify.

Tip #1.

“Cover something that’s worth covering.” I can some this up by saying: Do as I say, not as I do.

Tip #2.

“Use a hashtag that will give you the most relevant tweets.” Sometimes an event will have a designated hashtag that they will want people to use when they tweet about the event, find this hashtag and search for it and you’re golden.

Tip #3.

“Weed out all of the spam.” A lot of spam accounts will latch onto popular hashtags…like leeches.

Tip #4.

“Include your own tweets.” You have to give your own personal opinion on the event as well as be at that event, but don’t over do it with your own tweets…just a few every now and then.

Tip #5.

“Don’t overcomplicate it, it’s easy.” Just compile the tweets and what have you and get out of there, and hopefully you did a good job.

I hope this helps a little bit, but not too much…check out my Storify below.

View the story “NBC Thursday Night Comedy: Live Blog.” on Storify]

TOW: Citizen Journalism

Citizen Journalism, such a hard concept to grasp…not really, it’s self-explanatory: it’s citizens doing things that a journalist would do, inadvertently covering a story.  In the age we live in, citizen journalism is becoming more and more prevalent.  Everyone that owns a smart phone can potentially capture a story through a picture taken with an iPhone.  Citizen journalism is a more direct way of getting information to the masses with social networking (like Twitter, for example), but the real factor that makes this the case is the power and reach of the internet.

Some of the first images that people saw of 9/11 were captured by citizen journalists.

Citizen Journalism gives a a raw look at the world, and it really makes you think…an average person like all of us captured these images or reported and blogged about this event they saw happen live and it almost makes the event more personal.  No offense to “real” journalists, obviously…it’s just the time we live in where almost anyone can report the news, but also it won’t be one person exclusively reporting a story.  There is no more exclusivity to news stories anymore.

The times are changing and now most people gets their news the quick way and they just check twitter.  We live in such a fast paced society that no one wants to spend time watching the 7 o’clock news.  Citizen Journalism aids that, so I guess I’m cool with it.

TOW: Google?

Google is a search engine, but apparently it’s an engine that runs differently for every individual person who uses it.  That’s what Eli Pariser is proposing in the video below, he has a run tests and has basically proven this fact.

But what does this mean for the internet and how we all use it? This could mean that we are only shown what Google thinks we want to see and it might not show us news stories that we should maybe see.  Google is trying to keep us out of the loop, while trying to cater to what we like based on what we normally search for.  It’s done out of trying to help, but it hinders what is included in the cone of what we see when we search.  This selective permeability is limiting what the internet is for each individual person, this personalizing is changing what the internet is.  The internet should be a community that shares as much information as possible with as many people as possible.  The internet is literally an interconnection of computers all across the world, so I don’t think anyone’s intent should be to filter what information is shared.

This just shows how the engineers at Google think they can use a algorithm to figure out what any certain person would want to see when they search any word on their site.

Guest Post: Here I am, world.

A perspective of a new student coming to Southeastern University.

“Well, for one, I have just about the worse case of writers block. Which is a horrible shame because since I’ve caught the nasty illness, I’ve also done an innumerable amount of things that I’ve never done before. Trivial and vital. Gone through (am going through) life altering transitions. Some that hurt- in the wrong AND right way. All are healing. Things that matter when it comes to the documentation of my life, though shamefully all they’ve gotten is a collective journal entry of two words: “Too much.” ..and apparently I’ll expect myself to fill in the dots later on. The superstitious part of me is scared to write of anything notable in fear that I’ll “jinx” it. The other part of me is scared of the power my words hold. Both are falsely based, but either way I’ve settled with keeping my hands at bay, accepting the block and even seriously considered changing my major to Pre-Med. Only problem is that I’m scraping by to pass Liberal Arts, so I’m not too sure about that whole Calculus II deal.

Every day seems to get a little more “homey” here at Longfellow Boulevard. A lonely little home, but it’s getting somewhere. Forgive my vanity, but I’ve realized I’m very used to being known. Rather, known enough. And, ironically.. seeing as though I’ve been the “new girl” several times in my life, it’s just not the easiest thing to up and move away and make new friends. I’ve yet to be weened off of my gps and the only place I can confidently get myself to is Starbucks. These last few weeks have seen a whole lot of U-turns and even a shouting match with a couple tears because- among other things- I just really, really don’t like that computer generated woman telling me where to go. And making new friends has seen me make a fool of myself. By that I mean tripping on staircases, falling off of benches mid-conversation, going in for a handshake with a fist full of trash, forgetting every single name I introduce myself to, and the most awkward and forced conversation I have ever made in my life. And I’m doing this thing where if you ask me how anything in my life is going.. I immediately divert it to how beautiful the architecture or weather is. Somehow it all ties in, right…

That and I’m trying this new thing called “fully trusting God.” I don’t know, it’s foreign enough to me. The past month has also seen a lot less repetitive prayer (though still just as fervent) but instead more open palms accompanying a silent and waiting heart. Taking after the Jesus that was asleep in the bottom of the boat amidst the storm and letting Him still me while I pass through it. At least until He stands up on my bow and calls it all to peace.”

For more posts visit: http://bailiegrossman.tumblr.com

TOW: Storify.com: In Case You Ever Want to “Storify” Something.

Storify.com; let’s get down to it.

Storify is a website used to: “…make stories using social media.” According to their website.  It is somewhat of a journalism website that will let you cover a story by, essentially, compiling tweets from various sources.  I find this idea very interesting and troubling at the same time…

It’s like in high school when your teacher always said you can’t use wikipedia as a source on a paper.  I’m not saying twitter is anything like wikipedia.  Wikipedia actually has fact checkers, who make sure that people don’t write hilarious things on their pages.  Twitter has no fact-checkers and on a related note: Twitter has a lot of morons on it.  These two facts could lead to a lot of problems for Storify.

The thing that makes Storify interesting is its ability to access opinions from people all over the world.  That is a great thing about twitter, it is a global community with essentially opinions from every type of person.

However, the merging of these two points can make for a good compromise.  If, through Storify, the people compiling tweets only choose tweets from reliable sources or first account of a story then this makes Storify a slightly more reliable source for news.  This selective quality of the “Storify-er” will be the deciding factor whether or not the reader will trust the information that is presented.

Storify. The website that can be reliable, but it’s not exactly a newspaper.

Then again, newspapers are dying.

So I guess this Storify thing ain’t so bad.

TOW: Want to Learn how to Write Effective Headlines for Digital Media? Don’t look here…

But nonetheless, here are 5 tips for writing effective headlines for digital media. I originally had 10 tips, but I narrowed it down to the five best out of those ten.

Alright, listen here…you see what I did there?

Here’s lesson number one through five:

Tip #1. Trick the reader into reading your post by using false modesty.  This is the oldest trick in the book that I am still in the process of writing.

Tip #2. Readers are drawn to posts with interesting titles.  I tried to make an example with the title of this blog post, but it may be more accurate and less interesting…if you catch my drift.

Tip #3. Make sure the title pertains to what the post is actually about.  A good rule of thumb (from someone who isn’t good at this) is to start with a title that is very bland and try to spice it up from there.  The only thing better than a surprise in a headline is a five dollar bill. Write that down, kid.

Tip #4. Use positive words. People usually want to read an uplifting message and sometimes negative words like, “no” or “don’t” (like in this headline) will drive away a lot of potential readers of your blog.

Tip #5. Use interesting words. This tip is a lot like tip #2, but the difference here is using specifically interesting words to enhance your title as a whole.

I hope these tips have helped slightly more than the title led on.