homelessness

3 GREAT STORIES: Starring homelessness, Solange, and facts

Every week, I shine the spotlight on some of the best storytelling in the business and offer my comments. “3 Great Stories of the Week” will post every Monday at 8 AM.

Under the Bridge: a virtual reality visit with homeless in Seattle (1/19/17, KING-TV): The first two stories I’m featuring this week are significant for breaking new ground in messy circumstances.

Let’s start with “Under the Bridge”, a 360-degree mini-doc produced by KING-TV’s Toby Rigby and Matt Mrozinski (himself a recent Telling the Story podcast guest). They work with photographer/activist Tim Durkan to explore a homeless camp in Seattle, and they devote five minutes to providing immersive looks and raw moments.

One cannot take on a new frontier without growing pains, and this production definitely presents a few from a storytelling standpoint. Watching it on my phone in a public place, I struggled at times to figure out where I was supposed to be looking. I often needed to take a few seconds during moments of dialogue to actually spot who was speaking.

But this is foremost an inspiring effort. Rigby and Mrozinski use the 360-degree space in innovative ways, from the opening titles to a sea of surrounding photographs towards the end. I applaud their dedication and perseverance here, and I look forward to seeing what they do next.

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3 GREAT STORIES: Starring two tales of heartbreak and one of the World Series

Every week, I shine the spotlight on some of the best storytelling in the business and offer my comments. “3 Great Stories of the Week” will post every Monday at 8 AM.

The most powerful stories I saw this week were also the most heartbreaking.

Some people have true difficulty reading tales of heartbreak; they struggle with the depressing content, particularly when that content does not include a call to action or a way to channel their anger or frustration.

I understand that completely, but I try to look at it differently. I try to appreciate these stories for their place in our wide world; I cannot necessarily do anything about them, but I can at least be informed and aware of them.

I have included two such stories this week, along with a far more frivolous essay about the World Series, for good measure …

Hidden city (10/21/13, New Yorker): Even in terms of difficult stories, this one is a struggle.

New Yorker writer Ian Frazier puts together nearly 10,000 words about the rising number of homeless in the Big Apple. I — like many, I’m sure, who read this piece — was stunned by that fact. I grew up in the shadow of New York City and still visit it 3-4 times a year. I see fewer traces of homelessness every time I go, but obviously I suffer from the same bias as many quoted in Frazier’s story.

I take this problem personally, having once chronicled my own by-choice 24-hour stay at an Atlanta homeless facility. Frazier tells the story without much dressing or fanfare; he simply tells it as it is, which is plenty horrifying already.

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