MS Project for Interfaith Shelter

By Niki Fritz

Most of us in grad school are in a constant shortage of time; there are never enough days for running subjects, hours for research or minutes for breaks. All of this can leave us feeling like we are stuck in a crimson-hued IU bubble. When Garrett Poortinga, who is currently working on his MS (Production and Management), started to feel this way last year, he thought up a capstone project that connected with an often invisible part of Bloomington community – the homeless population.

“I’m born and raised Bloomington. I’ve been fortunate and I have all these resources. But there is this invisible border, between us and this entire community that doesn’t have any of those resources. There is a line; right across the street on Indiana, there are people asking for money to survive,” Garrett said. “We bring in such a large number of people, which helps the IU community grow, but I wanted to see more impact on the community at large.”

Garrett knew he wanted to help the homeless community but he wasn’t sure how he, as a master’s student, could do that. He mentioned it to Steve Krahnke who connected Garrett with the board of the Interfaith Winter Shelter, which provides the homeless community with basic shelter and a meal during the winter months.

The shelter is a collaboration between different faith organizations in Bloomington, each of which hosts the shelter on different nights. Their annual budget is just $35,000, the majority of which goes to one part time security officer and laundry service. The rest of the labor and service, including setting up beds, greeting the participants and cooking meals, is all volunteer.

Another unique aspect of the shelter is that it is open to all even when substance abuse is an issue.

Garrett explains: “People are dying in Bloomington [in the winter] because it is cold. There is not an option for them. Interfaith Shelter offers no barrier entry to a basic human need.”

To see how he could best contribute to a community whose needs he wasn’t familiar with, Garrett met with the shelter leadership a few times to discuss what they needed. They mainly needed a way to raise $35,000 for their annual budget and were considering use of crowdsourcing, a fundraising idea they had heard about but didn’t really know how to execute. Garrett happened to have some experience in crowdsourcing. “It was kismet,” as Garret out it.

Garrett created a promotional video for the shelter and set up a fundraising page on indiegogo . The project closed last Friday, by when it had raised almost $22,000. The story did not end there, as the team was in for a most pleasant surprise. After the project was featured on the front page of the Herald Times, a donor sent in a check for $30,000 – almost the entire annual budget for the shelter! In total, with offline donations as well, the project has raised about $54,000, enough to support the annual budget and then some. Garrett is hoping additional money may be able to support a social worker.

Telecomm students Garrett Poortinga, Josh Sites and Steve Meyers, work on a video project to benefit the Interfaith Shelter. Photo courtesy of

Telecom students Garrett Poortinga, Josh Sites and Steve Myers, work on a video project to benefit the Interfaith Shelter. Photo courtesy of Garrett Poortinga

For Garrett, the project was a success not just because they met their financial goal but because they got a chance to connect with the community, including the creative community in Bloomington outside of IU.

“Personally I’ve gotten more of a sense of the community [from this project] … There is a subterranean level of Bloomington that is the community. We are in the bubble of students. When we push against that barrier it can be hard,” Garrett explained. “Through my work I’m trying to find a way, a portal, a mean of communication, between the two worlds.”

Anyone looking to get more involved in their community can sign up to volunteer with the Interfaith Shelter on the indiegogo site.


Coordinating Student Media on Campus

By Mona Malacane

The beard has been busy.


Since forming Indiana All-Media in the fall of 2012, Garrett Poortinga and other IAM execs have been building the organization by hosting workshops, running an informative blog, and even gearing up for the first IAM film festival. Looking to plan for the future, Garrett met with the Director of Student Life and Learning, Steve Veldkamp, to discuss IAM’s role in the new Media School. That conversation led to Steve setting Garrett up for a meeting with Penny Dillon, who went on to offer Garrett a part-time job with the newly formed Student Media Bureau.

The Student Media Bureau is an office under the large umbrella of the Division of Student Affairs. Garrett explained, “The Division of Student Affairs is doing a massive redesign of their entire website structure. The DSA is comprised of many, many offices and departments all over campus and they’re all silo-ed off. And this new website is supposed to be a way of bringing all of these voices together and presenting all of the information coherently. So it’s a big communications project.”

Garrett worked with Penny to staff the SMB. The SMB positions include a project coordinator (Garrett’s position), video producer, a video editor and marketer, a copy editor and content auditor, and a graphic designer. Together they have been working on a bunch of projects, but all of their activities have been in some way related to this new website. “We are coordinating a lot of different things and we are sort of this filter that things come through and we line it all up so that it all looks and feels and tastes the same … [To have] a unified message across all of those potential means of communication, from videos, to ads, to posters, to one on one contact, to website information.”

One of their ongoing projects is production of a series of “student spotlights” on student employees in the various departments under the DSA. Another project they are proposing is a revamp of the First Year Experience and Freshman Orientation marketing, branding, and accessories (e.g. water bottles and thumb drive sticks).

Most recently, the SMB worked with Culture of Care to produce a series of videos for April’s Culture of Care week. To give you a little background, the mission of Culture of Care is to (1) promote a culture and community of support by encouraging bystander intervention, and (2) to raise awareness about sexual well-being, mental health, alcohol and drug awareness, and respect. So, Garrett and his co-workers sat down with the Culture of Care execs to brainstorm (and to a lesser extent, help produce) ideas for videos that would demonstrate “care through action” for each of the CoC focus areas. Here is the video on inspiring interventions by bystanders:

You can see all of the videos for Culture of Care Week on their YouTube channel

Although Garrett’s creative input on the projects is somewhat limited by IU’s brand, the task of working with such a variety of student organizations still requires a creative approach. “My process is that I listen, I ask questions, I repeat the information that’s told to me … And then I really try to hear what the other person or group of people what are the problems they are encountering and what is the path of least resistance to their solution.” For instance, Garrett and the SMB graphic designer met with a woman in Student Life and Learning to look at their marketing materials. “They have had a student working on a lot of these materials but everything the student has been creating all look different. They don’t work together, they don’t speak the same message, and not only do they just not look together, but they don’t actually communicate the look and the feel of the Division of Student Affairs … So what we did was listen to what they were doing, what kind of time line they are on, what kind of deliverables they want [e.g. fliers, videos], what do they need, what do they have, and what are the things that we need from them to make this happen.”

It’s a process that Garrett enjoys, and he hopes to continue to work at SMB after graduating in May.

May the Best Boat Stay Afloat

By Edo Steinberg

Not the thinking man's game - The Telecommandos.

Not the thinking man’s game – The Telecommandos.

If curling is the most ridiculous sport you’ve ever heard of, word of something called “Intramural Battleship” must have never reached your ears. In this game, the main rule is “sink or be sunk”. Each team has a little canoe, two paddles, two buckets and a shield. They need to splash water into their rivals’ vessels to make them go the way of the Titanic while defending themselves from the same fate.

Yesterday, Dustin Ritchea, Garrett Poortinga, Alexis Ovitt and Steve Myers, who dubbed themselves Team Telecommandos (originally Telecombat), participated in their debut Battleship game. They wore matching shirts with the letter C for Commandos, as well as pirate and Viking regalia.

“Steph and I were AI’ing together and looking for things to do in our free time,” Dustin remembers. “We looked at different clubs on campus. Battleship came up, and I said ‘what is this?’ I got super excited when I figured out what it was.”

He had a hard time finding people to join his team. Steve was the first to jump on board, if you’ll excuse the pun.

Alexis was excited to join as well, at first. When Dustin texted everyone to remember to bring five dollars and a bathing suit, he got a text back from Alexis asking “what the hell did I agree to do?”

“I thought we were going to play the board game Battleship,” says Alexis. “Competitive Battleship, that would be fun. When Dustin said to bring a swimming suit I didn’t understand why.” She doesn’t even really swim.

The electric excitement started even before the game began.

“As soon as we showed up and nobody else had a costume on, I feel like we already won,” Garrett jokes. “After that, we were just following through with the prearranged rules.” I should point out that this was their only victory.

“When a staff member asks to take his picture with you, that’s pretty good,” Steve chimes in.

“That was more of a political move on our part,” Garrett says.

“We’re old and we just don’t care,” says Steve.

“The thing to remember about Battleship is that it isn’t the thinking man’s game,” Dustin laughs, quoting something one of their rivals said in all seriousness between rounds.

The team members don’t think there was anything wrong with their strategy. “The winning team was made up of 80-pound girls,” Alexis analyzes their defeat.

“Sinking was fun, but disappointing,” Alexis says. “Especially when I found out there were T-shirts on the line.”

“We never tipped,” Dustin says proudly. “Our sinks were always graceful.”

“There was a moment, just for a second, where it was like we could survive,” says Garrett. “We’re going down. No, we’re not. Yes, we are!”

Unfortunately, Battleship won’t be played again until next year, so you won’t be able to see the Telecommandos playing live for a while. For now, you could settle for watching the video footage.

Off to London

by Teresa Lynch

Although many members of the department will be travelling to London, England this summer to attend ICA, several graduate students – Senia Borden, Dan Levy, Gabe Persons, and Garrett Poortinga, to be specific – will be travelling there for a different reason. After a quick stopover in Iceland, the four will be meeting up with Susan Kelly to take her specially designed production course. Last summer, Susan took only undergraduates for her course abroad, but this year, the opportunity was offered to graduate students, as well.

The Tower Bridge in London. Photo courtesy of Susan Kelly.

The Tower Bridge in London. Photo courtesy of Susan Kelly.

Susan says the theme of the class is twofold. “One [portion] is to show that there are other ways of storytelling than the American way. The American way is purely driven by the bottom line. The British system is driven by a cultural mission. New voices are funded by the citizenry who actually pay a licensing fee – a tax – to fund new voices and make stories specifically about British culture. They actually have a mission statement about what their media should aim for. You’ll never find that in America.” The other portion of the class will focus on storytelling in film and story analysis. Susan has also lined up guest speakers for the class including a BAFTA recipient and an employee of the BBC. The group will also tour sets from the Harry Potter films, James Bond, The King’s Speech, the BBC Sherlock series, and Sherlock Holmes.

While they’re in London, the group will all be residing in Nido, a student housing complex in the Spitalfields neighborhood.  Class will take place in facilities provided by the International Education of Students. Susan has also planned to hold class in the early afternoon so students can enjoy the walk from Nido to the IES if they choose. “It’s a beautiful walk, an amazing walk…it’s through the Bloomsbury neighborhood – the same neighborhood that housed the modernist literary movement.”

In addition to class and working with the 15 undergraduate students, the graduate students are hoping to make the most of their time professionally. Garrett has already been in touch with department alum Lora Speers. “I’ve been talking to [Lora] through email about actually producing a short form on one of her [underground hip-hop] connections,” said Garrett. “I’m hoping to go to some shows, film some interviews, and cut it together to align with the course.”

The London Eye. Photo courtesy of Susan Kelly.

The London Eye. Photo courtesy of Susan Kelly.

Gabe and Susan are the only members of the group who have been to London, but it’s safe to say that every member of the group is very excited to be hopping the pond. Listening to Susan tell it, London is a city of incredible depth, heaviness, and beauty. She said one of the things she is most looking forward to, “the light in London in the spring is spectacular. It’s clear and the buildings are made out of limestone…some of it’s gold, some of it’s buttery, and some of it’s rose…and when the sun hits [the buildings], if you have any aesthetic bone in your body, you have to stop in your tracks and just be bathed in northern  light. In London you will get scudding clouds, huge cumulus clouds that are white with some dark grey underbellies with this beautiful light that slants through and casts shadows that make designs on the ground and you are bathed in the light.” And getting to see her students experience London is an experience of pure joy for Susan. “I get to experience that, to watch students take it all in. Sometimes I have to remember this is my job.”

Signing Off for Summer

by Edo and Teresa

As another academic year comes to a close, we’re wrapping up the blog for the summer break. We wanted to take a moment, though, to thank you (dear readers) for reading and supporting the blog by giving us your thoughts, ideas, and sharing your stories with us. Notably, as we wrap up for summer, we are also bringing the third year of the blog to a close. In that time, the blog has hosted six writers. We’ve all contributed different styles and flavors that have now mixed to become something representative of the department in and of itself.

We’ve tried new ways to present Telecom graduate life this year. We took the silly road and the visual road. If you have any suggestions for new things to experiment with here, feel free to tell us.

Finally, we’re proud to announce the winners of our first photo contest!

The winning photo for the category “Life in the Department” was submitted by Garrett Poortinga.

Photo submitted by Garrett J. Poortinga

Photo submitted by Garrett J. Poortinga

For the category “Life in Bloomington,” we had not a two-way, but a THREE-way tie! The winning photos were submitted by Garrett Poortinga, Ashley Kraus, and Nic Matthews.

Photo submitted by Ashley Kraus.

Photo submitted by Ashley Kraus.

Photo submitted by Nic Matthews.

Photo submitted by Nic Matthews.

Photo submitted by Garrett J. Poortinga.

Photo submitted by Garrett J. Poortinga.

Congratulations to the winners and thanks again to all who submitted, you all made the blog better this semester! Starting next week, we’ll have an interactive collection of all the photos submitted this semester hosted here for you to click through.

From both of us here on the grad blog, have a great summer!

Calling All Creatives

by Teresa Lynch

President Poortinga introduces himself.“It came to me in a dream,” MS student Garrett Poortinga joked to a crowd of nearly 90 last Wednesday night in RTV’s large lecture hall. The group of graduate and undergraduate students who had gathered to talk media creation (and dine on Chipotle burritos) were answering a call-out for students from a variety of departments and schools across campus.

Rather than a dream, Garrett had been inspired to form Indiana All-Media (IAM) last fall when Alison Tyra, a Master’s student in SPEA interning with the Jacob’s School marketing department, reached out to him for input on a multimedia project for the music school. Garrett says at that time he “[put] a call out to find people interested in collaborating on the project” and he “quickly realized the students forming around this project had a strong desire to work on a diverse range of projects from video, photo, audio, [to] art based approaches.”

Inspired by the response and interest that project garnered, Garrett set to work establishing IAM. Officially speaking, the group became a recognized IU student organization in November of last year. In that time, IAM has transformed from a few members interested in media creation to an established organization with an executive committee, departments, and even its own constitution.Telecom graduate students attend IAM.

Structurally, the organization is much like an advertising or creative agency. This design Garrett say, will allow creative teams to fluidly tackle projects for clients both within the university and for the outside community. Essentially, the heads of each of the seven departments will lend expertise and structure to their areas and through collaborative efforts, students will mentor and be mentored to maximize their opportunities. Furthermore, Garrett says his hope is that he organization will serve as a portal between the student body and the community for creative services and learning opportunities.

So far, IAM has seven departments and department heads that will change every semester:

  • Art Installation, headed up by Cassie Harner (Fine Arts)
  • Audio, headed up by Garrett Poortinga (Telecom)
  • Finance, headed up by Leo Qiu (Business)
  • Marketing, headed up by Vincent Holloway (Business)
  • Photography, headed up by Baylie Miller (Fine Arts, Telecom)
  • Video, headed up by Michael DiBiase (Telecom)
  • Web Development, headed up by Travis Mott (Journalism)

Additionally, IAM has three executive members that will change annually:

  • President: Garrett Poortinga
  • Vice-President: Michael DiBiase
  • Treasurer: Leo Qiu

Indiana All-MediaIAM is still in its infancy, but the response to the call out was strong enough to incite a good bit of excitement. Garrett says the response and the wealth of ideas attendees were bringing to the table blew him away.

To learn more about the organization or get involved, visit the IAM website and be sure to like them on Facebook to get updates.

On set for Ondine

by Teresa Lynch

As graduate students, sometimes we feel a teensy bit overwhelmed by the amount of work we take on each semester. Certainly professors do as well. Within this general context,  it is refreshing to find students and faculty spending many of their precious spare hours volunteering. And that’s just what Professor Steve Krahnke, MS student Garrett Poortinga, and PhD student Stephanie Brehe have been doing of late.

Steve discussing tech with members of the crew of Ondine

Specifically, the trio has been working with the theatre program at Bloomington High School North, one of the two local high schools here in Bloomington. As with arts programs in many public schools, BHSN’s theatre program is underfunded. But, rather than fade away, many years ago theatre teacher Francesca Sobrer saw it as an opportunity to get creative. After an introduction by a mutual friend, Francesca welcomed Steve on to help with the program as a volunteer because as he says, he “had been a set-designer longer than [he] had been anything else.”

The ensuing collaboration has provided the high school and the larger theatre-going community of Bloomington a rich and diverse program that Steve says “has become famous for doing really, really big productions with really complicated scenery and having a lot of people involved. It’s a lot of fun.” The three just wrapped up their work on Ondine, an early 20th century play by Jean Giraudoux that tells the enchanting tale of the knight-errant Hans who meets and falls in love with Ondine, a water sprite.

Steve has been working with the program for thirteen years and from time to time has invited graduate students to assist with the technical demands of the program. “One of the things that I really like about this and I think it a real advantage for graduate students like Stephanie and Garrett is to get to know, even on a limited basis, the kids before they even become undergrads. It gives you a better sense of the trajectory and the learning slope. And you realize how smart some of these kids are even in high school. Because when they get to college, they have so many pressures and so many directions, it’s easy to start thinking of them as not being particularly smart, but it’s because they’re distracted by all these new things. But, the core is really smart and totally engageable. I mean, these kids can really focus and that’s what’s so rewarding about it.”

Part of the set design for Ondine

Garrett and Stephanie joined the tech crew effort this semester working on set alongside and lending their expertise to the high schools students. Specifically, Garrett has been working on sound design. His job has been primarily to oversee and guide the technical efforts of one of the high school students who will run the sound during the live show. Garrett’s prior experience has not been primarily with live theatre, per say, but he has extensive experience in live performance set-up with the audio-visual performance group, Savage Henry. Other work he has done within the Telecom department has also given him helpful experience that he puts to good use when assisting the BHSN theatre program. Specifically he says that “being here teaching or being a student in the studio, you’re sitting at a sound board, you’re playing sound effects back as things are happening live in the studio, which I had done plenty of times before. We had live studio audiences for those. It’s pretty much the same thing except it’s a television studio instead of a theatre.” In particular, he says he has also found that “there’s a deficit of sound designers and operators in Bloomington, Indiana. And that I really like doing it.”

Stephanie has used her years of theatre know-how to assist the program with light design, a job that not only requires a significant amount of physicality, but an enormous amount of time on set. Francesca noted that she “really appreciate[s] people coming in and teaching the kids and lending their expertise. Stephanie’s expertise is very extensive and she’s already repaired some things which is a huge help to us … the amount of time she has dedicated is really incredible.”

A cleverly designed tree made from fabric that has been used in many plays including Ondine

Doing these sorts of things makes for what Steve says is, “a really interesting way and a valuable way to connect the academic life to the social life in ways that are unpredictable …  it just makes you seem like a whole person. It’s difficult for graduate students to widen out their lives … but I think it’s important to try to do it. It’s also important to have people who are suggesting that you need to be a person.”

Theatre as an art is cosmopolitan, making it somewhat akin to our field. As Steve sees it “that’s kind of the nice thing about theatre is that it has an organic quality to it so that you can take whatever skills you have and to a certain extent translate them into completely different areas, whether it’s teaching or organizing events or even organizing yourself. There are things that apply …  and why it’s so important to support these kinds of programs.”