Digital Media


KVAK TV uses storytelling to address pressing local themes of isolation, location, and cultural shifts in the isolated community of Kivalina, Alaska

Project Overview:

KVAK TV is a youth-oriented media project that stands for Kivalina, Alaskan Television. The project uses storytelling to address pressing local themes of isolation, location, and cultural shifts in Kivalina. The tiny coastal village is threatened by rising sea levels that are a result of climate change, and relocation is an imminent reality for Kivalina residents.

KVAK’s youth focus is a direct response to Kivalina demographics: over 50% of its population is under the age of 25. The village’s geographical isolation creates many challenges for its youth, including high suicide rates. In response to these conditions, KVAK TV partnered with The Alaskan Design Forum to use social media and television programming as a means for Kivalina youth to connect with the outside world and to relieve feelings of isolation. KVAK TV hosted a series of after school workshops to instruct youth on camera and interviewing techniques, and provided an equipment library for use outside of workshops.


Participating youth created a video-based portrait of their coastal village in Kivalina, Alaska, sharing their village games and their day-to-day lives. In collaboration with KVAK TV, they created 3 episodes of a live performance television show. These were aired on Alaskan public television, and formed part of the True North exhibition at the Anchorage Museum.

The imminent relocation of the village makes the material produced through KVAK TV’s workshops an important platform for Kivalina’s youth to share site-specific stories of home. The geotagged Youtube videos were compiled onto a website and grouped into the narrative categories: “Being Young in Kivalina,” “Current Events,” Tradition,” and “Relocation.”



Working with the Center for Investigative Reporting, CCA students developed innovative strategies for telling challanging and complex stories both online and offline within the Bay Area.

Creative Sprint Prompt:

Participants in the Tech Raking hackathon received prompts that dealt with some of the toughest engagement issues for digital and community-oriented journalism. In order to craft design prompts that best expressed challenges within the field, the Center for Investigative Reporting enlisted feedback from two of its local media partners: KQED and the Bay Area News Group (BANG). These design prompts also took into consideration the role of digitization in both the consumption and circulation of news in order to promote more critical dialogue on comment platforms, which often end up as “echo chambers.”


Students were asked:

Team Proposals:

“The Whisper Hunters”

Marimar Suarez Penalva | DMBA

Jorge Torres Perez Palacios | DMBA

Thomas Davis | Illustration

The design team conceptualized a physical box, or “Gossip Box,” that could be placed in geographical locations throughout a particular community. Each “Gossip Box” would create a physical and emotional relationship with its community that tech could not duplicate due to the challenges of organizing information over social media. They would be equipped with a set of prompts to solicit written responses from community individuals. Written responses would be routinely collected by the newsroom, cultivating community knowledge while capturing mouth-to-mouth stories.


“Story of the Gun”

Damian Wolfgram | DMBA

Ivan Yip | DMBA

Kinto Diriwachter | BFA Glass

Madeleine Maguire | Graphic Design

“Story of the Gun” designed a guerrilla marketing campaign that utilized QR code technology, allowing local residents to use their smartphone cameras to scan icons. Once the “Story of the Gun” icons were captured through the smartphone camera lens, the community member would be connected to “six degrees of conversation,” a website portraying varying perspectives on guns. Users would then contribute their personal gun-related insights while interacting with local officials, residents, and law enforcement.



After much deliberation, TechRaking jurors awarded “Story of the Gun” first place for their design.  “The Whisper Hunters” was named as the runner up.



Julia Chan | Communications Manager – CIR

Andy Donahue | Senior Editor – CIR

Meghann Farnsworth | Director, Distribution and Engagement – CIR

Anna Pully | Managing Editor – East Bay Express

Lauren McDonald | Instructional Services Librarian – CCA


Design Experts:

Ann Rich | DMBA Alum, Co-Founder and Chief Partnership/ Marketing Strategist – Kishu

Seth D’Ambrosia | MFA Alum, Designer – Ted Boerner, Inc.

Sue Pollock | DMBA Alum, Design Strategist – The Nature Conservancy


Amy Pyle | Managing Editor – CIR

Martin Reynolds | Senior Editor of Community Engagement – Bay Area News Group

Colleen Wilson | Executive Director – KQED

Allen Meyer | Creative Director – New American Media

Jessica Watson | Product Design Manager – Facebook

Cindy Butner | Marketing Director – Santa Rosa Press Democrat

David Cohn |  Executive Producer – JC+

Sarah Bonk | Senior Manager, Interaction Design – Apple, Co- Founder @ Team Democracy

Erin Polgreen | CoFounder – Symbolia



Protesting the high crime rates against LGBTQ Jamaicans, STAND UP shared personal and community narratives via social media of Jamaicans who fled their island nation. 

Project Overview

STAND UP uses the unique characteristics of social media to create an active network between the LGBTQ community from Jamaica, the most homophobic country in the western hemisphere, and their allies through testimonial/solidarity videos.

In spite of the socio-political oppression and threat of physical violence, it was the first international campaign to create an active community for LGBTQ rights in Jamaica.

STAND UP partnered with the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) and its underground counterpart, the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals & Gays (JFLAG) to counter homophobia with community building, storytelling, and safe visibility.

STAND UP was an incredibly powerful experience, being able to meet and share the stories of dozens of brave people, putting themselves on the line to be able to love who they choose, was amazing. If I had been told that I would have done something as large as this, at the beginning of the summer, I would not have believed it.” – Robert Gomez Hernandez (MFA/MA, Film/Visual and Critical Studies)

Project STAND UP worked with a Jamaican team on video techniques that maintained anonymity and to create “safe visibility” for participants. Team STAND UP built upon the We Are Jamaicans Project featuring videos of LGBTQ Jamaicans and prominent community leaders/allies in and out of Jamaica and used their project website as a platform for exponential growth that synched with a YouTube channel, Facebook page, Instagram, and Twitter accounts.


STAND UP’s videos shared personal narratives of LGBTQ Jamaicans and their allies from three different countries and started a social movement that continued on past their time in Jamaica.

Prior to traveling to Jamaica, STAND UP launched an IndieGoGo campaign to extend the life cycle of their project, their fundraising goal was shared by GLAAD, the Huffington Post, CIMA, and other news outlets to support their campaign.

Although they initially envisioned gather 10-15 interviews while in Jamaica, Team STAND UP interviewed 60 participants for their testimonial and solidarity videos that were shared at a final premiere.