The corner of 23rd Street and West Kilbourn Avenue is a short walk of seven blocks from my apartment. The area feels like a different world, despite its close proximity to my home. On a sunny afternoon, I stood at that corner with Vollie Nolen, a former resident of Avenues West neighborhood. The camera was recording as Nolen explained the disheartening reality of the area.
“This is one of the hardest hit areas as far as drugs," Nolen said. "You’re in a hell of an area because this is the 'hood."
We walked through Avenues West, looking for residents willing to speak on camera. By the time I recruited Nolen to join me, I had spent two hours in the area without a single yes. In the two hours Nolen and I walked through the streets, one woman agreed to talk about her perceptions of boundaries.
The premise of my JOUR-DOC is to highlight the hearsay of boundaries on campus. New students are often told not to go beyond a certain street for their own safety. Such perceptions further divide the most segregated U.S. city.
The New York Times's Op-Doc series was the initial inspiration for this piece, as I wrote earlier. "Hotel 22" by Elizabeth Lo caught my attention and my video attempts to emulate the beginning with short sentences introducing the topic.
Nolen should be credited with keeping moral high. It was difficult facing rejection again and again from residents not wanting to be interviewed. However, he kept pushed me to see the positive in getting one interview. The response of Mildred Johnson, an Avenues West resident, was telling.
Her words underlined the need for more awareness concerning how Marquette University perceptions of safety divide neighborhoods. While Johnson does not feel a boundary, that sentiment is not reflected in Marquette students.
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A chance to see the world from the perspective of a 6-foot-2, aspiring human rights journalist. Will include lessons learned and reflections.