The latest and greatest on CNN iReport, brought to you by Team iReport.
The Station Fire in Southern California creeps towards the Rose Bowl over the weekend. The fire covers 45,000 acres so far, and it's only 5 percent contained. "A tragic scene," says talsterlind of the photo she captured.
"It looked like an atom bomb," said MarieSager in Los Angeles. She saw these great plumes of smoke reaching up past the clouds on August 29. Now, she says, there's so much smoke that she can barely see when she goes outside. Her neighborhood is under advisory to stay indoors as much as possible.
The fire burns ominously above La Cañada Flintridge, California, on the night of August 28. California's famed Santa Ana winds have yet to start blowing, so firefighters are puzzled as to why the fire is spreading so quickly. marybetht thinks the hot, dry weather has something to do with it: "It has been scorching, over 100 degrees, all week," she said.
Power lines stand in the fire's path on August 27 in Los Angeles. Now, the fire is approaching a bevy of communications towers, from radio and TV towers to fire and police communication equipment. If those towers burn, it could have major consequences for both officials' ability to fight the fire and public safety. Pixievision stayed out in the smoke taking pictures like this one "until the ash started falling into my eyes."
Once again, iReporters are enhancing CNN's coverage of a breaking news event. We're continually impressed by your talents (and our weather unit keeps gushing about how incredible these photos are!). Please stay safe!
We had a record-breaking outcome from the latest challenge for iReport Photo Club, when we asked you to capture where land meets sky . We received more than 55 pages of submissions, or just over 660 iReports, on the horizons assignment. Way to go photography community!
Get ready for the next challenge. We’re asking you to express an emotion , whether it’s literal or abstract. Please tell us which emotion you feature. Don’t forget to have fun!
Fifth-generation New Orleans resident gumbogrrl writes a letter each year to observe the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated her city and much of the Gulf Coast. She fled New Orleans in August, 2005, taking nothing but her fiancé and two dogs, and her computer and some cherished family letters.
When she came home three months later, her beloved city looked drastically different. “It was very strange to see areas of our city that had no color at all,” she said. “All the brightly colored buildings were black, gray, or shades of brown.”
Four years later, New Orleans is finally returning back to its former glory, said gumbogrrl. She shared photos Thursday from the 9th Ward – one of the city’s hardest-hit neighborhoods – that show modern new homes under construction. But she added that the neighborhood is still "utterly quiet" and that there are areas where "you almost feel like your car will be eaten by 7-foot weeds."
The recovery is still slow, but she thinks New Orleans is finally turning a corner. “As I have said in past Katrina letters, our rebuild is marathon not a sprint,” she wrote. “Every few months a grocery store, library or post office opens. New Orleanians rejoice at these events because we know what it is like for them to be gone.”
She said she's also healing. Last year she compared writing her letter to giving birth, saying that "it is very painful, but it is worth it in the end." This year she wrote that she is coming to terms "with the emotional trauma of Katrina." She has started writing her memories down, even though it's still painful. "It’s been a great release for me. Also, it is very important for all of us to document history for future generations," she wrote.
HLN's Chuck Roberts talked to gumbogrrl on Friday, so you can watch the interview here.
Were you affected by Hurricane Katrina? Share your story and check out updates from other iReporters along the Gulf Coast
The iReports we've been getting from the virtual realm of Second Life have been always been outstanding, but lately they've been especially great and we just wanted to thank you.
iReporter any1gynoid reported on a mixed-reality speech by former President Bill Clinton during the Netroots Nation political activism conference. The event is a real-world conference that also has a Second Life component where people can participate virtually from anywhere around the world. Further venturing into mixed-reality territory, ApolloManga covered the Second Life Community Convention, which is a major annual virtual-reality event that takes place both in San Francisco, California, and in Second Life.
But some of the best stories we've seen have been about what people are doing in SL. We heard about a charity race and young voters in SL from iReporter Eradicator, with Justice League Unlimited. His volunteer group seeks to provide protection and community support; its members effectively have become the virtual equivalent of superheroes. HibiscusH told us about an immersive art exhibit designed for survivors of suicide (either those who have attempted suicide or those who know a victim).
JaneyBracken has been roaming the digital streets of virtual London, reporting on interesting characters such as one quirky Doctor Who look-alike. She also found virtual guitars that a couple of SL musicians were painstakingly maintaining. Several iReporters, including SL Resident Vickie Maidstone, have helped tell the story of Relay for Life (a huge virtual world charity that is one of the biggest charities out there period) and Woodstock tribute festivals and events. We've also seen virtual Iran protests bringing people together from countries all over, as well as NASA and space sims.
We're getting a good window into what goes on in Second Life through these iReports. If you also visit the virtual realm, be sure to share your own story.
When it comes to your video commentaries, there's nothing we love better than a thoughtful argument and healthy debate. That's why we were thrilled when, after GSandeen posted this take on health care, EWillies1961 posted an equally strong argument in response.
GSandeen, a 21-year-old living in Santa Clarita, California, believes that America cannot afford a government-run health care program. Fixing the high cost of doctor visits and medication is simple, he argues: "Get the government out of health care."
But EWillies1961 disagrees. "Health care reform is a must," he explains. EWillies1961, a Kingwood, Texas, resident, says a public health care option will help to keep insurance companies "in check" and keep costs low.
The health care debate is a complicated issue and there are a lot of viewpoints out there. What do you think? You can sound off here. And if you want to learn more about health care in America, check out this special on CNN.com.
It's Thursday, so that means it's time for our weekly iReport roundtable discussion.
We love talking to you about the great things that are going on in the community, so if you're working on a cool project, tell us about it. The meeting also is a chance for you to ask any questions you might have and to discuss your concerns.
We'll open comments today at 2:30 p.m. ET.
We'll look forward to talking to everyone on Thursday, August 27th, at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Please bring your questions, comments and concerns.
Thanks for the great street art submissions and the excellent feedback you gave us in our previous collaboration blog post. The murals and art we've seen (sculptures, even) have been outstanding! I just wanted to give a status update on this project and let you know it's not forgotten at all.
You mentioned all kinds of cool things: maps, databases, galleries, cool stories. We're going to noodle on the ideas you mentioned and come up with something awesome from here. The production process may take a while to progress, so please know that we are steadily moving forward. Don't hesitate to continue to send any eye-catching stories you see our way. We potentially could do multiple things with the material.
I also want to challenge you to start expanding beyond painted graffiti and find things that are a bit different or taking place in other mediums. We have a lot of photos of tags and murals now, and I'm curious about what else is going on out there. We've seen some examples with the chewing gum walls noted by mainstreet57, Kiwiphopa and spooly. micosantos sent a video about urban knitting and we have another set of images from grrlandog of urban knitters who took over a public toilet in Australia. Let's see if we can get broad geographic coverage both domestically and globally. Basically, the more and more diverse, the merrier.
The $64 million question is: What story are we trying to tell here?
Also, please continue to share your ideas here in the comments area. We want to know what other thoughts are out there. Thanks again for your participation!
The month-long Islamic observance of Ramadan began on August 21 this year, inspiring one iReporter and iPhone enthusiast to explore how technology and religion collide.
"I was in Morocco for a couple of weeks and people were talking about Ramadan (taking place) in summertime,” Antonio Lopez Herreros explained. Before long, he found an iPhone application called the iQuran, which allows users to read the Quran.
Herreros introduced the app to two of his friends in Morocco and captured them sharing their joy about the Ramadan season with each other using their iPhones in a short film he calls “Ramadan is Coming (Where is my iPhone?).”
“The inspiration for ‘Ramadan is Coming’ was to join the joy of this religious month with the technology with maximum respect,” explained Herreros. “When you are happy, you want to share with your friends and family all the special moments. In this film they share special moments with the iPhone in their daily lives.”
This isn’t the first time that the iPhone has appeared in Herreros’ iReports. In July of last year, he excitedly covered the launch of the iPhone in his hometown of Madrid, Spain. He then introduced the smart phone to his grandmother and her best friend and created a short film based on their love for the device and posted it on iReport.com. The two are completely in awe as they discuss the latest iPhone applications.
Herreros composes original music for his films and they are all shot, of course, on his iPhone.
We hope you'll join us for our weekly roundtable discussion today in the blog. We'll be talking about a collaborative art project we're planning.
A lot of iReporters are already working together on their own collaborations, so we want to do something big that harnesses the power of our community to do something awesome.
This is a project we've wanted to do for a while and we're excited to hear your ideas.
If you think this is something you'd like to do you can sign up at project@iReport.com.
We'll open comments at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Please join us for our weekly roundtable discussion on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. ET. We'll be talking about a collaborative art project we're planning.
CNN.com's John Sutter wrote an article about these sorts of projects and I'd encourage everyone to read it for some inspiration.
We'll look forward to talking to you tomorrow. Please invite your friends.
HLN TV-Web Producer Kate here.
I just wanted to say hello and drop you all a line and thank you for all your wonderful iReports. I'm not sure if you guys are aware, but almost every day on HLN's "Morning Express with Robin Meade" – along with our daily "Salute to Troops" feature – we showcase an "iReport of the Day."
We don’t really have a certain type of iReport that we prefer, we just like to see the world through your eyes and share your awesome material with "Morning Express" viewers.
To see if your iReports make it to air, tune into "Morning Express with Robin Meade" weekdays from 6 – 10 a.m. ET.
I'll make sure and drop you a note on your iReport if we use it on air as well!
Like our previous intern, Jason is an iReporter. We first witnessed his artistic touch during the 2008 presidential race when he and several fellow GSU students shared typographical portrait projects on iReport.com.
This summer, Jason applied his skills to a fun iReport project inspired by words that are overused like “absolutely,” “awesome” and “that’s sick!” The results are stunning: iReporters’ voices blended with Jason’s animated text and hand-drawn illustrations.
We hope you’ll enjoy watching as much as we enjoyed having Jason on our team these past weeks, and wish Jason all the best in his studies this year.
If you haven’t already, check out John Sutter’s CNN.com article on collaborative online art projects .
We’re so inspired that we decided to start our own collaborative art project with CNN. We’re still working out the details, but we wanted to get an early jump on rounding up volunteers.
To sign up, just send us an email at project@iReport.com
We promise it’s going to be to be fun!
Architectural beauty took all shapes and forms in the iReport Photo Club assignment calling for local, unique structures . Not only was the photography exemplary, but the images were from all over the world. And, a bunch of new submitters found us via Flickr . Welcome to the community!
For the next challenge we’re looking for breathtaking shots of horizons . Interpret as you will and have fun on this assignment.
TVPigs creator Carter MacDowell has been sending us his cartoon commentaries for quite a while, so we were pretty excited to see the porky pundits show up on Comics.com -- the online home of Dilbert and the Peanuts gang. He got a syndication deal with United Media earlier this year.
MacDowell's funny and occasionally foul-mouthed pigs poke fun at Congress, the auto industry, American Idol contestants and of course, President Barack Obama and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. He says it only takes about six hours to get from an idea to a finished cartoon, so he can react quickly to the news.
"My thing is to get the gag out there," MacDowell said.
He sent in his first clip in response to a question from HLN's Robin Meade and took off from there. "This year there was just so much in the news, I just thought, 'Screw it, I'm going to go straight on to iReport and just start posting stuff in reaction to all the stuff that's going on in the news,'" MacDowell said.
MacDowell is hoping the cartoon will be successful enough that he can give up his advertising business and focus on his new career. United Media Vice President Rob Fassino said he's excited about TVPigs and that it's gotten a good response in its first few weeks on comics.com.
"We believe that Carter represents a new type of short form entertainment for the Web," Fassino said.
Congratulations Carter, and keep bringing the laughs.
We heard some great memories from iReporters who went to Woodstock, the legendary music festival that took place in Bethel, New York, 40 years ago this weekend. But some of the best stories came from those who never made it there.
Rhonda Jo Brady was six months pregnant in August 1969 and decided to skip out on the long drive from San Jose, California, to upstate New York. Despite Woodstock’s historical significance, she doesn’t regret missing it. Brady gave birth to a beautiful girl who found her own spot in rock history – she married Collective Soul’s lead guitarist in 2007.
Jeff Pickens was 12 when his family got stuck on the New York Thruway on August 16, 1969, due to Woodstock traffic. Pickens laughs when he remembers that summer vacation, the fact that he and his younger brother were "blissfully unaware that the seminal cultural event of the decade was happening 200 miles south of us."
And although she begged and pleaded with her parents, Janie Lambert, then 17, wasn’t allowed to go to Woodstock. She instead spent the summer working at a general store and “grooving to the Beatles, Creedence … Grateful Dead, Jethro Tull” and other artists. Lambert says the closest event to Woodstock these days is Bonnaroo, a festival her son has attended several years in a row.
For the past couple of nights, the Perseid meteor shower has put on a dazzling light show in the sky. The meteors -- debris from the Swift-Tuttle comet -- rain down once a year. This year's shower was supposed to be especially spectacular, and judging from the photos iReporters posted, it definitely was.
In fact, SteveGifford called it "one of the coolest things I've ever seen." A cloud-free night in Haubstadt, Indiana, let him capture clear images of the meteors and their colorful tails (large photo).
Richardlew wasn't quite so lucky. He had to fight clouds in Maynardville, Tennessee, to get his shots, but he managed to capture a few beautifully lit photos (lower left). gfydad also got gorgeous lighting in Lancaster, California (lower middle). And defmatnyc set his camera on automatic and left it on his Los Angeles roof all night. It captured a brighter image (lower right).
We hope you'll join us today in the blog for our weekly roundtable discussion. We're looking forward to talking to everyone.
Here are some of the cool things that have happened in the last few days:
The health care reform debate sparked some interesting discussions here on iReport.com. More than 120,000 people read about adriana71's efforts to read and understand the legislation and several said they also plan to read the 1,050 page bill. iReporters infoaddict and Margot707 discussed the plan over the phone and shared their thoughts with us. It's been inspiring to see iReporters work so hard to get to the bottom of this important and complicated issue.
We also heard from an iReporter who hitchhiked hundreds of miles for the Woodstock music festival and another who didn't realize that an upstate New York traffic jam would become a part of history. Be sure to read Katie's story on the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, and take a look at amazing photos iReporters shared.
You can also check out Nicole's story about a group of gardeners who grow their own food in the shadows of power lines and planes taking off and landing at the St. Louis International Airport.
And since we weren't able to meet last week, I want to make sure you didn't miss Henry's story about some avid G.I. Joe collectors who were excited about the toy's jump from 12 inch action figure to big screen action hero. Thanks for another great week. We'll open comments at 2:30 p.m. ET.
We're excited about the enthusiastic response we've gotten to the Street art in your community assignment, and now we're looking forward to the next step. The amount of content has frankly been overwhelming and we need your help to sort it all out. Besides, this is a great opportunity for us to all work together. So, let's try something new and join forces in figuring out what to do.
I've identified a few things I'd like to try, from isolating the different geographic divisions of the artwork to focusing tightly on certain categories. I'm also looking at different gallery formats. But the decision is ultimately unmade, and we would like your help in identifying themes that you see in the content. What themes do you see in these photos and videos? How would you approach them? Share your ideas in the comments below, and upload a photo of street art near you if you have it on hand. (Or take us on a video tour.) Bring your inspiration to the table and help us bring this project to fruition.
Whenever adriana71 would give her opinion on iReport.com and elsewhere supporting President Obama’s health care proposals, she kept getting asked the same question over and over again: “Did you read the bill?” She soon decided that she didn’t want to know what people thought the bill said; she wanted to find out for herself what it said.
So last night the stay-at-home mom, who often shares her strong views on political issues, sat down and started reading. When she reached page 150, she decided to post a video to iReport.com. She continued reading through the night and got up to page 450 (out of 1,015 pages).
From her understanding of what she read so far, adriana71 felt that many things she had heard about health care reform, including things she had heard from those in Congress, were not reflected in the bill. “You don’t craft legislation by intimidation or fear,” she said, adding that this was not the way for a new American system to be formed.
UPDATE: infoaddict plans to read through the bill as well.
iReporter Jamie Silva, username MyKindOfTown , grew up in southern California, but dreamed of leaving the sun and surf behind for the idyllic middle-America town of Shermer, Illinois. He wanted to move to this semi-fictional Chicago suburb (really called Northbrook) and live the life of the characters from the Hughes films he loved. You might recognize Shermer from movies such as "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "The Breakfast Club."
As luck would have it, his eventual wife was from Chicago and attended Glenbrook North High School, which is the same high school that Hughes attended and the Shermer High School from Hughes' films. So MyKindOfTown moved to Chicago and recently got married. As the newlyweds consider a new home together, they plan to buy a house in Northbrook. MyKindOfTown says it's a wonderful place to live and he's excited about moving there.
We're thrilled that he shared his story on iReport.com as a tribute to Hughes, including photos of the Save Ferris water tower (minus the text) and the infamous steps of Glenbrook North . He also sent a picture of himself in the 1980s for a little contrast. You know how we love those old snapshots. Take a look at his iReports, bask in the memories and share your own either in the comments area below or as an iReport. We can't wait to hear your memories and stories.
It's August, and as usual on iReport, the sweltering heat is turning up photos of delirious-looking squirrels stretched out cold in the hot, hot sun. Which means one thing: it must be time to celebrate a birthday!
iReport turned three on August 2, and just in time for a belated birthday post, Wendy Serafin shared a pic of what looks like a very pooped squirrel trying to chill out on her Napierville, Illinois, back porch.
Wendy's photo is just one in a long line of squirrely iReports. Believe it or not, the very first iReport on CNN was James Christie's picture of a very hot squirrel suffering through a heat wave in Kokomo, Indiana, back in August 2006.
We've come a long way since then -- breaking news, exclusive reporting, and fresh perspectives from around the world are on iReport every single day -- but sometimes nothing beats a snapshot to tell the story of the day, even if the story is just "it's hot."
Happy belated, iReport. Here's to many, many more.
xoxo Lila, Tyson, David, Nicole, Katie, Henry, Rachel & Christina
When we first asked for iReporters to share their action figure collections, we had no idea we would get the amazing stories we received. I’ve written before about collectors of Transformers and G.I. Joe before but there are other iReporters out there had stories that can’t be ignored.
shingoji shared a photo of his room filled with figures of Godzilla, but the Japanese movie monster has affected his life in a very deep way. He channeled his love for Godzilla into a humorous web comic, which attracts a variety of fans. “Soldiers stationed in Iraq e-mail me and tell me how the comic really takes the edge off of their lives, so that in itself is incredibly humbling,” he told me.
Due to his popularity, he got invited to a fan convention in Long Island, New York, where he met a “geek girl” who would later become his wife. The two had a wedding themed around Godzilla and Hello Kitty.
Then last year, his wife needed surgery and he was forced to sell a large portion of his figures to pay for it. “I had to sell some figures I didn’t want to, but my wife was more important than vinyl and plastic,” he said.
blacula has a unique collection as well: “I started collecting action figures about 17 years ago when my son was born, and I was afraid that he would not have any African American action figures to play with,” he told me. “But to my surprise there were a lot of African American action figures 17 years ago and many more now.” He continues to collect to this day and has well over 100 African American figures.
One of the biggest collections on the site came from BinkyKey, who started off collecting “Star Wars” figures but recently got into G.I. Joe. His collection dwarfs others at around 5,000. He has passed his hobby down to the next generation. “I am thrilled every time I see my daughters playing with the castles and ‘protecting the kingdom,’” he said. “In an age of endless video games and junk TV, it is refreshing to see them using their imagination.”
For a trip into the world of J.R.R. Tolkein, check out zeewarthog’s collection. He has a complete set of 260 “Lord of the Rings” figures, something that took him six years to accomplish. Along with action figures, he has bobbleheads, statuettes and swords.
Do you have a collection as well? Share your story here.
Hi there, iReporters. With a couple of team members out of the office, we need to postpone today's roundtable discussion until next Thursday at 2:30 p.m. ET.
We apologize for the inconvenience. If you have a question that can't wait until next week, you can share it in the comments and we'll do our best to answer. You can also e-mail email@example.com for any technical issues.
We'll see you next week on the blog. Until then, happy iReporting!
The stories coming in from flooding in the surroundings of Louisville, Kentucky, are heartbreaking. iReporters are showing us what the scene is really like.
iReporter rglouisville witnessed severe damage to the basement of his own condo building. He documented waterlogged cars and a flooded-out basement unit , and said his neighbors were at home when the storm came through. The water burst through their sliding door and into their home, overturning a dumpster in its path. The residents had to basically swim out of the unit to escape.
Photos from another person living in the complex, Daniel Dermitt, show the extent of the damage done to the interior of the unit. A refrigerator is overturned and debris lines the walls. Dermitt said the water came within a few inches of completely filling the condo, adding that the complex prides itself on its high and dramatic ceilings.
Losing a home in this manner is hard to imagine, and even harder to swallow. The iReport images give us a window onto the damage that we might otherwise not see. Thanks to rglouisville and Dermitt for sharing their photos. We wish everyone the best of luck, and encourage readers to post their thoughts below. If you've been affected by the floods, we invite you to share your story as well.
We've had a technical glitch that has caused a handful of iReports to disappear off of the site. Our developers have identified the problem and expect to have it fixed in the morning.
The good news is that we have been able to put the missing iReports back on the site manually.
If you find that some of your recent iReport posts are not showing up on the site, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sorry for the inconvenience.
It was a powerful moment as journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee were reunited with their families after being detained in North Korea since March. People around the world watched the event on television, but iReporter Pixel was there, at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, California, to witness it in person.
Pixel lives in nearby Malibu and decided to visit the airport early in the morning in hopes of catching a glimpse of the freed journalists. She arrived there at 4 a.m. and was able to get press access.
“You have no clue at how amazed I was and how lucky to get inside,” said Pixel. “It was just beautiful.” The experience was especially poignant because the women are journalists like her, she explained.
Racial profiling has been a hot topic in the news since the controversial arrest of prominent Harvard University scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
iReporters responded to the case by sharing their own opinions and even providing their own stories of times they felt they may have been racially profiled. The iReport accounts were shown on CNN and discussed by experts with police and cultural relations backgrounds (watch the second half here ). Citizens' video commentary shed an important light on the issue and helped form the backbone for the on-air discussion.
For example, TimothyDark discussed an alleged misunderstanding on one occasion when he was running for a bus. On the flipside, EWillies1961 said he felt he was racially profiled by another black person. mrinspector1 and blue4ever also shared their own stories. From there, CNN arranged to have their stories discussed and debated by people with experience dealing with racial profiling.
Richard Weinblatt, director of the Institute for Public Safety and a former police chief, said officers are under tremendous pressure and must walk a fine line in dealing with members of the public. He shared his views on iReport.com as well. Amos Brown, senior pastor at Third Baptist Church of San Francisco, also participated in the on-air discussion along with CNN's Don Lemon and Estuardo Rodriguez, Jr. Rodriguez is a principal at The Raben Group and an expert in marketing to Hispanic communities.
The discussion became far richer and more meaningful with the contributions from the iReporters. What do you think about this issue? Comment below with your thoughts or let us know what's on your mind with a video commentary.
iReport Photo Clubbers raised the bar and sent in remarkable summer imagery for the latest challenge. I am immensely proud of the photography we received, so we featured the best 25 images on CNN.com. Please take a look because the photos speak for themselves.
For the next challenge, we’re asking you to capture images of unique architecture in your neck of the woods. Grab a camera and get to know your area a little better.