Blog : July 2010
iReport roundtable today: Tips from film critics  »

We’re honored this week to have two very special guests - Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman and Lisa Schwarzbaum - joining us to take your questions on film criticism. We hope you’ll be able to join us for the roundtable today at 3 p.m. ET. In the meantime, check out 10 top tips from EW's finest.


Tips from Owen:

1. Try not to go in with any expectations. Don¹t do any “research,” or read about it on the Web. Just let the movie wash over you, and take it all in.

2. Don¹t grade on a curve. Give each film the absolute honest assessment it deserves.

3. Take notes. The main reason to do so is to remember details. Write down lines of dialogue, song choices, jokes, types of automobiles, the color of wallpaper. Anything that really strikes you.

4. In writing a review, don¹t just offer a judgment; try to capture, in your review, the flavor of a movie and what’s most distinctive about it. Remember: Every movie is different. A review should capture what¹s unique about each one.

5. Ignore everyone else’s opinion but your own. A review should be a pure expression of what YOU think, not a fancy form of channeling other people¹s thoughts and feelings. It doesn¹t matter if you¹re in the majority, the minority, or even if you¹re a minority of one: What matters, above all, is your personal experience of the movie in question.

Tips from Lisa:

1. Go into every movie with an open, receptive mind: You’re writing about the movie on the screen, not the movie you wish you saw.

2. Tell your reader what you see so she or he can see it clearly too.

3. Remember you’re writing for a smart, interested reader and no one else. You¹re not writing to settle scores or to compete with other reviewers or to curry favor with filmmakers.

4. Without authoritative synthesis and analysis, a review is merely an inconsequential statement of opinion, i.e., I liked this movie or I didn¹t like that one.  So do your homework and state your case.

5. See a lot of movies. Watch TV --- it¹s the daily visual record of popular culture.  Then go outside and get fresh air and exercise.

With all of these tips in mind, we look forward to your questions for our guests. We'll open comments right here at 3 p.m. ET. See you then!

Posted by:
// July 29, 2010
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Calling all New Orleans iReporters »

As part of our Hurricane Katrina, then and now photo project, CNN is hosting an iReport meet-up in New Orleans this Saturday, and we hope you'll stop by! We'll go on a short walking tour around the French Quarter and take some past-and-present photos as a group.


If you’re in the area, we'd love to see you. It will be a great opportunity to meet other photographers, take your own past-and-present photos, and, of course, get some CNN iReport swag.


We'll meet outside the Napoleon House at 500 Chartres Street this Saturday, July 31, at 10:00 a.m. Be sure to bring a camera and, if you'd like, a tripod. In the meantime, you can RSVP for the event on Facebook. We hope to see you there!

Posted by: katie // July 28, 2010
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Gulf journal: Whale research group a ‘voice from the sea’ »

Docked in Gloucester, Massachusetts, is a 93-foot vessel that’s circumnavigated the world doing whale research. For three laborious weeks, volunteer Jim Casey helped make sure the Odyssey was ready for its mission to explore marine life in the oily Gulf of Mexico.


Casey put in hard work painting and refitting the boat for its lengthy voyage down the coast of New England to the Gulf of Mexico. The self-described amateur filmmaker captured the crew’s preparations and brought this story to light on CNN iReport.


The Gloucester native volunteered with Ocean Alliance, a nonprofit group of whale and marine researchers. His hometown is the oldest seaport in the U.S. and has a rich maritime history steeped in its fishing industry. These days, that industry is dying and locals such as Casey are turning to whale research groups instead.


“It was really a privilege to be part of something,” he said. “Everybody’s so appalled about what’s happening in the Gulf. Just to be able to do something is the little way I can contribute.”


Once the Odyssey sailed off into the high seas on July 5, Casey bid the vessel adieu and followed the Odyssey researchers’ work from afar.


Ocean Alliance and the University of Southern Maine will be studying the Gulf’s marine life for the next three months. The group of ten would like to observe whales and grow cell lines to see how species react to various toxins in the Gulf. All of this is taking place aboard the Odyssey, the only cell-line laboratory at sea in the world, according to Ocean Alliance.


The group aims to be a “voice from the sea,” says Ocean Alliance CEO Iain Kerr. He says the team wants to contribute independent research and analysis about this environmental disaster.


As the Odyssey makes its way to the Gulf, scientists are collecting samples along the way so they have a basis of what marine life is like now, just in case the oil creeps up the Atlantic Coast.


When it comes to sampling, the group will be catching fish, trolling for plankton and biopsying whales. A specially designed biopsy dart is the secret to gathering whale tissue. Once fired from a crossbow, the dart skims the whale and removes a tissue sample the size of a pencil eraser. These mammals the size of school buses usually don’t flinch, and Kerr insists the procedure doesn’t hurt.


These samples will then be grown in petri dishes, where researchers will expose the cells to contaminants. Kerr says it will take years of sampling and testing on return trips to determine the full effects of the oil disaster.


The Odyssey is set to reach Fort Lauderdale, Florida, this weekend to pick up more supplies before cruising to Mobile, Alabama. Kerr will only be on the boat intermittently, as his CEO duties and paperwork often bring him ashore. As for Casey, he’s been reading the ship’s logs online and calling the ship’s captain to make sure everything’s going according to plan.


Editor's Note: This blog post is part of a series of profiles of Gulf Coast residents and visitors directly affected by the oil disaster. If you'd like to share your story, you can upload photos and videos to CNN iReport.

Posted by:
// July 27, 2010
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Posted in: oil_disaster, stories
Who is the kissing sailor? »

For decades, people have wondered who the mystery sailor is kissing a nurse in the iconic photo from the World War II V-J Day celebration in Times Square. Several men have claimed to be the gutsy sailor ever since the photo was published in Life magazine in 1945.


iReporter Rene Armstrong is determined to set the record straight. She believes that longtime friend Glenn McDuffie is the kissing sailor. He'll tell anyone the story, can identify the other sailors in the photo, and has passed several polygraph tests on the matter, she says.


Armstrong submitted photos of McDuffie in his sailor uniform to CNN along with a plea to cover his story.


She considers McDuffie, 88, as a father figure and describes him as “a neat little guy.” She makes the long drive from her hometown of Dickinson, Texas, to Arlington, Texas, every few weeks to visit the veteran and spend time with him.


“I just want to give him as much happiness in life as possible,” said Armstrong. She believes that getting the word out about the photo would be a surefire way to accomplish that.


What do you think? Is McDuffie the unknown sailor? Share your thoughts in the comments field below.

Posted by: katie // July 27, 2010
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Posted in: stories
iReporters at Comic-Con »

I got the lucky assignment this past weekend of going to Comic-Con and rallying a little army of people to help us cover the enormous convention. The stories that came back are amazing -- check 'em out here -- but my favorite part of the whole crazy adventure was meeting so many iReporters in the flesh. And, of course, coaxing them into a photo op with yours truly. (These are the photos I had on my camera -- if you have others, please post them on iReport and put links in the comments!)


Clearly this was a good time! That's new (and awesome) iReporter Cherry Davis on the left and long-time iReport pal Zennie Abraham in the middle.


Brand new iReporter Ashleigh Mayes shows off her special CNN iReport Flip MinoHD video camera at one of the iReport meetups at Comic-Con.


iReport superstar David Kronmiller came by! After years of talking with him about his iReports over the phone, I was thrilled to meet him in real life.


Lynda Correa stopped by the CNN iReport hub to upload an iReport. When I asked her what she thought of Comic-Con, she said "It's craaaaaazy!" New iReporter Andy Ngo, left, uploaded iReports from the hub, too.


Lou Srygley shows off his custom-made vampire teeth. He brought them out for the day's vampire-themed special iReport assignment.


Henry Chamberlain and Jennifer Daydreamer are comic book artists who sketched their way through Comic-Con.


Both Quintin Barry, left, and Al Mealey are old hands at iReport. They collaborated on a few of their Comic-Con iReports.


One more thing: Chris Morrow got quite a few of these moments on camera, too. If you haven't already, check out Chris Morrow’s take on the first iReport meetup at Comic-Con!

Posted by:
// July 26, 2010
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CNN iReport highlights  »

Happy Monday!

We're starting off the weeks with really interesting, original stories from iReporters around the world.

Here's a sampling of the stories we've shared with CNN's producers, writers and reporters:


Salute the troops: Kissing sailor from famous V-J Day photo

Rene Armstrong, of Dickenson, Texas, uploaded photos of Glenn McDuffie, who is supposedly the sailor in the famous kiss photo taken at the end of World War II. Armstrong drives to see McDuffie in Arlington, Texas, every couple of weeks.


Candles, memorials fill Love Parade tunnel

iReporter Holger Bauer of Duisburg, Germany, visited the tunnel this morning where 19 people died and hundreds were injured in a crush at the Love Parade techno festival on Saturday. "There were many people morning, lots of candles and flowers," he said. Bauer said it appeared that the tunnel was too small to handle all the festival attendees. "It's not big enough to handle all those people,” he said. “It was horrible.”


Storm topples trees in New York

Beth Alice of Riverdale, New York, was in her 18th-floor apartment Sunday when a powerful storm ripped through the neighborhood. She thought it was a tornado. She documented the rain and wind whipping the window and got some great footage and photos of “gigantic” trees crushing cars and blocking roads afterward. “I’ve never seen this, and I’ve lived here all my life,” she said.


Severe storm in Washington D.C.

Evan Payne from Washington D.C. was shopping at National Harbor yesterday when a storm hit the area. He said the heaviest part of the storm lasted for about 15 minutes with heavy rain and strong winds. Payne took cover in a parking garage and waited for the storm to pass. He later heard that there were tornado warnings but he did not hear of any touching down.


D'Iberville, Mississippi: Saving the Marshes

Karen Baker took these photos of workers getting ready to place boom around a mile-long marsh in D'Iberville Mississippi. The marsh is home to crabs, herons, egrets, seagulls and other wildlife.


Perdido Key, FL Oil Spill

PhotoJournal took this photo on July 19, from Palacio Condos in Perdido Key, Florida. Peter is from Connecticut and has been in Perdido Key for the past two months helping with the clean up efforts.


Hot air balloons fill Jersey skies

Lulis Leal shot these lovely, colorful photos of hot air balloons this weekend in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey. She says it’s the largest hot air balloon and music festival in the country, with about 175,000 fans attending.


Puppet interviews cartoonist

Matt Skyy, and his puppet Ted Krasdale, interviewed David Silverman the director of "The Simpsons Movie" and many episodes of the Simpsons TV show.


Comic-Con? Yeah, we got that


We've gotten so much great material from the San Diego Comic-Con. It defies imagination. Here's a sampling:

Actress goes behind the scenes at Stargate panel


Stabbing at Resident Evil 2 panel

Krystyl Baldwin took a photo of police leading a man away from the San Diego Convention Center in handcuffs Saturday evening after a stabbing at the Comic-Con convention.


Here's more from San Diego


Here's what we're looking for:

Crowdsourcing the war in Afghanistan


Track the oil


Katrina 5th anniversary project


Africa 50

Posted by:
// July 26, 2010
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Posted in: stories
Comic Con goes green, literally »


So we've noticed that there's a lot of green going on at Comic Con. You know, the usual Lanterns, Hornets, and aliens, but also Greenpeace activists, environmentalism, and of course comic Seth Green.


Here's a collection of the greenest of the green at Comic Con. Apparently it IS so easy being green - in San Diego, at least.


Spot something (or someone) green and want to share? Upload your photos and videos from Comic Con here.

Posted by:
// July 25, 2010
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Posted in: stories
iReport Roundtable: Thursdays at 3 p.m. ET »

Please join us in here in the blog at 3 p.m. ET for our weekly roundtable discussion. It's your chance to meet fellow iReporters and talk with us about what's going on n the CNN iReport community.


We will open comments at 3 p.m. ET and will talk with you then.

Posted by:
// July 22, 2010
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Hurricane Katrina, then and now  »

Five years ago, Hurricane Katrina tore through a swath of the Gulf Coast, leaving towns flooded, buildings destroyed and thousands without homes. Today, the region looks dramatically different than it did in the aftermath of the storm.


To mark Katrina's five-year anniversary, CNN is embarking on an ambitious project with your help, specifically from iReporters who live in those places affected by the storm. Instead of compiling a simple before-and-after photo gallery, we're instead asking iReporters to visit the places devastated by Katrina and document the scene today. On this assignment page, users can access dozens of CNN photographs taken in the days and months following the hurricane. You can download and print those images, visit the original locations where they were shot, and take a new photo in that spot. Here's the interesting part: We want you to hold up the original photo and line it up with the present-day view.


The end result should look something like this:



Of course, it's necessary to figure out where the original photos were taken for this to work. We got a head start on pinpointing some locations on these maps of New Orleans, Louisiana, and Biloxi, Mississippi, but we could still use your help! If you have tips on where an individual photo was taken, share that information in the comments field.


And if you're in the New Orleans area, mark your calendars for an iReport meet-up on Saturday, July 31. More details on that coming soon.


This is an innovative project and we're really excited to see how it will turn out. Big kudos go to Jason Powell and his Flickr group, Looking into the Past, which first inspired this idea.


The deadline for submitting then-and-now photos is Wednesday, August 18. You can get started here. If you have questions, thoughts or feedback, share them below in the comments field. We'll be checking in regularly.

Posted by: katie // July 21, 2010
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A nerd's-eye view of Comic-Con »

A little thing called Comic-Con is happening this week in San Diego. Maybe you've heard of it? The annual pop-culture extravaganza is bringing something like 100,000 people to the San Diego Convention Center for a long weekend of comic books, movie trailers, celebrity sightings and super-serious costuming.


And CNN iReport will be right in the middle of it. We're rallying a small army of people inside the convention -- and outfitting some of them with limited-edition iReport Flip MinoHD video cameras! -- to help capture all the action.


Starting Thursday, you can follow along with all the festivities on iReport and on the Comic-Con special coverage page, where we'll be posting loads of video and photos as they're happening. It'll be almost like being there, except you won't have to dress up to enjoy it.


Of course, if you're there in San Diego, you should join us! All you need is a camera and a flair for adventure. We'll be posting the latest assignments and details on iReporter tweetups here on iReport or via Twitter at @cnnireportsdcc. Henry and Lila (and a few other awesome CNNers) will be on the ground in San Diego to rally the troops. If you're up for the adventure, do this:


1. Send a note to to let us know you're in


2. Meet us at the Cartoon Network Pizzeria on Market Street at 9:30 a.m. Thursday for the first of our daily tweetups. (Can't make it that first day? No worries. Follow @cnnireportsdcc on Twitter for updates on the next one.)


3. Bring your camera and snap photos and video of the coolest things you see. Post them online here, or e-mail a single file to


4. Tell your friends!


(BTW: that headline? Nerd's-eye view? It's written with love, from one nerd to an army of others.)

Posted by:
// July 21, 2010
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Posted in: community, stories
Congrats Fit Nation iReport triathletes »

Yesterday morning, the CNN Fit Nation Team completed their first triathlon in New York City. Each team member had his or her own reason for doing the triathlon, and the self-proclaimed “six-pack” of iReporters and CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta trained hard over the past six months to prepare for this event. Together the team swam one mile in the Hudson River, biked 25 miles along the West Side Highway and ran six miles though Central Park.


I know that it takes a lot of strength to power through these three events, as I was quickly reminded of that yesterday as I tackled my second triathlon. The fact that you continued on through the heat, fatigue, knee pains, cramps and whatever other obstacle you may have encountered is very inspiring.


Everyone at iReport is proud of your accomplishment and we hope that you feel the same. We want to hear all about it, so share your experience with iReport. What was the hardest part? Did you have anything weird happen? What would you have done differently?


Now it’s time for you to take a break and catch some much needed sleep, and good luck as you prepare to take on your next triathlons.


Congratulations triathletes:

Posted by: ccostello3 // July 19, 2010
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Good luck Fit Nation iReporters »


On Sunday at 6:41 a.m., Dr. Gupta and six iReporters from around the country will dive into the Hudson River to start the end of their six-month journey to become a fitter and better people.


These six determined and very brave iReporters are part of CNN’s Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge. Over the past six-months, they have been training non-stop to prepare for the Nautica New York City Triathlon. Together with Dr. Gupta, they will tackle this Olympic Distance race consisting of a 1500m swim, a 40k bike ride, and a 10k run.


Coming from someone who just completed her first triatlon last month, it’s not easy, but when you cross that finish line, no matter what your time is, you really feel that you completed something big. You’ve made a difference not only in your life, but you have inspired others to become healthier people, sometimes even without knowing it.


Good luck on Sunday, future triathletes. Team iReport, and me especially as I take on my second triathlon Sunday, will be thinking of you as you tackle this awesome challenge. Don’t stop kicking, pedaling, running and oh yeah, stay hydrated! And please feel free to brag about your accomplishment to others and especially on iReport because you’ve earned it.


Help us cheer on the soon to be triathletes:

Posted by: ccostello3 // July 16, 2010
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CNN iReport roundtable: Thursdays at 3 p.m. ET »

Please join us in here in the blog at 3 p.m. ET for our weekly roundtable discussion. It's your chance to meet fellow iReporters and talk with us about what's going on n the CNN iReport community.


We will open comments at 3 p.m. ET and will talk with you then.

Posted by:
// July 15, 2010
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Gulf journals: Designers get their hands dirty »


Four friends and designers were looking for away to give back over their summer break. With a simple goal of volunteering their time, the Pennsylvania and Maryland 20-somethings decided to pack their bags for a month and head south to the Mississippi Gulf to get their hands dirty and educate others on oil relief efforts.


The team of four, Brian Mezzi, Charles Beal, Erin Surrock and Dan Malihom, calls itself Designers Giving Back, or DGB, and that’s exactly what they do. DBG teamed up with United Way of South Mississippi and has been exploring the Gulf Coast for the past month volunteering with oil relief projects and using their design skills to document the oil disaster. They’ve been sharing their photos and stories through their blog and Twitter account in hopes of educating people on the situation in the Gulf. They believe that design can help solve the problem in the Gulf.


“Design itself solves problems. You have a problem and you come up with a design solution,” Surrock said.


Mezzi went to the Gulf last March on an alternative spring break program with United Way to help residents still affected by Katrina. It was Mezzi’s idea to return to the Gulf for a month to help with oil relief efforts. Mezzi recruited Beal, Surrock and Malihom to join him.


“We’d rather be doing something productive than just doing something, and I think that is what ties us all together,” Surrock said. “We find this work very rewarding. I couldn't think of a better way to spend a month.”


After a 22-hour drive, three of the designers arrived in Biloxi, Mississippi, on June 19 and Malihom arrived a week later by plane. As soon as they arrived, DGB started setting up volunteer response centers to help connect people with volunteer opportunities such as CostalWatch, where volunteers walk the beach and report oil to response units. During their time at the response centers, DGB sent the first iReport reporting on initial signs of oil in the Biloxi area. Just 24-hours later, the team returned to that same spot to find the beach was covered with oil and tar


“This is the first time we’ve seen oil and probably won’t be the last. It was a very weird feeling to be holding these objects and feel how sticky and thick the substance was. We can’t even fathom how it must feel to be an animal covered from head to toe in oil. Completely helpless,” Surrock wrote on the team’s blog.


Eventually DGB helped United Way hand over the response centers to AmeriCorps and the team went to work with the Audubon Society in Pascagoula, Mississippi, documenting the disaster in a short video they will produce for the society.


On countless drives from Ocean Springs to Long Beach to Waveland – all in Mississippi – the team documented what they saw on their blog, on Twitter and on iReport.


Today, the team prepared for the 22-hour drive back home. The were packing their bags and posting goodbyes on Twitter.


All four expressed hope that the Gulf will recover, but said they know it will take a lot of effort. DGB wants to create awareness of the disaster through their work so people will not forget about what is happening in the Gulf once the next big news event happens.


Editor's Note: This blog post is part of a series of profiles of Gulf Coast residents and visitors directly affected by the oil disaster. If you'd like to share your story, you can upload photos and videos to CNN iReport.

Posted by: ccostello3 // July 14, 2010
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Posted in: oil_disaster, stories
Gulf journals: Marine biologist's worst day »


Flying over the Gulf of Mexico in a small plane, Wallace J. Nichols scanned the oil-laden water for signs of sea turtles. Not seeing any and realizing the massive impact of the oil disaster made this his “worst day as a marine biologist.”


“Seeing that much ocean destroyed by a single catastrophic accident for anybody is a shock, but for somebody who spends his life trying to fix what's broken in the ocean, it's a devastating experience,” he said.


Nichols recalls his disheartening aerial experience in this video.

Posted by:
// July 12, 2010
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Posted in: oil_disaster, stories
UPDATE: New features include increased upload size!  »

The maximum file size increase went into effect Monday afternoon and we are starting to see large videos coming in. For example, on Wednesday Lynwood36 posted this 400mb full HD video: Double Rainbow Pigeon Forge.


In some browsers the old upload size limit gets cached. Most people will not have a problem with this but to be sure you should clear your browser cache before uploading a file larger than 200mb.

7/16/2010 by pbethany


Hey iReportland,
We quietly rolled out a few new features yesterday we want to make sure you to know about.


Facebook Recommend widgets have been added to CNN iReport assignment and profile pages. Now you can quickly share projects like Track the Oil Disaster and recommend your favorite iReport users with your Facebook friends.


You can also share bigger and higher-quality photos and video on CNN iReport. The maximum file upload size tripled from 200MB to 600MB. Yay!


Finally, you’ll notice we’ve drastically improved the quality of images (up to 2048x1536) when viewing pictures fullscreen, making images like this Italian sunset even more stunning.


We hope you’ll enjoy these new features. As always we’d love to hear your feedback.

Your friends at Team iReport.

Posted by: tyson // July 9, 2010
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Gulf journals: Lost soles found on an oiled Florida beach »

A solitary flip-flop sits in the white sand of Pensacola, Florida, with chunky bits of goo spilled on top and to the side like chocolate sauce. The large amount of oil that washed on shore June 23 had just marred the coastline. Randy Hamilton spots the sandal, captures a photo and files it in his archives as specimen 359. Just another lost shoe for his collection of forgotten footwear photos, but this one is different. It speaks to yet another crisis in his land and in his life.

Hamilton still remembers when Hurricane Ivan came through the region in 2004 and changed everything. His Pensacola house was irreparably damaged by the storm, so he and his wife decided to hit the road for life in a motor home. The graphic designer and photographer didn't want a permanent home, and one year on the road ultimately turned to four. Shortly after taking off in the motor home, he started a project called the One Shoe Diaries to showcase the photos and stories of finding unmatched shoes wherever he went. The first shoe was from Pensacola when he returned briefly to inspect his damaged house. The website brought him national attention and provided him with an outlet to share updates on the upcoming birth of baby son Noah.

The couple eventually returned to Pensacola to put down roots and prepare for Noah's birth. When the child was stillborn, the shoes website provided a source of therapy and comfort. Then, another big change entered their lives, the birth of a healthy baby girl, Nora. Hamilton tries to take a photo of his "rainbow baby" just about every day.

Now that the oil disaster has come to the Gulf Coast, he sees its effects through his daughter's eyes.

"Especially with a newborn child, I'm like, 'Will she be able to see these things the way I saw them? Is it going to be toxic for her?' "

Hamilton said he views the photo of the oil-stained flip-flop as a metaphor for the region as a whole:

"The white sand is completely like our tourist industry, stained and oiled. … That day that I went out there with the flip-flop was probably the worst. It was in, like, puddles, which drove me nuts because there were all these crews standing around."

Photo 360 was another flip-flop on the beach, this one pink. Even though the oil is less visible now, he says he can dig through the sand and find tar balls and other evidence of local effects.

"It's almost surreal. It almost does not sound like it could be real,” he said. “It's devastating. It makes my heart sink."

But Hamilton has weathered many storms and remains hopeful.

"This isn't our first tragedy. It's not our first rodeo; you know what I'm saying? But it's still pretty devastating."

Editor's Note: This blog post is part of a series of profiles of Gulf Coast residents and visitors directly affected by the oil disaster. If you'd like to share your story, you can upload photos and videos to CNN iReport.

Posted by:
// July 9, 2010
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Posted in: stories, oil_disaster
CNN iReport roundtable: Thursday at 3 p.m. ET »

Please join us here in the blog for our weekly roundtable discussion. We'll be talking with journalist Mike Pearson, who plans to travel to the Gulf Coast to interview people affected by the oil disaster and record their personal stories.  You can find out more about his project and suggest people for him to talk to at his website


Mike is a longtime journalist and worked at The Associated Press and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He'll be happy to answer any questions you may have about "The Gulf and Me" project. He'll also have tips to help you start your own personal history project.


We'll open comments at 3 p.m. ET and will talk with you then.

Posted by:
// July 8, 2010
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Posted in: community
CNN iReport highlights note  »

Welcome to the iReport highlights note for Wednesday, July 7. These are some of the stories we've approved for use by CNN's producers and reporters.


Unemployed with sick wife and child

Scott Duren of Roselle, Illinois, is unemployed and the expenses are piling up for he and his wife and three girls. His youngest daughter, Madison, was recently diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. Duren’s employer let him go in February because of all the time he had to take off to be with his daughter, he says. His wife has been on disability since 2005 when she was diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder. This week, Duren received his final unemployment check.


Heat wave:

Beating the heat in Ithaca, New York

Bruce Stoff submitted this photo of a girl jumping off a cliff into water in Ithaca, New York. This photo was taken on the afternoon of July 6. Stoff said that it reached 91 degrees that day with 96 percent humidity.

Central Park on July 5

Caroline Newby from Bayonne, New Jersey went to Central Park on Monday after her boss told her to take the day off. Newby said she took a lot of breaks in the shade and drank a lot of water. She believes that it reached at least 100 degrees that day.


Cracking open a hydrant in New York

Lulis Leal sent photos from Washington Square Park and the East Village, where she says it was 102 degrees in the shade.


Oil disaster

Lost sole on Pensacola Beach

Randy Hamilton of Pensacola, Florida, is a graphic designer, photographer and the creator of "One Shoe Diaries," a project where he tells the story of lost shoes around the country. One of the most recent shoes in his collection is a photo of a flip-flop covered in oil, which he describes as a metaphor for the current situation (like the sand tarnished with oil). He took the photo on June 23 or 24 around the time of the really bad glut of oil that came to the area.


Algae enthusiast documents Biloxi oil

Sandra Howard describes herself as an activist for using algae as biofuel. She shot this video of the oil spill in Biloxi, Mississippi, on June 30.


World Cup:

Rotterdam a sea of orange after Netherlands' win

Stephanie Akkaoui shot videos of fans celebrating in Rotterdam on Tuesday after Holland's World Cup semi-finals win against Uruguay. “You know how orange is the team color?” she asked, “That's a great color when it fills the streets. It looked like the city was on fire.”


Here's what we're looking for:

Lawsuit over Arizona immigration law


How are you beating the heat?


Track the oil disaster


Has your job forced you to move? (for CNNi’s Connect the World)

Posted by:
// July 7, 2010
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Posted in: site
Gulf journals: Sticking with the shore, come what may »


He's not leaving the coast, not yet. Lee Ford of Gulf Shores, Alabama, moved to another home just a few miles down the shore after his rental home went belly-up.


He says he had no choice other than to move because his landlord asked him to leave. The landlord was having trouble staying afloat, and the property value of Ford's home was steadily declining. Ford says he spent about three weeks stumbling to find a place before he relocated. He blames the oil disaster in part for hurting the local economy and getting him into this situation.


"I wasn't too happy about moving, but you got to do what you got to do. We just basically decided that since we got to move, we've got to suck it up and find another place."


The new place is only about 20 miles away and still in the Gulf Shores area. When Ford thought about moving his family somewhere else, he realized that he's committed to living in Gulf Shores and optimistic that things will get better in about a year. And, perhaps more importantly, he says he's not sure where else he could go; he figures he might as well ride out the crisis on the beach he loves.


"It affects for miles in as well. It's not going to matter how far we go, there's a ripple effect. We're trying to get out of a recession, and that's not going too smoothly."


That's not to say things are easy. Ford lost his heating and cooling job shortly after the oil disaster first began. One day the phone rang and his boss was on the line; he said business was significantly down and there was no way to keep Ford on. Hints of occasional work with his old company fell through as well, and he says he's been unable to find any employment since then. He and his family are subsisting on small government disability checks for now.


He says the oil disaster has also taken a big emotional toll on his community.


"There's definitely fear in the people," Ford said. "I've talked to neighbors, and they can't go on the beaches. You can tell in their voices that they're not happy. Some of the businesses I've walked into, they're like, 'We're down 75 percent of where we were last year.' "


As time went on, the oil gradually started coming on shore and Ford said it seemed to be getting worse. He shot video June 26 showing oil washing up on the beach by Fort Morgan. In the video, a line of black oil residue accumulates across the otherwise white shore and smudges imprints of the waterline like charcoal crayons in the hands of a preschooler. He says he plans to capture more images of the oil and is glad that technology affords him the opportunity to have his voice heard.


Something that bothers him a lot is the oil disaster's effects on fishing, one of his favorite hobbies. That's on hold, for now, and he says it's depressing. Lately he looks out and instead of seeing the white beaches, he sees water with a murky tinge.


"Even if the oil doesn't show, still, right now I can see the water from where I'm at. When the water washes up, it's brown, so I know there's oil in the water."


Ultimately, Ford says he believes the Gulf will survive if everyone hangs on tight until things are resolved, which could take some time. He hopes to be there when it does.


"I'm just glad somebody's listening," he said. "We do what we've got to do to keep on going. It's not easy to get through this here."


Editor's Note: This blog post is part of a series of profiles of Gulf Coast residents and visitors directly affected by the oil disaster. If you'd like to share your story, you can upload photos and videos to CNN iReport.

Posted by:
// July 7, 2010
 12 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: oil_disaster
Gulf journals: Disheartened by the disaster »

Several times a year, Cory Sisco and his wife retreat to Orange Beach, Alabama, to visit Sisco’s family and enjoy the coast. But with the oil disaster hanging over the area, their most recent visit had a different purpose.


Sisco and his wife, Elizabeth, visited the area May 28, just over a month after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, threatening dozens of coastal communities like Orange Beach. The couple lives in Baltimore, Maryland, and planned to use their vacation time in Orange Beach to volunteer to help relief efforts. At the time, there was not much for them to do, as the oil was still far from shore. But they plan to go back as soon as possible to help with cleanup efforts.


Sisco’s parents keep him updated on the oil disaster each day through phone calls, e-mails and photos, and Sisco has been sharing their updates with CNN iReport. His parents have sent him several photos of the giant booms that are being placed around Orange Beach and nearby Perdido Pass to protect the beaches and close off bays from the oil.


Sisco, who lived in Orange Beach for two years, still talks about the area like it’s home. “It appears that we are permanently blocked, which I guess is a good thing,” he said. “We are so used to seeing our open, beautiful water. Now, you look out there, and you see these things that have never been there before.”


His parents have also expressed concerns that BP cleaning crews are not working hard enough.


They told him about visiting Johnson Beach in Pensacola, Florida, and seeing crews driving up and down the beach in golf carts, not cleaning, during a two-hour span. His parents spoke to a local volunteer who was very upset about the lack of actual cleaning by BP and said he was so frustrated that he “just wanted to get out of there.” The volunteer said he tried to inform BP crew workers of where the oil was, but the company would not listen.


A spokesman for the Deepwater Response Team was not able to comment on this specific incident. He said that most of the cleaning is being done at night because of the extreme heat and that the number of breaks workers are required to take depends on several conditions, such as the weather.


Like most other Gulf residents, Sisco is very concerned about what is happening to the environment and is not sure what to expect.


“It’s a dark hole of uncertainty,” he said.  “How long is it going to be before it’s the same?”


Editor's Note: This blog post is part of a series of profiles of Gulf Coast residents and visitors directly affected by the oil disaster. If you'd like to share your story, you can upload photos and videos to CNN iReport.

Posted by: ccostello3 // July 6, 2010
 18 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: stories, oil_disaster
iReport Highlights note »

Hey iReportland,

We're trying something new on our blog in an effort to give you a little more access behind the scenes at CNN iReport. Every day, the CNN iReport team sends an "iReport Highlights Note" to several hundred news and show producers across CNN platforms. This is our opportunity to brag to our CNN colleagues about the amazing images and stories your share with us every single day.


For years we've kept these notes internal, but we thought you might also find them interesting. So, starting right now, we'll be sharing them with you. The one below -- from yesterday -- was written by Christina.


This is a bit of an experiment so please let us know what you think, K?


iReport Highlights Note - Thursday July 1, 2010


Hey there world, from our continued oil disaster coverage to severe weather to the best of the rest, c’mon down to iReportland for great content you’re welcome to feature. Here’s what been approved today:


The latest post from our Gulf Journals delves into the life of a woman who works as a seafood processor in Mississippi and her love for the area. It’s a nice read. Props to Carly for writing!


Sixth-generation fisherman's tale
Geoff Livingston met a sixth-generation fisherman named Kerry at the Catholic Charites Community Center in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, yesterday. Livingston described Kerry’s emotions about the oil disaster, “Hearing Kerry’s story just broke my heart. Proud, good man it seemed, and though he was fighting the good fight, and tried to keep his chin up, I could see it in his eyes: The pain and just crushed spirit was undeniable. This way of life is completely altered or worse gone, now for thousands of fishermen.”


Gulf Coast music benefit/Mashable
Jill Foster (one of our D.C. bloggers on the coast)  interviewed Sloane Berrent about a benefit concert happening apparently nationwide in ~ 60 cities today. Jimmy Buffett's concert would have been today but now he's July 11. Her co-traveler, Geoff Livingston, was actually the Mashable poster.


Oiled pelicans in Pensacola
Repeat iReporter James Amerson posted these images of oiled pelicans. He has been following the oil disaster closely and its effects in his home of Pensacola, Florida.  were shot yesterday and today.



‘Without warning and from nowhere, it came’
Eddie King from Davenport, Florida, was visiting his mom when . "All of a sudden we heard a splash against the window and heavy wind. We looked outside and it was pouring, at times the rain was horizontal," he said. He shot this video yesterday.


‘Farmer's fields are flooded everywhere’
Lloyd Hayes got these on Tuesday in Polk, Iowa, showing the effects of flooding there. He shot them because of “the unusual event of high water everywhere. Farmer's fields are flooded everywhere. Local news was predicting that water from the Saylorville Lake was going to overflow the spillways and cause more flooding downstream soon. I had decided to drive out to the marina to see what was happening.”
“I just uploaded some additional photos taken at the same time. These show boats being towed out of the parking area, debris in the water, and a shot from the dock towards land. All shot on the same day and time.”




Big Apple BBQ block party
Clint Cantwell is a competitive BBQer, owner of the barbecue website, and iReporter. He went to New York's eight annual Big Apple BBQ block party and shot this awesome video. Check out his interviews with participants, crazy footage of some serious grilling, and shots of crowds packing the streets of Manhattan.


Fireworks safety tips, economic impact
Mike Stouffer of Wausau, Wisconsin, interviewed a local fireworks business owner about how the economy’s been affecting sales. Loren from Safe N Insane Fireworks in Medford, Wisconsin, says that things were rough last season, as many folks went without fireworks. At the end of the video, Loren tests out some fireworks on everyday objects to show what harm can come if you’re not careful. Did you know that those mesmerizing sparklers can heat up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit?


Yellow Day in the Philippines and jumping off bridges
Sherbien Dacalanio is quite enthusiastic to iReport events all around Manila, Philippines, including “Yellow Day,” for the inauguration of new President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino Jr. At 6 a.m. in Manila, he saw “huge volume of people is coming and most of them wearing yellow shirts, yellow balloons and yellow ribbons,” signifying hope for the new president to eradicate corruption.


Grandma's iPhone adventures continue
Antonio Lopez Herreros from Madrid, Spain has posted the latest in his series of short films about his grandmother and her iPhone. The music is completely original.


Midnight rescue in La Mesa, CA
Mary Anne Valdez was at the scene of this midnight car accident and rescue early yesterday morning in La Mesa, California. She had just parked her car on the street after work when she noticed a man sprinting by. He told her about the accident. “The paramedics were there within two minutes. The roof of the white car had to be cut and removed to rescue the woman. Many people came out of the apartment complex when they heard the screeching of tires and subsequent crash,” she said.


10-year-old's quest to fight obesity
Alex Reid has been sharing videos of her son’s challenge to fight obesity on CNN iReport. Marshall, 10, shows us his day 15 lunch of homemade guacamole and a sweet potato. Look out for the mother and son on CNN at noon tomorrow!

Published on
See the entire Gulf journals series here.


What we’re looking for:
NEW Tropical Storm Alex
NEW Losing your unemployment benefits?
Did your family sit down to dinner?
Oil views and solutions

Posted by: tyson // July 2, 2010

Posted in: stories, stories
Gulf journals: Murals give voice to fury over oil disaster »

“About 28 days into [the oil disaster], I decided I needed to yell as loud as I could,” said tattoo artist Bobby Pitre, owner of Southern Sting Tattoo Parlor in Larose, Louisiana. “I figured I could yell 24 hours a day if I had a street side sculpture.”

So after placing that sculpture in front of his store, he enlisted the aid of a fellow tattoo artist, Eric Guidry, to start expressing their feelings about the crisis in the form of several large murals.

“I knew the fishermen were extremely upset about losing out on their shrimping season and quite possibly, their way of life,” Pitre said. “I felt I had to paint a vivid picture in the public’s mind to get them to truly understand the severity of this horrific tragedy.”

Part of his mural portrays BP as the “grim reaper,” with the phrase, “You killed our Gulf … our way of life!”

Pitre said, “Everything we do leisurely has something to do with the marsh. We enjoy fishing and swimming. It’s everything that I’ve learned as a kid, growing up on the water.”

Pitre’s family has lived on the marsh for as long as he can remember. His parents lived and died there. His uncle is a fisherman there as well.

Guidry also grew up in the area, and the mural pictured is one of the first paintings he has done of this size.

“I use it to relieve myself from all the crap that’s going on around here,” he said.

Both painted a version of Shepard Fairey’s well-known 2008 portrait of President Obama, with question marks surrounding it and the words “What now?”

Pitre did not vote for Obama, but Guidry did. “In my honest opinion, I do not believe that our leaders responded to this disaster quickly enough,” Guidry said.

Guidry said he thinks that their paintings express the true feelings of many in the Gulf: “People don’t know what to say and might be too scared to say it.”

Pitre and Guidry’s murals have been seen all over CNN iReport. Pitre posed next to his paintings in a report on, and a sign next to those was featured on the Political Ticker, and on a CNN TV report on Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s presidential prospects. (“He knows what needs to be done and it’s a matter of him getting the power he needs to get it done,” Pitre said of the governor.)

In the past few weeks, Pitre and Guidry have been inspired to create more art, moving it inside the tattoo parlor. BP CEO Tony Hayward is portrayed as a donkey with the words “Burro of bad news” above. Pitre painted it in reaction to Hayward’s recent yachting trip, soon after testifying before lawmakers about the oil disaster in Washington. “My question is, ‘How will BP, or anyone else ever make this up to us?’ ”

Editor's Note: This blog post is part of a series of profiles of Gulf Coast residents and visitors directly affected by the oil disaster. If you'd like to share your story, you can upload photos and videos to CNN iReport.

Posted by:
// July 2, 2010
 33 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: stories, oil_disaster
Gulf journals: 'What can you do?' »


Karen Baker, a self-described army brat, has lived in many places, such as Germany and North Carolina, to name a couple. But when she was 8 years old, she moved to Gulfport, Mississippi, and has lived there ever since.


“The people here are so friendly. There is nothing more relaxing than going down to the beach and watching the sunset and the birds and what used to be the sweet smell of the sea,” she said.


Baker, who proudly calls herself a beach bum and tree-hugger, said that until this week, she visited the beach each day no matter how hot or cold it was. Now, it’s been a couple days since Baker last visited. She said that it was mentally difficult to be at the beach last Tuesday and see the oil wash up on shore. Baker remains hopeful that the Gulf will survive through this disaster, but says that the oil leak needs to be stopped before the region can begin to move on.


“There’s a sense of hopelessness about this. After a hurricane you can do something, before a hurricane you can do something, but after this, what can you do really? I guess we aren’t used to being in a position where we don’t know what to do with something like this. We will figure it out, but at this point we are taking it day by day.”


Baker has worked at C.F. Gollott & Son Seafood, a seafood processor, since August 1991, and she is fearful of the possibility of her losing her job and the company going under due to the price of seafood doubling because of the oil disaster.


“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Baker said. “In these situations you don’t really know what the future will be.”


The company, which has been around since 1932, gets all its seafood from the Gulf and it is one of the only processors left in the area. She said that the other factories in the area have either closed up or have decided to rely on imports for their seafood.


Baker is also very worried about the effects that the oil will have the birds that have made the Gulf their home for so many years.


Lately she’s noticed fewer birds around Gulfport. “Usually the area of this beach is home to black skimmers, seagulls, sandpipers and plovers,” she said. “They just aren't there and haven't been for a few weeks.”


Starting tomorrow, Baker will be volunteering at Pascagoula River Audubon, a society that coordinates rescue efforts for oiled birds. She said she’s glad to help during such a difficult time.


“It makes me feel better that I can do a little bit,” Baker said. “The Gulf coast has been a safe haven for many birds and they aren’t safe now. They have always been there, even after Katrina, the bird and the sea has always been there.”


Editor's Note: This blog post is part of a series of profiles of Gulf Coast residents and visitors directly affected by the oil disaster. If you'd like to share your story, you can upload photos and videos to CNN iReport.

Posted by: ccostello3 // July 1, 2010
 13 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: stories, oil_disaster
CNN iReport roundtable, Thursdays at 3 p.m. ET »

Please join us here in the blog for our weekly roundtable talk, an informal discussion about what's going on at CNN iReport.

We'll open comments at 3 p.m. ET and will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Posted by:
// July 1, 2010
 98 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: community
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