Blog : May 2011
Home and Away: How you can honor your heroes »

 

Memorial Day is a holiday for remembering the service men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice while fighting for their country. It is fitting, then, that we received nearly 150 Home and Away tributes to fallen troops yesterday.

 

CNN's Home and Away is an interactive memorial to the thousands of coalition troops worldwide who have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since October 2001. Every fallen hero has a personal page set up in their honor with a place for loved ones to share their tributes.

 

Most of the tributes we have received are from friends and family members of the fallen heroes, but some have come from those who never knew the service member, they just happened to be from the same town or state.

 

“I did not know you, but I am from Mississippi as well. [It's] so sad to see a neighbor go,” iReporter justinn88 wrote yesterday in a tribute to Sgt. Donnie Leo Ford Levens from Long Beach, Mississippi.

 

Whether you personally know someone who died in action or, like justinn88, want to honor a troop you feel connected to in some way, you can explore the interactive and learn about the fallen.

 

Through your Home and Away tributes, we hope to learn more and help spread the memories of these brave men and women with the rest of the world.

Posted by: ccostello3 // May 31, 2011
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Posted in: stories
Defining America: Represent your state!  »

 

From left to right: A handwriting sample from Denver, Colorado; dinner starts with peas and rice in Pembroke Pines, Florida; getting around in New York, New York.

 

Update: We did it! Thanks to everyone who participated in the first round of the cultural census. Stay tuned to see some of the interesting things we uncover from your responses, and if you haven't participated, we'd still like to hear from you.

 

In recent weeks, CNN iReport has been on a mission to get at least 10 people from each of the 50 states to participate in our cultural census, a project to put faces and personalities behind the U.S. Census numbers.

 

Can you tell where someone lives based on their accent? How old they are from their handwriting style? Or where they live by how they get around? Those are the type of questions we hope to answer with your responses to five quick assignments.

 

We’re thrilled with the response so far, but it’s not over. We still need a few more iReports from these states:

 

Northwest: North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming

Southwest: Colorado, Utah

Southeast/Mid-Atlantic: Kentucky, Louisiana, Virginia, West Virginia

Great Plains: Nebraska

Non-contiguious: Hawaii

 

Participating is easy. Here's all you have to do:

1. Fill out this quick demographic survey

2. Participate in at least one of our five assignments: Self-portrait; What's for dinner?; Read aloud; Write this down; and Get around.

Posted by:
 
dsashin
// May 30, 2011
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Posted in: stories
Defining America: Tell us about yourself, Alaska »

iReporters have shared hundreds of stories from Alaska over the years, but most have focused on the state's natural beauty and majestic wildlife instead of the people who live there. Today seems like a good day to change that, so we want to invite Alaskans (all 698,473 of you) to be a part of CNN iReport's cultural census project.

 

If you're a bear, you can't participate in the cultural census. Sorry.

 

The goal of the cultural census is to tell stories about Americans that you can't find in the U.S. Census statistics – how people dress, what they eat, how they talk, and things like that. It's also a chance for you to share what makes Alaskans unique and to learn what you have in common with your fellow iReporters in the lower 48 states. The challenges are also pretty fun and there's lots of room for creativity.

 

To get started, fill out this short survey. Then take a look at the cultural census assignments below and start sharing your stories. We'd love for you to do all five, but you can start out with whichever one you think would be the most fun.

 

Share a photo
Take a self-portrait. Get creative!

 

Read aloud
Tape yourself reading a standard passage.

 

Eat dinner
Show us a photo of you or your family's typical weeknight dinner.

 

Write this down
Scan or snap a photo of your handwriting.

 

Get around
Show us how you generally get around town.

Posted by:
 
davidw
// May 27, 2011
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Posted in: stories
CNN iReport roundtable: Thursdays at 3 p.m. ET »

Please join us here at 3 p.m. ET for our weekly roundtable discussion. We'll be talking about our cultural census project, which is a series of challenges designed to help us learn more about the people who live in the United States. It's also an opportunity for you to learn more about your friends in the CNN iReport community.

 

We're also happy to answer any questions you may have about what's going on in the community.

 

We'll open comments at 3 p.m. ET and begin the conversation. In the meantime, fill out this quick survey to get a head start on the cultural census.

Posted by:
 
davidw
// May 26, 2011
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Posted in: community
Defining America: Midwest is the best, but where are the rest? »

Midwesterners are some of the kindest most hard-working folks I know and that's certainly true when it comes to iReport's cultural census project. We've received at least 10 iReports from each of the Midwest states – Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin – which makes the Midwest better represented than any other area. Here’s a gentle suggestion to the other regions of the U.S.: Step up and represent in kind!

 

The cultural census is a way for us to put some real faces and personalities behind the loads of Census statistics. From hearing the unique sounds of the Chicaaah-go accent (though I'm a proud Chicagoan, I refuse to admit I have one) to salivating over delicious photos of your best grilled bratwurst and kraut, we want to get a sense of what the Midwest is really all about.

 

 

Stephanie Michael’s silly portrait really paints a picture of a Hoosier who knows how to have fun. She and her family traveled to her grandparents’ farm in rural Nappannee, Indiana, back on Christmas Day 2009.

 

"Together as a family, we went back to explore places we had been with our grandparents," she said. "It looked quite different. … I was having fun with the past and enjoying how time has changed things."

 

So, to all the other states out there, I challenge thee to show us why you love your state. Start by filling out our survey (it takes two minutes, tops). Then, take a look at the cultural census assignments below and try your hand at one or, better yet, all five.

 

Share a photo
Take a self-portrait. Get creative!

 

Read aloud
Tape yourself reading a standard passage.

 

Eat dinner
Show us a photo of you or your family's typical weeknight dinner.

 

Write this down
Scan or snap a photo of your handwriting.

 

Get around
Show us how you generally get around town.

Posted by:
 
zdan
// May 26, 2011
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Posted in: stories
Doodling our 'next giant leap' »

Fifty years ago today, President John F. Kennedy presented a bold challenge to Congress: Send a man to the moon by the end of the decade. It seemed like a crazy idea at the time, but it became a reality on July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the lunar surface, taking that “giant leap for mankind.”

 

In honor of Kennedy’s dream, iReport teamed up with GOOD magazine to solicit your visions for the next bordering-on-lunacy ideas for advancing our world. And in a departure from our typical iReport challenges, we asked you to draw your solutions for the world’s biggest problems.

 

We got lots of imaginative sketches, doodles and digital illustrations, ranging from missions to Mars and organ regeneration to whimsical notions such as hovering wheelchairs and a seat-less bicycle.

 

Check out GOOD’s gallery of the highlights, and see more submissions here.

Posted by:
 
dsashin
// May 25, 2011
 5 comments
Posted in: stories
Defining America: Seeking out Southwesterners »

There's something special about the Southwest. Maybe it's the spectacular vistas that rise over a sometimes-Martian desert landscape, or the inescapable oppression of summer's "dry heat" (something residents take great pride in). Or maybe it's the vibrancy of the U.S.-Mexico border and the undeniable Native American influence, folding its inhabitants into a cultural melting pot that boils and bubbles.

 

Either way, it's a place unlike any other in the country, and we're hoping the Defining America cultural census project will help expose some of the quirky qualities that make this region so unique. That's the goal of the five assignments we've put together, which each seek to find out a little something about the people who live in the United States. iReporters' submissions will become part of an interactive map of the country that will incorporate this data.

 

Some of the portrait responses we've already received will give you a small hint about what kind of place the Southwest really is, but it's up to you to tell us more. If you're from these states -- New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona and California -- or you know someone who is, we'd like to hear from you! We've got three iReports from New Mexico, four from Nevada and eight from Utah; these states in particular need more participants.

 

 

The responses we've already received from the Southwest are telling. Despite the region's reputation for being a bastion of transplants and seasonal residents, Anjanette Sanchez of Mesa, Arizona, describes herself as a "fifth-generation Arizonan." She grew up in Globe, a small copper-mining town, and says "time seems to stand still" there.

 

"I identify with being Chicana but I am also a proud American," Sanchez says. " I love my great state of Arizona, but I have been fortunate to have traveled the world."

 

The mountainous urban paradise of Denver, Colorado, is another kind of cultural mix. Russell A. Dale lives in nearby Aurora and says he appreciates the local events and amenities, as well as the variety of people that live there.

 

"The people are friendly and very diverse.  There is a unique history all its own here, the story of the West, the story of people coming in search for gold, in search for a better life. People work hard here. They work hard and live."

 

And finally, yes, there's an alien on the third iReporter's head. Kevin Phillips of Ivins, Utah, shared a portrait of himself and explained that his tiny town on the outskirts of St. George doesn't feel quite as diverse, population-wise, as where he grew up. Still, the mountainous setting is far different than his hometown of Jacksonville, Florida. "We have access to several national and state parks and are located roughly 120 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada. Ivins has that home town feel where everyone knows each other and are more than willing to help each other out."

 

Indeed, the thread among many stories from the Southwest could be all the people who've settled in this place, perhaps the last frontier in America, to search for a better life. Entering the 21st century, the myth of the Old West still endures in our minds, but does it matter in reality? Maybe that's a question we can answer with the cultural census.

 

Share your own portrait, and include some of the local scenery so we can learn something about you and the place where you live. How does it influence you? Keep this thought in mind and check out all five of the assignments, below. Be sure to complete the brief survey to help us thread your story into the big picture of this project.

 

Share a photo
Take a self-portrait. Get creative!

 

Read aloud
Tape yourself reading a standard passage.

 

Eat dinner
Show us a photo of you or your family's typical weeknight dinner.

 

Write this down
Scan or snap a photo of your handwriting.

 

Get around
Show us how you generally get around town.

Posted by:
 
nsaidi
// May 25, 2011
 19 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: comments, stories
Joplin resident: 'I've never been so happy to be alive' »


Tarah Castleberry took these photos of her home 30 minutes after the tornado hit.

 

Tarah Castleberry was awoken by her husband, Andrew, shortly after the tornado sirens began to sound in Joplin, Missouri, Sunday night. Castleberry got up and decided to go outside and check the weather. “It’s not unusual for the sirens to go off and nothing happen," she explained.

 

“When I looked at the sky it looked like [the storm] was north of us, so I started calling everyone north of us,” she said. “But then it all went downhill from there.”

 

Castleberry realized that something was very wrong when she and her husband noticed the birds flying in odd patterns. The couple decided to prepare for the worst. She asked her husband to grab the dog kennel from the garage. As he did this, Castleberry went outside again. The temperature started to drop rapidly and the sky grew darker. The ground started to vibrate and she heard what sounded like trains coming straight towards her.

 

"We ran," Castleberry said. "We got to the hallway and I slammed the door behind me. We did not have time to do anything else.”

 

As the tornado passed overhead, the couple huddled in the hallway with their dogs, just “praying, hoping it would end.”

 

“We felt the tornado hit almost immediately after we sat down on the hall floor,” Castleberry said. “The whole house began to violently shake and the sounds I don’t think I could describe with a million words. Our walls looked like they were liquid the way they were moving. They were rolling.”

 

Castleberry said the sounds of the tornado were the scariest part. “It sounded like the whole house at any second was going to collapse,” she described. We just heard things ripping and tearing, things slamming into walls. The roof above our heads began to peel off. I put Maxx in the kennel and grabbed my husband’s hand. We began to pray.”

 

Shortly after, the tornado hit their home, sending debris and belongings everywhere. Their dryer landed on Andrew, and a closet door and a bookcase smashed into on Castleberry’s back.

 

“I remember feeling this force slam into my back,” Castleberry said. “I will never forget the look on my husband’s face. We continued to pray, but I was so resigned to the fact that we were going to die that day.”

 

“I thought you were gone," Andrew later told her. “That door hit you and the room was gone.”

 

Although Andrew was hit in the head and Castleberry is suffering from serious back pain, they refuse to get medical attention right now because they believe that there are people who need it more.

 

“If you can walk and you can talk, leave it for other people," Castleberry said. “There are so many other people hurt so much worse.”

 

What happened Sunday night is something Castleberry will never forget.  “I’ve never been so happy to be alive because we really thought that was it,” she said.

 

If you were affected by the tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri, Sunday night, please share your story with CNN iReport.

Posted by: ccostello3 // May 24, 2011
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Posted in: stories, stories
Defining America: Mid-Atlantic states, represent! »

Our iReport cultural census project is humming along quite nicely, thanks in no small part to the excellent raft of submissions we received from New England, the Southeast and the Northwest. Today, we're aiming to boost participation in Mid-Atlantic states.

 

Longtime iReporter Janie Lambert hails from Hughesville, Maryland. As part of our Eat Dinner assignment for the cultural census, she submitted this mouth-watering recipe for down-home potato soup and cornbread:

 

 

And we're insatiable, we want to see more! For example, Virginia is for lovers -- and lovers of this project. We've had a fantastic response from the Old Dominion State, and we'd like to see the rest of the East Coast crew represent themselves.

 

So, denizens of West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania: Share your world with us! Start by filling out our survey (it takes two minutes, tops). Then, take a look at the cultural census assignments below and get cracking on one (or all five).

 

Share a photo
Take a self-portrait. Get creative!

 

Read aloud
Tape yourself reading a standard passage.


Eat dinner
Show us a photo of you or your family's typical weeknight dinner.


Write this down
Scan or snap a photo of your handwriting.


Get around
Show us how you generally get around town.

Posted by: jmsaba // May 24, 2011
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Posted in: stories
Defining America: Next up - The Southeast! »

As part of iReport’s cultural census project, we’re targeting a different U.S. region here on the blog in hopes of boosting participation from the area. We’ve already heard from New Englanders and Pacific Northwesterners, and today we're focusing on the Southeastern U.S.!


We really appreciate all the submissions we’ve received from Georgia and Florida already. We can’t wait to see iReports from South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. We want to cover every state in the country so that the census is represented accurately. And if you’re not in the Southeast, but have friends or family in any of those states, we encourage you to send them this blog post and spread the word!


Richgaboy in LaGrange, Georgia, has already represented the Southeast. He took part in the “Eat dinner” assignment and shared his passion for all kinds of food, including how he likes to keep it simple when whipping up healthy meals at home, by preparing Pita bread and hummus.



Here’s a look at some of the other assignments in the cultural census:


Share a photo
Take a self-portrait. Get creative!


Read aloud
Tape yourself reading a standard passage.


Write this down
Scan or snap a photo of your handwriting.


Get around
Show us how you generally get around town.

Posted by:
 
hhanks
// May 23, 2011
 12 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: stories
Next up: Pacific Northwest »

Thanks to all the warm-hearted New Englanders who responded to our call yesterday, the northeastern U.S. is much better represented in our cultural census. If you’re still not sure what iReport’s cultural census is all about, you can learn more here. In the coming week, we’re planning to boost participation by focusing each day on a different U.S. region.

 

Today and through the weekend we're taking a look at the Dakotas and Pacific Northwest. We’ve had a great response from Washingtonians already but we’re itching for more representation from Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.

 

If you have already participated, you can help us get the word out by sharing this blog post with friends and family.

 

 

iReporter doe4rae, from Vermillion, South Dakota, sent us a portrait of herself while handcrafting a canoe. She tell us, "After passing that 40 year mark in life you start to think about what kind of lasting impression or legacy will you leave for your children and people you love.  I think that creating something -- building anything -- that expresses your heart and passions and that can physically remain with your family is a worthwhile endeavor!"

 

 

Washingtonian rosehips sent us a photo of the mode of transportation she often uses when her other mode of transportation gets put out of commission for a few days. Back in March she commented, "I walk around town whenever I can. I often go days or even weeks without driving my car.  It's ridiculous that I am still going out in snow boots, but if the snow keeps up today, I will have to do just that."

 

We hope there’s a lot more from where those came from!

 

Regardless of where you’re from, we’d love for you to share some of your unique qualities in our cultural census. You can start by taking our cultural census survey. Then, take a look at our five assignments and complete one that inspires you.


Share a photo

Take a self-portrait. Get creative!

Read aloud

Tape yourself reading a standard passage.

Eat dinner

Show us a photo of you or your family's typical weeknight dinner.

Write this down

Scan or snap a photo of your handwriting.

Get around

Show us how you generally get around town.

Posted by:
 
elchueco
// May 20, 2011
 29 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: stories, community
CNN iReport roundtable: Thursdays at 3 p.m. ET »

Please join us here at 3 p.m. ET for  our weekly roundtable discussion. We've got a lot of cool projects going  on right now that we want to tell you about.We're also happy to answer  any questions you may have about what's going on in the community.

 

If  you can't make it at 3, feel free to leave your questions in the  comments below and we'll try to answer them once the roundtable starts.

Posted by:
 
davidw
// May 19, 2011
 237 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: community
Defining America: Where are you, New England? »

Ah, New England. There's so much to love: the Berkshires, the Maine lobster, the skiing, the Red Sox (OK, I might catch some flak for that one). Which is why we're devastated that New England has yet to be represented in our cultural census!

 

We have zero (yep, zero) submissions to any of our five fun cultural census assignments from Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, or Vermont. Our U.S. map that displays all the submissions is going to look a little lopsided without you guys! So if you're from the Northeast, we'd love it if you could take two minutes (literally) to fill out our survey and then complete one -- or, heck, all five -- of the projects below.

 

Share a photo

Take a self-portrait. Get creative!

 

Read aloud

Tape yourself reading a standard passage.

 

Eat dinner

Show us a photo of you or your family's typical weeknight dinner.

 

Write this down

Scan or snap a photo of your handwriting.

 

Get around

Show us how you generally get around town.

 

And that's it! We can't wait to see what you share.

Posted by:
 
rachel8
// May 19, 2011
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Posted in: stories
CNN, iReporters tell flooding story together »

For weeks, people living near the majestic Mississippi River have been battling floodwaters and struggling to hold on to their homes, possessions and livelihoods. Their stories come from several states like Tennessee, where some cities are still under water, to Louisiana, where residents await the impending surge with awe and trepidation.

 

These hundreds of personal stories help paint the larger picture of the flooding saga. And iReporters and CNN reporters out in the field are telling the story together in CNN iReport’s Open Story. This joint collaboration is only the start of the future of storytelling – at least, we hope so!

 

Here are some of the highlights from the Open Story; one from an iReporter and one from a CNN staff member.

 

iReporter Faisal Abou-Shahla was in St. Francisville, Louisiana, over the weekend trying to convince his fiancée’s parents to leave town before floodwaters get too high. He says some of the town’s residents have tried to protect their homes – “there were a few seemingly futile attempts to put sandbags up” – and that some of the people who live in the homes in the photograph are still there, “waiting until the last second to leave.”

 

CNN Senior Photojournalist Ken Tillis captured images of floodwaters of the Yazoo River rising around the old train station in downtown Vicksburg, Mississippi, on Monday. It sits outside the levee’s protection and the water is up to the first-floor windows already, he said.

 

Together, CNNers and iReporters are giving us little snapshots – like the ones above – into this sprawling story. Do you live in areas affected by the flood? We’d love to hear your account and add it to the flooding Open Story.

Posted by:
 
zdan
// May 17, 2011
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Posted in: stories
iReport about Rebecca Black »

Earlier today an iReport user submitted an iReport alleging that YouTube pop singer Rebecca Black is pregnant. The iReport community quickly flagged the story for review, and Black's representatives tell us the story is untrue.  The iReport was not part of CNN's reporting and we have removed it from the site in keeping with our Community Guidelines.

Posted by:
 
lila
// May 15, 2011
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Posted in: stories
Happy 'Top Gun Day,' Maverick! »

iReporters definitely feel the need for speed on "Top Gun" Day, today’s observation of the 25th anniversary of the blockbuster hit that launched Tom Cruise’s career into the stratosphere.


Check out CNN's Kristie Lu Stout’s interviewing the creator of "Top Gun" Day, plus an iReport from the ever-creative “Cougar” Littlefield.



There is nothing wrong with your computer, that’s just Joe Millitzer from St. Louis, Missouri, doing his version of, “Is this your idea of fun, Mav?”



Chris Morrow went to a San Diego, California, bar featured in the movie, and asked customers about their favorite scenes.



Giving Stout a run for her money in the aviator sunglasses department is Jose Guillen from Chicago, Illinois.



Do you have a favorite line you’d like to share? It’s still Top Gun Day, so post away!

Posted by:
 
hhanks
// May 13, 2011
 4 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: stories
CNN iReport roundtable: Thursdays at 3 p.m. ET »

Please join us here at 3 p.m. ET for  our weekly roundtable discussion. We've got a lot of cool projects going  on right now that we want to tell you about.We're also happy to answer  any questions you may have about what's going on in the community.

 

Merv Teo from CNN.com's video team will also be here to answer your questions on lighting, editing, shot selection or any other video production issues.

 

If  you can't make it at 3, feel free to leave your questions in the  comments below and we'll try to answer them once the roundtable starts.

Posted by:
 
davidw
// May 12, 2011
 82 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: community
Defining America: iReport in Greensboro, North Carolina »

So, as you may know, iReport is heading around the country to collect data for our cultural census project and meet our wonderful citizen journalists. Our first stop last week was in Thomasville, North Carolina, where we saw some amazing chainsaw carving.

 

We then headed to...my hometown! Otherwise known as Greensboro, North Carolina. (And no, I had zero input on deciding we would go to the 'boro.)

 

Greensboro is fun and artsy, so we decided to go downtown for the monthly First Friday cultural festival/gallery hop. Our enormous CNN Express bus attracted plenty of attention, and we met a lot of cool people that wanted to know what iReport was all about and take part in our cultural census. We parked right outside the International Civil Rights Museum -- one of the most important sit-ins of the 1960s civil rights movement was in Greensboro -- and enjoyed hanging out with some of its warm, friendly staffers who came to visit us and participate in our cultural census.

 

 

Say hi! They're @sitinmuseum on Twitter.

 

Greensboro also totally had a monopoly on adorableness. We ran into tons of sweet families, from kids who eagerly participated in our project (and accepted a free sticker or two, of course) to dogs out for a leisurely walk with their owners.

 

 

The young lady on the left was fresh out of performing in her dance recital with the Greensboro Ballet. What a superstar!

 

So, if you're keeping track, Thomasville was rural, and downtown Greensboro was bustling and urban. What was next? Naturally, the practically-all-suburbs town of Kernersville, North Carolina, about 20 miles west of Greensboro. We checked out a fun community street fair/carnival in Kernersville before heading back to our home base in Atlanta (we'll tell you all about that soon). Another team of iReport producers just returned from Plato, Missouri, where they also collected responses for the cultural census, and we'll be heading to more spots across the country throughout the summer. So start working on your cultural census assignments, and keep an eye out for the next stops on our tour!

Posted by:
 
rachel8
// May 12, 2011
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Posted in: stories, community
High-flying iReporters cover flooding from the air »

When a natural disaster causes widespread damage, it's difficult for the mind to comprehend just how much land has been affected.

 

As waters rise on the Mississippi River, we're seeing iReporters take to the skies to show us what's going on at different spots along the river and gauge the extent of the flooding.

 

 

Physician and pilot Stephen Gipson of Memphis, Tennessee, has been perplexed by the waters rushing through parts of town. His aerial images show how water has overflowed the river and rushed into places it shouldn't be. He shot one set of photos on May 5, and then sent another on May 9. By then, there was a lot more water to be seen. The photos revealed waterlogged homes, buildings and fields. Gipson says at the airport he took off from, the water table seemed high and he could see water coming up through some cracks in the ground.

 

 

We also heard from jairrami, another frequent-flying iReporter who shared images taken from a plane above Memphis. (He asked us not to share his name.) He says he's traveled through the region before and this time, the snaking river reached out much further from its banks.

 

"I've never really seen that much flowing through that area before," he said.

 

 

Further up the river, Tod Policandriotes, a scientist at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, went up with his pilot instructor friend to get a look at the scene below on May 8. As for what awaited him in the sky, Policandriotes says he was amazed at how much water was flowing through the Mississippi River. Upon departing from Carbondale, Illinois, he could get a good view of the flooding in Metropolis and the areas where levees were blown near Cairo.

 

“I saw massive flooding all along the Mississippi on both sides from Grand Tower to just below Cairo, Illinois, and in through Metropolis. Along the Ohio River, the flooding does not seem to be quite as bad, but it is still flooded in many areas. Where the levees were blown, near Cairo, water is spread as far as I could see on the Missouri side at 2,000 feet altitude.”

 

These up-high views give you a feel for what this flooding really means. If you've witnessed the Mississippi River flooding for yourself, we want to hear from you. Share your photos and videos with CNN iReport, and tell us your feelings and stories in the comments area below.

Posted by:
 
nsaidi
// May 11, 2011
 17 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: stories
Debate rages in aftermath of bin Laden’s death  »


As you can see in Greg Reese's video above, there's been no shortage of varying opinions out there over the past week. iReporters have had a lot to say on many aspects of the death of Osama bin Laden, and what it means for the future.


The newest debate that has been stirred up on CNN iReport, is this past weekend's decision by the Pentagon to release five mostly unflattering videos of bin Laden, confiscated from his compound in Pakistan after the raid which killed him.


"At the face of what Osama Bin Laden has been able to pull off in his holy war, I say this whole attempt to minimize Osama's mystique is laughable," said Jimmy Deol from Toronto. "If anything, it might encourage an average Joe with similar aspirations somewhere in the world to take solace in the fact that an average person can accomplish all that evil."


Veteran political iReporter Egberto Willies from Kingwood, Texas responded to one of Deol's points, saying that bin Laden himself did not change the world, but that he only provided a rationale for war.


Omekongo Dibinga from Washington questioned the decision to release the videos at all: "Had I lost a family member during 911, I would not want to see this over a week after Bin Laden was killed. I've seen Bin Laden on TV more now than I ever have, including directly after 911. We should not be giving him more life after his death."


Another aspect of the bin Laden story that drew controversy was his burial at sea. Jason Dinant of Las Vegas asked if bin Laden deserved to be captured and tried instead of killed (warning: video contains strong language).


Adding to the debate, Hao Li from Los Angeles said, "While I am glad that Osama Bin Laden is dead, I also don't think this is the end of terrorism or the Al Qaeda terrorist network. If anything, I don't think terrorism could ever be defeated."


We invite you to join the debate on CNN iReport. What does bin Laden's death mean for efforts to prevent terrorism, and the future of U.S. military operations overseas? Share your view here.

Posted by:
 
hhanks
// May 9, 2011
 45 comments // Add a comment
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Defining America: iReport hits the road »

Have you heard about iReport's cultural census? It's one of iReport's biggest and most exciting projects this year. CNN's Defining America, a special coverage of the U.S. 2010 Census results, is already taking a look at the things we can learn from the census numbers. Our task is to enrich this coverage by introducing a more approachable data set with iReport's distinctly collaborative special sauce. Our assignments include things like recording a voice sample and photographing a sample of your handwriting. We're very excited about all the wonderful contributions iReporters have filed already, and we're just getting started!

 

We're ramping up our efforts by hitting the road and visiting towns large and small across America to spread the good word on citizen journalism and to get even more folks to participate in iReport's cultural census. This week we're visiting a few towns and cities in North Carolina. Our first stop, Thomasville, North Carolina, has been lovingly nicknamed "Chair City" for an awesomely gigantic chair that adorns its business district (we're told Lyndon B. Johnson once sat there). We're very glad we were able to visit and make lots of new friends.

 

 

Thomasville has a long history as home to an outstanding furniture industry that specializes in wooden fixtures; in fact, during our visit we got to experience some amazing live woodworking, but not exactly the run-of-the-mill kind.

 

 

This weekend Thomasville is hosting a three-day chainsaw sculpting competition for the second year in a row. The competition lasts through Saturday, May 7, so don't miss it if you have the chance to attend. The beautiful ornaments and fixtures produced with the skillful touch of 18-inch, 50cc professional grade chainsaws are really something to see.

 

 

We're staying in North Carolina through the weekend, making new friends and taking in all we can from this beautiful state. Tonight we're setting up in Greensboro, by the Civil Rights Museum, for May's First Friday art walk starting at 5pm. Come see us if you're around.

 

Look forward to next Monday, when iReport is visiting Plato, Missouri, the 2010 U.S. Census Center of Population. Plato is celebrating the event by inviting all 100 residents for a party and the unveiling of a commemorative survey mark.

 

If you haven't had the chance to participate with the cultural census, you still have time. Start by doing the assignment that inspires you the most. You can learn more about the project from this blog post. Let us know in the comments what you think about our trip to Thomasville, or if you have any recommendations for cool events to visit this summer.

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elchueco
// May 6, 2011
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CNN iReport roundtable: Thursdays at 3 p.m. ET »

Please join us here at 3 p.m. ET for  our weekly roundtable discussion. We've got a lot of cool projects going  on right now that we want to tell you about.We're also happy to answer  any questions you may have about what's going on in the community.

 

If  you can't make it at 3, feel free to leave your questions in the  comments below and we'll try to answer them once the roundtable starts.

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davidw
// May 5, 2011
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For many, bin Laden's death brings joy, then reflection »

 

 

We've been following iReporter reactions and comments on the killing of Osama bin Laden since news of his death broke Sunday night, and we've organized the approved iReports into an Open Story. This lets us look at the reactions as a timeline, and we soon discovered that this chronology is a story unto itself, unfolding in real-time as our country contemplates the killing of the mastermind of the September 11 attacks.

 

When news of bin Laden's death hit the airwaves, college students across the U.S. started gathering in public spaces for some raucous celebrations.

 

Sam Joseph, a student at Boston College, watched his classmates spontaneously storm the campus's Bapst Library as word of bin Laden's death began to spread. Amidst the patriotic revelry, Joseph said that he and his fellow students felt optimistic that bin Laden's death was "a major breakthrough for the country in our war against terror... All in all, this is a good thing for the U.S. and the world, and a historic milestone to be celebrated."

 

 

Meanwhile, late Sunday night and early Monday morning, New Yorkers streamed into Times Square and the former World Trade Center site, waving flags and chanting patriotic slogans. Stephanie Zessos shot the above video of the ensuing celebrations.

 

Later, Zessos realized that her excitement was tempered by her sorrowful memories of the September 11 attacks. "I felt the heavy hearts of the victims' family members, and the long, very public road they've been on dealing with their loss," she said. "My friend Steve, a firefighter whose brother, also a firefighter, was killed on 9/11 sent me a text saying the pain will never go away."

 

Throughout the day Tuesday, the celebratory mood subsided as iReporters reflected on bin Laden's death and the ongoing global conflict he inspired. Student Betsy Mitchell said on Tuesday that bin Laden definitely deserved to die, but that she was also saddened by how some Americans seemed to revel in the death. "I did not like it when the terrorists celebrated killing Americans, I don't like it when we do the same thing," she said. "Yes, bin laden needed to die, but he is still a human being."

 

Chris Morrow had the opportunity to interview Mike Turner, a trustee of VFW Post 2422 in Coronado, California, about bin Laden’s death. Turner was understandably proud of the Navy SEAL team that conducted the operation that killed bin Laden – all SEALs train at the nearby Coronado Naval Amphibious Base. But even though Turner believes that “justice has finally been done,” he stressed the need for continuing vigilance and resolve in the months and years going forward.

 

“I don’t feel any particular satisfaction, because the total number of deaths that [bin Laden] brought, both here and to other nations, doesn’t get paid for with one death.”

Posted by: jmsaba // May 4, 2011
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We won a Webby! »

The results are in! The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences announced the winners of the 15th annual Webby Awards today, and we're proud to report that "Walk around the world" — a video that encapsulated one of last year's most popular iReport Weekend Assignments — was awarded top honors in the category of Online Film & Video: Video Remixes/Mashups!

 

 

A Webby Award is one of the most respected awards there are in online media and so we're tremendously proud to receive this recognition in the name of our community. Your effort and brilliance have definitely not gone unnoticed.

 

Congratulations are in order to the "Walk Around the World" team: Tyson Wheatley, Curt Merrill, John Sutter and Karyn Lu. Together, they oversaw and produced this amazing project. We also want to thank the wonderful and incredibly talented CNN.com video production team for stitching together one hell of a strut.

 

Finally, we at CNN iReport want to thank the hundreds of people who contributed to the assignment and also the many passionate, creative souls who make up our community. You guys rock, and this award belongs to you.

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elchueco
// May 3, 2011
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Posted in: community
Students rejoice at colleges across U.S. »

As the news of Osama bin Laden's death began to spread late Sunday night, images of college students celebrating across the United States started to pour into CNN iReport. From waving flags and blowing vuvuzelas at Yale University to a chorus of voices rising above Penn State University, the mood among campuses was electric.

 

"It was crazy, everyone was so unified and excited," said Colleen Russo, who joined around 400 other Denison University students in Granville, Ohio, to celebrate the news. They sang patriotic songs, shot off fireworks and cheered "USA! USA!" until the wee hours of the morning.

 

Although the majority of undergrads were just elementary school students when the September 11 attacks occurred, it seems the significance of bin Laden's death is not lost upon them.

 

"I remember I really lost my innocence that day," said Russo.

 

The 21-year-old psychology major explained that she grew up knowing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bin Laden's death, 10 years later, "[is] kind of like closure for me," she said.

 

"The attacks happened at an age where I was just beginning to understand world politics,” said West Virginia University student Puthiwadh Owen Huot, who was in 7th  grade and living in Washington D.C. at the time.

 

He watched thousands of rowdy students fill the streets of Morgantown, West Virginia, chanting, honking car horns, and, in some cases, setting couches on fire.

 

"People are celebrating like crazy where I am," said Huot. "I think its more of a mob mentality and students are just looking for a reason to celebrate."

 

Vanderbilt University student Chris McDonald, 22, said he was moved by seeing images of other college students reacting to the news.

 

"We were young at the time of the September 11 attacks, so we have grown up with this constantly in our minds," he said. "To see such justice delivered after such a long, hard wait is a feeling of unspeakable happiness. All Americans can truly feel proud of their nation's resolve."

 

And in Normal, Illinois, more than 1,000 students gathered at Illinois State University to sing the National Anthem late Sunday night. Sophomore Danny Craig, 20, described the moment as "historic and memorable."

 

"Everyone was happy, jubilant, excited, and overall thrilled to be an American," he said.

 

What's your reaction to bin Laden's death? What does it mean to you personally? Share your thoughts on video, and you could be featured on CNN.

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katie
// May 2, 2011
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Posted in: stories
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