Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Story Up Studios - 360 degree Homeless Camp

October 2, 2015 ~ Sarah Hill is an incredibly amazing and talented woman and we are super lucky to have here in Columbia, MO. Her dedication and commitment to our community is stellar and she truly has a heart of gold. I am honored and proud to call her a good friend. Before I tell you a little about what she has been up to lately I would like to recap on when I met her and began working with her on a few things......

I first met Sarah back when she worked for KOMU-8 and brought the newest social media platform, Google+ hangouts to the newsroom calling it "U-News". (I met so many wonderful people from all over the world as we would all sign onto her show and laugh, tell jokes, give our perspective and get Sarah to say crazy words on air... which she managed to pull off by the way) This was such a fun piece to how we received our news by interacting "live" with viewers.

I was honored to be able to work with Sarah when she began using Google+ hangouts to take veterans that were too sick or frail to travel on a real Honor Flight. Veterans Virtual Tours allowed several of us would travel all over the world to allow these veterans living at home, in a nursing home or even a hospital the ability to see their memorials via a computer. Because of the connections made through U-News I remember one Veterans Virtual Tours, we had a guy in France who took us to the beaches of Normandy and stood in the water where so many World War II veterans entered the waters and never made it home. To hear the sounds of waves crashing gave you goose bumps. To then in an instant travel to the USS Alabama and see that majestic ship and several airplanes then go to Washington, DC to see the World War II memorial was amazing yet something you would have never experienced in a matter of an hour or so. Every single person who jumped in to make all of this possible was truly incredible and dedicated to making sure these veterans got to see their memorials. 

On October 5, 2013 we attended the 37th Annual Mid-America Emmy Awards because we all had an Emmy Nomination for Veterans Virtual Tours! What an amazing experience and one I will never forget! You can read my blog to find out more on this incredible night!

From early beginnings of Google Glass giving the ability to see things through the eyes of others as they wear their computer on their face similar to glasses as seen in the picture above. To think you could film spinning your child around in the yard and record their laugh, smile and giggles while they are looking directly at you was crazy. To travel to a memorial and watch and see a hand touching the wall or memorial as if this was your hand is just cool.

When I heard that Sarah would be leaving her employment at Veterans United as Chief Storyteller and earning the new title of business owner I couldn't be more proud! To watch her navigate the latest technology has been really fun and kind and she is able to give such a different perspective on people, life and the stories she tells.

Fast forward to today. Now Sarah is embracing a newer technology called Virtual Reality. 
By using 360 degree cameras and creating life like stories that submerge you inside the video that allows you literally to see 360 degrees is mind blowing!

By using some very cool head gear....
(this picture totally cracks me up... love this crazy woman!) 
and a sa-weet 360 degree camera similar to this one =

Honor Everywhere 360 Behind the Scenes on a recent Central Missouri Honor Flight

Sarah, along with the help of Jaunt and Veterans United Foundation has been working on a more realistic video of the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. The idea is that our veterans that are too frail or sick to fly on a real Honor Flight will have the ability to slip on some headgear or put their eyes up to a Google Cardboard that will transform a smart phone into a Virtual Reality. While wearing this head gear and/or Google cardboard and headphones will will remove them from the hospital, nursing home or their own living room and take them 1,000+ miles away to Washington, D.C. and for the next 5 minutes or so they are submerged into their memorial. They can look up and see the beautiful sky, look down and see the very ground they are standing on then left and right to see every aspect of the inside of this beautiful memorial. If they are able to stand they can even turn around 360 degrees and see everything behind them just as if they are truly there. Stay tuned for the release of this video and download to your own smart phone!

 One of the more recent things that Sarah has been working on is the #no1leftbehind campaign. In the beginning she had a hand in to help create this video (along with some other awesomely talented folks) to bring awareness to this organization here in Columbia, MO. This video was the first of what is to come and an effort to show the real people behind veteran homelessness right here in our community. I can honestly say that I didn't think too much about veteran homelessness has I was fortunate enough to have a home and a meal on the table. Once this video as well as a documentary was created it made me really start thinking about things that we all take for granted. These men and women fought for our freedoms and to think that we could do something that would give back to those that really wanted help getting back on their feet made my heart happy.

Ending Veteran Homelessness Video

By using this newer technology in a way that can put you in something that would be powerful and meaningful was brilliant. You place the headgear on (or put your eyes up to the Google cardboard), slip a pair of headphones on and a video begins to play. It removes you from your home, office,park or sidewalk and places you in the middle of a homeless camp right here in Columbia, MO. At first you see pretty green trees and see the sunlight peaking behind the leaves as they sway in the breeze. You begin to look down from the sky and slightly to your left and you begin to see blankets, sleeping bags and random clothes piled up as you keep looking toward your left and almost behind you to begin to see more clothing drying on a log and a make shift campfire. A place that many of us have never seen before. You keep looking around turning around as if you don't really believe this could be someone's home. Is this really where someone sleeps at night with no roof over their head to protect them from the cold or the rain?

While this video is not yet available to the public please stay tuned as final details, edits and other great things are getting finished up. What I can tell you is that this video goes on to show you the current living conditions of Welcome Home, Inc. and how they can only house 10 male homeless veterans at one time. The #no1leftbehind capital campaign is raising funds to complete the new Patriot Place which is made up of Welcome Home, Inc., Harry S. Truman Veterans Hospital and Columbia Housing Authority in an effort to bridge the gap of getting these homeless veterans back into owning homes one day. With this new facility not only will they be able to help 29 veterans but they will be able to help women (which they currently have to turn away because of space and privacy issues) and families. This will be looked at as a hand up not a hand out. These 3 key organizations will work together to help give our homeless veterans the resources needed to become successful into the future. With a roof over their head, someone to help them with the red tape and guide them in the right direction then positive things will come.

I really enjoy being able to work along side Sarah when I can. She is such a great mentor, friend and all round good person. Tonight I had the pleasure of joining her at Holiday Inn Expo Center and showing others this video...

It was interesting hearing the comments as they watched the video and how differently they look at veteran homelessness. I think the idea is to bring awareness to a situation that we face in our own community and what can we do to help fix this problem. While no one walked away with an answer it certainly makes you think about things we all take for granted when we lay our head down at night. Thank you to everyone that supports, shares, cares and loves our veterans. The willingness to do what we can to make a difference in the lives of others and our community doesn't go un-noticed.

Remember before they were homeless they were veterans.

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