First Waves Partners With G-FORM

First Waves Partners With G-FORM

First Waves is all about adventure.  Learning to perform outside your comfort zone is what enables participants to grow, and inspire others.  But like any proper adventure, there are obstacles to overcome.  For First Waves, one of these obstacles are the rocks that surround the waves and rapids we surf and document.  To stay protected, First Waves is proud to announce its latest partner, G-Form Protection.

FIRST WAVES FLOOD MILLIONAIRE'S ROW

Creativity comes from within, except in places like the Scaife Building.  The Tudor revival mansion in Mellon Park, formerly known as “Millionaires Row,” garnishes thick walls that emit a fragrance like the most untouched shelves of an ancient library.  It is nostalgic, but in a way that encourages creation rather than reflection, like a disco ball.  This grand structure is not a museum.  It is a living, breathing studio where artifacts are made instead of stored; where future artists first put their hands on clay, or in the case of First Waves, make their first edits to an adventure film.

"It is nostalgic, but in a way that encourages creation rather than reflection, like a disco ball. "

"It is nostalgic, but in a way that encourages creation rather than reflection, like a disco ball."

After two intensive workshops of filmmaking, paddleboarding, and conservation, the First Waves group was here to collaborate and edit films that showcased their work and experiences over the summer. Filmmaking instructors Susan Howard and Louis Cappa of the Pittsburgh Filmmakers Youth Media Program provided a lecture about using Final Cut X, a professional grade editing software, and guided the team on their own personal edits of the interviews and video they shot throughout the program.

" There were inglorious crashes, interviews gone wrong, and plenty of awkward shots of instructors and students alike. "

"There were inglorious crashes, interviews gone wrong, and plenty of awkward shots of instructors and students alike."

You could have pulled off an eye examination as the students stared intently at their work, ears muffled by headphones and hands dancing across their keyboards.  Occasionally, Susan would highlight specific functions of the software by showing clips on a projector.  Some of the footage resulted in raucous laughter.  There were inglorious crashes, interviews gone wrong, and plenty of awkward shots of instructors and students alike.  In equal parts, however, were powerful scenes of pollution removal, hard work, and enjoyment.  It was immediately apparent that the team had achieved something special.

"Standing in front of a heaping pile of garbage that they removed from Pittsburgh’s riverbanks, they demonstrated what was possible using just a handful of kayaks, paddleboards, trash bags and cameras. "

"Standing in front of a heaping pile of garbage that they removed from Pittsburgh’s riverbanks, they demonstrated what was possible using just a handful of kayaks, paddleboards, trash bags and cameras."

They had shown how a group of strangers could be brought together through the enjoyment of paddling, surfing, and conservation.  Standing in front of a heaping pile of garbage that they removed from Pittsburgh’s riverbanks, they demonstrated what was possible using just a handful of kayaks, paddleboards, trash bags and cameras.  They didn’t preach about the work that needed done or complain about the river being too dirty.  Instead, they set aside their preconceptions, sought the truth from their own experience, and did something about it.  Asking for nothing in return, except maybe some hand sanitizer and pizza, these students created a model of watershed stewardship that our community can be inspired by.

As the final workshop of the First Waves program came to an end, participants left with a CD of their own personal film.  Their contributions and collaborative thoughts about the program will be culminated in a short film due to release at a screening in the winter of 2015.

To learn more about the Pittsburgh Filmmakers Youth Media Group, please go to: http://pfm.pittsburgharts.org/education/young_adult

This project supported in part by the Hive Fund for Connected Learning at The Sprout Fund.

The Conservation Workshop Results with the entire First Waves and Paddle Without Pollution Crew

The Conservation Workshop Results with the entire First Waves and Paddle Without Pollution Crew


Southside Shores Scoured by First Waves

The bustling streets of Pittsburgh’s South Side were a stark contrast from the previous First Waves Project on a rural section of the Stonycreek River. This time, instead of surfing river waves and running rapids on standup paddleboards (SUPs), First Waves participants would be utilizing their paddling skills to access difficult to reach sections of the Monongahela River in order to remove litter and pollutants.

David and Melissa Rohm of Paddle Without Pollution facilitated the conservation workshop and cleanup initiative. Paddle Without Pollution has found a way to not only rehabilitate our local waterways and shorelines, but to make the process fun. Teen participants and adult volunteers alike competed to see who could find the most interesting, shocking, and potentially disturbing items. Additionally, prizes were given out to the person that hauled the most garbage on their board or kayak. Utilizing their balance and paddling techniques learned at the whitewater workshop, the First Waves cleanup armada could be seen with piles of garbage bags, several tires, and a fully intact shopping cart atop their paddleboards.

In addition to removing trash, participants documented the experience under the guidance of Susan Howard and Louis Cappa of the Pittsburgh Filmmakers. Shore-breaking barge waves, messy conditions and shooting while wading in waist deep water were all part of the task, forcing First Waves to adapt their filmmaking plans. Despite the challenging conditions, the team was able to use dry-bags, waterproof POV cameras, and their paddling skills to ensure they were in position to get quality shots of the conservation efforts.

Through the tenacity and hard work of First Waves, the goal to remove at least 500 pounds of pollutants from the waterway was far exceeded. In total, the Paddle Without Pollution event amassed a heaping pile of trash in excess of 1 ton at the 18th Street Boat Launch at South Side Riverfront Park.

A special thanks to Evan Clark of the Tireless Project (A project of Allegheny Cleanways) for providing pontoon boat support for the First Waves crew. Additionally, we would like to thank Renee Rosensteel, David and Melissa Rohm, Jeff and Nick Devlin, and Melissa Rosenfeld for their incredible support in this project.  Moreover, thanks to SurfSUP Adventures for their contribution of paddleboards and instruction.  Lastly, thanks to Jan Glick, Cheryl Jones, Paul Sparico, Jon Potter, and the rest of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh.

For more information about participating in a Paddle Without Pollution cleanup, visit:  www.paddlewithoutpollution.com

This project supported in part by the Hive Fund for Connected Learning at The Sprout Fund.

First Waves Takes First Ride

Greenhouse Park – Johnstown, Pennsylvania

At the first project of First Waves, the students’ faces reflected two sentiments: Sheer intensity as they honed the focus of their digital cameras, and utter joy as they wallowed in the emerald water of the Stonycreek River at Greenhouse Park surfing river waves for the first time.

When Ian Smith, the owner of SurfSUP Adventures, sat down with David English, then of the Sprout Fund, months before, the program began to take shape. David’s experience at Sprout and keen eye for planning helped Ian fuse his passions for standup paddling, filmmaking and conservation into a program with a reach beyond that of just Pittsburgh’s youth. Taking the framework established with help from the Sprout Fund, Ian formed partnerships with the Pittsburgh Filmmakers, Paddle Without Pollution, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Body Glove, and SurfSUP Adventures to create a first-of-its-kind program. Its aim is to enhance awareness of waterway conservation by teaching local teens to catch their first waves and how to document and share the experience.

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The inaugural phase of the program launched on August 9th, 2014 at Greenhouse Park near Johnstown, PA. First, Susan Howard and Louis Cappa of Pittsburgh Filmmakers Youth Media Group instructed the students on how to properly use a digital video camera, the elements of a quality shot, and how to conduct interviews. Immediately after, students collaborated on open-ended questions and shot their first interviews of their peers.

Once everyone had been interviewed, it was time to get in the water.   Ian Smith gave a discussion about whitewater safety and distributed helmets, life jackets, and kneepads. Now, the group was divided into two teams. One team would be in the water learning about standup paddleboarding and river surfing while the other shot footage of the experience and conducted interviews with the surfers as they came in off the water. Within minutes, any worry about being on camera in a new place was devoured by intensity, focus, and enjoyment of their tasks.

Within the next hour, every participant was able to stand up on a paddleboard and catch his or her first ride on a standing river wave. Some surfed prone on their board while others were standing, but everyone felt the invigorating experience of being propelled by the force of the river.

Simultaneously, the film crews were wading in the water, clamoring on the rocks and even swimming through whitewater to get unique angles and capture their experience. They used a variety of technologies including waterproof POV (point of view) and digital cameras. Once everyone was off the water, the students did a final interview to bring an end to the day’s activities.

With the footage in the can, the experience was an incredible success. Not only did the program offer an immersive education on filmmaking, interviewing, paddleboarding and whitewater, but also engaged teamwork, critical thinking, and an extensive workout and balance exercise. Residual benefits included overcoming the obstacles of being interviewed and on-camera while also dealing with the environment of swift-water. These challenges, however, are the foundation for growth and create the story that craves to be told.

A special thanks to Body Glove for providing protective water shoes for participants. Additional thanks to Chelsea Walker, Mark and Lesa Smith for coordinating the food and baking amazing cookies for everyone. Also, thanks to Cheryl Jones who helped organize and shuttle students from Pittsburgh.   Huge thanks to Rene Rosensteel who was the photographer for the project and whose beautiful images are seen here.

This project supported in part by the Hive Fund for Connected Learning at The Sprout Fund.