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Lights, Camera, Education

MAPS Media Institiute shifts into high gear

MAPS Works gives students the tools to shine

From Ravalli Republic | December 7th, 2016 • By Michelle McConnaha


Lucas Laparra, director of photography, recording video at the Garden of 1000 Buddhas in Arlee

Student producers in MAPS Works have created impressive documentaries and public service announcements that shine the spotlight on local non-profit organizations and boost the caring community.

Clare Ann Harff, MAPS president and program director, said Peter Rosten started the MAPS Media Institute in 2004 with the idea of always giving back to the community in the form of media projects.

“The students wanted to be involved in that process and the MAPS Entrepreneur kids developed the idea of a class that would solely produce digital media for nonprofits,” Harff said. “Productions have included two to four minute videos, compelling public service announcements, graphic design help, photographic stills, marketing, documentation of the stories of the organization, thank you videos and social media assistance.”

The work is done free of charge. It benefits both the non-profits and the students.

“The MAPS Works tagline of ‘connecting community through media arts’ teaches students that they can have an impact on the community,” Harff said. “Acting for the general good is not just a nice concept, but also real action, performed with concrete steps.”

In the spring, the students created a video celebrating the 25th anniversary of Hamilton Farmers Market Co-op for Laura Craig. View the “tourism” video that shows the unique community of Hamilton Here

This summer, MAPS Works students traveled to the Garden of 1,000 Buddhas in Arlee to record video and conduct interviews. That project is in the editing phase.

MAPS made a documentary for Meals on Wheels and that evolved into a bigger production.

For 11 weeks this summer, MAPS Works students produced a video called “Cultivating Connections” featuring the partnership of Laura Garber, owner of Homestead Organics Farm, and Paul Travitz, executive director for Ravalli County Council on Aging.

The project focused on a group of high school gardening interns who delivered over a 1,000 pounds of fresh produce to local senior citizens.

Lucas Laparra, production assistant, recorded the project and edited the production.

“It was great to see the interns’ progress through their internship and see them grow as people,” Laparra said. “It’s all about the community.”

View the video about the journey Here .

On Wednesday, the production team finished the video “St. Mary’s Mission: 175th Founder’s Day Anniversary” .

Bob Thomas, Stevensville community member and senior vice president at TrailWest Bank, reached out to MAPS and arranged the video of the St. Mary’s Mission.

“They did a super job with the video on St. Mary’s Mission. It is the one big iconic thing that draws people to Stevensville,” Thomas said. “MAPS provides different types of learning opportunities for students beyond their normal school instruction. When you see those professional productions, you say ‘wow, what an opportunity. These students are becoming professionals and an asset for Ravalli County.’”

Coleen Meyer, executive director of the St. Mary’s Mission said she enjoyed working with the student production crew.

“The experience with them was awesome. They spent all Founders’ Day with us and filmed everything,” she said. “They interviewed me and Salish tribal member Steve Lozar and we were delighted to work with them. It was my first experience and I just have great praise for the program.”

Kate Welch, MAPS’ AmeriCorps VISTA service member, took the lead on that project.

“It was raining and a long challenging day,” Welch said. “We went back and took extra footage of the Mission and scenery. It is cool to see how 175 year later after these people were pushed out of their homeland, they are still coming back and trying to reconnect.”

MAPS Works also created a video and graphic design work for the Ravalli Electric Co-op’s Youth Tour contest.

In January, the MAPS Works crew will produce a four to five minute video for Special Olympics Montana featuring the athletes, families, volunteers and games of the Bitterroot Winter Special Olympics.

Harff said MAPS Works productions are based on the availability of advanced students in the program.

Student Jessica Lang has been in the MAPS program for five years. She said MAPS Works has provided her great opportunities.

“MAPS Works is a really interesting program. It’s the coolest thing I’ve ever done,” Lang said. “I’ve traveled, met a lot of people from different cultures and work with an outstanding crew.”

Lang said that she has benefited by helping nonprofits in the community.

“I love working with everybody and love the idea,” Lang said. “It’s more than a class, it’s an opportunity.”

MAPS production crews have worked with local, state and national organizations such as Bitterroot Valley Veterans, Ravalli County DUI Task Force, Bitterroot Humane Society, No Kid Hungry and Share Our Strength and the Center for Disease Control.

The goals of MAPS include teaching students self-confidence, leadership and empathy for others, preparing them for success in life.

Harff said the efforts are a service to the community and impact the students.

“MAPS students are taught to view their lives through a lens of possibility and they engage with their communities as supportive citizens,” Harff said. “MAPS Works gives them a focus and a forum for doing that, incorporating all of MAPS media arts programming and expanding upon it with intentional community service. By helping nonprofits benefit their communities, students understand their own power to do good.”