Just another Divided Houses Sites site

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Reflection

Divided Houses has been different than other classes I have taken during my undergraduate career because it felt more like a community than a classroom. The discussion was always thought provoking and collaborative, and I liked the focus on working together and helping each other out. Digital features like the group chat, class blog, and Facebook group really helped to make this class feel even more connected than some of my classes where everyone is physically in the same room.

The research for my and Maria’s project on Upstate New York secession presented some different challenges than most other pairs faced, because the movement is so new and still developing. Because of this, there were not many academic sources available to us, and we did not really use the archival research strategies that we talked about in class. However, this also made our project very exciting to work on, because we were putting together information from social media, interviews, Youtube, and news sources to tell a story that hadn’t been told in this way before. Interviewing Assemblyman Hawley and Senator Robach was a highlight of our research, because it got us information and perspective that we would not have gotten otherwise. After collecting sources, focusing and sharpening our analysis was a challenge, but our contrasting backgrounds and points of view worked to our advantage and helped us to produce a balanced project that still had a viewpoint.

Learning to use the digital tools needed to create our website took some getting used to and some experimentation, but it was a fun process for the most part. I liked getting to use and expand a skill set that most of my other classes do not utilize. While Maria and I were not 100% solid on the technology in the beginning, we started trying things out and experimenting with our website early on and seeing what stuck. Out initial skeleton, which I made early on, developed and evolved a lot over the course of the semester. Even though our website is different than we initially planned, it was really helpful to have that framework to go off of, so I am glad we got over our hesitation and just started trying things out. We actually ended up doing more with our website than we though we would. We did not originally plan to have the Voices from the Movement or Opposition Voices pages, but after adding them based on the very helpful suggestions of our classmates, we found that they really added to our website and to the story we were telling. Figuring out how to make our website interactive and visually appealing was a challenge, but we were able to incorporate a wealth of engaging images from social media, youtube videos from the movement, and the Timeline and StoryMap to make our project a true website rather than a digitized paper. Building the website was certainly different than writing an academic paper and presented its own set of challenges, but in a lot of ways it was more fun!

I am sure this class will stand out to me in the future as one of the more interesting and valuable classes I took in my undergraduate career. I enjoyed learning digital skills that I know will be useful to me in the future. I also enjoyed collaborating with everyone, whether it was during class, through our ridiculous group chat, or on the Facebook page. Working with Maria has been a joy as well, as always. Thank you, Dr. Mathews, Dr. Owen, and everyone else in Divided Houses for making this class fun, informative, and memorable!

Upstate New York Secession: Progress Report 7

Since last week, I have been working on some minor updates to the website. I found videos for the Issue Based Opposition page, which Maria captioned. I filled in some of the pages in the Future section a bit more, though the Alternatives subpage will likely need more content and analysis. I added a bit of text to the Present page, so that it’s not just the StoryMap anymore and the StoryMap’s function is better explained. I also updated the Homepage slightly so that it now better reflects the overall structure and content of our website.

Upstate New York Secession: Progress Report 6

Based on feedback from today’s class, Maria and I have made some changes to our website. We are taking the excellent suggestion of including opposition voices and running with it. We have added a tab for Opposition Voices, with subpages for Issue Based Opposition (where we plan on having videos from anti-fracking, anti-gun, and other related perspectives) and for Downstate New York Secession. I also have restructured the Future section into subpages to make it more user-friendly (and to completely avoid having to use the word analysis). The Future parent page now provides an overview of the questions discussed in its subpages. I have linked the subpages within this overview for directed navigational purposes, so these links do not open in a new tab. I’m not sure if I like these links because they aren’t really consistent with the way the rest of the site is organized, so I may remove them later. If anyone has feedback on the way this section is organized and the hyperlinks in particular, I would love to hear it. Also, suggestions for alternate names for the Political Leadership Analysis page are welcome.

Upstate New York Secession: Progress Report 5

This week I have been working on adding analysis to the site. Yesterday (Monday) I completed the Political Leadership Analysis section. This page analyzes the strategy Assemblyman Hawley and Senator Robach are pursuing, the responses by other legislators, and the dialogue (or lack thereof) between pro-secession legislators and constituents. The page is mostly text currently, but I did include a video and some hyperlinks to make it more engaging. Today (Tuesday) I have been working on the analysis section of the Future page. So far I have addressed the likelihood of upstate New York secession, and I have started to address whether or not secession is a good solution. There will also be a discussion of alternatives to secession on this page. Again, this page is mostly text, so it may be broken up with pictures or rearranged into subpages eventually.

Upstate New York Secession: Progress Report 4

Today I reorganized the Politicians section of our website. I redid the New York State Politicians subpage so that it is now a parent page of three subpages that fall under that politicians category. Assemblyman Hawley and Senator Robach now each have their own subpage under the New York State Politicians subpage. There is a subpage for Political Leadership Analysis as well. I also updated the slideshows on Hawley’s and Robach’s pages using the Meta Slider plugin so that they match the slideshows on the rest of our site. I added a video clip to each of their pages, which I think works to break up the text and add some engaging primary sources.

Upstate New York Secession: Progress Report 3

Since we worked on the draft of our site over spring break, this week I’ve been working on design things and adding in analysis. Maria and I experimented with the Parabola theme, but we both decided we liked Hemingway better for our site. I also tried to adjust the pages so that the text takes up more of the page, but I could not figure out how to do it at all. If anyone knows of some simple fix that I’m just not seeing, let me know! I also reordered the subpages under the Present page. Going forward, I am planning on changing the slideshows on the Politicians page to match the ones Maria made for several of the other pages, because I think they look nicer and allow for a slightly longer caption in a bigger font size.

I am in the early stages of adding analysis to the Politicians subpage and the Future page. On the Politicians page, I added a section currently titled “Political Leadership Analysis” in which I will discuss the legislators’ strategy, the response by other legislators, and the legislators’ methods of interacting with constituents (as it relates to secession). I also added an analysis section to the Future page, where we will talk about the likelihood of secession, whether secession is a good solution, and some possible alternatives to secession. I have a rough outline of what will go under each subheading for both the Politicians and Future pages, so I am hoping to have a more complete version of this up in the next week.

Since our site is currently very text-heavy, I am considering either adding more images, slideshows, or other elements to break up the text or creating more subpages somewhere for analysis content. I am unsure which is the better option since relevant images can be hard to find for our particular movement, and I don’t want navigating the site to be complicated or unclear. Right now I am leaning towards creating more pages, but I will have to think of a neat and organized way to do that.

Upstate New York Final Project Contract

Introduction

Timeline:

1777 – upper portion of upstate NY secedes

1791- seceded portion becomes the State of Vermont

1962 and 1964 – precedent of “one man, one vote” established

2013 – Stephen Hawley introduces a bill that would allow each NYS county to provide feedback for possible secession

Currently, there are various groups calling for upstate secession, with various amounts of cohesion. Upstate New Yorkers claim that they have been adversely affected by policies created by New York City politicians, causing them economic and social hardship. Some have called for New York State to be split up into New York (downstate) and New Amsterdam (upstate). One of the largest disputes among various secession groups is where to classify upstate and downstate. Some say the southern border of New Amsterdam should stretch horizontally from Pennsylvania, while others say that New Amsterdam should encompass everything except Long Island and the NYC Metro Area. The biggest actors currently are: NewAmsterdamny.com, UpstateNYSecede, State Senator Joseph Robach, and Assemblyman Stephen Hawley.

While the upstate New York secessionist movement is not based on ethnic identity, upstate New Yorkers share a cultural identity based on shared history as well as political, economic, and demographic factors. Upstate New Yorkers generally also share political and economic interests, which provides both cultural unity within upstate as well as significant reasons to break away from downstate. Upstate tends to be a blend of conservatives and moderate liberals. Also, Upstate New Yorkers share certain economic concerns, such as the loss of manufacturing jobs and the flight of businesses that once were central to upstate New York’s economy. Upstate New Yorkers in favor of secession believe that NYC, which is more liberal and has economic interests that are quite distinct from those of upstate, has too much influence in Albany. They argue that this negatively affects upstate, particularly by pushing a more liberal agenda and passing regulations that are driving business out of upstate, resulting in decreasing economic opportunity and freedom. The strategy of upstate New York secessionists is mainly based around amending the NYS Constitution. To do this, the proposal for a NYS Constitutional Convention on the 2017 ballot would need to be passed, and delegates who will support the amendment that would split New York into two different states would have to be elected.

Project Contract

Mission Statement and Goals

In our project, we are tracking the upstate New York secession movement, from the founding of New York State to the present. We are hoping to provide a comprehensive, easily navigated, website that would consolidate information about various upstate NY secessionist groups, as well as explain and analyze their motivations and goals.

We will start by looking at the history of upstate NY secession, by looking briefly at the Vermont secession. Then we will proceed to making a timeline about the movement and tracking it through history. We will focus a lot on the specific grievances presented by upstate NY secessionists and how they evolved over time, specifically since we are dealing with a movement that related to politico-economic grievances. We will end by looking at the current status of the movement, putting emphasis on the various groups currently engaged in upstate secession activism and the legislators in the NYS assembly and senate with upstate NY secession on their agendas. Finally, we will look at the future of the NYS secession movement by researching the upcoming NYS constitutional convention and efforts made by secessionist groups to influence constitution writing.

One goal of our site is to consolidate information on one database, since there are currently many web pages, news articles, and social media pages dedicated to various upstate NY secession movements. However, our primary aim is to explain and analyze the goals and motivations of the many groups involved in the upstate New York secession movement. This includes both leadership analysis and regional analysis of the movement.

Our audience will be primarily college students in this course, our professors, and future employers who might want an example our our technical skills. We will further make a consolidated effort to make accessible to other New Yorkers looking for research about upstate secession and activists hoping to find information and link up to groups using our page. Because of the diversity of New York State, we will ensure to use layman’s terms to describe political concepts and use simple interactive imagery, so it would be accessible to older generations of site visitors. It is our mission to also make the site very hyperlink heavy, to lead visitors to more information and primary sources, since this is a contemporary, and quickly evolving issue.

Basic Site Structure and Intended Features

Our site will consist of multiple sections with different focuses. We will have a homepage with a brief overview and pictures. There will also be an “About” section where we talk about the class and the project and and “About Us” section where we introduce ourselves. A page or section will be devoted to the history of the movement, including the Vermont secession, relevant court cases, and relevant past legislation, to act as a primer to the movement and its history in upstate. This is where we will put a timeline of events. In the history section, we will analyze  the various motives and grievances that have led the upstate NY secessionist movement and further calls for autonomy in the past. There will be another section to address more current aspects of the movement. This will include pages on individual actors, group actors, legislation, and strategy. This is where much of the analysis on leadership and specific movements will be focused. A final section will be focused on the future of the movement, particularly the potential NYS constitutional convention and possible outcomes.

Tools

For our WordPress site, we will use the Hemingway theme because it readily displays pages and subpages. We will incorporate interactive elements into our website, specifically a timeline and a map. For the timeline, we will use TimelineJS. For the map, we will use StorymapJS. We will use Canva graphic design software to edit images.

In terms of our page layout, we intend to have a static home page giving a brief overview of the Upstate New York Secession movement. In the About Tab, we intend on having a brief blurb about the class itself, and then our own mini biographies. Then in history, we plan on consolidating all our history onto one page (since we are a rather current movement) and have the timeline on the History tab. In the Present Day tab, we intend on having a page dedicated to the interviews we did with the State legislators, a page detailing the New Amsterdam Movement, and a page detailing other Upstate New York secession movements we found on social media. Finally, we will have a page speculating on the future of the movement, specifically dealing with the upcoming referendum vote in New York State.

Schedule

  • February 13th – initial visit to Livingston County Historical Society for inquiry regarding possible information about upstate secession  (Maria)
  • February 17th – reach out to several key legislators who have sponsored bills regarding upstate NY secession in the past (Maria)
  • February 23rd – Homepage, About page, and About Us page (Rachel)
  • February 25th – meet in person again and go over contract edits (Rachel + Maria)
  • February 27th – first draft of timeline (Maria) and storymap (Rachel)
  • March 6th – Bibliography of secondary materials to be consulted (Maria + Rachel)
  • March 10th – March 19th – Spring break, work on individual pages (Rachel: Politicians and Future; Maria: History, New Amsterdam, and Social Media Groups)
  • March 20th — final contract due
  • March 23rd – meet and go over website draft (Rachel + Maria)
  • March 27th – first draft of website due
  • March 27th – April 24th – meet weekly to consolidate individual progress
  • April 24th – website must be completed (Rachel + Maria)
  • April 25th – GREAT Day presentation

Upstate New York Secession: Progress Report 2

Today I put up a rough draft of the Politicians page of our website. This page currently consists of two main sections that detail Assemblyman Hawley’s and Senator Robach’s opinions and actions regarding upstate New York Secession. I included an image gallery for each legislator with photos highlighting their work on issues relevant to secession, such as economic development of upstate New York and repealing the SAFE Act. I retrieved these images from news sources and social media. However, it is difficult to cite them in the gallery format, as the caption space is very small. Currently I have put the source in the title of each image so that it is shown when you hover over it. In Assemblyman Hawley’s section, I included a breakdown of his views on several issues relating to secession, including the reasons for secession, how the 2016 Presidential Election has invigorated the movement for secession, and his proposed actions. In Senator Robach’s section, I included an overview of the referendum he has proposed as well as the statement he gave us when we reached out to him. This page will likely evolve as we develop our website more. Specifically, I would like to make it more engaging somehow, as right now it is mostly blocks of text.

Upstate New York Secession: Progress Report 1

I made some decent progress on our website today. I edited the Present Day page to include an updated StoryMap, to which I added images from Wikimedia Commons and Flikr Creative Commons. I am considering adding slides to the StoryMap to include a brief introduction to two more key issues, Medicaid and education, that Senator Hawley brought up in our interview with him. However, the StoryMap is already somewhat lengthy, and I am concerned about possible redundancy once we fill out the rest of the site. I will probably have to come back to the StoryMap after I finish some other pages so I can add or remove slides to make the StoryMap function more as an interactive overview of the current movement.

I also updated the homepage to include an image, and I edited some of the text to remove some potentially irrelevant or redundant information that will be or is already included in other sections of the site. Currently the homepage includes a brief introduction to the movement, aimed at giving an overview of the main concerns and actors.

Me trying to insert images

After some struggles with adding an image to the homepage, I decided to add images to the About Us page just as an exercise in figuring out how to format images nicely within a page. I had some trouble getting the text to wrap around images in a way that made sense, but I mostly figured it out.

I also made some updates to the project contract. I edited the tools and design section to more accurately reflect what tools we are using and the theme we have chosen. I updated the schedule section to include the final contract due date, as well as who is working on what pages over spring break.

Updated Project Contract

Introduction

Timeline:

1777 – upper portion of upstate NY secedes

1791- seceded portion becomes the State of Vermont

1962 and 1964 – precedent of “one man, one vote” established

2013 – Stephen Hawley introduces a bill that would allow each NYS county to provide feedback for possible secession

Currently, there are various groups calling for upstate secession, with various amounts of cohesion. Upstate New Yorkers claim that they have been adversely affected by policies created by New York City politicians, causing them economic and social hardship. Some have called for New York State to be split up into New York (downstate) and New Amsterdam (upstate). One of the largest disputes among various secession groups is where to classify upstate and downstate. Some say the southern border of New Amsterdam should stretch horizontally from Pennsylvania, while others say that New Amsterdam should encompass everything except Long Island and the NYC Metro Area. The biggest actors currently are: NewAmsterdamny.com, UpstateNYSecede, State Senator Joseph Robach, and Assemblyman Stephen Hawley.

While the upstate New York secessionist movement is not based on ethnic identity, upstate New Yorkers share a cultural identity based on shared history as well as political, economic, and demographic factors. Upstate New Yorkers generally also share political and economic interests, which provides both cultural unity within upstate as well as significant reasons to break away from downstate. Upstate tends to be a blend of conservatives and moderate liberals. Also, Upstate New Yorkers share certain economic concerns, such as the loss of manufacturing jobs and the flight of businesses that once were central to upstate New York’s economy. Upstate New Yorkers in favor of secession believe that NYC, which is more liberal and has economic interests that are quite distinct from those of upstate, has too much influence in Albany. They argue that this negatively affects upstate, particularly by pushing a more liberal agenda and passing regulations that are driving business out of upstate, resulting in decreasing economic opportunity and freedom. The strategy of upstate New York secessionists is mainly based around amending the NYS Constitution. To do this, the proposal for a NYS Constitutional Convention on the 2017 ballot would need to be passed, and delegates who will support the amendment that would split New York into two different states would have to be elected.

Project Contract

Mission Statement and Goals

In our project, we are tracking the upstate New York secession movement, from the founding of New York State to the present. We are hoping to provide a comprehensive, easily navigated, website that would consolidate information about various upstate NY secessionist groups, as well as explain and analyze their motivations and goals.

We will start by looking at the history of upstate NY secession, by looking briefly at the Vermont secession. Then we will proceed to making a timeline about the movement and tracking it through history. We will focus a lot on the specific grievances presented by upstate NY secessionists and how they evolved over time, specifically since we are dealing with a movement that related to politico-economic grievances. We will end by looking at the current status of the movement, putting emphasis on the various groups currently engaged in upstate secession activism and the legislators in the NYS assembly and senate with upstate NY secession on their agendas. Finally, we will look at the future of the NYS secession movement by researching the upcoming NYS constitutional convention and efforts made by secessionist groups to influence constitution writing.

One goal of our site is to consolidate information on one database, since there are currently many web pages, news articles, and social media pages dedicated to various upstate NY secession movements. However, our primary aim is to explain and analyze the goals and motivations of the many groups involved in the upstate New York secession movement. This includes both leadership analysis and regional analysis of the movement.

Our audience will be primarily college students in this course, our professors, and future employers who might want an example our our technical skills. We will further make a consolidated effort to make accessible to other New Yorkers looking for research about upstate secession and activists hoping to find information and link up to groups using our page. Because of the diversity of New York State, we will ensure to use layman’s terms to describe political concepts and use simple interactive imagery, so it would be accessible to older generations of site visitors. It is our mission to also make the site very hyperlink heavy, to lead visitors to more information and primary sources, since this is a contemporary, and quickly evolving issue.

Basic Site Structure and Intended Features

Our site will consist of multiple sections with different focuses. We will have a homepage with a brief overview and pictures. There will also be an “About” section where we talk about the class and the project and and “About Us” section where we introduce ourselves. A page or section will be devoted to the history of the movement, including the Vermont secession, relevant court cases, and relevant past legislation, to act as a primer to the movement and its history in upstate. This may be where we put a timeline of events. In the history section, we will analyze  the various motives and grievances that have led the upstate NY secessionist movement and further calls for autonomy in the past. There will be another section to address more current aspects of the movement. This will include pages on individual actors, group actors, legislation, and strategy. This is where much of the analysis on leadership and specific movements will be focused. A final section will be focused on the future of the movement, particularly the potential NYS constitutional convention and possible outcomes.

Tools

For our WordPress site, we will use one of the themes that readily displays pages and subpages, such as Hemingway. We plan on incorporating interactive elements into our website, including a timeline and a map. For the timeline, we will use TimelineJS. For the map, we will use StorymapJS and/or GIS. We will use Canva graphic design software to edit images. If we get a chance to do a formal interview with legislators involved in the movement, we may use some kind of audio editing; however, this is very conditional.

Schedule

  • February 13th – initial visit to Livingston County Historical Society for inquiry regarding possible information about upstate secession  (Maria)
  • February 17th – reach out to several key legislators who have sponsored bills regarding upstate NY secession in the past (Maria)
  • February 23rd – Homepage, About page, and About Us page (Rachel)
  • February 25th – meet in person again and go over contract edits (Rachel + Maria)
  • February 27th – first draft of timeline (Maria) and storymap (Rachel)
  • March 1st – final contract due
  • March 6th – Revised timeline and storymap, and bibliography of secondary materials to be consulted (Maria + Rachel)
  • March 10th – March 19th – Work on individual pages (to be decided and divided up at a later time)
  • March 23rd – meet and go over website draft (Rachel + Maria)
  • March 27th – first draft of website due
  • March 27th – April 24th – meet weekly to consolidate individual progress
  • April 24th – website must be completed (Rachel + Maria)
  • April 25th – GREAT Day presentation
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