If watching a movie is like seeing another world, then his latest film is like teleporting to one.

He went from rap videos to the cutting edge of immersive filmmaking. And what he's doing with it is absolutely wonderful.

Chris Milk went into film because he sees its world-changing potential.

Milk is a photographer, designer, a bit of a techy, and a filmmaker. His career picked up steam through his mind-blowing media collaborations with some of the most prominent names in music, like Green Day, Arcade Fire, and Kanye West.


His hype video for Kanye West's "Touch the Sky" landed him in the middle of a lawsuit with his boyhood hero, Evel Knievel. (It was settled amicably.)

But Milk believes in order to get the most out of film, not only do the ideas have to evolve, but so does the medium itself.

"Film, it's an incredible medium, but essentially, it's the same now as it was then. It's a group of rectangles that are played in a sequence. ... I started thinking about, is there a way that I can use modern and developing technologies to tell stories in different ways and tell different kinds of stories that maybe I couldn't tell using the traditional tools of filmmaking that we've been using for 100 years? ... What I was trying to do was to build the ultimate empathy machine."
— Chris Milk

Enter: VIRTUAL REALITY!

Milk says watching traditional film is like looking through a window into another world. But he wanted to put people in that other world. The solution: virtual reality (VR).

He and his tech team built this 360-degree 3D camera and mic gizmo to shoot films that would allow people to not just see but experience another world through VR.


He didn't shoot more Kanye videos with that 3D camera. He started with Syria.

Syrians have become one of the largest refugee populations in the world. Milk wanted to tell that story.

His first virtual reality film, "Clouds Over Sidra," is about a little Syrian girl whose family fled the violent civil war in their country and now live in a refugee camp in Jordan.

When you see the film in VR, you can physically look around and see everything the camera saw. But here's some sample footage stretched out into a traditional film rectangle:



"When you're inside of the headset. you're not seeing it like this. You're looking around through this world. You'll notice you see full 360 degrees, in all directions. ... You're not watching it through a television screen. You're not watching it through a window. You're sitting there with her. When you look down, you're sitting on the same ground that she's sitting on. And because of that, you feel her humanity in a deeper way. You empathize with her in a deeper way."
— Chris Milk

Then he took the film to some people whose jobs it is to make change possible.

After Milk finished his film in Syria, he and his team took their film — and a gang of VR headsets — to the World Economic Forum and showed it to people who could make decisions that would improve the situation for those refugees.

The film was a hit. Maybe not in the same way as "Transformers," but it affected the group enough to catch the attention of the United Nations.

Changing the world, according to Milk, means you have to change people's minds.

Now, Milk is shooting a series of films around the world that will take policymakers out of their armchairs and put them virtually on the ground in places where global aid is sorely needed.

Learn more about how he's expanding his project around the world:

Personally, I'm excited for a chance to experience these films. Meanwhile, here's hoping that Milk is right about what they could do for global empathy and positive change.

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A new Harriet Tubman statue sculpted by Emmy and Academy award-winner Wesley Wofford has been revealed, and its symbolism is moving to say the least.

Harriet Tubman was the best known "conductor" on the Underground Railroad, a network of safe houses that helped thousands of enslaved black Americans make their way to freedom in the north in the early-to-mid 1800s. Tubman herself escaped slavery in 1849, then kept returning to the Underground Railroad, risking her life to help lead others to freedom. She worked as a spy for the Union Army during the Civil War, and after the war dedicated her life to helping formerly enslaved people try to escape poverty.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

Culture
via Kenneth Goldsmith / Twitter

The Hillary Clinton email scandal was a major right-wing talking point during the 2016 election that aimed to create an air of suspicion around the candidate.

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The controversy surrounded Clinton's use of a private email account in which over 30,000 emails were sent during her time as Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013. An FBI interrogation found there were 110 confidential emails sent from her private account.

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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