Students use documentary to show similarities among bus riders
By familiarizing herself with Capital Area Transportation Authority, or CATA, bus riders, Kathryn Palczewski hopes to help bring two communities together.
The Residential College in the Arts and Humanities and professional writing sophomore said throughout her time at MSU, she has noticed a lack of communication between the residents of East Lansing and Lansing — two cities that are but a bus ride apart.
“We have Michigan’s biggest university (in East Lansing), and the state Capitol (in Lansing), but there’s no connection between them,” she said. “One of the only things that connects the two cities is the CATA buses.”
To better explore the disconnect between the residents of these two cities, Palczewski, along with her partner, art education sophomore Chelsea Kirksey, and about five other volunteers, embarked on a mission to create a documentary titled “The CATA Project,” which the students began filming Friday. The documentary is a project Palczewski and Kirksey have been working on since the beginning of the semester as fellows for the College of Arts and Letters Creativity Exploratory, which is a space for students to work on creative enterprises.
Palczewski and her team interviewed about 30 bus riders at the CATA Transportation Center, 420 S. Grand Ave., in Lansing, on Friday and also shot several scenes of passengers getting on and off buses. Using equipment provided by the College of Arts and Letters Creativity Exploratory, Palczewski said after about three hours Friday, the workers were able to complete most of the necessary filming.
Like Palczewski, kinesiology freshman Kelsey Schisler, who often rides CATA buses throughout campus and East Lansing, said she has noticed a disconnect between these neighboring communities. When Schisler rode a bus into Lansing for the first time, she said the city’s environment was noticeably dissimilar from the one she has grown accustomed to while living on campus.
“It was a lot different, (and) some people were kind of intimidating-looking,” she said. “There were a lot more families and older people who were on the buses, not just students.”
Palczewski said she hopes to unite area residents, showing these CATA riders that they aren’t that different from one another.
“The point of this documentary is to see that these people do have an identity, and they live here and they have a story,” she said. “We can get to know them, and we can have this community.”
It was out of boredom that English sophomore Ronald Kim decided to offer his assistance to Palczewski.
“I just really wanted to get involved with something because I was feeling bored, and it seemed like a really cool thing to do,” he said.
Palczewski said project interviewers, such as Kim, were instructed to get to know the riders they were speaking to and ask them to share their life story. Although he has no prior interviewing experience, Kim said he hopes to gain those skills and be of use to the documentary team.
“Hopefully the people will like me, and they’ll use some of the footage I have,” he said. “I’ll get to be a part of something, and that’ll be a jump-start to future projects.”
Now the editing process begins, and Palczewski said she plans to have the product completed in time to present it at the University Undergraduate Research and Art Forum, which will take on April 13.
Through her involvement with the project, Palczewski said she realized the significance of taking the time to get to know people and hopes other students who see her work will come to the same conclusion.
“I learned the importance of starting conversations with people and asking them what their story is,” she said. “People can really learn from each other and continue to grow by hearing other people’s stories.”