"it’s one thing to survive, and another to live."
May 1, 2013 1:05 PM   Subscribe

This past September, Jessica Ann Lum won a "Best Feature" award in the student-journalist category from the Online News Association, for her Master's project: "Slab City Stories." Less than four months later, on January 13, 2013, she passed away. She was 25. "Jessica loved to tell people’s stories. This is hers."

CJR: More of Jessica Lum's work. Also of interest: Mission Bike Portraits

From 2009: Online posts help cancer patient share feelings. Ms. Lum was diagnosed with terminal Stage IV metastatic pheochromocytoma in 2008.

Her article archive at UCLA's Daily Bruin includes: 'Journalism’s richest experiences are created by the people.'

Additional Obituaries
* The Daily Bruin
* The Sacramento Bee
* Daily Californian

Slab City
Slab City, CA is a makeshift town created by squatters on a former Marine base-turned-squatter-RV-park in the California desert. It was previously covered on MeFi back in 2004. "Slab City Stories" was featured on NPR back in October.

The community posted an obituary announcement for Ms. Lum in January:
"The piece she did on Slab City is what brought her to us, the residents of Slab City. Her sensitive engaging pictures and recounting of residents’ own stories endeared her to us. She earned our full respect. Respect that is not freely given to many media groups that enter our gates. She lived with us for weeks at a time more than once to truly get a feel for who we are. She was not like other media visitors that blasted in looking for a quick buck, taking quick shots, manipulating the ”stories” into the director’s preconceived staged “documentary”.

We would like her family to know: She will be remembered as one of our kindred spirits."
posted by zarq (12 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Iridic at 1:12 PM on May 1, 2013

Slab City Stories is beautiful and heartfelt and so so well done. I can't recommend it enough. Thanks for this post!
posted by wemayfreeze at 1:16 PM on May 1, 2013

I read the piece on CJR this morning, and you've done a wonderful job of organizing all materials. Great post.
posted by gladly at 1:24 PM on May 1, 2013

posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:27 PM on May 1, 2013

posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:30 PM on May 1, 2013

posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:40 PM on May 1, 2013

Pheochromocytomas are tumors/cancers of the adrenal glands. If these lead to a large increase in catecholamine production, they might be able to produce mania in the same way that amphetamines can.
posted by phenylphenol at 1:53 PM on May 1, 2013

gladly and wemayfreeze, thanks.

I didn't include something in this post because I couldn't figure out what exactly her involvement was, but now I know: Ms. Lum designed and produced the web package for a special project on Koreans in America and Seoul for The Washington Post. She also shot, edited and produced two videos for it: "Changing Course," about a UCLA golfer and "The Return," about a woman with schizophrenia who returns to mental hospitals to help other patients. There doesn't seem to be any way to link directly to those videos, and I couldn't find them on YouTube. Source: her dev page.

Also, her Vimeo channel.
posted by zarq at 1:57 PM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

That's very sad. She had an enormously bright future.

posted by mudpuppie at 2:01 PM on May 1, 2013

Thank you for this post. Here's one more tribute to her with some photos and links.

Miss you, Jess...
posted by perryfugue at 2:07 PM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

I backed the Slab City Stories Kickstarter project. I had no idea she was sick or she passed away until someone posted an update saying she'd passed away. Amazingly that same person has said the family is committed to finishing Jessica's project and distributing it. I could care less about my $20, but that seems like a nice way to honor her work and too-short legacy.
posted by Nelson at 2:21 PM on May 1, 2013

posted by Duffington at 4:49 PM on May 1, 2013

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