I've been working on the preface to my dissertation this morning, a kind of personal narrative of how I got interested in place blogging and where I've ended up now as I finish up. I began wondering if the rise of Facebook has affected the blogging practices of those I've been following in my projec, so I posed the question to place bloggers who are also Facebook friends:
Hi Alison, Fred, Maria, and Lorianne,
I'm working on the final revisions of my dissertation and in my preface I'm reflecting on how I got interested in placeblogging and where I've ended up now. Since Facebook has emerged as a significant shift in social media since the time the early days of place blogging, I thought I would invite all my Ecotone Facebook friends to reflect on the relationship between Facebook and your blogging practice.
Here are some questions that I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on, should you be so inclined to reflect:
— Do you feel like your Facebook activity is a response to the same impulses/needs/interests that got you into blogging?
— Do you think that these tools have affected what you're doing when you blog? Are you doing things in Facebook that you might have done in your blog in the past?
— What about the role of microblogging tools like Twitter or Facebook status?
— How would you compare the social network of Facebook and the network associated with your blogging?
— How does Facebook affect your personal attention economy, how you allocate your limit resources of attention toward blogging or other parts of your life?
Thanks for any thoughts you might be interested in throwing out–that is, if you can find any time between blogging, FB, Twitter….. 🙂
Of course, if anyone else has thoughts, please feel free to comment.
This last week I began the final Dissertation Smackdown, the last days of vacation I take to try to finish up the dissertation. When I have to spent extended periods of time writing, my body needs some role to play while my mind is doing most of the heavy lifting. Often my body gets involved through pacing, walking out the ideas when they get particularly troublesome. But the last few days, I've found myself dancing rather than pacing, doing a little dissertation gig each time I feel the urge to get up. Sometimes I dance to jazz (Dave Brubeck Radio on Pandora) or more electronic stuff like the Quantic Soul Orchestra. Whatever the style, it's helped keep me from going crazy after a day of wrangling with the same intransigent ideas.
So yesterday it seemed like a sign when NPR interviewed someone who created a dance competition for PhD's called "Dance Your PhD." I'm not sure I have time at the moment to begin choreographing my routine, but somehow it's nice to know there might be another creative outlet for this project after it begins gathering dust in the library.
Four years ago I posted an entry with this photo in response to the election:
That morning I was trying to focus on anything bright as a dark frame seemed to close in around me; this morning it feels like we’ve stepped outside into something brighter. My eyes are still adjusting, but it’s quite a sight to behold so far.
This past week I’ve been reflecting on how my sense of place has changed now that a neighbor has been shot and killed across the street from where I live.
While I was away last weekend, Garibaldis Pena, 27, was gunned down as he put a car seat into his sister’s car. It appears to have been a gang-related incident police think might be tied to other killings early this year in JP and Roxbury.
It still seems surreal that this happened so nearby since I wasn’t here as it took place, to hear the three gunshots, to hear the screams of his mother as she emerged from the house, to hear the police cars and ambulances turn down the street, to see the mourners gather on the sidewalks around the house to light candles and weep together. Now things are back to normal, with little sign that anything happened.
Mauricio, a Boston cop in my condo association, was on duty and was one of the first on the scene. He has a long history in the neighborhood and says this kind of incident is extremely rare. But this happens every day in other parts of the city, he said, a reminder to me that my experience of urban life quite different from many of my fellow Bostonians just a mile or two away. Our physical proximity might be relatively near, but in terms of social proximity we are usually worlds apart.
While this killing is disturbing, it doesn’t make me feel less safe or make me second guess my choice to live here. It does, however, make me more sensitive to the complexity of urban life and how easy it can be to exist in my narrow perspective without much awareness of the many other layers of experience going on around me, even in the same places. And it reminds me that I have a lot to learn about where I am and what it means to know my neighbors.
Many autumns just slip by, with only moments of awareness, a few accidental fleeting changes to soak it in and enjoy the particular pleasures of the season. This particularly unfortunate in New England, where the fall presentation is done so expertly.
I expected I would be even less attentive to fall this time around, given the push to get my dissertation done by Christmas break. But by mid-October I had taken my second dissercation week off from work and was able to hand in a full draft to my committee. We immediately left town for a very enjoyable weekend camping with friends in the White Mountains, where the view from Mt. Lafayette provided a fantastic vantage point for the whole spectacle.
There was enough time between this trip and the first dissertation feedback that we could slip in another trip last weekend, this time to the Finger Lakes region of upstate NY. The main reason to go was to finally visit Andrew at Cornell and meet up with Ken and Irene. It was great to see everyone, and it was even better that we were able to explore the waterfalls of Watkin’s Glen with enough fall foliage and sunlight to make the gorges even more stunning.
Now the final dissertation sprint has begun, but I’m thankful that won’t have to mortgage all of autumn to pay for what I hope will be a great Christmas present–for myself and for everyone else who will be glad when it’s done.
This past week I took the week off to work on my dissertation–more like a “staycation” than a real vacation. Or perhaps I should call it a “dissercation,” to coin a really ugly word. It like the way it has hints of “diss” words (dissatisfied, diservice, dissipate, dissonance) on one end and of “altercation” on the other. In any case, it was cage match with me and the dissertation, and I put it to the mat until it begged for mercy. I talked a lot of smack and made sure it knew that things are different now. It’s had the run of my life for too many years, but now it knows its days are numbered.
By the end of the week, I came away with drafts of four out of five chapters, and I feel good about the progress. I still have a ways to go to pull together a full draft by the end of the summer, but I now feel more confident it will happen.
It was easier to focus for the week because I got a good weekend of hiking in with Cathy beforehand. We hiked Mt. Washington and stayed over night at the Lakes of the Clouds AMC hut about an hour hike from the summit.
As alway happens when we hike, it rained. We hiked in the rain almost the entire way up Tuckerman’s Ravine and the last scramble to the summit was a cold mix of rain and wind. On the top, we couldn’t see more than 50 feet in any direction, so we just enjoyed the the chance to warm up and eat some chili before heading down to the hut.
But it was still great to get a taste of Mt. Washington (my first time) and I look forward to the views next time around.
More photos here
Yesterday afternoon Ben and I biked up to Gloucester where we joined other friends to take in the annual Greasy Pole Competition (read more for Wikipedia). Despite the forecast of thunderstorms, we enjoyed a very pleasant weather for our ride and even after missing our turn in Manchester by the Sea, we still managed to get there in time to watch a good part of the competition.
Here's a one-minute recap of yesterday's event:
This evening I stopped by the first potluck of the year at the Minton Stable Garden two blocks away from my place. I sauteed up the collard greens from my CSA and they actually got eaten (even by some kids). Thanks to Laurel for sharing some of her fish–I came away with to nice pieces of sea bass.
The Minton Stable Garden was built on an old stable that fell into disrepair but was reclaimed by a group of dedicated gardeners from the neighborhood. Due to their hard work, the space is now a permanent community garden part of the Boston Natural Areas Network.
The evening a memorial was dedicated to John Carroll, the first person to begin gardening here and one of the chief stewards of the space. He died in November and this potluck was a chance for friends, family, and community members to pay tribute to him and spread his ashes in the garden that he worked so hard to create.
This video gives a brief portrait of what he was like:
This evening after work I stopped by Community Servings here in JP to pick up my first CSA delivery of fruits and veggies straight from Heaven’s Harvest Farm in New Braintree, MA. It’s the first time I’ve tried community supported agriculture, so after reading Michael Polland and Bill McKibben recently, I’m excited to try out a new relationship to my food.
Here’s what I got in this delivery (as closely as I can identify):
a lemony mint plant
If anyone has relevant recipes, please don’t hesitate to send them my way.
I spent last Thursday and Friday in Woodstock, VT with a group of people invited by the Orton Foundation to discuss their "Heart and Soul" approach to planning. The invitation seemed to come out of the blue a few months ago, since I was aware of the Orton Foundation's work but not involved with them at all. Apparently they had seen my work on place blogging and wanted to have someone in the group who had experienve thinking about place and technology, but I went into the gathering a bit unsure of what I would have to contribute.
Most of the folks there were planners and community development types, heads of non-profits and foundations, and others with much more experience actually making places. I've just been sitting in front of my computer writing about people who write about places. But I was glad for the chance to hear how they talked about place
The Orton Family Foundation works to build vibrant and enduring communities. We help small cities and towns articulate, implement and steward their heart and soul assets so that they can adapt to change while enhancing the attributes they value most. The Foundation promotes inclusive, proactive decision-making and land use planning by providing guidance, tools, research, capital and other support to citizens and leaders.
"The need for a new approach is predicated on our belief that land use planning in America has yeet to live up to its full potential to engage a broad base of local citizens in defining and shaping the future of their communities. The traditional quantitative approach to planning generate and use important data about demographic and economic shifts, but frequently fail to account for the particular ways people relate to their surroundings, and usually ignore or discount the more nuanced information like shared values, beliefs, and quirky customs that strengthen community"