The Updates #16

Estimated Reading Time: 8 minutes

Week 16 of the updates and I'm still surprised I'm going at it!


A good conversation with a committee member who is the phenomenographic specialist. That has helped me prepare for the next few weeks as I dive back into the data and begin to make sense of it. I don't feel as productive as I would have liked to this week but next week, I will be putting in a lot of time to dissertating, so I hope by next post, I have better updates!
  • 101 days until March 1
  • 115 days until March 15
  • 146 days until April 15
A plastic figure of the Incredible Hulk standing hip-deep in a bush of mint.
Hulk: Mint Green Variety

It was a good week this week. I felt like I was moving forward on a lot of small things, connecting with and supporting colleagues and faculty, and I even put together a couch. But what I appreciated most about this week and my work at CU is how it is connecting me with my community.

I was invited by a colleague to attend a gathering on Monday at the Nonviolence Institute in Providence; it’s right around the corner from College Unbound. The meeting was being led by a faculty member at CU who is also the Director of Providence’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging department–an entity that is trying to make sense of and address Providence’s past history of racism, discrimination and violence to make a city while reimagining what a city can look like when it works towards models of more inclusion and recognition of the fullest range of citizens as possible.

The director and other key members were sharing some of the amazing work they have been involved with including work with the Providence Municipal Reparations Commission charged with $10 million to begin to redress the opportunities taken from the Black and Indigenous communities as a result of racist policies and structures. It was really fascinating and inspiring to be in a room of community leaders converging to think about what it means to do better by the people.

That’s how the week started and then Friday night, I attended an event that College Unbound was hosting which was an Indigenous Peoples Social celebration. This was a celebration of indigenous peoples, in particular, the Narragansett tribe–a tribe of indigenous people that have been around for 30,000 years on this land and are alive and have a vibrant community in Rhode Island, despite historical and ongoing efforts by local, state, and federal governments to eliminate them and their sovereignty. Several CU staff and alumni are part of the Narragansett tribe and so this celebration was also an opportunity for them to come together, share food, prayers, and dance together. The CU staff are folks that I admire and whom I find are just thoughtful and kind in many ways–so to get to see this side of them.

Both of these events helped me to feel more part of the community that I work and live in and make me think about what it means to be present and part of such events as a white male. In both cases, the amount of white people could be counted on one hand. And that's an interesting consideration. Are there few white people because the idea that these are Black and Indigenous spaces or the implicit bias that such places are not issues or matters of importance to white folks. I lean more towards the latter given the open invitation and encouragement to attend such events by the people running them. Still, it leads me to think about what it means to attend and be a part of events and activities that reflect our student body, our staff, and the community I live in. So I appreciated the ways such work-related activities made me think more broadly about my life.

What I'm Reading

A group of mum flowers slightly folded over and past their prime.
The Fall of the Mums
Economic Dignity by Gene Sperling: Sperling has a compelling take on one of the more deeply rooted challenges within the US culture and that is the absence of economic dignity--the ways our structures make it nearly impossible for people to feel like they can manageable make ends meet without having to sacrifice parts of themselves or feeling like there is no end to it all. He provides a range of possibilities on ways to address this and advance economic agendas that can both center this idea and be economically sound and successful. Yet, while strong of analysis and ideas, the "how" of getting there feels a bit light and leaves one wanting more.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin: I found this book enjoyable and the idea of a love-story platonic love story between two characters, who both need and at times, are frustrated or uncertain about the other to be well done. The story focuses around Sadie and Samson who meet one another at a hospital as children; over the next few decades they will circle each other and find a love of gaming that leads them to make some of the most memorable games, but love interests, business, and family create its fair share of conflict. It's not an epic story but a story that I think happens all too often and Zevin's prose that give us the world through their eyes made it an enjoyable journey.

What I'm Watching

Rings of Power: I finally finished this first season and I'm still kind of meh about it.  Visually--it's gorgeous. Content wise though it still feels a bit hollow. It reminds me of the cinematic Lord of the Rings where the characters feel one-dimensional or just a singular story to be working through. In some ways, it doesn't give us enough to really care about the characters as complex and real people and at the same time, it feels like there's a lot to figure out from geography to characters showing up in the last two episodes that raise the stakes in a different direction.  Still, I watched it all and certainly felt more pull at the end of the series.  But to consider that it took nearly a billion dollars to make and I can't help but thinking it that I would have been fine with less special effects and more meatier and nuanced stories.

White Lotus: We just finished Season 1 of this show.  It reminds me of the line from Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." (Note to self--I really should read this novel!). I enjoyed it; an ensemble cast in an exotic location (much like Rings of Power). You have the newly-weds on their honeymoon, the family who doesn't get along, and the older woman on a mission to place her mom's ashes in the ocean--and the staff who have to meet their every wishes.  For 6 episodes, we follow their week-long vacation as tensions raise, truthbombs get dropped, and people regret their decisions. There are laughs, dark moments, and call-out moments.  But what I like about it is that it doesn't provide a clean ending (not going to spoil the ending). Some characters progress and others regress and there's no inherent rhyme or reason to it.  

This Week's Photos

Hulk: Mint Green Variety: We were doing yard work together and my mint, even in 30-40 degree weather is doing just dandy.  I was starting to move my herbs into the basement garden and realized the Hulk should also be moved in but not before I snapped this shot of him in what appears to be eating the mint.  

The Fall of the Mums: The sign of November and the switch from a summer-to-fall transition to a fall-to-winter transition is (for me) epitomized with this image of mums slowly decaying.  In this case, I took a shot of the photo, knowing that these would soon end up on the compost heap but their color still holding on a little bit in the cool sunny morning.

What's on My Mind

I'm thinking about the week ahead.  Yes, there is family time and celebration and also, there is me trying to do a really deep initial dive into my data.  Some of this week will be cleaning up transcripts but it will also be trying to start the practice of getting my head around the new (and slightly ginormous) task before me:  turning the raw data into finding through analysis that includes reading, rereading, comparing, and starting to draw out the meaning.  So that's where all my energy is currently focused.  We'll see where I am next week!

Till next week...

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