Where I am—and where I’m (hopefully) going!

Hey friends –

What a crazy week. I hope you’re all doing well, and staying safe. I’m writing this post from the Law Library, where they have every other chair on top of the table for social distancing. I miss being in NQ with all of you, and am really looking forward to chatting with you next week on BlueJeans.

My project has evolved quite a bit since talking with you all last. To get you all up to speed, I’ve decided to change topics. As we listened to the former capstone students chat about their time in the class, I heard a recurring theme: “Make sure you are in love with—and totally invested in—your project. Your heart needs to be there.” I had fashioned a project about loneliness in the United States. I was intrigued by it because I saw it not only as a devastatingly sad issue, but also one that has drastic consequences. I had come to find that the effects of isolation are immense—both individually and collectively. But as I pondered it a bit more, and as I began to devote more brainpower to it, I could tell that something was off. And then it hit me. The words in class resonated perfectly. My heart wasn’t in it, and I thought I knew exactly where it might be: my dog.

To my mind, the general topic of this project will be—very simply—dogs. More specifically, I’d like to document certain people’s relationships with their dogs (what it means to them, what it provides, memorable anecdotes, etc.). I know it sounds a little vague, but stick with me. I’ll narrow the scope and provide a bit more background. The topline, over-arching question that will run through this project is:

(1) What is the inherent value that dogs provide in people’s lives? In other words, what benefits, if any, do they confer onto their “owners” or the people around them?

When I pivoted to this topic, I still wanted to stick with the podcast as my medium. The structure was going to be as follows:

(1) 4-5 podcast episodes with folks who have a dog(s)—and have stories that they are willing to share.

(2) Each episode will be guided by a set of interview questions (roughly seven or eight). These are, of course, the shell or outline of the conversations, but can be filled in with other tangents, comments, etc.

(3) The podcasts will be featured on my website under a tab entitled “THEIR STORIES”, and each sub-tab will feature their specific episode.

(4) In their specific pages, I will display not only an audio clip of their episode, but also a written transcript of our discussion. In this way, the viewer will have two options: to read the entire dialogue, or to more casually listen to it.

(5) These pages will also (ideally) feature photos of the individual and their dog.

(6) In addition to the “THEIR STORIES” tabs, this website will also feature “MY STORY” and “YOUR STORY” sections. The former will detail my story, with my answers to my set interview questions. And then the latter will offer the viewer the option of inputting his or her own story. They will be given a PDF document of the 7-8 interview questions so that they can reflect—or, perhaps, ask others around them.

Now that we are transitioning to online classes—and buildings/events are being shut down—I am thinking it might be wiser to stick to a written/non-audio project. I would still like to interview people, but getting in the podcast booth with them may prove to be a little tricky. With that in mind, I could still interview folks, and then transcribe their answers onto my website (similar to what Ashley did for her project).

I am fairly comfortable with this potential switch. If I were to do this, I could potentially feature a few more tabs on my website, aside from personal stories. As of now, I have 2 folks to interview (and am hoping for 2-3 more), and I have my interview questions set. I am looking forward to chatting with them next week, and then beginning to build my website. I’m really looking forward to getting these conversations rolling, and then to doing my own personal narrative/writing.

If you’ve gotten this far, thank you! And if you—or someone you know—has a special relationship with their dog, let me know! Talk to you all soon 🙂

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