Seeing Rebecca Solnit with Fellow Minor

This past Monday, Shannon and I went to listen to Rebecca Solnit’s talk, “Hope and Emergency.” Shannon suggested we go listen to her speech after reminding me how helpful analyzing her video in class was at the beginning of the semester. As she mentioned in her blog post, I was also a little hesitant about watching the speech. Her soft-spoken nature did not come across very strongly to me via video, and I was worried that this would be the case in person, as well. After all, the video we watched for class did not positively impact my thought process about my own project until I discussed it with fellow minors.

Luckily, this was not the case when listening to her in person. Her soft, calm voice was extremely strong. And this strength in it was only furthered by the fact that she was standing in front of a completely full auditorium that was silent, listening eagerly to every word she said. Every so often, she would take a short moment to take a sip of her water…and it was at these moments that she allowed her last spoken words to linger a little longer. This smooth, natural execution is what made her in-person delivery that much more impactful.

What stuck with me the most from her talk was when she talked about shortsightedness being such a huge issue. She addressed this by speaking of recent protests and how it is important to deal with power by not solely focusing on the past or present. Rebecca commented on how the focus always has to be the future. And how what we do now DOES make a difference.

This particularly resonated with me with regards to my project.

I find myself focusing on my past research. I also find myself focusing on where I am now with it. Sometimes I struggle to get past my current frame of mind regarding my progress, and I feel as though what I’m doing now is not as important or groundbreaking as I would like it to be. But keeping Rebecca’s advice in mind, I know that the parts I am working on now ARE extremely important.

Sticking to my production plan.

Continuing my research and annotated bibliographies.

Preparing and delivering my presentation pitch.

All these items, although not in a final deliverable state, WILL help me get to my end goal. Yes, there will be challenges and obstacles that may alter my path I initially laid out for my work. But, as Rebecca spoke to, reminding myself that everything I am doing now has importance in my final deliverable will continue to drive me.

Remaining Objective in a Subjective World

One of the main objectives of my Capstone project was to remain objective. Journalism and news today is so biased and exists for so many different political, social, and personal interests, and I wanted to help inspire a new genre of journalism that put objectivity at the top of its priority list. This task, however, is more difficult than I thought.

Remaining objective is one of the most important characteristics in ideal journalism. Journalism exists as a source of information for the people of a democracy. This information is “supposed to” be unbiased, thorough, and come from all ends of the political and social spectrum. The people of the democracy are then tasked with reading all of this information and deciding which viewpoint they personally believe in. This was the sort of objectivity I was hoping to replicate in my magazine project.

Objectivity is not just important for the people of a democracy, but it is extremely important for the women of a democracy. Today, men in the government are largely responsible for making decisions about issues that relate directly to women. While this lack of say in such issues is demeaning to women, it also suggests that women need not inform themselves about such issues since they ultimately have little to no influence in the decision making processes. This is the reason why women need to be more informed. By educating women, they can take a stance on issues that impact their lives and hopefully have more control relating to such issues. This can only be accomplished, however, if the information that women receive is objective and honest.

As I begin to write about issues that are significant to women, I find myself entering territory that can be viewed as biased. This is the case especially when I talk about politics and politicians. I had planned to make Donald Trump a major part of my magazine, but after presenting my project to the class, I realized that there is a way to talk about Donald Trump’s relation to women without have him be the focus of the content. Instead of focusing on “Donald Trump and Women’s Reproductive Rights” and I should instead focus on just women’s reproductive rights, and Donald Trump’s legislation might be mentioned at times, but it does not have to be the main focus.

As a result, I have learned why objectivity is so uncommon in the news today. In theory, it is ideal and just. In reality, it can be extremely difficult to execute.

 

Seeing Rebecca Solnit

 

On Monday, Amanda and I went to see Rebecca Solnit’s talk, titled “Hope and Emergency.” As some of you may remember, we watched a video of Solnit speak at the beginning of the semester. That was well before my project had any direction, so I thought it would be interesting to hear her again now that I my project is taking shape. I was a little nervous to see her speak because I was worried that her calm demeanor would not make for an interesting event. But this was not my experience.

Seeing Solnit speak in person was very different than watching her on my computer. When I watched her on video, I thought she was hard to follow and her voice seemed to drag on. What she was saying was interesting, but it was difficult for me to follow along. But seeing her in person was much easier for me to understand. Sure, maybe I was just able to focus better because she was standing in front of me and there weren’t internet and other computer distractions. I’m not sure what it was, but I felt I understood her speech and train of thought much better in person.

That being said, there was one point that she made that has stayed with me since Monday. Among other topics, she spent a good amount of time talking about Standing Rock and the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline. This is something I have been following for months now and I was happy that she brought it up given the recent progression in its construction. Personally, I’m with the protesters. And so is Solnit. I couldn’t tell where she was going with her points besides describing the current situation and current examples of activism.

Instead of calling for more action or a desperate hopeful cry for something extraordinary, Solnit admitted that it looks like the pipeline will be built. I hadn’t heard anyone who is against the pipeline say that before. I thought it was strange that she would be admitting defeat, but then she continued and I realized she wasn’t. She said that although this pipeline would likely be built, more pipelines probably wouldn’t. The delays caused by protesters cost billions, making future construction a less lucrative investment. Just because this one couldn’t be stopped doesn’t mean the protests and activism was a failure. Even though the goal was not technically reached, the movement was still a success.

I thought this was an incredible piece of advice that can be applied to almost anything. For the capstone project, for other classwork, for career goals and for personal goals. Maybe my capstone won’t end up exactly as I intended, but that doesn’t make it a failure. Something is bound to go wrong and I will have to make changes in my plans. As these challenges come up, I will remember Solnit’s words of wisdom and keep working.

 

Shameless Plug

I figured it’s about time to give a little update on my project. While I am very excited about the beginning design of my wix site, I still have a lot to do. I have done plenty of genre research on how the set up the educational site and I have realized that I want mine to be slightly more aesthetically appealing and to include more images than the traditional university resource site.

As far as other research, I am still waiting on students to return completed survey–as that is the most important component of my project research. While I have gotten a few surveys back thus far, I have found that waiting for people to complete them might be the most difficult part of the project. I hate leaving my fate (and also this project’s fate) in the hands of others, but I’m trying my hardest to be patient.

I have a lot of ideas about how I want to continue to design/organize my wix site, but I won’t be able to decide for sure until I get student feedback. Currently, I am hoping to compare student answers with university resource advice in a side-by-side format. If their advice is similar, I will be able to comment on that and show the connection; however, if the advice is quite different (as I am expecting), then it will be even more interesting to see the two side-by-side.

Additionally, I can’t really organize the basic tabs based on topic yet. I need to get a better idea of what the student advice is mostly focused on. I know there will be advice about academics because I asked about that specifically, but other general advice could differ. I am expecting advice about extracurriculars and general college/partying advice.

Basically, as the title of this blog post indicates….here is my shameless plug:

PLEASE FILL OUT MY SURVEY!!!!!

Providing Crucial Context

After I met with my project mentor and gave my midpoint presentation on my Capstone project, I noticed that I keep making the same mistake: I consistently forget to signal the purpose of my project. When I talk about my project, I dive right into my analysis without giving a proper context for my work. This is ironic, considering that my project highlights the importance of context in examining Frank Ocean’s Blonde. My project is meant to be a cohesive review of the album that analyzes its political significance. When I do not indicate this, however, it may sound like I’m just examining the album without a specific agenda in mind.

My mentor suggested that I create a cover page for my website with an introduction to the project. By priming the reader for what is to come, I can ensure that my work is viewed and interpreted properly. This introduction will be especially useful for my project, since it has distinct parts to it. I’m approaching Blonde from both a micro and macro perspective, examining each track before I write my overarching essay on the album. Discovering how each song fits into the larger album has allowed me to find nuances that point to larger themes of Blonde; examining individual songs has greatly informed my overall perspective of Ocean’s work. The cover page for my website can explain the connection between the two parts of my project, showing that the micro-level analysis leads to the broader essay on the album.

My mentor also pointed out how the different parts of my project are interconnected, suggesting that while individual track “reviews” lead to the overall album essay, different parts of the album review could link back to the song examinations. In this way, he said, the project is “radial.” He showed me Sarah Spitery’s Capstone website, which also has an interconnectedness to it. I included a screenshot of her homepage below. The focal essay of her project is surrounded by supplemental essays that inform the final work. I plan to arrange my website in a similar way to Sarah’s, with the smaller analyses leading to the center album review. My introductory page, though, can clue the reader into how my project functions.

Text To Video And Back To Text

As I prepared for my class presentation, I got to work deciding how exactly I would piece this baby together. For my capstone project I am creating an 8-10 minute flash documentary, which will detail the rise of veganism into mainstream popular culture. It’ll be in the form of a video, using footage pieced together from various locations found around the web and with my own or a friend’s voice over, most likely.

Though having dozens of clips at my disposal, they weren’t necessarily, well, edited yet into a nice and neat coherent presentation. Lots of fragments, lots of b-roll with no audio. These clips and the messages I’m attempting to send with them would then need to be translated into text and still images in order for people to understand my presentation. Of course, this is where much of my video information originated; from written articles, charts, and photographs that I had adapted to fit into my video. And now here these figures were being re-rendered back into text, but this time in my own words, which is a whole other story.

This translation back and forth between mediums had be envisioning the whole process as some sort of academic form of telephone. How has the message changed from its original form of text or still image? Hopefully I didn’t screw it up too badly!

Creativity & Business

When I initially decided to create a business plan for a disruptive innovation in the fashion industry, I naively thought that crafting a creative business plan would be the same process and layout as the business plans I’ve created in my entrepreneurship classes. While the fundamentals are the same (executive summary, value proposition, etc.), the ~mood~ is starkly different.

Let me explain. When you think of “business” what are some of the images that come to mind? For me, it’s men in a sharp suit, carrying a briefcase in a big city. There’s a lack of color, imagination, and flair. It’s essentially communication of getting from point A to point B efficiently and economically.

Harvey Specter

Now when you think of “creative” what are some of the images that come to mind? For me, it’s passion, emotion, and vibrancy. It’s an eccentric person with bright purple hair painting something abstract in her attic.

Granted, I recognize that both of the personas I’ve described are on extreme sides of the spectrum. However, in my business plan, I want to take both extremes into account. Since my work is geared towards fashion industry professionals, that leaves a lot of room for diversity in opinions, aesthetics, and preference.

NYFW 2017 Front Row

As I’ve completed almost 50% of my draft of my business plan, I’m starting to think about how I want to present my business plan. Do I want it to be in a PDF format, including images and graphics throughout. Or perhaps, do I want it to be more interactive? For example, one of the capstone projects in my genre uses a website to navigate the business plan. I’m starting to wonder if either of those options, or perhaps a hybrid of the two, is best for my project. I really want my project to be aesthetically pleasing as well as a testament to my style as a fashion-obsessed writer.

I think it’s okay to not have all of the answers right now, but I’m going to have to decide soon how I can pair the outlandishly creative with the traditional professional. Stay tuned…

Spring Break Is Upon Us!

OMG Spring Break is less than 10 days away! My friends are planning what types of bathing suits to bring to some gorgeous Caribbean Island or what to do at Mardi Gras. For me, I am deciding if I can have the first draft of my Capstone project complete by next Friday. What do you think?

Throughout this semester, I have felt very proactive in completing my Capstone Project. My goal was to have the first draft (which is due the week we return from Spring Break) done before break. Everything is going as planned, however I am unsure if I want to part with my project. I feel that another week of Instagram posts and revisions will allow me to produce the best draft project I can. For this reason, I have decided to continue posting everyday during break and revise my project if I desire. I will still have everything complete by next Friday, yet I will allow myself to make changes if I desire. What to you guys think about this decision? Am I crazy in love with my project?

I hope you guys have a great Spring Break! I can not wait to read the posts when everyone returns.

Learning by Listening

I want to create an interesting, entertaining podcast. But how do I do that? That’s a question I’ve been asking myself since this idea was first incepted. What equipment should I use? How would I find awesome guests? How can I help make guests feel comfortable enough to chat openly? Do I want to include any music? What should it be called?

These questions have been floating around my mind all semester. But something I’ve realized just recently is how important it is to learn by listening. In other words, I have been looking up top trending podcasts, or podcasts my friends and mentor suggest, and evaluating them. Why don’t I like the way that sounds? Why do my friends like it? What keeps them engaged? By critically analyzing current podcasts, I can learn what I like and what I don’t like, and eventually form a concrete idea of what I want and how to make it happen.

A couple podcasts from all different genres that have helped me realize what I like and don’t like:

  • Anna Faris is Unqualified
    • Anna gives not so great relationship advice alongside various celebrities ranging from the millionaire matchmaker to Seth Rogen. hilarious show.
  • The Lively Show
    • Jess Lively is a graduate from UMich and her show aims to add intention to life, discussing a range of topics from business to motherhood to wellness.
  • Bloomberg’s P&L
    • Pimm & Lisa focus on the markets, hosting guests from Bloomberg Intelligence and other influential newsmakers.

A few podcasts I plan on listening to:

  • Drink Champs
    • two rappers get guests drunk and discuss a number of topics. let’s just say this show is not for the easily offended.
  • Don’t Keep Your Day Job
    • they talk to people who made it big with doing what they love in the creative world
  • Guys We F****D
    • yes, it’s just what it sounds like.

I have started to realize what kind of environments foster open conversations, how the pace of conversations can affect the podcast, and how different genres foster different sets of rules, just like in any other form of media, including writing. It is also interesting to see which podcasts have their own websites versus those that are just available on iTunes or SoundCloud, and how that adds to their image or persona. I look forward to continuing to discover how I want to craft and present my podcast.

Feel free to comment your favorite podcast so I can take a listen!Image result for anna faris is unqualified

Cheers,

Anna

The Revision Process

While I definitely consider myself a writer who is very comfortable with the revision process, I have no idea how to move forward with revising my writing for the capstone project. Revision is a very necessary process for every single kind of writing I have done in the past, and I’m assuming that will be no different for this project…but at the same time, that thought makes me uncomfortable. In class on Thursday, we discussed addressing something that makes us a little uneasy, and this is one of those things.