Emily Pecsok

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  • Courtney Krahn
    9 months ago

    I like this quote: “I am still going to have a very open mind.”

  • Zachariah, I’m so glad that you are unsure and searching for a topic. I think in a traditional classroom that can feel uneasy and unsettling. However, here we know learning is messy and doesn’t go in a straight line. That’s part of the process. Keep thinking and asking others. Maybe blog post #3 will explore a couple of ideas if you’re still unsure.

    All the Best,
    -Tim

  • Nathan, I love this post! I completely understand caring too much… That’s one reason why I’m here too. Even just based on this, I’m excited to see what your project will end up being!
    Just for future reference so I don’t mess them up, what pronouns do you prefer?

  • Colleen Kiley
    9 months ago

    Hi Kiera!

    My name is Colleen and…I love cats, too! ha. Just wanted to give a shout out. I’ve been involved in What’s the Story since it began, three years ago, and this year I am participating by being a blog reader. Don’t worry about coming up with a topic–it will come to you, eventually. The kick-off day is always overwhelming and filled with tons of ideas. Some people feel inspired right off the bat, others think, “what did I get myself in to?!” If you’re currently experiencing the latter, not to worry, you truly will find something that gets you excited, just give yourself some time to soak up everything for now.
    Enjoy the process and I look forward to reading all about it!
    Colleen Kiley

  • Keira
    9 months ago

    Thank you Colleen! I wasn’t too worried about the topic because I also felt like it’d come to me but the pressure to find someone I’m passionate about is pretty heavy. I can’t wait to find out what I want to wholeheartedly pursue!

  • Tom McKenna
    9 months ago

    Dear Brennan,

    I’m Tom McKenna, an elementary school principal in Juneau, Alaska, and a communications helper with the Bread Loaf Teacher Network. I’m interested in your work in “What’s the Story?” and especially interested to learn that you’re a returning student, writer, researcher, thinker, and innovator. It’s great to read your reflections about looking for more from yourself and the course processes in this next round. Please lean on me as a thinking partner. I’m sure I’ll learn a lot from and with you!

    Best,
    Tom

    • Tom McKenna
      9 months ago

      Dear Brennan,
      Very sorry about the typo on the spelling of your name. I don’t see a way to get back in and edit!
      Best,
      Tom

  • Sidney,

    I was the mentor-teacher sitting next to you on Friday at MC. As I said during my introduction, I teach social studies at Middlebury Union High School. I think it is super to be undecided about what topic to explore. As you continue to reflect on what to present in November, the pressing problems that face your world will emerge. I believe that you cited drug addiction in your community as a topic of possible interest. This might be something to explore as it is directly connected Hardwick and your life. Once you begin to work tirelessly on a topic you will develop passion through the knowledge and expertise you gain, just like you did with skiing!

    Let me know when and if I can be of assistance!

    Casey

  • Emily,

    I teach social studies at MUHS. I am not sure if we have crossed paths very often, but I will keep a look out for you as I make my way through the halls. Mental illness is certainly a topic of great importance and in need of more attention in our communities. I am sure that you saw Hannah Quinn’s work at MC to bring greater attention to her struggles with mental illness, and those of high school and college students. I love that you are not going to settle to work on just any topic this year. As you continue to process your ideas know that when you enjoy doing something, there is a very good chance you will become passionate about it. Enjoy the effort you put into the process of learning!

    Let me know when and if I can help, and I will provide as much support as I can!

    Casey

    • Casey,

      I actually did not know about Hannah Quinn’s work, so thank you for pointing me in that direction!

      -Emily

  • Nathan, I’ve enjoyed reading your initial blog posts here immensely. In just a few short paragraphs, you’ve demonstrated your willingness to grapple honestly with your motivations, limitations, and objectives. Recognizing your own tendencies and realizing that your energy can produce more positive change when funneled intentionally is not only healthy, it’s a real sign of maturity – as is your un-self-centered desire to raise social awareness for the benefit of others, including your family.

    I’m sure you’ve been thinking a lot since Friday’s kick-off meeting about what you might want to focus on for your What’s the Story project. I’ll be eager to read about how your thinking progresses throughout the fall and winter. By way of introduction, I work at the Bread Loaf School of English and contributed to last year’s project as a blog responder as well.

    With all best wishes,
    Dana

  • Greetings, Maisie. I’m Dana Olsen, and I work for the Bread Loaf School of English. It’s been thrilling to be a part of the What’s the Story project since its inception, especially as a blog reader/responder. I love the way it offers me glimpses into the types of issues that absorb young people in my greater community. Your research and questions broaden my own perspectives and beliefs. So I look forward to learning more about addiction and autism, if this is the topic you end up pursuing. I find it so interesting that there are two organizations working to raise awareness of autism issues, with somewhat competing ideas of how best to meet that goal. What are the methods or objectives of each org that you most agree with?

    I, too, enjoy writing stories about some of the everyday adventures I’ve experienced with my children, so I’m also eager to see how your passion for storytelling colors the way you approach, as you say, this slightly different ‘branch’ of storytelling: storytelling with a clear social purpose. I think you’ll grow tremendously in your writing and thinking through this course, and I look forward to witnessing your growth throughout the year.

    Very best,
    Dana

    • Hi Dana!

      To answer your question, I find myself agreeing with Autism Speaks on more issues. It is a larger organization that Actually Autistic and it definitely has more weight, and while I love an underdog, Actually Autistic only speaks for a very small section of the spectrum, which is the ‘high functioning’ end. I have a brother, and he is severely autistic and considered ‘low functioning’ (which I find problematic in itself), and I feel that the people at Autism Speaks are better able to help kids like him.
      One thing I like about Actually Autistic is that there are several people who are on the autism spectrum, on the board. No one on the Autism Speaks board, although the people on the board are all either relatives or close friends of people who have autism. The campaigns are similar, but Autism Speaks shoots more for awareness, while Actually Autistic shoots more for acceptance. Really, I believe that there is still work to be done in both fields and we can’t get acceptance until there is full awareness for everyone on the autism spectrum.

      Best,
      Maisie

  • Grace,
    I look forward to reading your blog’s progress over the next few months. It sounds like you have some great ideas about things you’d like to investigate. I can’t stress enough the importance of going with your gut on this; the more interested and passionate you are about your subject, the easier and more fun it’ll be in the end.
    Since I went through all of this stuff last year, I’d be happy to answer any questions or concerns you have.
    Happy blogging!

  • Nate Archambault
    9 months ago

    Elsa,

    My name is a Nate Archambault. i am an English teacher at Bellows Free Academy in St. Albans. I will be one of your blog readers throughout the course.

    Your topic is one of great importance and great relevance. It is one that is near and dear to my heart. I went to school in a small rural elementary school in VT and know the struggles that schools face in this regard. I would be happy to help you shape ideas and make contacts with interviewees.

    It was a pleasure to read a bit about you and your ideas!

  • Nate Archambault
    9 months ago

    Hi Gavin,

    My name is a Nate Archambault. i am an English teacher at Bellows Free Academy in St. Albans. I will be one of your blog readers throughout the course.

    I would suggest thinking about topics that you’re passionate about. What makes you happy? What do you want to learn about? What bothers you in your community or your world? This is a real opportunity to do research into an area that you care greatly about. Please let me know if I can be of any assistance.

  • Nate Archambault
    9 months ago

    Hi Eli,

    My name is a Nate Archambault. i am an English teacher at Bellows Free Academy in St. Albans. I will be one of your blog readers throughout the course.

    You have some very topical and relevant interests to pursue. is there a connection between the topics that you’re interested in studying? Are there any patterns or trends that would allow you to pursue all three?

    Please let me know if I can help you narrow your search or provide guidance in any way.

  • Nate Archambault
    9 months ago

    hi Kiera,

    My name is a Nate Archambault. i am an English teacher at Bellows Free Academy in St. Albans. I will be one of your blog readers throughout the course.

    I have two cats at home as well, Winston and Jezebel.

    It certainly sounds like you have a passion for animals. There are certainly many ways that this could be worked into your your project. If I had to guess, I’d say that you enjoy creative writing? If so, how might you work this into your project? The options are endless!

    • I do love animals very much (not sure if being vegan is a credential?) but so does everyone else. It’s easy to force people to sympathize with kittens and puppies (who doesn’t cry watching SPCA rescue commercials?). Though what about other animals too? Such as the common cow or the average chicken? Maybe even geese and mice? If I do anything for animals it’d be for all animals not only the ones that everyone blurts “Aww!” reflexively at. I’d use my creative writing to create another image for domestic and non domesticated animals by finding a new perspective of their lives and showing people that just because we’re used to it being a certain way doesn’t mean there isn’t something else we could do.

  • Ella Nagy-Benson
    9 months ago

    Hi Lena! My name is Ella Nagy-Benson and I am so excited to read your blogs and get to know you better! I love how you can already define some issues within your community. That is the first step to creating change! Let me know if there is anything I can do to help you through this process. You are off to a great start, and I am positive that you will have a great year!

    Ella

    • Hi Ella!

      So sorry about not contacting you earlier. Thank you so much for the response, I can’t wait to begin working with you!

      Best,
      Lena

  • Ella Nagy-Benson
    9 months ago

    Hi Nigel, my name is Ella Nagy-Benson and I will be reading your blogs this year. It looks like you are already very involved in your school and community, which is awesome! It is very cool that you are a nordic skier, I am too! This class is such an amazing opportunity, and I am very confident that you will get as much out of this class as you can. What is one thing you hope to learn through What’s the Story?

    • I definitely want to learn more about the refugee crisis in Vermont and in the US, but I also want to learn more about current events in Vermont. I don’t really follow vermont news that much, and I am excited to learn more about issues facing this state, such as drug use or politics, or anything really.

  • Bob Uhl
    9 months ago

    Hello, Lena. I’m Bob Uhl, a teacher at Tuttle Middle School in South Burlington, and I’ll be another of your blog readers. I second Ella’s remark: your awareness of the issues you mentioned is a good entry point for this course. I noticed that quite a few folks brought up the opiate crisis as a topic of concern; my feeling is a group will likely coalesce around it. Regardless, each of the problems stated in your entry is worthy of further investigation. I like that you bust the notion that, because a community is wealthy, it doesn’t deal with significant social issues. I look forward to working with you this year!

    • Hi Mr. Uhl,

      Sorry about not contacting you earlier. I really appreciate your response! I’ve actually steered away from the opiate crisis, and am leaning towards researching Animals Rights on farms, but definitely understand the concern surrounding the opioid problem.

      I can’t wait to begin working under your guidance!
      Lena

  • Bob Uhl
    9 months ago

    Hi Megan! I’m Bob Uhl, a teacher at Tuttle Middle School in South Burlington, and I’ll be a reader of your blog entries for this course. I’m impressed that you’re taking WTS as a seventh-grader. I have a feeling you’ll learn and grow a great deal as a result of it, and your writing and film-making skills will no doubt be put to the test! In your second entry, you mentioned child abuse as a topic of interest, and I agree that it can be difficult to approach; however, know that whatever topic you finally pursue, you’ll have our support the whole way. Feel free to let me know if I can help in any way. I look forward to working with you!

  • Bob Uhl
    9 months ago

    Glad to have you back for another year, Brennan! The impression I get from this first of your entries is of a deeply reflective mind and a determination to challenge yourself. You’re definitely in the right place. it’s good to know your experience with WTS last year left you with the desire to return. Time remains to settle on a topic. I will say that several others have mentioned the drug problem in Vermont, specifically with opiate abuse. Should you decide to pursue this issue, you’ll likely have company. Whatever topic you choose, though, don’t hesitate to reach out for help or to bounce around some ideas. I look forward to working with you!

  • Bob Uhl
    9 months ago

    Hi Bryce. I’m Bob Uhl, a teacher at Tuttle Middle School in South Burlington, and I’ll be a reader of your blog entries for WTS. I appreciate your honesty here in talking about your comfort zone. By definition, it’s *uncomfortable* to leave that zone, and encouragement is often helpful. Chances are you’ll be challenged this year to expand your comfort zone, as well, and it’s my job to be there for assistance if you need it. Feel free to reach out with any questions or ideas you may have throughout this course. You may not have any specific ideas about topics to explore yet, but in time you will! I look forward to working with you, Bryce.

  • Grace
    9 months ago

    Hi Emily,
    I was reading your post and noticed that Rex Ross also thought about doing mental illness. I think that you can have really empowering project this year and I can’t wait to see what you project will turn out to be!

  • Erik Remsen
    9 months ago

    Hey Anna,

    My name is Erik Remsen and I am one of the mentor teachers in this program. I’m excited to see that you have several ideas for possible research topics. They all have great potential and you’re right, they all revolve around the idea of equality. As you continue to ponder them, I wonder if you see connections between your possible topics? Might there be a way to connect these different interests of yours? Would you even want them to become intertwined or would that become too bulky as a research project?

    Erik

    • Hi Erik, thank you for reading my post! I would love to connect these topics somehow, but I’m not sure I could do that and still get into depth about each issue. The sexism that often goes along with dress codes could certainly connect to the sexism and heteronormativity that exists as a lack of education about LGBT issues. People who live in poverty and members of the LGBT community (and honestly, women) fall under the umbrella of “less privilege,” so that could be a connection. However, I really want to thoroughly explore an issue, and I don’t think I could do so sufficiently unless my topic is fairly specific. This definitely made me think about my issues in depth, so thank you!!

  • Anna—

    My name is Brad Blanchette, and I am a new mentor in this program.

    I really like the fact that at the center of your interests is empowering others who are socially on the edge. I have always thought that to empower others is to empower one’s self as well. I mean, how could this be separate? What better power could we wield than to use it for the common good?

    Sure, there are those who use whatever means they have to disempower others, to make others’ lives more miserable in order to profit only themselves. But where does this end (he asked rhetorically)?

    • Hi Brad, thank you for your insight! I hate that the world is so unfair, and I know I can’t make much of a difference in that respect, but I want to try and help in any way I can. Those of us who have privilege can’t just sit back and pretend that marginalized communities don’t exist. I want to do everything in my power to raise awareness about these issues, so we can start to change things.

  • Theo,
    You’re starting out with some great ideas, and it sounds like you have some prior knowledge backing you up here. I’m looking forward to reading your blog and seeing how your ideas evolve over the next few months.
    As you’re writing your posts, remember the endgame of all this; think about the change you can make with your work here. Feel free to let me know if you have any questions or concerns!

    • Thanks, Jacob. I am super excited to gather as much information as I can about this topic and start understanding it more fully.

      On that note, I have a question for you:
      have your decisions ever been affected by gender stereotypes?

  • Hi, Keira!

    My name is Emily Pecsok and I’m a ninth grader at MUHS. I took the course last year and I remember feeling exactly like you do at last year’s kickoff. I honestly had no idea what my possible topic could be, and I was really indecisive about it. My advice is don’t worry about it. I think it’s great that you have an idea for a topic and you should start looking into it now, but be sure to keep an open mind. You’ll find a topic your passionate about, and when you do, it will be such a rewarding experience.

    Good luck!
    Emily

    • Greetings, Emily! (I forgot to say hello back on a lot of my comments 🙁 )

      My name is Keira Thorpe and I’m an eleventh grader at MUHS. Looks like we go to the same school! Sorry if I haven’t said hello or acknowledged you possibly in the hallway in passing (I wish these comments had emojis!). Usually my eyes wander to the side because that’s how I ponder-amble. So I don’t stare at passer byers (bys?) or the people I don’t intend to creep out by spacing out on their face. It’s like my head can’t sit still!

      I’m getting side tracked! Thank you for the advice and comforting. My reasoning for searching for a topic is finding something I think about a lot and something I find I can focus on because it’s in my life daily. I have a cat (I should really post a picture of her or them depending on which one cooperates) and I love bread but I also feel passionate about writing deep down. It’s something I’d like to pursue later on in life and until then I just practice. Though the movement I think that best promotes creativity incorporating writing is What’s the Story? already and I’m glad I’m apart of it and took the chance when it dropped by.

      Thank you again for your thoughtful and uplifting comment Emily! It made me think and I think that’s what this blog is about to begin with haha

  • Hi Rex,

    My name is Emily Pecsok and I am a ninth grader at MUHS. I was in the course last year and I think it’s great that you already have an idea about your topic. It’s really fun when you’re passionate about something and I can’t wait to hear more about your topic as it continues to develop!

    Good luck!
    Emily

    • Thanks! I can’t wait to start working on the projects and exploring new areas of it. It comforting to know that someone from last year believes I’m on the right track.

      -Rex

  • Erik Remsen
    9 months ago

    Greta,

    My name is Erik Remsen and I am one of the mentor teachers this year. I loved seeing your observation that “the world is everything at once,” and not split into individual silos, such as those like English, social studies, or math, that you find at most schools. I think that realization will aid you in this course because whatever topic you settle on will require you to cross boundaries between disciplines.

    Erik

  • Erik Remsen
    9 months ago

    Greta,

    Reading this post, I wonder about the possibility of looking at the intersection of music and writing and one of the other topics that interest you. For example, how do the arts (music, writing, etc.) influence, enhance, or change the discussion around gender equality or the environment? There are many other ways you could go, but perhaps there is a way to combine several of your ideas.

    Erik

  • Erik,
    I like that idea! I’ll certainly keep it in mind. I read an article in the paper about a book written by a local author, John Elder, using music as somewhat of a lens to look at the environment. I think no matter my topic, if it has something to do with any of that, I’d like to interview him.
    My question would be finding a way to go about this in an issue specific to Vermont. If you have any ideas, let me know!
    Greta

  • Thank you Erik! I’m definitely looking forward to working across disciplines.
    Greta

  • Petra,
    I’m Greta and I’m a junior at Middlebury Union HS. I’m paired with you as writing partners.
    All of these topics sound interesting! I’ve also thought about Lake Champlain as a possible topic. My advice would be to go with what you’re most interested in, it sounds like that’s the opioid topic, but don’t commit to it until you hear everyone else’s topics. That’s what I’m planning on doing at least!
    Greta

    • Greta,
      Thank you for the advice. I am defiantly going to still keep an open mind because I don’t know if there is going to be another topic that comes up that I am going to be really interested in. Though, so far I think that I am going to start looking into the Opiod topic, because it is the one I am most interested in.
      Thanks again for the response I am so glad to be paired with you,
      Petra

  • Emily Rinkema
    9 months ago

    Hi Brynna,

    I am the one who can’t wait to get to know you better! I worked closely with a different group last year, so didn’t get to spend much time with you–after reading your first blog post here, I know a bit more about what I missed. I can’t wait to see what you are capable of when you get to dive into your passion. You seem like such a balanced person–our world could use a bit more of your willingness to listen, solve problems, and help others. I look forward to your posts this year!

    Emily

  • Emily Rinkema
    9 months ago

    Hi Kati,

    I love what you wrote about your previous learning being drafts or simulations, but never the real thing. As an educator myself, this has become an obsession of mine–providing students with real tools and real tasks…that’s where the real learning is going to happen. I look forward to getting to know you this year, and watching you learn!

    Emily (one of the teacher-mentors!)

  • Hi Justin,

    This is Brad, the mentor with whom you ate pizza.

    You told me a little about your experiences in Mexico last year, and I’m interested in seeing how your experiences there (and the network you must have developed) will help you gain entry into the world of Mexicans who have made their way to Vermont. It must be a rather closed group, except perhaps for the churches who give sanctuary.

    Your topic will certainly be catapulted onto center stage should Mr. Trump become president. (I think I recently heard him say that one of his first actions would be to eliminate sanctuaries for “illegals.”)

    In any case, I anticipate your learning since, in a rather diminished way, your learning will be my learning.

    • Hi Brad,

      It was great meeting you and being able to work through my ideas while sharing my experiences from the past year!

      Yes, I totally agree! I’m hoping that with 1 year of living in Mexico under my belt I will have a unique perspective on the Mexican population here in Vermont. I visited Chiapas, the state where the majority of the migrant workers come from, I now speak the language and most importantly, I have a deep appreciation for the culture. Now that I have experienced these things myself, I believe it will be much easier for me to fully understand what types of problems Mexicans face here in Vermont and what needs to be done in order to overcome them.

      I’ll be sure to keep you informed about my project and I look forward to your mentorship over the next year!
      Justin

  • What a wise friend you have in Nova Scotia!

    In a way, it’s a false choice, it seems to me, to ask ourselves to choose either local or global interests. I mean, both are compelling. So I admire you for working both angles. But, yes, there is something gratifying and — oh, I don’t know — substantive about putting your efforts behind a change that is close enough to almost touch it.

    And it must be almost always true that persons who eventually change the world in a big way cut their teeth on issues that were more home-grown. (I may be all wet with this; it just seems to make sense.)

    Oh, I do go on! I’ll anxiously await your next entry.

    Yours,
    Brad

  • Hi, Nigel,
    I’m Theo Wells-Spackman, and I am one of you writing partners. First and foremost: good for you!!! It is an excellent idea to try new things and try to accomplish something important. I do have one question though: why did you choose What’s the Story over other programs?

    • To be honest, I didn’t really know that many programs in Vermont. I knew that I wanted to enrich my 8th grade year, and I looked at some other programs, but WTS seemed like the most sophisticated out of all of them, and it seemed like the best choice. There is one other program that I am trying to get into, its the Legislative Page program, but I am not optimistic about my chances of getting in.

  • Laurie Hickey
    9 months ago

    Hi Eli,
    My name is Laurie and I will be reading your blog this fall. A little about me so it’s not as if an alien dropped from the sky to be your reader: I’m a teacher in Burlington. I teach middle schoolers- they are my people and I celebrate their starts and stops as they negotiate awkward years. In the rest of my life you’ll find me with friends and family.

    The part of your first blog that resonates most is “every human to have their journey shared.” If this is your strategy during this project it seems you will create compelling stories. You will put the person’s story first – which will make it powerful. If your skill is in film and technology, I wonder what kind of people will help to make a good team for you. What skills will you be looking for in group members?
    I also wonder how we can approach our subjects of stories and respect that we may have the mechanisms to tell the story, but our subjects have the power because they are living the story. How does that impact our work in this project?

    best,
    Laurie

  • Laurie Hickey
    9 months ago

    Hi Eli.

    I see some correlation in wealth inequality and drug addiction, as well as wealth inequality and the decline of farming. Perhaps these interests of yours are not mutually exclusive. I also think that thinking about a topic you love is critical. I worked with students with this project last year and without question in the middle of the work, really caring about the topic helped to keep students motivated and engaged during the hard part.
    I am wondering if you have a specific way you are looking for topics to consider? Sometimes creative stewing needs a systematic way to begin.

    best,
    Laurie
    Happy muddling.

  • Hi, Theo!
    You seem to have many motives for your claims you brought up. Seeing this makes it exciting to see your future success with these project topics. I too, am interested in taking a path along the lines of mental illness and since you have the motivation of the people you love, it seems this topic can really take off. Along the lines of gender and binaries you seem to have a lot of experience with this and that also can help you with making a final decision of a project topic. I can’t wait to read more about your WtS journey!

  • Hello Nate,

    It’s great to know that you are there for resources and help. However, I am thinking of changing topics because I feel I may not be able to go into as much depth as I would like to with that topic. My new topic will be undocumented immigrant workers and I will write more about it in my third blog post.

    I appreciate your help and hope you will view my new topic with as much enthusiasm as you did with my old one. I look forward to working with you and receiving your feedback through out this course.

  • Hi Rex,

    I’m glad that you had seemingly successful interviews. I was having a conversation with someone the other day, and they said, “If I say I’m interested in helping people with depression, then people automatically assume that I know someone with depression. It’s as if I can’t help people because I just want to help them.” I find that a little surprising, but I’m happy to hear you don’t think that way. You should want to help someone even if you don’t know them. The kind of mindset that you have will be really beneficial in the future.

    Good luck!
    Emily

    • Hey, Rex?

      I honestly have no idea if I’m doing this whole commenting right so if it isn’t right then… oops. I really enjoy the direction you’re going in and am thinking of going in a similar direction myself. This piece is really insightful and is helping me move away from my indefinite procrastination. Thank you for your ideas!

      All the best,
      Maisie

  • Mental health is definitely a tricky subject since it has a broad spectrum of psychological and physiological factors. That’s why it’s an awesome idea to have the specific impact of media on mental health though and that will narrow it down more 🙂 . The key word I find interesting about this subject is “portrays”. There’s so much that can be done with your idea I can’t wait to see what happens!

    Oh, and my name is Keira 😀

  • Fiona,

    I’m excited to see what the coming year will hold for you and this project. To get on the radar of schools and potentially onto their agendas for faculty meetings or in-service time, the sooner the better. I noticed, too, that the Breaking Binary webpage should be revisited to clean it up a bit even before you create new content for it. There are pages with no content or “filler” content. Do you have the password to access that site? When you have material ready for school faculty, I’d be happy to contact the administrators in our district on your behalf to begin those conversations.

    Looking Forward to the New Year,
    -Tim

  • Hey Maisie, this was such an interesting read. I, too, look forward to hearing and reading and thinking more with you over the upcoming year. Your history of writing and performance arts may very well apply at some point to our work together. While we want you to complexly understand social issues and work to that end, we will devise multiple modes to communicate those complex understandings. Some of that may be a video documentary, but others could be through writing or performance. So, while this feels like something new, it can and it can also build on some of those interests and talents that you already have. I’m excited to see the year unfold. Note about the photograph: I just paired this photograph with this post so that all the posts had a Featured Image from the kickoff day. Feel free to keep it or change it.

    -TIm

  • Ann Fay Lawton
    9 months ago

    Your postings are great, Zachariah! love that fiery “Z”, amazing visual effects! I’m really looking forward to reading your community action post! Thanks so much for interviewing me today!
    Love, Grammy

  • Shel Sax
    9 months ago

    Hi Greta,
    I very much enjoyed reading your blog post. Your honesty about the challenges of integrating the various disciplines that you’re studying into a cohesive whole with which to help change the world will, I think, help you navigate with focus and mindfulness.
    As a musician, I share your love of music and the joy it brings to play. I’d encourage you to think about your piano playing as a way of sharing that joy by letting others hear you play. Most people, I find, love music and listening to someone play is often a great pleasure. I’d also encourage you to play music with others. There’s a special joy making music together.
    I look forward to reading and responding to your blog posts during the What’s the Story? course.
    Best, Shel

    • Shel,
      I’m glad you enjoyed my post! I do agree that so much of the joy of music does come from the joy it brings to others. I love performing and playing with other people (in chamber music and jazz band for piano, and band and orchestra for clarinet, my second instrument). I agree that music is certainly a way to make the world a better place. But what I ask myself sometimes and still don’t have an answer for is, does bringing joy to others really help the world? Maybe on one level, and it certainly helps their world, but the whole world? I love music and the arts, but I think what I want to do with this course is find another avenue for helping the world. I’m glad you want to help me do that!
      Greta

  • Greta,
    I am Petra, an 8th grader from Shelburne Community school, and I am so excited to start reading your blogs this year. Sounds like you have a lot of options and different topics that you could be interested in, I think that is great! I agree it will definitely be hard to find something that you could work on all year (for me too) . I think once we start looking at what every one else is doing and what they are passionate about, it might spark more interest in a certain topic. But, I think that it is great that you have so many ideas and interests that you can look into.
    – Petra

  • Thanks for reading this and for letting me interview you!

  • Hey Bryce, this is a really interesting topic you chose, and one that’s really important to the community. I thought it was really smart how you interviewed one person who had a lot of experience with the subject and one person who may have known less, because it gives readers information about the subject, but also perspective into how the general population perceives this issue. I also liked how you formatted this post as a story, so you wrote everything you did in order, and that’s a really clear method of organization. It also tracked the progression of your understanding, which contributes to the readers understanding. I think this is a great topic that you could really make a difference with, and get important information to Vermonters. You may have not gotten this far in your research, but I’d like to know if you have initial ideas about how you would deal with this issue. What would you do to begin changing this issue, or getting the information out to the community?

    • Hey Anna,
      Thanks for all of your comments and criticism. I actually realized I didn’t ask a question about how it would be fixed, after I did the interviews. I’m glad you could understand it, and get through it just fine. I look forward to reading your posts as well!

  • Thanks for helping me get started on finding a topic!

  • Hi Erin!
    I am Petra an 8th grader from Shelburne Community School, I am paired with you to read your blogs! I am so excited to read them, looks like you are still not totally sure what you are going to be doing yet (am I right in assuming that)? Neither am I, and I think we all are still looking into multiple ideas. I like how you are open minded and are just looking to change the world. I think that mindset is a great way to start this program! I hope that once we start continuing the process you will find something that really inspires you, and I bet you can “Make your mark locally, and change the world globally”
    – Petra

  • Shel Sax
    9 months ago

    Hi Greta,
    John Elder is a friend of mine. He and his wife, Rita, and I play Celtic music together. The name of his book is Picking Up the Flute. As an accomplished French Horn player, he decided to pick up the Irish flute later in life. His wife, a piano teacher, the concertina. Learning Celtic music is the framework of the book. But, it is only a framework, in which he writes and meditates about the environment, climate change, social justice and change, among other things. If you can find the book, it might be a helpful model for you as you decide on your topic. I’d also encourage you to interview him if you can arrange it. He’s out of the country for the next week or two so don’t expect a quick response. His email is elder@middlebury.edu.

    When I’m trying to decide on a topic, I find it helpful to ask a question and use that as a guide to see if I want to pursue it. For example, if renewable energy was something I’m interested in, I might ask “what would a successful energy policy for Vermont look like?” and let that take me in whatever direction seems appropriate. You may want to try some framing questions for any of the topics that interest you – feminism, renewable energy, school systems, etc. and see how they sit with you
    Hope this is of some help.
    Best, Shel

    • Shel,
      Wow, thank you so much! It’s cool to find out that you know John Elder right after I read the article in the paper. It’s such a small Vermont world. I’ll definitely try to talk to him, especially as my focus is growing towards Vermont’s environment.
      That leads to your second point: a question I’ve been framing, and one I asked in interviews the past few days, is “How is Vermont’s environment changing?” with offshoot questions of “How has human activity affected Vermont?”, “What will be the long term effects on Vermont in the future?”, and “What can we do about it, either to protect the environment or adapt to it?”. Those are still very broad, but I’m starting to narrow in. I’m about to write my next blog post, and I’d love to see your response to it, for this was certainly helpful!
      Thanks,
      Greta

  • Clara:
    My name is Ben, and I’m an English teacher at Middlebury Union High School. We met briefly at the kickoff, but I look forward to getting to know you better as the know more as the year goes on. I’ll be one of your blog readers and will post some questions and comments about Blog #3 sometime early this week. I hope you’re having a great weekend and enjoying this beautiful weather.

  • Hey Eva —
    We know each other from last year, but we didn’t really work one-on-one because I was working with the Solar group while you were busy with the Breaking Binary group. I teacher at MUHS and will be one of your blog readers this year as you begin to explore more deeply the nuances of gender. I’m excited to read Blog post #3 to see what your initial thinking is as the new year begins.

  • Erin,
    My name is Greta, and I’m a junior at Middlebury Union High School. I’m excited to be in a writing parter group with you this year!
    I enjoyed reading this post, especially the first two sentences, that’s a great way to introduce yourself, it makes me want to get to know you! I also agree that technology is amazing because you “can capture any moment in my life and look back at that exact moment”. I think that’s one reason why I love to write or take photographs.
    Greta

  • Hey Emily, I know I’m not assigned to comment on your post but I read this and I wanted to comment anyway… 🙂
    This is a really important topic that you researched, both to me and to the community. Reliable information about autism is rare, and there’s a lot of misconceptions in society. I think you could do some really great work with the information you find and make significant progress!

    • Hi Anna,

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting, I’m glad what I’m doing is important to other people, too. Unfortunately, your statement about reliable information is all too real, and I hope that I can figure out what’s true and false, and help educate the public.

  • Erin,
    I really liked what you said here! I can relate to being frustrated and wanting to change EVERYthing all at once. But if we start by changing things at home, I agree that it can spread. Just think about how interconnected all of the world’s problems are: so many things that are happening around the world also happen in Vermont, and vice versa. So even a change that seems small isn’t always so little after all.
    Greta

  • Hi Grace, my name is Sidney and I am your writing partner. I don’t really know if I am doing this right but I guess we will find out right? Okay, so your wage gap idea sounds great! I myself do not know much about the topic and would be happy to learn more by reading your blog.

  • Wow. This was great! I really loved the way you wrote this, it grabbed me right away. I think this is an excellent topic that everyone needs to know more about. My name is Sidney by the way, I’m your writing partner.

  • Hey Sidney! Thanks for your comment on my post by the way. I really like how you’re looking at all your options, I think that’s really important. People all have differing views about what our biggest problems are but I really like what your mom said, it made a lot of sense to me. If you decide to focus on islamophobia, I feel like that ties into my topic. Maybe we could work together?

    • Nathan, that sounds like a great idea. I would love to work with you if that is the topic I end up choosing.

  • Hey Anna,
    I’m Bryce, and I’m in your reading group. I hope your doing OK. First, I wanted to say, I love the fact that you do have a lot of opinions and you let the world know. I like how you started this post with that story, and then got into your ideas, interviews, and opinions. I think these are really strong subjects that you will most likely get traction with. Second, I also like this piece because you have multiple subjects. I’m very impressed that you actually wrote that much. Personally, I would’ve tried to get the point across much faster to keep the reader hooked as they read. But what kept me going is the moments when you voiced your direct opinion. Example, “When it’s over 90 degrees outside, I’m going to wear a tank top. Sorry if my shoulders offend you, but this is what’s comfortable. If I want to wear a pencil skirt because it gives me confidence, why should men have the right to tell me I can’t?”

    Anyway, I look forward to reading more of your posts!

    • Thanks for your commentary! Getting a point across in a smaller amount of words is definitely something I struggle with, but I’m glad you were able to stay focused through my rambling… 🙂

  • Hey Zachariah,
    I’m Bryce, and I’m in your reading group. I think that it’s good that you don’t have a topic yet because you get to explore more subjects, so you have a broader range of choices. I think that any of those issues that your interviewees mentioned would be great topics to pick. Not to sound like a broken record, but suggestion: pick the one that you feel strongly about or the one that calls to you. It’s hard to work on something you don’t care for. I know the feeling.

    Thanks,
    Bryce

  • Yeah, no problem!

  • Hey Zachariah, I think it was smart to ask people about issues they thought needed to be addressed, so you can pick a topic that’s important to the community. Despite the fact that none of the interviewees were located in Vermont, all of the problems they named are also problems in Vermont that we should be addressing. I liked the way you organized your post, so it’s easy to read, understand, and compare the topics. Your categories really outlined these issues accurately so you have a pretty good idea of what each project would entail.

    I think that you could do some really good work with the second subject, and help the community really well in that regard. I also think that your last option is not only incredibly important, but lends itself well to research and change, as long as you define it more clearly (e.g. how is there inequality in educational opportunities, and what it means to get a good education). The first issue is also important, applicable and could make for a really nice project.

    You’re in a really good place in terms of options, it seems. No matter what you choose, you can’t go wrong, so just try and pick which one you’re most enthusiastic about, as Bryce said. This looks like a really solid start!

  • Ann Fay Lawton
    9 months ago

    Hi Zachariah!
    You did a great job summarizing what we talked about during the interview. Today I sent you more information about the affordable housing crisis on Martha’s Vineyard. I hope you find it helpful. Often many families will live together in one home because the cost to rent or buy a home is so prohibitive. Many college students find themselves in the same situation when they come to the Island in the summer to work in tourism related industries.
    Keep up the great work!
    Love, Grammy

  • Hi Grace,

    Meeting, working and collaborating with different people can be one of the most rewarding experiences in life. As a teacher I used to collaborate with other teachers when creating lesson plans or trying new ideas in class. Now I get to collaborate with colleagues not only at Middlebury College but also from educators from around the world. Every day I am exposed to something new and learning is one of my biggest joys in life.

    WTS is a great opportunity to explore new ideas and relationships. Congratulations on taking the first step. Looking forward to reading your blog and learning something new!

    Bill

  • Hi Grace,

    We met briefly at kickoff day, and I am excited to be reading your blog posts for the next several weeks. Last year I learned that reading someone’s blog is a far more intimate experience than I imagined it might be. I really felt like I got to know the authors of the blogs I read, and I looked forward every Sunday evening to finding out what they’d been up to and thinking about.

    You had so many topics you were interested in exploring in your second blog post, and I am intrigued to see where you go from there. In fact, I’m off now to read your third blog post and to click around on those of other students, too.

    I hope that your school year is off to a good start and that WTS becomes a rewarding part of the year for you, too.

    Sincerley,
    Courtney

  • Hi Lena,
    Im Brennan and I am going to be reading your blog. I think that your topic definitely has the ability to have an interesting story . Cant wait to see what you do with it.

  • Dear Grace,

    Mental health care, equal pay for women (i.e. wage gap), racism, environmental issues and improving access for intellectually disabled students are all issues that call for social action. As you have realized, the world is full of challenges that require committed individuals to tackle them. Researching any of these topics will broaden your worldview and help you grow as a person and as a member of your community. Since you will need to focus on one topic, reflect and think of what is dear in your heart, where you feel your help is needed the most and where you can have the most impact. Sometimes making a choice is not an easy task, especially when there are so many worthy causes, but deep down inside our heart helps us make a choice.

    Looking forward to see where your reflection takes you,

    Bill

    Bill

  • Hi Megan,
    My names Brennan and Im going to be reading and commenting on your blog. These seem like interesting topics to research. I saw the title to your third post, I cant wait to see what you do and what you come up with as you go forward with the topic of woman’s rights.

  • Hi Brennan,
    My name is Megan Balparda. I really liked your post, because it reminded me that there is a lot more I could be doing in the community. This brings me to my question. I think your right, and that people do lack the determination to volunteer. Do you volunteer? If so, what are some tips you would you give me, who wants to volunteer, but lacks the determination, time, and courage to find a place to volunteer at?

  • Hi Brennan!

    My name is Lena, I’m an eight grader at the Shelburne Community School and I can’t wait to read your blog posts!

    I think that you pose an important issue, and I’m wondering what else you will discover during your research. Do you think that there is a reason for this trend of fewer volunteers? Or do you believe that this has been an ongoing development?

    I’m excited to begin working with you!

  • Dear Nathan,

    I can tell that reading your blog is going to be a blast! I discovered through this process last year that reading someone’s blog on a regular basis is actually a very personal experience. In this, your very first post, you have gotten my attention, and I’m eager and ready to read on…

    I agree with you that violence solves very few problems, and especially not the problems that seem to be on your mind. In fact, I often tell my students that their writing utensils are the most powerful tools they will ever know. Here are some thoughts on this topic:

    Ferdinand Foch: “The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.”
    Rudyard Kipling: “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”
    Nelson Mandela: Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

    I think that your clear, articulate writing; unique voice; personal experience; and your passion are a powerful force through which you can effectively channel your frustrations, thoughts and findings.

    And I can’t wait to hear more.

    Sincerely,
    Courtney

  • Hi Megan!

    My name is Lena, I’m an eight grader at Shelburne Community School, and I can’t wait to read your blog!

    I think that you address a serious issue, and I can’t wait to see what else you discover. What do you think will be the most effective way to start changing the Women’s Rights issues in Vermont?

    I’m excited to begin working with you!

  • Hi Lena!
    My name is Megan Balparda. I really enjoyed reading your article, and knowing you are as passionate about this topic as I am. I am a vegetarian, and try to limit my milk and egg content as much as possible. Are you a vegetarian? I want to make it clear that I have no judgement if you are not, it is a pretty hard change to make. I love that you are doing this topic! Your article was very well written, do you have any advice for me, being not an advanced writer yet?

    • Hi Megan!

      It’s great to hear from you! Yes, I’ve been vegetarian my entire life, along with my family, which I think is something that influenced my interest in the treatment of animals. Have you always been vegetarian? Did you go vegetarian because of the treatment of meat animals?

      Writing wise, I really enjoyed reading your article. I know that for me it is definitely helpful to write about something you are passionate about.

      Once again, I can’t wait to begin working with you!

  • Hi Lena!
    I’m not sure exactly how to start changing the women’s rights issues, I just entered seventh grade at MUMS, and am very new to this kind of thing. I’m very open to any suggestions, if you happen to have any. I need all the help I can get! I also can’t wait to start working with you and reading more of your blog!

  • Megan,
    I love this sentence: “I feel as though this problem is frequently overlooked, because it appears not all at once, but in tiny splotches, just a word or two that makes a woman or girl feel worse about themselves.”

    For me, this sums up my experiences with gender discrimination. I’ve never felt it outright, like a huge slap in the face; it’s always more of a subtle, dull reality check.

    I also like your idea of getting Ben’s perspective on the topic, and I am intrigued to see where you go from here.

    And I just have to say: I’m so glad you’re a part of this team and that you’ve taken the initiative to dive into this (or maybe a different) meaningful and important topic. Congrats!

    Sincerely,
    CK

  • Hi Mrs. Krahn!
    Thank you so much for that comment! It feels really great to have all this support. I’m so happy you encouraged me to join WTS!

  • Hi Anna,

    I loved this post. It had so many great topics, details, and opinions. I don’t really know where to start.

    Poverty: As you said I think poverty is an issue that is not at all discussed, and it needs to have a light shown onto it. Like what you heard, many people just don’t know because Middlebury is such a, as you said, privileged area.

    LGBT: So many people talk about how everyone should be comfortable with their gender or sexuality, but not many people are telling them how, or giving them the back up that they need to do so. It takes a lot of courage to tell you’re parents you’re actually a girl or a boy or fluid, etc. and it takes way more courage than it should for a non-heterosexual couple to hold hands in public. You can’t just tell someone to be brave and don’t be oppressed without guiding them along the way, and I think you expressed that really well.

    Dress Codes: This is not an “unknown” topic, it is being discussed. But, you’ll notice that it’s only being discussed, nothing’s actually happening. Middlebury itself has a pretty laid-back dress code, but that doesn’t mean it’s not violating. There are so many ways to even slightly improve sexism in schools, and I know you’re capable are helping with at least one.

    All of your topics are great, and I know it’s going to be hard to pick just one, because they’re all equally important.

    Good luck!
    -Emily

  • Em,
    Interesting topic. I love how you tapped into your resources and got in touch with Ms. Colette. And your title: it’s perfect.
    CK

  • Hi Justin!
    I’m Clara. I’m really interested in your topic, and it seems like your and your family’s connections to Mexico and Mexican people gives you a great background from which to draw. I liked that you kept these conversations and the general tone of this open-ended; it’s clear that you’re trying to gauge general public opinion as a way to better understand the issue. I’m interested by the idea that undocumented Mexican immigrants “live in the shadows”…clearly they live and work here, but it seems as though you’re saying they don’t really interact with the Vermont communities out of (rational) fear. Of course there’s a danger associated, but it makes me wonder whether part of the solution to many people’s using “rumors and stereotypes” as the basis for generalizations is for them to meet and get to know Mexican people as individuals rather than caricatures.

    • Clara,

      Thanks for sharing your reflections with me! I hope that my experiences regarding Mexico will help me with this project and I know my interest in this subject will help me to learn more about this issue. Yes, this first week I tried to keep the topic generally open in order to learn about people’s true opinions towards the Mexican population. I decided that if I were to ask people very specific questions my interviewees wouldn’t be able to respond, especially if they had no prior encounter with Mexicans (as seen in my quotes from the interviews). I think it would be interesting to compare our studies as I can already notice a strong association between the two issues.

      Thanks again for taking the time to read and comment!
      Justin

  • Hi Elsa!
    I’m Clara. I appreciate the organized approach you took to this incredibly wide ranging and multi-faceted issue, and I think that you sum up many of the biggest questions surrounding it very well in the last paragraph. It is also a very timely issue, and I wonder whether the scope or direction of your work will change throughout the year depending on the results of the presidential election. I think that it might be interesting to take a closer look at why farmers in particular are willing to “turn a blind eye” when no one else is, as well as the relationships that develop between farmers and Mexican immigrant workers. I like that you included immigrants in your list of people to interview; I think that in an exploration of their situation getting their perspective will be essential and invaluable, though there may be some logistical problems.

  • Hey Elsa,

    Wow, I really loved that write-up! As you may have already noticed, I am planning my project around Mexican migrants here in Vermont. Although there are some obvious differences between our projects, I think that they tie really well together and you mentioned some good points. I agree that migrants should be allowed to work here without living in paranoia of being sent back home. Furthermore, I agree that there are problems with allowing more immigrants into our country and not making them have the complete set of documentation. I think as you continue with your project it would be interesting to look into the different types of visas (I know in the United States there is one specifically for temporary agricultural workers) and see if a possible change for future immigrants could come from that section of the immigration policy.

    Best of luck as you continue with this project!
    Justin

  • Clara,

    I loved reading about this topic as I find it easy to agree with and in many ways relatable after living abroad myself. I think the fact that schools are almost entirely relying on students being native English speakers is imperative to your project and may help you to find a solution to this problem. I know here in Middlebury we weren’t given the option to learn a foreign language until 8th grade and once we finally were, we were limited to Spanish, French and Latin. While I understand the difficulties in having many different languages taught at every school, I think it is important that measures are put in place for foreign students to be able to get the same education that all of the native English speakers are receiving. Furthermore, I think the few languages that we are taught don’t serve for much because we are taught when we are already 14 or 15. In Mexico, students were given classes in English, French and Spanish beginning in elementary school and by the time we are starting a foreign language for the first time, they had already become fluent in three.

    I’m a huge fan of languages so I’d love to keep hearing about your project as you make progress in the future!

    Cheers,
    Justin

    • Justin:

      Thank you for taking the time to read my post and respond so thoughtfully! The direction you took in your response made me realize just how much of the cultural ignorance (for lack of a better term) among Vermont students is a direct result of their lack of exposure to instruction about other culture. I’m not sure if you said this outright, but I think one of the messages you touched on was the fact that learning a language inherently makes one more appreciative of a foreign culture, and I really agree with that. It’s definitely made me think about whether a route I want to go with this is advocacy for more foreign languages/cultural awareness classes in Vermont high schools, because I think that low enrollments often lead to course offerings being sacrificed, and people don’t always realize just how detrimental that is. This is especially important in a place so low in ethnic, racial, and cultural diversity, where if these classes aren’t being offered students may really have no other way to learn how to appreciate other cultures and interact respectfully with people from different backgrounds. I’m excited to talk to you more about this!

  • Sidney,

    I like that you are still processing through topics, and I also enjoy the title that you gave this post. I like these aspects because taking more time to determine if there is something present through words provides you with greater clarity. A suggestion, if you are interested. Review your interviews and recognize (using words or pictures) moments that signify the essence of what the adults are saying. Once you have completed this review, you might see topics/themes that speak to you and would perhaps move you closer to deciding on a topic.

    Let me know if you need anything else and I am enjoying your posts!

    Casey

  • Emily,

    As Courtney noted, the title of your post represents the salient part of your interview. As I read your post my reflection is that individuals are forced to conform to the expectations of “education.” Is the experience, or process, of education an issue worth pursuing?

    Thanks again for providing a thoughtful post!

    Casey

    • Casey,

      Unfortunately, students are often forced to work and learn in a certain way if they want to be successful in school. So I am really interested in how learning can be individualized, and how that can help PwA.

      -Emily

      • Emily,

        I am still thinking through your topic! If you recognize a social issue, and it seems that you do, what are the parts of “individualized” and “learning?” I know you understand the words, and can easily look them up, but what does “individualized” and “learning” mean to the “participants” in the context of your story? Parts+Context may equal why this is important to you and those you are advocating for.

        Great work and I enjoy thinking through these ideas with you!

        Casey

  • I wondered if you might develop an interest in learning and the different forms it can take with the individual at the center. I can’t wait to see your idea develop!

    Casey

  • Eli, I can see that you have an interest in several topics and each idea seems like it has great potential. Talking to people around you about what they care about is definitely the best way to find out what story speaks to you the most personally. Keep exploring!

  • Hi Grace,

    First, I really like the image you chose to compliment your blog. Did you find this in the database or is it one you took? To me, it represented your sitting down and chatting with people about topics, but it also represented listening and thinking, two themes that appeared in your discussion about mental health.

    I also liked how you asked Owen about what topics were on his mind; that was a unique approach to the assignment. Race is always a relevant topic for investigation, and I would argue that this is more true now than ever, especially in our country. The Confederate flag is a timely angle, but I would also argue that the Confederate flag is only the tip of the iceberg where race relations are concerned. Perhaps even more timely, in fact, is the Black Lives Matter slogan and the BLM flag that was stolen from UVM over the weekend. Both flags symbolize very deep-rooted and historically complex issues that plague our nation.

    Obviously, the bulk of your blog was dedicated to your discussion with your mom about mental health, another deep-rooted and complex issue that plagues our nation, including right here in Addison County. Something I learned from your blog that I had never considered was the reality that some people avoid treatment because they — understandably (as you point out) do not want their unique struggle to be a part of their permanent health record. The fact that the “fine print” pertaining to securing and maintaining health care coverage prohibits the very people “health insurance” should be assisting highlights a frustrating reality.

    Of the many notable points made in this discussion, I was also drawn to the idea that “…one of the big things that they finding out in the research around serious mental illnesses– for many, many years there was the thinking that a lot of these conditions were because something was wrong in the brain, in the brain chemistry and there is a lot of evidence now to refute that.” This makes a lot of sense to me, and it’s also something very serious for me, as an educator, to remember and reflect upon as much as possible — on a daily basis, really.

    Thank you for your thoughtful post. I’m looking forward to more soon…

    Sincerely,
    Courtney

  • Clara:
    What a great blog post this week. I loved reading about your thinking and the conversations you had about language and culture in general and ELL specifically. In particular, I love the question you posed to Lydia. You “asked Lydia to envision a life in which they grew up in Syria until the age of 12, lived in a German refugee camp until 16, and then came to the U.S. as a junior in high school.” What an amazing question given that, for many of us, it’s hard to understand a concept until we personalize it, and your question forces Lydia to personalize the issue.

    You’ve got a lot of different angles here and that is a good problem to have. Justin mentions the lack of diverse language offerings in VT school districts, which is a great angle in this story. That is, if we’re only learning Western European languages, how are we supposed to understand the global world? To add to that, in history and English classes, is there a focus beyond the European-centric world, and if there isn’t, why? (You may want to take a look at Edward Said and his wonderful “Orientalism” and ” Culture and Imperialism” for food for thought). I’m envisioning your attempting to change curricula in a meaningful and global way.

    Write me back if you want to dialogue more about this. Can’t wait to keep working on this with you!

    • Ben:

      Thanks for giving me so much to think about! I’m very busy right now but I’ll definitely try to look at those resources when I have a chance, they sound like things I’d be interested in. One of the reasons I feel so connected to this issue is that my Social Studies teacher last year took a really excellent approach to U.S. History, in that he had us look at more alternative resources and think about the side of history that isn’t often touted or recognized, specifically centered around issues of equality throughout American history. Understanding how much this has done for me has made me realize how essential it is, and especially considering you, Justin, and Dianne were all interested in how this related to curriculum, I think this might be a focus for me this year. I think that pushing for more equitable curriculum is a way to narrow down the broad, nebulous scope of this idea, even if it might be difficult to measure (that’s something I’ll probably need support for if this idea gets going), so thank you for really bringing my attention to this.

      Also, your response about the question I posed to Lydia was very affirming–I sort of came up with that in the moment, but my thinking behind it was that the reason issues of racism and insensitivity are so prevalent in Vermont schools is that students from small, sometimes sheltered communities have really never considered a life dramatically different from their own, and as such don’t know how to feel empathy for those people. Of course, Lydia is very mindful of these issues, so the response they gave was very thoughtful, but I’d be interested to pose this prompt/question to a lot of students because I think it can be very revealing.

      I look forward to continuing this conversation!

  • Dear Nathan,

    I am seeing some common threads between your blog posts thus far: You are a creative and engaging writer, you use humor to approach serious topics, and you are passionate about life.

    I found this blog style to be absolutely engaging. The way that you interspersed dialogue with your own narration was effective and unique.

    Grace, whose blog I just read, also wrote about race, so clearly it’s an issue that’s on the minds of students. I think that today, as much (if not more) than ever, racism is a critical and timely issue that deserves and needs attention, discussion and thought. It’s such a big topic and there are so many angles one can take. What I appreciate here is that you took this topic and narrowed it right down to your kitchen table (or, that’s where I imagined you were, but I really have no idea). My point is, you narrowed it down to about as local as you can get: your family and their thoughts and insights. The line of your blog that made me think the most was this: “The stereotypes are that they’re smart and law abiding and those can be equally as harmful as the opposite, simply because they’re not accurate.” This highlights the fact that people don’t like to be judged, underestimated, overestimated, pigeon-holed, etc. regardless of what the assumption is and whether it carries a “positive” or “negative” connotation.

    I so look forward to reading more. It’s a pleasure.

    Sincerely,
    Courtney

    Now that

    • Nathan — sorry for the typo “now that.” No clue why it’s there, and I can’t figure out how to delete it.

  • Nate Archambault
    9 months ago

    Hi Elsa,

    You’ve certainly done your research and are discovering, I hope, that good research leads to more good research, but not necessarily to definitive answers. The questions raised by your initial interviews are good ones. This is a complicated topic with many layers to peel back. Sometimes our initial thoughts get changed by the work that we do, and our initial opinions become mere memories. Isn’t it cool to document your thought process here on the blog? By the end of the year you will be able to look back and see how your initial thoughts and ideas change over time. This is the essence of real learning, and you’re off to a great start!

  • Hi Grace,
    I think you have researched some of the most relevant and sensitive topics in todays society. I have several family members who have been negatively impacted by lack of seriousness about mental illness, so I care deeply about this topic. I am much encouraged by some of the news you have put forth, and saddened by others, particularly in the areas of suffering that are simply caused by ignorance. I think education is extremely important in making people aware of these issues, so thank you for researching them and posting your findings! However, it seems that at least the topic of mental health is going in the right direction. Hooray!

    Thanks again for you blog,
    Theo

  • Kate Carroll
    9 months ago

    Hi Petra,

    Having read your comment “All of the people I talked to want more education about this topic,” I am curious to know if your school requires a health class, and if yes, how is the topic of addiction in Vermont addressed? As one avenue of research it might be interesting to compare and contrast both middle school and high school curricula across the state by asking other WTS participants about their educational access to your topic.

    Your decision to interview two adults who could speak from their different work perspectives (school and hospital) also opens up possible areas of study (e.g. prevention and/or treatment). And a thread I noticed across the interviewees was the importance of awareness; as Amy Sayre noted in her interview, awareness was raised in the state and nation when Governor highlighted the rise of opioid addiction in his 2014 state of the state address. Also, I remember in your writing submission on your WTS application, you launched your essay about publicly displaying the Confederate Flag by citing the church shooting in 2015, so I thought you might want to read Shumlin’s address in full as it definitely sparked conversation about the crisis.
    http://governor.vermont.gov/press-release/gov-shumlins-2014-state-state-address

    The Governor was both commended and criticized for raising this awareness especially after Rolling Stone magazine covered it with a very controversial opening image:
    http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/the-new-face-of-heroin-20140403

    One more media source regarding your topic is the documentary, The Hungry Heart, directed by Bess O’Brien. Anticipating the second part of the WTS where you and a team will create a media product of some type that can effect change, you might want to view the film for information as well as a sample of digital story-telling.
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3992380/

    Finally regarding your mom’s comment “the department of children services have a record high of children who are in foster care right now,” I thought you might also want to read about what Vermont’s DCF currently has in place to support pregnant women with opioid use disorders and how they have shared this work with a national organization
    http://dcf.vermont.gov/press-releases/CHARM

    Inside the press release is link to a national publication that includes a case study that:
    “ . . .tells the story of the Children and Recovering Mothers collaborative of Chittenden County, known as CHARM. This Vermont initiative was included in the guide as a model of a community-based, collaborative and comprehensive approach to caring for families affected by opioid use.”

    Petra, I can’t wait to read your next blog post! Don’t hesitate to ask any questions about any of my comments that are not clear.

    Best wishes,
    Kate Carroll

    • Mrs. Caroll,
      Thank you so much for your reasons I really appreciate all of the information that you gave me. I Looked at the cites and even used the heading of the rolling stones magazine as my featured image. I hope that is ok. I found the first link that you sent me very helpful I liked seeing the progress Vermont is making. I have never really heard about all of the treatment programs until now. I also really liked reading about how Vermont DCF if working with pregnant mothers. I again, had never heard of it before but I think it is a great program.
      As far as health class in school, I do have one but we do not learn to much about the opioid epidemic. Last year we did learn a little about legalizing marijuana. I agree I think it would be interesting to see what different age groups are learning about. The main reason why I got hooked on this topic was because of the news, and a NPR story. Though, I hope we start getting educated on this topic more.
      Sorry I did not respond to you earlier, and thank you again for the thoughtful reasons,
      Petra

  • Lena,
    I love how you referred to the “Catcher in the Rye”, and made the red connection. I know at least for me it really hooked me into your article. It is also a great reference because a lot of people have probably read that book. Mr. B would be proud.
    -Petra

    • Hi Petra!!

      I thought the Holden kids might appreciate the reference :)!

      I loved reading your post, it was really well done!

      Lena

  • Hi Theo,

    Everything you and your interviewees said is so true. There are these set boundaries in place almost everywhere about what men do and what women do. Men talking about not wanting to “risk their masculinity” is also something common. It’s as if there are saying acting feminine in any way is a terrible thing. I encourage you to watch this video –> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjJQBjWYDTs about the phrase “Like a girl”. Another thing that you pointed out is that sometimes women are thought of as better than men, but that’s also not true. I think your goals are great, and for at least the next month or so, you’ll do really well with this topic.

    -Emily

  • Bob Uhl
    9 months ago

    Hi Lena,

    I enjoyed reading your post. One thing that stands out to me is the folks you were able to interview: you certainly found a diverse and experienced few people to speak with.

    I’m curious to know more about the animal cruelty problem you mention here. For example, how does it relate to Vermont’s dairy industry? Do some or most dairy farmers typically mistreat or abuse cows, or is the practice of dairy farming somehow inherently abusive?

    I had no idea Vermont was one of the top producers of veal in the US! It’s such a small state, and you don’t really see the factory farms that are prevalent out West. How is it, I wonder, that such a small state produces so much veal? And what is that process like?

    Good job! Looking forward to reading more!

    • Hi Mr. Uhl,

      It was definitely interesting to get perspectives from a diverse community, and range of experiences.

      I think that one of the most important relationships between dairy farming and animal cruelty revolves around the veal industry. Generally, if a male calf is born on a dairy farm in Vermont, it is sold to the veal production. Something that I didn’t realize, is that there are many types of veal meat. The most common being Bob Veal and Formula-fed veal. Bob veal means that the calf was slaughtered when a few weeks old, whereas Formal-fed veal is a process in which calves are raised only on a milk formula, and are killed at 18-20 weeks old.

      To the best of my understanding, 55,000 male calves are born in Vermont whom eventually are used for meat. Most of the Bob calves are shipped out of state, whereas the older calves are shipped to Pennsylvania, Canada or the midwest.

      Thanks for your reply!
      Lena

  • Bob Uhl
    9 months ago

    Hi Megan,

    Nice work here, and I especially like your title. You’ve got the ball rolling on conversations about this important issue. I don’t know how old Carolyn and Camille are, but if they have jobs, I wonder if they have experienced sexism at work–or if that’s even an area of this topic that you’re interested in covering. The scope of this issue is huge, as it affects women in all areas of life. As you think more about your topic, it may be helpful to consider whether you want to narrow it to focus on a particular aspect. But there’s time for that. You’re off to a good start!

  • Bob Uhl
    9 months ago

    Hi Brennan,

    This is an interesting idea you’re investigating here. Not being a native Vermonter, I can tell you that this state has something of a reputation for being perhaps more community-oriented than your average state. But that’s not to say, of course, that there aren’t problems, and perhaps this reputation is just part of the popular mythology surrounding the state. It’s worth asking what makes a strong community, and what role volunteerism plays there. How come some communities have paid firefighters and others rely on volunteers? Is it a result of population? Budget? A combination of both? What happens, I wonder, if a community can’t recruit enough volunteer emergency personnel? These are just a few questions you might consider should you decide to pursue this topic further.

  • Bob Uhl
    9 months ago

    Good work, Bryce. I want to highlight one thing you wrote. You said, “I’ve never looked into problems within our ecosystem before. Now I’m wondering what other issues are out there.” This, I think, embodies the spirit of What’s the Story: investigation and discovery of the world around us. I’m glad this topic has piqued your curiosity, as it’s clearly an important one, as you indicate in your entry.

    I agree with Anna in that you’ve organized your entry effectively; it was informative and easy to read.

    I could be mistaken here, but I recall hearing that Lake Champlain was once polluted a great deal more than it currently is. Do you happen to know whether this is true? If it is, I wonder what caused that pollution in the past, and what was done to alleviate the problem. Would those methods be effective today?

    To add on to Anna’s question about what you might do to address this issue, perhaps it’s worth asking what has already been, and what is currently being, done, if anything. Have you looked to see if any local organizations are addressing the problem? They might serve as helpful resources should you decide to pursue this topic further.

    Well done!

  • Ceci Lewis
    9 months ago

    Hello Brynna,
    I, too, worked with WTS last year, but I worked with a different group. As you probably know, I am physically located in Arizona and we have had our fair share of drug problems for decades. Many blame our proximity to the Mexico border as the reason that there are so many drug problems here. However, I firmly believe that many of the core issues involved with drug addiction stem much deeper than geographical location. Don’t get me wrong, geography can facilitate the opportunity to get drugs, but one must want them first. As I can see by your introduction, this is a problem in Vermont as well. Of course, you, too, are on a border. Does anyone ever blame Canada for the drug problem in VT?
    I was particularly thrilled to see that you do consider yourself a social activist! Yay! Your video from last year may not have had the immediate response that you expected, but I would venture to argue that it has had an impact, and will continue to do so. Sometimes the work a social activist does is plant seeds. You may never know what fruits those seeds will produce.
    I look forward to working with you this year.

  • I found your writing on mental illness very moving. The parts on normality and community-based care stuck out particularly in their conveyance of thematic topics. I would like to know more about different care systems and how they affect their patients’ mental well-being. Thank you for the great post!

  • Ceci Lewis
    9 months ago

    Brynna,
    I know you want to explore drug addiction and its impact on families and communities, but I want to know why. What about this “epidemic” drives you to inform others? In your introduction you mentioned that you would like to investigate the various issues related to opiate addiction. Are you interested in how individuals get hooked? Why they continue even when they know it is a killing them? I have always been intrigued with the psychological component of addiction. What about the physical component? How does the body respond physically to the drug. The mind and body often work in concert to keep a person addicted. Finally, what do you hope to gain from learning the stories of the people whose lives have been affected by opiates.
    I come from a family and community where drug and alcohol addiction were quite prevalent. Only one of my family members ever became addicted to heroin and he always thought that he had “kicked” his habit. Unfortunately, he only traded heroin for alcohol. For whatever reason, he was unable to maintain sobriety for longer than three years at any give time. Sadly, he has died and I am not able to ask him any further questions. He was my brother-in-law and he was already a heroin addict when I first met him. I personally took him to treatment facilities nine different times before he gained his last year of sobriety. I may never know what killed him, but I do know that his mother finally received the call that she had been waiting for over thirty years to receive. How sad, huh?
    Ceci

  • Hi Theo,
    I was particularly interested in your brother’s reaction to that crazy T-shirt. It made me think and wonder about how students feel these stereotypes are perpetuated in our community. I know you’ve been thinking about this topic for some time, and I am curious how it will begin to narrow itself down for you…
    Sincerley,
    CK

  • Maisie
    9 months ago

    Hi Eva!

    I think it’s so great that you’ve found a social issue and a cause that you’re this passionate about. I watched your film from last year and I’ve got to say– wow. It’s truly incredible. I can’t wait to see where you take this project this year!

    All the best,
    Maisie

  • Hi Eva!

    I think it’s so great that you’ve found a social issue and a cause that you’re this passionate about. I watched your film from last year and I’ve got to say– wow. It’s truly incredible. I can’t wait to see where you take this project this year!

    All the best,
    Maisie

    PS. I may have accidentally posted the comment without logging in so my apologies if it somehow appears twice. I’m still getting the hang of this site.

  • Hello Eva!

    This is amazing. You sound like you’re right where you should be and you know it. That’s something I aspire to. Thank you!

    Best,
    Maisie

  • Hi Ben!

    I’ve never met anyone who knows how to throw cards (well). It’s an interesting talent, and you sound like an interesting, inquisitive person. I look forward to getting to know you!

    All the best,
    Maisie

  • Hello Ben!

    These are three very different, yet incredibly interesting topics. I’m excited to see which one you choose and where it is you take it!

    Best,
    Maisie

  • Emily Rinkema
    9 months ago

    Kati–Intense interviews. I was so moved by each person’s stories and personal understandings of addiction. One of the things that really stuck with me after reading was the complexity of emotions for loved ones; there is so much sadness and grief, but that is balanced by anger and betrayal. This must be a really difficult combination to live with and hold onto as they are trying to navigate the addiction with their loved one. There is such a societal stigma around addiction–a disgust with the addicts. What your aunt wrote about underlying tragedies and difficulties helps to humanize the victims, because it seems that all of your interviewees, particularly the first two, see the victims within the terrible behaviors.

    I wonder about these stories. I was moved by the words of your peer, and the anger he/she clearly has. I’m not sure I have heard the stories of the children affected by addiction, and I wonder if that is a direction you might consider. I know there is a term called “parentification,” which is when children are forced by circumstances to become the parents in a relationship. This can be damaging for a variety of reasons, and is all too common in families with addiction. Might be interesting to explore this and what can be done to help these children make sense of their worlds.

    Thanks for such a thorough post. I look forward to watching this project evolve.

    • Thank you for such a thoughtful response!

      I still haven’t quite decided from which angle I will tackle this subject since it is so broad and profound but your suggestion of parentification really got me thinking. I’m aware that this subject has been depicted many many times in various different ways which is why I want to challenge myself by taking a less conventional route with it. I was thinking of looking at addictive behaviors as a whole and not just in relation to drugs but I’m really liking that parentification idea, I know of several real life examples of it already and I think that could be a topic with a lot of potential.

  • Bill Rich
    9 months ago

    Rex,

    Just read through all three of your posts. A surgeon who works for NASA! How cool would that be? Next time I see you I’ll ask more about this. (Always interesting to me how people get interested in a career.)

    I appreciate your observation that people sometimes resort to being negative about the world, rather than digging in and doing something to make the world more positive. It’s a lot easier to sit in the peanut gallery, judging and critiquing those people brave enough to get in the ring to try to make a difference. I’ve found, though, that in the long run, even when I don’t succeed, it’s a lot more satisfying believing in and acting on what I think is right. One of the things I love about WtS is that it supports young people through the challenges (and thrills) of leaning in and trying to make the world a better place.

    So glad you’ve begun engaging others in conversation about your topic. You’ve already begun wrestling with one of the predictable challenges for anyone seeking to make change: how focused or broad should I be? Really interesting to hear how this played out in your chats with people you know. On the one hand, if you focus on one specific aspect of mental health (eg, depression), you’ll be more likely to find a particular audience whom you can influence. On the other hand, by focusing on one manifestation of mental health, you may limit the breadth of the impact.

    Before deciding which way to go (specific or broad), it’s a good idea to keep learning about what already exists (what others have already created to help). Sometimes peoples’ eagerness to help others makes them move into action mode before they’ve taken the time to learn what others have already done / are already doing. My suggestion would be to talk to some professionals in the field of mental health to ask them about your dilemma (broad or specific), and to ask them: what already exists out there that I should learn about?

    I’ve got a friend who’s a therapist. His name is John Penoyar (jonpen99@gmail.com), and he’s a great guy who might be good to talk with / pose these types of questions to. People who work within the field will have greater expertise, so they can help you get a better understanding of what’s already out there. Before we can have a positive impact that makes a difference, we need to understand what’s been done in the past and what’s being done now. Only then can we act wisely.

    Look forward to seeing how your thinking develops over time.

    Enjoy,

    Bill

  • Hello again, Ben!

    I think that this piece really shows how diverse views on the social issues in our community are. It’s a wonderful representation of three different points of view. Bravo!

    Best,
    Maisie

  • Bill Rich
    9 months ago

    Ben,

    Just read through all your blog posts. Before I dive right into your topic search / interviews, I want to let you know that I’ve never had anyone self-identify as a “card thrower.” I’m intrigued (and clueless). Do you throw them at targets? A cheating poker player? Something else?

    Enjoyed reading through your approach to interviewing your parents and your mom’s friend, Jeanne. One things for sure: there’s no shortage of topics out there. There are a lotta ways to make a difference in our world, though it’s key that you have some sort of fire / passion for what topic you choose. Otherwise, when the going gets tough, it will be hard to sustain your commitment to the work.

    You did a good job describing what your three interviewees had to offer, though I couldn’t tell from your post if you got any closer to choosing a topic. If you’re still undecided, I’d recommend doing some reading about the topics you’re considering. For example, in the current edition of Seven Days (Sept 21-28), there’s an article title Ethical Eating (p 44), which describes how philosophy professors approach thinking about food systems. Moreover, a simple Google Search will provide you lots of reads related to all three of the topics you heard about during your interviews.

    For most successful change agents, having a personal stake in the issue provides the passion I previously mentioned. Of the three issues your interviewees mentioned, which one hits closest to home to you? If none of them do, what is a topic that hits closer to home for you?

    Two more thoughts. First, good to see that you cited these interviews. Even though we’re early in the process, this is a good habit. Second, I’m glad that you’re so excited to use the media kit to document / tell the story you settle on. These tools weren’t available when I was your age, and I totally get the allure. What makes them a BLAST to use: finding a topic we care enough about so that we really learn a lot about it, before we begin using these powerful story telling tools. Gotta have a good story to tell, and gotta have a deep understanding of the story to leverage the power and fun of these tools.

    Eager to hear about your next steps.

    Enjoy,

    Bill Rich

  • Nathan, your post is a fantastic example of exactly the kind of mind-stretching that this week’s exercise of interviewing was meant to ignite. The dialogue genre you’ve used here spotlights your moments of revelation really wonderfully, and handles these thorny issues in an approachable, unintimidating way. You have a gift for rhetoric that will be immensely useful as you craft persuasive messages, especially concerning charged topics where a writer/videographer can run the risk of alienating an audience. Your dialogue is an exemplar of how setting yourself up as the person to be enlightened is sometimes much more effective than pointing an accusatory finger.

    Did speaking with your brother and mother raise your own awareness about biases you might hold without realizing it?

    Until next week,
    Dana

  • Maisie, what I find most fascinating about your post this week is the tension between your two interviewee’s thoughts on how communities should be educated regarding interacting with and caring for those with disabilities. Your first interviewee seems to believe that communities can and should be taught a proper ethic, while your second seems to be saying that not only is there not a standard approach that is appropriate for all, but it is also not necessarily most appropriate for an entire community to be involved in establishing or following best treatment practices – rather, individual caregivers know best the highly individual needs of those with whom they work. It might be interesting for you to explore these divergent philosophies further, and to investigate how the institutional-care vs. community-care models address these questions differently. I imagine that the effectiveness of the latter type of care can really depend on how committed and concerned particular caregivers are. Could you locate some facts or other expert opinions about the outcomes of institutional vs. community care? Why is the community model better than the institutional? Such evidence would help undergird any argument you might want to make about access to the best care. Bravo for getting at some very substantial questions in such a short time!

    Until next week,
    Dana

  • Hi Petra,

    Just one wanted to share one article that came out yesterday in our local paper, The Addison Independent, that looks at a funding for prevention of opioid use by Addison teens:

    “MIDDLEBURY — A new grant will direct more than $600,000 to Addison County over the next five years for programs aimed at preventing local teens and young adults from abusing alcohol, marijuana and prescription drugs.

    After years of fighting the opiate epidemic in Vermont at the point where people need help cleaning up, one local leader charged with spending the new grant money is happy to open a new front in the battle.

    “Let’s really (attack) the root causes,” said Kate McGowan, executive director of the United Way of Addison County.”

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Ipo_ah9qZj5wJ1vpk2FT0DwKXDg3QsTkepO4J2UMOlA/edit?usp=sharing

  • Erin —
    Sherry Turkle, a professor at MIT, has written extensively about this is both book and article form. Check her out. She may offer some avenues you wish to explore. Also, Robert Putnam, a professor at Harvard, wrote a famous book called “Bowling Alone” about the collapse of communities, something that tangentially relates to your topic. Finally, Georg Simmel, a German sociologist, is a thinker I use in class a lot when talking about characters in novels who are surrounded by social experiences but very lonely themselves.

    • Hello Ben-

      Thank you for sharing that information with me, I will definitely look into those resources as I get deeper into this project. I am going to try to get myself a copy of that book, it sounds interesting, and I think it would really let me look into the world of communication and tecnology on a much deeper, more meaningful level.
      Hope to keep in touch with you and your great resources as the weeks progress. Talk soon!
      -Erin

  • Dianne Baroz
    9 months ago

    Clara,

    I’m happy to be a guest responder to your blog! I work at the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College and was briefly at the kick-off meeting. I’m so excited that you chose to be part of this program, and I’m here to help you with your research and project in any way that I can.

    Your topic about equity in education for ELL students and immigrants is so relevant today. Language is probably the biggest obstacle that an immigrant student would face in Vermont. I remember years ago there was a large influx of Bosnian refugees who settled in Middlebury. Were schools in Vermont prepared to help them then? Have there been any lessons learned?

    I think it was a great exercise to imagine what it would be like for a student coming to Vermont with not only a language barrier but who is culturally different as well. Since this is rural Vermont, would you consider looking at some sort of cultural diversity training? Lots of great ideas to think about. Look forward to hearing from you.

    Best,
    Dianne

    • Dianne,

      Nice to meet you and thanks for responding! I agree that the issue is timely; a lot of things led me towards it but especially meeting students from diverse schools and a UVM professor studying ELL students in classrooms and the people who translate for them. I had some awareness of the topic but not very much, which was a serious deficit on my part. I’m excited to learn through the process, and in that vein I’ll be interested to check out the situation you mentioned.

      I also think that cultural awareness/diversity training is probably essential, and I’m not sure if that overlaps with the idea of pushing for more progressive, inclusive curriculum…if students are learning about this in the classroom, maybe the ideas are one and the same. Please keep in touch!

  • Fiona, I know that you are very passionate and talented and that there is a normal learning curve to picking up the phone or standing in front of people, much like there is with anything else in life. Some people will learn to ride a bike faster than others, but just about everyone can learn how to ride a bike if they try. While working to create products for your website will be important, it won’t mean as much as practicing and honing your skill set to talk to others about Why, How, and What should change around general understanding of gender. That’s not easy. It’s not easy to make a cold-call and offer to have a conversation with a school’s faculty. But, it might be a necessary one. So, if I do nothing else in this comment, I want to put forward the importance of “going public” in person and to acknowledge that there is a learning curve, it might be hard or uncomfortable, but it is important to pursue and lean on us for support in that direction. I am so excited to see you and Eva develop ways forward with your topic this year and really get a chance to develop these skills.

  • Andrea Lunsford
    9 months ago

    Dear Anna:

    Andrea Lunsford here, a long-time Bread Loaf faculty member and someone who is very interested in high school students and their opinions. I’ve read almost all of your posts, I think, and am very impressed at how thoughtful you are, how respectful you are of others, and how careful your thinking toward change it. Very impressive.

    I have been thinking quite a lot lately about pronoun use and have written a blog post about it myself. In my own teaching, I’ve used “they” for a long time, though I also ask students their preferred pronouns. I’ve found that in the last decade students are more and more willing to have serious and open conversations about sexual identities and about how they are building their own identities, often a day at a time. High school and college years are a time when these subjects should be addressed directly and forthrightly and honestly, as you recommend. I hope that you and students at your school are making good progress on creating an environment that is not just safe but welcoming to all.

    I also loved what you wrote about silence taking the side of the oppressor. That opening vignette is haunting and drew me right in and held me there, with you. Last night as I watched the presidential debate, I wondered why neither candidate talked substantively about poverty, and I was offended deeply with Donald Trump’s millions (he says billions) that he has not used to help anyone but himself and his family. I live in the Bay area in California, a very affluent place and home of Silicon Valley: many people here who are in the middle class cannot afford homes; poverty is severe. Last week I heard a program being proposed by some of the CEOs in Silicon Valley and being debated around the country: since technology and automation are taking so many jobs (you can go to a restaurant here and be served by a robot, for example, and since this trend looks like it will only increase, we need to prepare for a day when there will not be enough work for everyone. Indeed, the CEOs say that day is already here. So what they are proposing is that the government provide funds for housing and food to everyone. As I understand it, they have a plan to raise the money that would be needed for such a project. Of course, other countries already do something similar, especially, I think, in Scandinavia. I’m wondering what you and your classmates think about such an idea for addressing poverty?

    I look forward to more correspondence! In the meantime, I’m sending best wishes.
    Andrea

    • Hi Andrea, thank you so much for reading, and for your thoughts! I think that the proposed idea is really good in theory, but would be extremely difficult in execution. So much money would be necessary to provide for the large number of people living in poverty, a figure that will only continue to grow, that it doesn’t seem sustainable. I think the ultimate goal should be to create more jobs/opportunities so that a greater percentage of the lower class will eventually be self-reliant. However, this could certainly take a while, so government support would be very beneficial in the meantime. Do you know how the government plans to raise these funds, and what their long term plan is?

      Again, thank you for taking interest in my topics!

  • Hey Justin,
    I’m Elsa and I am extremely interested in your topic. As you know, mine relates to yours and I find it interesting to look at this issue of stereotypes and distance between Mexicans and Vermonters and then relate it to our industry (mostly dairy). I noticed that you sort of tied it in there and I think it would be intriguing to see what people who worked with Mexicans on farms thought of them compared to your everyday Vermonter who might not have any contact with them. This may apply later when we really look into depth on our topics, but it’s something to keep in mind. You definitely have great resources within your family, which will be super helpful throughout the course.

    • Hi Elsa,

      I very much enjoyed learning about yours and I also noticed the correlation between our two subjects. I definitely would like to learn more about people’s opinions on Mexicans and deepen my pool of opinions from which I am drawing my conclusions. I think before any solution is decided upon or the exact problem is discovered, we must learn more about other thoughts on migrant workers and gather different outlooks on why the migrant workers don’t integrate into the community. I’m excited about the potential of our topics!

      Justin

  • Hi Justin,

    This is Amy Collier—I work at Middlebury and introduced the WTS folks to WordPress at your first meeting. I am excited about your topic and I’m curious to learn more about what strategies you are considering to help you learn more about the lives of migrant workers in Vermont. Besides interviews, what other strategies are you thinking about using?

    I’m sure that, with your tremendous experience working with Daniel and on various animation projects, you have thought a lot about empathy. I’m fascinated with empathy. What does it take to help people to develop true empathy? How will you yourself work on your empathy throughout this project?

    A

  • Hi Justin,

    I really appreciate the way you sought input from people around you about your topic, and I appreciate your discretion in not naming some individuals with whom you talked.

    As you explore your topic in more depth, I would be interested to see what Mexican migrant workers say about the role of language in their experiences. I say this for a couple of reasons: 1) I lived in Brazil most of my childhood and when I returned to the US for college and grad school, I began studying the effects of migration and repatriation (returning home). Language (the language of the home, the heritage language, the mixture of language in every day speech) played a role in people’s identities and experiences. 2) I’m reminded of a famous ethnographic study by Shirley Brice Heath (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shirley_Brice_Heath) called Ways with Words: Language, Life, And Work In Communities And Classrooms. It’s a different topic but Heath was instrumental in helping ethnographers to consider the role of language in lived experiences.

    Your experiences of having lived in Mexico are an asset for your project. Keep reflecting on those experiences and using them to help you shape the ways you approach the project and the questions you ask.

    I’m excited to keep following along in this project.

    Amy

    • Hi Amy,

      That’s a very interesting topic you bring up. I would definitely have to look more into the subject, but I do know that language can present itself as quite a challenge for migrant workers in Vermont. Often workers will find themselves not being able to speak up for themselves and as a result, they have no way to communicate their point of view. One story I heard about that recently took place in Vermont was a case where a police officer did a routine traffic stop to discover a dark-skinned gentleman who wasn’t able to speak English sitting in the passenger seat. This eventually resulted in the driver (a UVM student) granted permission to leave while the latino man had to stay with the officer until the U.S. Border Patrol arrived at the scene. While I don’t know all of the details about this story quite yet, I strongly believe that if no language barrier had presented itself the Mexican farm worker would have been allowed to leave the site as well. Also, farms tend to have their own local “leaders” who have a better understanding of the language and are able to communicate well with local Vermonters. All of this being said, I would definitely love to delve further into this subject as I think it has a quintessential effect on the quality of living here in the United States.

      Thank you for your useful insight!
      Justin

  • Grace Widelitz
    9 months ago

    Theo,
    Thank you so much for the thoughtful response! It is much appreciated! Sorry my response is coming a bit late but at first I could not find your blog.

    I believe you have addressed a very important and somewhat forgotten issue in our society. Especially as a girl I see this happening and still hear the phrase “Like a girl,” being used frequently. There is a great commercial you should watch about this phrase…I will try and find the link for you.

    I also think it’s great you interviewed a variety of ages and genders, this is important for this topic in particular. Thank you for bringing up a very important topic! I think you will have great success and hope all goes well. See you in school!
    Grace

  • Andrea Lunsford
    9 months ago

    Dear Anna: I am going to do more research on this idea and hope to find out more about concrete plans for funding it. I do know that a lot of people in the tech industry are very worried about losing many,many jobs due to automation and forsee a time when there just won’t be enough traditional work for everyone. If this happens, we will need to shift our idea of what work is–jobs like helping elders, taking care of children, and providing “food for the soul” through music, dance, etc. may be much more important than they seem to be now. The last really great shift in work patterns happened during the industrial revolution, when the “machine age” made many workers redundant, put millions out of work, and completely transformed the world’ economy. Something like that is going on again today: it’s up to us to figure out how to respond to it and plan so that the suffering caused by the industrial revolution doesn’t happen again. We have a lot of work to do!

    All best, Andrea

    • That’s very interesting, and I agree completely. I wonder if this could produce a shift in the economical focus? As in, maybe our society would become more of a socialist culture, with certain individuals managing the machines and the remainder of the population working in non-traditional roles and receiving limited income from the government. It will certainly be interesting to see how society changes, and it’s our responsibility to make sure that there’s sufficient support for the members of the community that can’t be self-sufficient.

      I also really like how you mentioned the Industrial Revolution, because I think that the only way we can prepare for the action we’ll have to take is to predict what will happen. By analyzing history, we’ll have a more accurate idea of what to expect, and therefore be able to deal with it more effectively.

  • Beverly Moss
    9 months ago

    Hi Sidney,
    My name is Beverly Moss. I’m originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, but I’ve lived in Columbus, Ohio for the 28 years. I teach English at Ohio State University. These days, Charlotte is in the news for really tragic reasons. You’re right that picking just one social problem is really difficult, but your family offered really thoughtful responses to your questions. I agree with you that education, or lack education, is responsible for many of our social problems, especially Islamophobia. I wonder how you can go about gathering information on the relationship between homelessness and lack education. Are there other social issues that you can link to lack of education? Your post has me thinking about what aspect of education that I’m passionate about? For me, it’s access to quality education. Good luck with finalizing your topic.

  • Tom McKenna
    9 months ago

    Hi Brennan,

    Greetings from Juneau. I enjoyed your musings about voluntarism. I appreciate how you are narrating your sense-making through these conversations. I’d like to pick up on one of the points Bob mentions here, too. I guess it’s the chord that Harley strikes for you, and your eventual postulation, “Maybe we don’t have a lack of people wanting to volunteer but instead a lack of the community.”

    This reminds me of a quotation from Kurt Hahn, the founder of the Outward Bound School. Hahn rather famously said, ..”There are three ways of trying to win the young. There is persuasion. There is compulsion, and there is attraction. You can preach at them; that is a hook without a worm. You can say, ‘You must volunteer.’ That is of the devil. And you can tell them, ‘You are needed.’ That hardly ever fails.” My wondering in connection to this Kahn quote is whether what you describe as “a lack of the community” above, could also be a lack of a feeling or perception of being needed. You don’t feel needed when you respond to the stubbed toe, right? But maybe you don’t also when you have a sense that someone else will do it if you don’t?

    In my role as a an elementary school principal, I’m struggling with getting volunteers for our Parent Teacher Association (PTA). I’ve just discovered an article about this specific challenge that suggests it’s more than just being needed that draws many people to volunteer. One new insight to me is that it’s good to to remember that many people volunteer to better develop a skill or talent. There’s a nice little research synopsis of studies of voluntarism (through the lens of getting school volunteers) here: https://www.ptotoday.com/pto-today-articles/article/5940-why-dont-people-volunteer

    If you stay on this topic, I’d love to learn along with you!

    Best,
    Tom

  • Carissa Brownotter
    9 months ago

    Hello Eva!

    I’m one of your blog readers for this year. My name is Carissa Brownotter. I work at COPE, a non-profit public health organization located on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico. You sound like a passionate individual. One who loves to keep things moving. Love it!

    I am excited to read your future blog posts!

    Best,
    Carissa

  • Carissa Brownotter
    9 months ago

    Hello Eva,

    Love your passion! It can be felt through your words. You’ve focused on an important issue. As a former teacher in the public education system, I agree that the school system lacks substantial (if any) support to LGBT youth. Most schools (at least out here in the Southwest) don’t know where to begin.

    On the flip side, youth have a powerful voice that can rock these systems and create change. Yours is one of them. I look forward to reading more of your ideas and help you develop your thinking in order to create a more positive educational atmosphere for LGBT youth.

    Best,
    Carissa

  • Shel Sax
    9 months ago

    Hi Greta,
    Certainly a lot to think about in your last post. It seems like you are exactly where you should be in the process. You’ve now narrowed down a huge number of possible topics to two: climate change in Vermont and the gas pipeline. Not that those two are small but you’re getting closer to something more specific and do-able.

    As you move along with whichever topic you decide to pursue, I’d encourage to think about two things: the costs and benefits of your topic and the distribution of those costs and benefits. For example, several years ago, the pulp mill at Fort Ticonderoga was planning (and did burn) used tires to generate energy with the by-product of really nasty pollution, mostly headed to Vermont. With the pipeline, the plant will be burning much cleaner natural gas with much less pollution that benefits Vermont, particularly Shoreham, Bridport and Cornwall. So, do try to think not only about costs but also about benefits. And how those benefits are distributed: if you’re the pulp mill or live nearby, you’re better off. If you have construction work by your house, digging up roads and property while the pipeline is under construction, you’re worse off.

    Also, ask yourself, who gains and who losses? How are the costs and benefits distributed. John Elder has done a fair bit of work on environmental justice and how it impacts the poorest socio-economic sectors of our society inequitably. Something that you might want to look into for Vermont. (See https://vtdigger.org/2014/07/13/vermont-law-rubin-fellows-look-environmental-justice/ as an example)

    I’d also encourage you to engage in dialogic thinking – in this case, asking yourself, what are the counter-arguments to what I’m writing and thinking. Imagine you’re on a debate team and the topic is the gas pipeline and let’s assume you’re opposed to it. What would you say if you had to argue in favor of it? This is a good way of strengthening your argument.

    On a totally different topic, about 8% of men suffer from red-green color blindness. The color scheme of your blog makes it really difficult, at least for me, to read. I had to copy and paste your post into a Word document, so I’d suggest you consider changing it.

    Hope this is of some help.
    Cheers, Shel

  • Hi Anna,

    Yesterday, I was particularly engaged in the following VPR Commentary because I had just read your articulate and layered thoughts on the MUHS dress code and its larger implications.

    http://digital.vpr.net/post/greene-harassment

    • Thank you for sharing this commentary! I found it interesting and applicable to my topic. It also raised the issue of “where is the line between harassment and free speech?” The commentary said that physical action or repetition of the verbal assault constitutes harassment, but a single instance of yelling doesn’t qualify. However, while people may not be punished for the latter, I still think its an occurrence in society that must change. I know firsthand how threatening even an “innocent” comment can be, especially if you’re alone, or you’re outside at night. Although street harassment isn’t exactly what I’m researching, I think it would be a really interesting topic that lends itself to great change.

      Additionally, the commentary included a line about possibly restricting dress codes, in order to decrease street harassment, among other forms of sexual assault. She brought up the point that there’s no clear place to draw the line, because people have a vast variety of ideas of what they consider offensive. Some Muslim women consider it scandalous to be in public without their hair covered, while other women take no issue with walking down the street in a bralette and cutoff shorts.

      This doesn’t warrant a response, necessarily; I’m just getting my thoughts out. Thank you for the link, it really got me thinking!! 🙂

  • Anna,

    Thank you for taking the time to write in-depth about each of your topics of interest. After reading through your post, I am wondering if you are more interested in looking at one of these issues inside of school or if you are more interested in examining an issue as it pertains to society at large. Your discussion of poverty focused on the issue in general, while the other two were centered around school. There is no rush to decide, but as you continue to explore the issues, it is something to ponder.

    Erik

    • I think poverty is an issue that should be studied on at a statewide level, as it’s a much more large-scale issue than the other two. I think I would focus on LGBT education and the dress code, first at my school, and possibly expand to other schools in the state as well. The more I think about these issues, the more I think I should choose a topic where I can really make a difference, instead of simply trying to make a dent. As such, I’m leaning more towards the issue of the dress code, as it’s a ~small~ issue, so it’s manageable, but it’s indicative of a variety of larger problems in society that need to be addressed. I would love to expand the influence of my project (if this is what I choose to research) to various schools in the state, in addition to my own.

  • Greta,

    You may have already come across this source (http://vtclimate.org/) but if not, it could be useful because it focuses specifically on climate change in Vermont.

    Previously, you had expressed an interest in writing and music and I’d encourage you to look at how people choose to share their message about the environment. For example, Bill McKibben has written books about climate change, but he also helped found 350.org which uses social media to campaign for the environment. I thought for a while but struggled to come up with any modern music about climate change. Then I found this, which may explain things: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-34844244 At the very least, as you continue to explore these issues, you can at least be thinking about whether the message is communicated effectively. Part of your challenge in this course is to communicate your learning and your message to a larger audience. If you pay attention to how others do this (successfully or not), it will help you to better craft your story.

    Erik

    • Erik,
      Thank you for both of the links you provided! The first will certainly be useful if I decide to go into that topic, and the second was incredibly interesting. I’ll keep them in mind.
      Greta

  • Hi Jus!

    As I read this post, it dawned on me that even though I live in a Vermont town with some dairy farms (and near other towns with even more), the only reason I know that there are Mexican workers here in Vermont is because I have heard that there were. One would think that I would have somehow been more directly aware in my everyday life.

    Which got me to thinking that your research might show me something that heretofore has been entirely theoretical before. Right away, I’m interested. If I’m interested, others might also be. It’s almost as if I’m living in a place where there is a parallel society going on.

    I like what your mother said about the perceptions Vermonters have of just what is going on in Mexico. My parents, partner, and I travelled to Mexico several times, and before each time we went, I cannot tell you how many people tried to warn us off going. In their minds Mexico was a monolithically violent and drug-addled country that we were crazy to hazard. (And The Donald sure hasn’t helped with this misimpression.) It reminded me of when I was in China, and a young man said to me that it must be hard to drive to work at dangerously high speeds while people were shooting guns at my car, trying to kill me.

    • That’s such an interesting comment, Brad! What accounts for the invisibility of Mexican migrant workers in Vermont, I wonder? Reminds me of a story I heard on NPR about Ramiro Gomez, who paints people who are typically not visible in paintings (and perhaps in our minds): “Ramiro Gomez paints modernist houses in Beverly Hills, perfectly appointed kitchens and exclusive shops on Melrose Avenue. His pictures have nothing, and everything, to do with his background. Gomez’s mother is a janitor, and his father works the graveyard shift driving a truck. Workers like his Mexican immigrant parents show up in his paintings — part of the invisible landscape of luxury LA.” http://www.npr.org/2016/04/11/473384990/gardens-dont-tend-themselves-portraits-of-the-people-behind-las-luxury (check out the article and the art—it’s good stuff!)

    • Brad,

      As you mention that you weren’t aware of the Mexican population here in Vermont until hearing about it rather than experiencing it first-hand, I can’t help but think that this needs to be the basis for change. I strongly believe that if their presence was better known in Vermont, our culture would change experience a detrimental change. Another thought that comes to my mind is that because of the media’s outlook on Mexico and their people, Vermonters are afraid of having this change take place in their community. This hurdle is a very tough one to get over because in very few places around the United States are migrant workers accepted into the community. We often view them as beings of a much lower social class and don’t recognize their importance in our society. As soon as we are able to get past this first problem and show Vermonters that migrants should be treated equally like the rest of the population is, great changes will come. I believe that our communities will experience a very beneficial change that will leave our state much more rich in culture and diversity.

      I look forward to hearing your opinions as I dive deeper into my project!
      Justin

  • Dixie Goswami
    9 months ago

    Dear Kati,

    Having experienced addiction across generations in my family, I found the responses of your aunt, your neighbor, and your friend moving and deeply engaging. The subject is broad and profound: I like Emily’s suggestion that the stories of children affected by addiction might be a good option. These children are mostly silent, I think, but their experience has profound implications for them as individuals and for all of us.

    It’s early to think of outcomes, purposes, and products, but I’m struck by the dramatic potential of your interviews. The distinctive voices and themes pop.

    I’m writing to you from Clemson, SC, about a month after a summer at Bread Loaf Vermont, where I’ve taught for many years and where the What’s the Story? was showcased for the community early in the summer. I’m 85 with 15 great-grandchildren.
    Life-long learner happy to be part of 2016 and 2017 What’s the Story and to be reading and responding to your evolving inquiry.

    Dixie

    • Thank you, I’m glad the interviews I conducted were effective and that you see potential in my work! The two angles of this issue I’m considering focusing on are; the recovery process, what strategies do and don’t work, or the problem as it affects young people in families. I’m so glad you think I’m heading in a good direction.

  • Hello Gavin, I’m Fiona Nelson and I’m a part of your blog-reading group.

    My suggestion to you is to think about what you want to change in Vermont, and what could make it a better place, then you can try to focus your topic idea around that.

    Hopefully you get some ideas!

    -Fiona

  • Hey Zachariah, I hope you are well. I know that you have written about Bees and pollinators before and I just heard from Courtney Krahn that you are still interested in that as a possibility.

    Here is a link to a video documentary that students of mine made last year. They ended up winning a couple of award from the film and it was shown on our local TV channel (Middlebury Community Television) and it was shown on Vermont PBS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AK6n4XyJCzM.

    Also, I know an emergency room doctor in town named Mike Kiernan, who has just launched a project: Bee the Change. Here’s a video he just produced about it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4i1sun_PYc. Also, here’s an article that ran in the Addison Independent recently about it: http://www.addisonindependent.com/201609bright-idea-kiernan-pairs-solar-arrays-and-bees

    These might give you some food for thought as you think more about ideas. I’d be happy to arrange for you to have a conversation with either the students who made the film or Mike Kiernan.

    Let me know if you’re interested to connect to them.

    -Tim

  • Anna—

    I would like to applaud so much of what you have written, but I would like to especially applaud your stance that students don’t have to learn about various sexual orientations, as much as to learn about hateful reactions to sexual orientations that do not fit into heteronormative expectations. I mean, so some male, for example, is affectionately attracted to another male. What’s so hard about figuring that out? But to understand why that is so threatening and to seek ways to get over this hang-up? Now, that’s a challenge, and that’s what, in my view, we need to work on.

  • Laurie Hickey
    9 months ago

    Hey Eli. Hope you’ve had a good week. Sorry I was delayed getting back to you – it’s been a crazy week in the Burlington School District. (Check out any news source if you want to find out what’s going on.)

    I appreciate how you chose your mom to discuss your ideas. It’s interesting how one person’s passion can make you reconsider something. I wonder if you have ever considered that farming is part of your legacy; if things had worked out differently you could be on the brink of a farming life. Perhaps being part of that legacy means focusing on young people like yourself who have to make a choice to stay on the farm or not. What kind of considerations do they have to take into account? What attracts them or pushes them away from the farm? A story like that would bring a protagonist that your audience could relate to.

    Your other story idea of opiate addiction and its effect in Vermont is also powerful. I have taught 16 years; the impact of drug abuse on children alone is evident in our classrooms in Vermont today. There is no doubt there is a story here – the challenge for you I think is to winnow it down to the most compelling and engaging thread of the story.

    To repeat myself (I am a teacher!) keep asking questions about your topics. The winner is going to be the one you care most deeply about and want to live close to for the next seven months.
    Have a great week.
    Laurie

  • Andrea Lunsford
    9 months ago

    Just a note to say that I’m impressed with the quality of the responses to Anna’s post: they are highly detailed and astute — very good analysis and very good questions/suggestions. A fine conversation going here.

  • Hey Nigel,
    you have some great points here. I especially like the point about considering the sufferers on a personal basis and not as a whole. I think this is definitely the right thing to do.
    I also have a question that presented itself after that horrible story you shared about the “kill list” (that was a great example, by the way): who is “they” in the phrase “they have a kill list”? That would be interesting to know.
    One last thing: whenever I write a piece, I always have someone else read it over to catch silly grammar and spelling mistakes that I invariably make, as it is very easy to miss your own errors . I noticed a couple of typos in there, so perhaps that might be a helpful strategy for you, too.
    Thanks for a great blog!
    See you later,
    Theo

  • Wow, I am so impressed with this post!

    I am especially intrigued by the interviews that you conducted. That is some great work! Where do you see yourself going from here? Is there anything that you think make sense to to tackle next? And great job with the Catcher in the Rye reference… that drew me in 🙂

    I look forward to reading more and continuing on this journey with you! Great job so far.

    Ella

    • Hi Ella!

      Thank you so much for the response!

      I think that right now I’ve isolated something that I would like to explore, but am unsure on how to approach the topic, and eventually address the social issue.

      I’m also excited to continue working with you!
      Lena

  • Hi Nigel,

    Great work! This was a very interesting post to read. I love the different perspectives in both interviews and the points that each person was making. This is certainly a very hot topic in VT right now! I am curious though, what are your thoughts on this issue?

    You’re doing a great job and I can’t wait to see where you go with this!

    Ella

  • Zachariah,

    That last paragraph you wrote is so powerful. The ideas, the order, the appeal to a greater bond than caring about a bee. Did you have a chance to look at any of those links that I wrote about on your blog post #3? I look forward to seeing you next weekend to talk about these ideas more.

    -Tim

  • Erin,
    This is quite an interesting topic and one that I wouldn’t have thought of! I noticed and liked the connection with your last post: making your mark both locally and globally I agree with the importance of knowing other cultures and connecting with kids from these cultures. Five years ago, I had the amazing experience of living in Germany for the year, and belonging to another culture, even for a relatively short period of time, changed my life. So your topic is an important one and I look forward to hearing more about it.
    I wondered how you would go about documenting this, though. Have you looked into whether any of these programs exist in Vermont, in schools or otherwise? I haven’t heard of them, so I don’t know whether they exist. And if they don’t, are you planning on finding a way to implement them?
    I look forward to your next post!
    Greta

    • Hi Greta,

      Sorry about my delayed response – thank you for commenting on these last two posts I have made. Your stay in Germany for a year is one of the things that sounds as you expressed it, life changing. One of the many hopes I have for this project is to connect middle and high school students from Vermont with other middle and high school students from around the world to have conversations about various topics, big and small. This conversation would hopefully lead up to in person meet ups, where we could host them in Vermont for some time and they could host us in their part of the world for some time as well. I am exited to learn more about communication as this project develops!

      Thanks for reading,

      -Erin

      • Erin,
        Your ultimate goal sounds awesome! Meeting people from around the world is soooo important. Maybe you should research exchange programs around the state that already exist (or maybe you already have–I’m about to read your last post). One thing to keep in mind is that starting a new exchange program in one year won’t be easy. Not that you can’t do it, or at least start it, but maybe you want to have an a Plan B as well. Communicating on the internet is a great start!
        Greta

  • Petra,
    I’m glad you’re getting excited about this topic!! I agree with Ms. Carroll that it would be interesting to look into education about the topic in schools. My high school requires health class, but many people don’t take it until at least sophomore year, and some take it online, so we all get different information at different times. I learned a little bit about opioids in middle school health class, but overall I know very little even though it’s a huge issue in our state, which is a huge issue in itself. Like Ms. Carroll said, you could go into prevention and/or treatment; I would add that education is a whole separate path you can follow! You have lots of options and I’m looking forward to seeing where you take this. Like I said, I don’t know much about the topic, but don’t hesitate to ask if you do want to talk to me more about it.
    Greta

    • Greta,
      I know, I feel like the Opioid Crisis is a very large overarching topic and feel like I can go different places with it. I am hoping that in our retreat I will be able to narrow it down to a more specific idea based on what other people are doing. I totally agree with you about how us not learning about this huge problem in our state is a problem in itself. I feel like if it is that big of a problem we should be more educated about it. I would also be interested in maybe finding out about how much the education actually helps.
      Thank you for your insightful comment,
      Petra

  • Hey Clara!
    Your topic is one I haven’t given much thought about, but realize it’s very important to Vermont and to the country as a whole. You said (roughly) that a student that isn’t welcomed into a community or school maybe become bitter towards that school or the country as a whole and may miss their country. I feel that this is extremely important and is very relevant to current times and the presidential election. I can see how coming to a new country is terrifying and if that country seems like it shows hostility towards that individual because of a language barrier, it could lead to a hostile citizen, when we only want to create an environment of community and connection. I look forward to continuing to see where you want to go with this topic and what other topics may connect to this one.

    Elsa

    • Elsa,

      Thanks for responding! I definitely feel that there is a danger of creating a divided society when people who are new to the U.S. are not only not given the educational help they need, but also expected to learn English at the expense of their native language and cultural education/identity. This really brings to mind something which stuck with me from Malala Yousafzai’s autobiography, in which she mentions the remarks people would often make to her about how she must be happy to be living in Birmingham, England instead of her native Pakistan. In reality, she missed her home, but they had such a narrow vision of her country and life that they couldn’t understand the value of both places and cultures. I think a big part of this work is spreading awareness around the detriment of this exclusively Western world view.

      Clara

  • Hi Clara,
    Thank you for commenting your thoughts! I agree that this is a very complex topic, which is why I’m so eager to explore it. I noticed your connection to the presidential election, but I don’t know if I will explore that relationship a ton. I think I would be biting off more than I could chew. I could be wrong, so I will keep it at the back of my mind. I most certainly will be looking into the reasons police and farmers ignore these immigrants’ legal status as I dive deeper into this topic. I realize the trouble of interviewing migrant workers themselves, but hopefully I will be able to find at least one or two sources throughout the course that will be willing to be interviewed.
    Thanks, again, for commenting,
    Elsa

  • Hi Justin,
    Thank you for that first comment! I am excited to see how our two topics will compare and contrast as we continue to work throughout the year. I have heard of visas and write about something similar in blog post #4. I think an idea very much like visas will be a possible solution, maybe the best one, but I haven’t made any definite decisions, as to be expected.

    Thank you for your thoughts,
    Elsa

  • Greta,
    I agree with Shel Sax, I think you did a great job narrowing down your options. I think it is great that you still have two that you can look into, better yet that they are somewhat connected. Like your family commented I don’t know much about the gas line, I have definitely heard about it. Though, I have not learned about it or have opinions on it. So if you do decide on that as your topic it will help inform me as well!
    I agree I think that when I went to my interviews I expected something, then something totally unexpected came up. I thought it was an interesting idea your dad said about even though it is a bad thing that global warming is happening. It will be good for Vermont’s popularity, I had never thought about it that way.
    I am so excited to see where you are going to go with this, it is also another topic that I thought about when coming to WTS.
    -Petra

  • Hi Nigel,
    This is a very interesting post! Sorry my response is coming a bit late I had trouble finding the post. The point about the refugees liking their lives before they moved here was a great point because I do not think this is an angle people think of when they think about this topic. It was also cool to see the parallels and contrasts between the two interviews. I would love to hear more about the refugees on a personal level because I think this provides some really great depth on your issue and makes it really personal and easy to connect with the people you talk about. This is a great topic and I can’t wait to hear more!
    Thank you for the post!
    Grace

  • Erin,
    I love that quote that you started the blog with, I think that is a problem almost everybody now is faced with. I also am really interested in your topic, like Greta I have not thought about it. Not to say that I don’t think it is interesting, I think it is fascinating. I also think that it relates to WTS in many way’s epically how we are using technology to communicate and try to make a positive change in the world. I also think that this is a great topic for you to follow based on your firsts blog post and thoughts. I agree that I think some of the community’s in Vermont lack diversity. I am glad that you came up with this topic that covers most of the things that you mentioned in earlier posts.
    I am eager to see what you can learn about this topic, and the change that you can make,
    -Petra

  • Hey Brennan,
    Sorry I commented the wrong post last time, I wasn’t aware that we were supposed to comment on blog post #2. Anyway, I think all of these topic sound great. Is there any that you are leaning towards more than the others? I look forward to reading more of your blog,
    Megan

  • Hey Lena,
    sorry I commented on the wrong blog last time! Anyway, I think your could be really interesting. I am also interested in the dairy/farming issues, though I chose to do a different topic. I can’t wait to read more of your writing!
    Megan

  • Anna,
    I read your 4th post. Great work! I like the quotes you used from Sinek. They really fit with what you were saying. I did notice something though. You said how we would change the dress code, by spreading the word, but I was wondering, do you have an idea of how you’re going to spread the word? Videos, pictures, text, or through this blog?

    Something completely off topic from the blog, but how old are you? Your posts seem so sophisticated, and well worded with a lot of vocabulary. It’s definitely not middle-school level posts (as mine are). I think it would be good to get to know one another as we continue to read each others’ posts. I think it would help to see more in-depth in each others’ posts. Of course, if you want to.

    Anyway, keep up the hard work! Your topic is really strong, and with development, I think it can be even stronger. I look forward to seeing how your topic and posts evolve through the year!

    • Hey Bryce! I haven’t thought about it much yet, but I think the best way to spread the word is generally through the internet. Videos, presentations, and essays could all work. Getting on the local news is optimal, because it gets information out to the whole community without them necessarily having to go in search of it. I think it would also be helpful to reach out to principals of various schools in the state to coordinate and get information to students, whether by showing a video, discussing it in clubs/classes or even having an assembly. I know these are all really far fetched ideas but in a perfect world, this is how I would spread the word.

      Also, thank you for that observation! I try to put as much effort into these posts as possible, so it means a lot. I’m 16 and a junior, so I definitely have more experience with analytical/research writing than some people in the class. And I agree, the more you know about someone, the more you can understand where they’re coming from, so you can identify with their work better.

      Thank you for your comments!

  • Emily!

    Your effort to find a story mentioning “toaster-brained” and “hair dryer brains” allows readers to experience the “why” your topic is important to you. The creation of experiences through storytelling using imagery, maybe later leading to an emotional response, allows you to develop the “what” with your audience. As you noted, “why” and “what” are important to develop a following, but effort is where you will find your passion!

    In continue to enjoy reading your posts.

    Casey

  • Sidney,

    I keep coming back to your statement, “I want the person I grew up knowing not the person I grew up to know.” The knowing, growing, and know are prominent in the statement and cause me to consider how they relate to your experiences. I find that most people have experienced growing up knowing someone differently than someone they grow to know. As you look towards developing your topic, how can “I want the person I grew up knowing not the person I grew up to know,” become your way to demonstrate the “why” for your topic? Great line from the TED Talk, “If you are driven by a cause or a purpose you will get further than if you are driven by money or fame,” I couldn’t agree more.

    Casey

  • Courtney Krahn
    9 months ago

    Zachariah,

    I’m glad to see that you decided to go with this interesting topic. The organizations you researched seem to be making good strides toward inciting change.

    There are also local organizations with this same mission. This article was recently in The Addison Independent: http://www.addisonindependent.com/201609bright-idea-kiernan-pairs-solar-arrays-and-bees

    The final sentences of your blog get to the heart of what some would argue is currently our world’s greatest security threat: “I believe that nature’s problems are everyone’s responsibility. We all should work to solve the issues of the planet. Responding to the natural problems is important because neglecting to do so threatens our future.” I couldn’t agree with you more, and what’s great about this topic is that it zooms in on one of the very many issues that fall under the vast umbrella that is climate change. You are headed in a specific and tangible direction with this topic.

  • This is a great first dive into this subject, and I can tell you’re passionate about this. I am reminded of a TED talk I saw recently about how we can avoid gender stereotypes (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZFNsJ0-aco). You mentioned how predominant these ideas are in our society, and you’re absolutely right. There are people who go to college and learn how to write commercials and make advertisements targeting these subconscious stereotypes. It’s astounding how many parts of our lives are affected by such ideas.
    I would encourage you to interview more people! Even a few simple questions to a friend or classmate can lend some great insight into this topic.
    I look forward to seeing how you narrow down your ideas!

  • Grace,
    I’m excited that you’re looking into this topic. The wage gap is a large part of modern social equity, and one that affects a broad range of people. Thus, it’s a highly controversial topic at the moment. In spite of that, you’re absolutely correct in that not a lot of people know much about it, and many people have skewed views of what it is, what it means, and how it affects them. Many people believe that the wage gap is not real, and you could read just as many studies disproving it as you could proving it.
    I encourage you to ask your peers and friends what they think and know about it. If you have the opportunity, compare their answers to what some adults may think!
    I look forward to seeing how you engage with this topic!

  • Courtney Krahn
    9 months ago

    Dear Nathan,

    You look at some deep questions here, and you are not afraid to confront them honestly. In reference to racial biases you’ve identified in yourself, you write, “It certainly wasn’t something I was born with, and it’s not something I’m afraid to admit now.” I think this level of honesty will carry you far in your investigation and consideration of this topic — a topic that too many of us nervously dance around, rather than confronting it head-on.

    Your thinking is headed in the right direction. You’ve identified the problem and the change that you would like to see. Better yet, you’ve begun to brainstorm ways to head off the creation of biases before they begin at early ages in a child’s life. I think that mandatory anti-bias teacher training is definitely a start.

    Last night at dinner I was talking with my husband and a very close friend about gender biases. We were saying that often times school curricula contain texts that address the struggles of marginalized classes in our society. The problem with these novels is that they mostly depict marginalized individuals who are experiencing a struggle. The intent is obviously to expose students to people from all walks of life, but perhaps an unintended side effect is that by analyzing, for example, a character who is struggling with gender identity, we are suggesting that someone who is questioning their gender SHOULD be struggling, therefore marginalizing them. I bring this up because I believe that mandatory training for teachers of young children is a good start, but perhaps we also need to see where biases should — or shouldn’t?– be addressed in schools’ curricula.

    As I write this comment, I am re-reading my post and tweaking my language because I find myself nervous to be writing about sensitive topics in a public forum. You are pushing me, your reader, to consider these topics and talk about them in a space that is more powerful — because of its potential readership — than my kitchen table. Thanks for that.

    As always, I look forward to reading more…

    Sincerely,
    Courtney

  • Anna,

    Thought this might interest you: It’s an article from the student newspaper at BHS about a dress code incident that happened there recently: http://bhsregister.com/dress-code-incident-raises-concern/

    Also, if you are focusing in on dress code as your topic, have you looked at why they exist and where they came from? This is the history teacher in me coming out, but I think some historical context on dress codes would help in fully understanding and, subsequently, taking more effective action. Are there valid reasons dress codes were implemented in the past? Do those valid reasons still exist today or, as sometimes happens in education, are dress codes there because “we’ve always had them, so why change”?

    Erik

    • Hi Erik, thank you for sharing this link! The BHS student’s account resembles many I’ve heard (and experienced) in Middlebury High School, especially in terms of unfair enforcement and a generally vague statement in the handbook.

      As for the history of dress codes, they first emerged centuries ago to distinguish social classes. For instance, only the emperor could wear yellow in China, and poor Europeans weren’t permitted to wear bright colors or outfits that drew attention to them. The first dress code in school was put in place in a Des Moines school in 1969, in response to the court case Tinker v. Des Moines School District. A few students had worn black armbands to school to protest the Vietnam War, and got suspended for disrupting the classroom environment, despite the entirely silent, peaceful nature of their protest. The court decided (with a slim majority) that schools could limit the student’s freedom of expression if there is concern that the outfit could disrupt the environment or violate the rights of others. Following this case, official dress codes became present in most public high schools, with state law protecting the school’s right to enforce them.

      What this tells me is that dress codes were initially established so articles of clothing with offensive language/pictures wouldn’t be worn, and it had nothing to do with the desire to censor female bodies. However, gender roles and sexism worked their way into the concept, creating the unfair, restrictive dress codes that exist in many schools today.

      As a sidenote, private schools have been enforcing strict dress codes for all genders since their beginnings. In the first years, the restrictions in place, such as the prohibition of makeup, the requirement of boys to wear neckties, and the requirement of girls to wear stockings, seem outrageous to us now. Over time, the codes became increasingly lenient, although many private schools still require their students to wear uniforms. Throughout history in general, we observe a similar trend in the social standards for dress. This pattern suggests that dress codes, both official and cultural, will continue to decrease in importance/restrictiveness over time. Therefore, we can also assume that the conflict that has always arisen between the younger and older generations around this topic will continue as well.

  • Hi Lena, you had some great interviews and have some great points. One of the things that I noticed is that you only had interviews with agreement towards your thoughts on the subject. It would be great to see what kind of conversations you could have with farmers and others who might be the target of your topic. I think you could vastly expand the view that your topic has. I also think that you have done an amazing job so far, can’t wait to see what else you come up with.

    • Hi Brennan!

      Thank you for the response!

      I definitely agree that discussions with people who oppose the topic will be interesting, it seems like the animal rights subject is very controversial in Vermont.

      I can’t wait to continue working with you!
      Lena

  • Hi Megan, Im glad that you picked this topic. It is definitely an important one. I noticed that you said some really great things. What you said in response to people having sexism ingrained in their thinking “This is even worse, for there is almost nothing you can say to convince them what they know is wrong.” I feel like that statement really grasped the real problem. The unnoticed sexism that accompanies everyday life. It will be interesting to see what else you do with this topic going forward.

  • Bob Uhl
    9 months ago

    Hi Lena,

    Very nice job on your fourth blog post. I learned quite a bit here, including the four strategies that Mercy for Animals advocates to address the issue at hand. I especially like that you’ve outlined the history of your topic and made the distinction between concern for animal mistreatment and animal rights. I’m also glad you discovered Peter Singer; I myself am not too familiar with his work, but it has the potential to serve as a resource to you throughout your pursuit of this issue.

    Keep up the good work!

    • Hi Mr. Uhl,

      It has definitely been interesting to learn the history of animal rights, and I am excited to begin making connections between how change was successfully made in the history, and what change needs to be made now.

      I am also interested in exploring more of Peter Singer’s work, I agree that he is someone that I could learn a lot from.

      Thank you!
      Lena

  • Bob Uhl
    9 months ago

    Hi Megan,

    I like the way you begin your entry here, by describing your first impressions of Sinek: you heard first how he talked and then focused on the specifics of what he was saying. I, too, found him a compelling speaker. It seems like his message has had an effect on you! I’d be curious to know, as you continue your work on the topic of women’s rights in Vermont, how the approach he suggests works for you. I think it’s great that you’re trying out re-framing your ideas with a new approach: that shows open-mindedness, flexibility, and a willingness to experiment, all of which will be of use to you in the coming months.

    Keep up the good work!

  • Bob Uhl
    9 months ago

    Hi Bryce,

    Nice work on blog post number four. It’s clear how much of an effect Sinek’s talk has had on you, and I think it’s a good thing that you plan to keep some of his ideas in mind as you move forward. I also appreciate your straightforwardness in stating your values about purchasing products from companies. As consumers, it’s important that we think about the consequences of our choices.

    Good job looking at what nearby places are doing to combat your topic. And please, keep the puns coming.

    Keep up the good work!

  • Hi Grace,
    Great attitude! That is some real motivation right there, which is the key to getting things done.
    The programs that you described seemed like really great ideas, and so do your ideas about combining these concepts.
    I have a couple of questions:
    Why do you think people pay attention to why you do something and not what you do?
    Do you think that in some cases that talking with a group of people about you own mental illness could be stressful?
    How do you think we could get service like this in Vermont to be free? (I think this is a great benefit for many people).
    Thanks for a well-researched and creative post!
    Theo

  • Hi Nigel,
    You make some great points in here, and I love that you give both the pros and cons of the Immigrant Resettlement Program, and that you touch on the political side of this issue, which is very prominent right now in this country. I wasn’t sure what you were contrasting the Wright Brothers’ situation to in paragraph one. You say

    “The difference was, Orville and Wilbur were driven by a cause, by a purpose, by a belief. They believed that if they could figure out this flying machine, it’ll change the course of the world.”
    This stood out to me because it is an amazing example of this idea that if you know why you are doing something, if you really believe in what you are doing, then you can achieve it. ”

    But you did’t say anything to the contrary before this part.
    I also have a question: what else do you think the program should be “covering” besides material aid and politics?

    Thanks for a great post,
    Theo

  • dixie goswami
    9 months ago

    Dear Kati,

    “I don’t often get the chance to do something real during the process of learning. My previous work and assignments have usually just been practice for later on, it’s always a draft or a simulation but never the real thing.”

    Your reflection on school work and assignments means a lot to me, as a way of thinking about WtS – and about other work that students, mentors, and teachers who’re part of the Bread Loaf network are doing. Is it the real thing?

    As I understand it, your inquiry and analysis will go beyond what you learn and understand to taking action that will make a difference. What you and your WtS collaborators produce will almost certainly include visual art and imagery, composition and design.An area where I find many of my strengths is visual art and design. That’s another thing I’m learning about WtS that matters to me: that everyone has talents, passions, skills to bring to the table.

    Thanks,

    Dixie

  • Courtney Krahn
    9 months ago

    Dear Grace,

    You definitely get at the heart of Sinek’s message when you sum it up at the end of your first paragraph: “People aren’t buying the ‘what,’ they are really essentially buying the ‘why.'” This philosophy seems like it could be especially relevant for your topic. When people think of where they want our community’s resources to go, innovative mental health supports and programs may not be on the top of their lists. However, when faced with the “why” of such initiatives, the need for change is much more appealing. You touch on some of these “whys” in your blog.

    Open Dialogue (it seems like our country is turning to Finland for models of excellence in many areas of social needs these days) is an example of an innovative way of supporting those who struggle with mental health. You write, “Why this program is so clearly wonderful is that it takes away the heavy weight of stigma, makes it personal, unlike hospitalization or drugs and alleviates the worry of cost or coverage because it is free.” Something that really strikes me about your summary of the program is that the focus is on words and collaboration as opposed to hospitalization and drugs. This has the potential not only for reducing stigma, but also for reducing the number of prescriptions that are written in our State, which I recently read is an initiative of our government.

    I’m curious about the youth group Diversity Rocks. I wasn’t aware that the group was connected to mental health issues. In further research I found a connection between the group and Spectrum Youth and Family Services. I am intrigued about how this group’s initiatives and its social media productions tie in with mental health. This seems like it would be one possible starting place for you as you head into your investigations. You have a big job ahead, so I am excited to read that you “feel a sense of determination and excitement whenever I think of this topic and I am itching to get out there and start talking to people.” I get the same feeling from reading your blog!

    Sincerely,
    Courtney

  • Courtney Krahn
    9 months ago

    Hi Megan,

    I really like this line that you pulled from Sinek’s talk: “There are leaders, and there are those who lead. Leader hold a position of power or authority. But those who lead inspire us.” Keep this in mind as you pursue this topic for which you clearly have a strong passion.

    Also, I would push you to think further about the WHY of women’s rights. “Women are just as important as men,” is a great start, but I wonder what tangible examples you could offer your readers/listeners as to why/how equal opportunities for women could enhance our society.

    Lastly, we chatted a bit about this the other day, but I’d encourage you to think about a specific topic related to women’s rights. Some examples might include the wage gap, hunger/homelessness, violence against women, maternal/infant healthcare, paid sick leave or Roe vs. Wade.

    It’s fun to see your ideas develop.
    CK

  • Clara:
    What an incredibly insightful and well-written blog. I, too, agree with you that Sinek’s piece missed the fact that it’s good to do business with those with whose beliefs you share but it may be more important to do business with those with whom we disagree. That is, we should be reaching across the aisle rather than going down the same aisle we’re used to visiting.

    I love your discussion or paradigms and paradigm shifts. You do a great job of saying that the current paradigm is that we need to “fix” the “problem” of ELLs in our schools. However, let’s break down this paradigm and enter into new territory. In other words, let’s try to see this as an opportunity rather than a problem.

    Here’s just one question for you to consider: what strategies do you have, or what kinds of strategies can you study, to convince someone that a problem is really just an opportunity disguised as a problem? We live in a world of standardization: our tests are standardized, our curricula is standardized, etc. Therefore, to a certain extend, we have to be standardized. But breaking out of this standardized thinking is at the heart of your inquiry here. How do we do that? You’ve got a GREAT topic here but a very difficult topic at that. I’m really enjoying your thinking.

  • Hi Justin, thanks for this incredibly thoughtful post. I appreciated your deep dive into the evolution of your perspective on what it takes to make change and how leaders can help move the needle on issues such as these. I’m reminded of Paulo Freire, a Brazilian activist and, eventually, Secretary of Education for a major metropolitan city in Brazil. In his seminal book Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Freire expresses the importance of liberation coming from the oppressed, as they are the only ones who truly understand the oppression they experience. It can be difficult for people who want to help but who are not themselves oppressed to understand the workings of an oppressive system. This is what we mean when we say that “white privilege” can be an impediment to social movements. Freire says “Attempting to liberate the oppressed without their reflective participation in the act of liberation is to treat them as objects which must be saved from a burning building…” Freire’s words have been such an awakening for me throughout my career. This is what I think of when I think about leadership for social change. My question to you, then, is how might we ensure that we are helping people for whom change is intended to have an active and reflective voice in that change?

    • Amy,

      That’s a really interesting point. I just recently learned a new word, heropreneurship, which is essentially an entrepreneur who wants to change the world but has no deep understanding of the issue he is trying to tackle. Unfortunately, this is all too common in our society today. He does what he thinks is best, but doesn’t have experience in the problem and thus likely to not create the best possible solution. There is an article that came out earlier this year which goes into a deeper explanation which you might enjoy. Here is the link: Tackling Heropreneurship. Regarding my specific topic, I think the best approach is to talk directly with the Mexicans and farm owners to ensure that their voices are heard.

      All the best,
      Justin

  • Mr. Uhl,
    Thank you for your feedback. I know I never replied to you before, and I apologize. I’m thankful for your offer to help and the help that you have given. I look forward to working with you throughout the year!
    P.S – I make sure to slide puns into my posts!

    Again, thank you.
    Bryce

  • andrea lunsford
    9 months ago

    Dear Anna

    thanks for blog #4, which I’ve read with great interest. I think this topic is a BIG and important one, and it’s one that’s meaningful to you and to everyone who has ever endured biting comments about clothing or body. Such comments sting, and we carry them with us for a long, long time. I take your point that dress codes should be applied equally to all — that’s crucial. And I also take your point about leadership and leading requiring inspiration and dedication. What I wasn’t completely clear on is the relationship you see between dress codes and hurtful comments. How are the two logically related? I think making that relationship explicit would be a good move. In the meantime, thanks for your very astute thoughts. All the best!

    • Hi Andrea, thank you for your comments! I assume that when you reference the link between the dress code and hurtful comments, you mean the way I opened the piece. When the administration tells me that I need to cover up my body, I feel like it’s a personal insult to my body. I know it may be overreacting on my part, but by restricting the way I dress, but not someone who’s shorter/skinnier etc., I feel like they’re saying that other people can wear a certain article of clothing, but I can’t because my body isn’t right for it, or good enough. They say it’s because what I’m wearing is offensive, which I take to mean that people are offended or grossed out when they see me. This is, of course, a personal reaction, that wouldn’t apply to everyone in the situation, but enough people that I’ve talked to have responded to this type of incident in the same way I have. I don’t know if I’m being clear enough…?

      While writing this response, I remembered an article I read on Refinery29 about the public’s perception on people, based on body type. It focused on the negative light in which plus size women are seen, proving this idea through a word association procedure. The vast majority associated, consciously or unconsciously, negative adjectives such as “lazy, embarrassing, ugly, unhealthy, sloppy and loser” with larger people, and antonyms for those words with smaller people. However, there was one exception: one plus size woman received more positive adjectives. Not so coincidentally, she was substantially more covered up than the other plus size women in the experiment. As the article concluded, “it seems the more these bodies are obscured or shaped by clothing, the more willing we are to accept them.” Even people who work on body positivity have these subconscious beliefs, drilled into them by society and the media, and the dress code promotes these ideas when enforced in the unfortunate pattern that it is.

      That was kind of an unrelated tangent… Sorry! I just get really worked up about this… 🙂

      Thanks again for your thoughts!

  • Beverly Moss
    9 months ago

    Hi Sidney,
    I am struck by the passion in your post and especially your final comment about “doing the right thing.” You’re right, drugs have impacted almost all of us. I, too, have family members whose lives have been altered by drug use. It has destroyed families. Just this week, there have been numerous stories on the local news in Columbus about the rise in heroin overdoses in the area. Just in the past week, at least three people have died from heroin overdoses in the area, and many others are still in the hospital. Drugs are destroying our communities and families. I imagine that if you did an informal survey of local news outlets in Vermont, you will find discussions about drug epidemics. We have to do something.

  • Greta,

    I’m sharing this link to the Muslim Girls Making Change website with you: http://muslimgirlsmakingchange.weebly.com/ Take some time to look through it.

    So now, you’re surely asking, “how is this connected?” So let me try to connect the dots. This group of high school girls from the Burlington area are using slam poetry to advocate for social justice. They found an issue they feel strongly about (like you with the environment) and decided, that for them, slam poetry was the best medium with which to advocate. They’ve been pretty effective in spreading their message, too. Their media page (http://muslimgirlsmakingchange.weebly.com/media.html) shows they’ve been in the Burlington Free Press, on VPR’s Vermont Edition, in the Huffington Post, and featured in other media as well. Now, I’m not saying you need to start writing slam poetry about the environment or scratch your idea of a documentary, but you’ve mentioned interests in writing and music in prior posts and I’m wondering if you can find a way to combine those interests with the passion you have for the environment to create something truly dynamic and unique.

    Erik

    • Erik,
      Thank you for sharing that with me. In fact, I’ve already had plenty of time to get acquainted with MGMC! They got started through the same organization that I spend much of my time with: Young Writers Project. I have read their writing on the website, and actually got a chance to see them perform in person at a YWP event! They are certainly an inspiration.
      So are you saying that there is a possibility to create something other than a documentary in WtS, or at least something outside of a traditional documentary? Because you’re right, I do love writing and music, and if I could find a way to incorporate those passions into this one it would be amazing. I certainly want to go through the digital storytelling process of research and interviews and the rest, but like you suggested, I would also love to create something unique.
      Thank you again!
      Greta

  • Dixie Goswami
    9 months ago

    Dear Kati,

    Your focus on “social recovery” not “individual recovery” gives you an
    excellent rationale for using documentary production to transcend the
    usual message abput addiction that boils down to versions of “just say
    no.” Your challenge could be showing the stories of different people
    (individuals) while showing that this happens in a social context – an
    unwell environment.

    Why produce this particular documentary? The way we currently handle
    addiction is making individuals sick and society as a whole even more
    unwell.

    What action will you take to make a difference? Make a full documentary
    that that will sending a double message of individual AND social healing.
    What will social healing or social recovery look like? I can see Vermont
    communities struggling with rising problems of addition would be primary
    audiences your doc for changing public awareness that leads to action.

    I love the way your decisions about your topic give you the richest
    possible opportunity for using your own strengths: visual art and imagery,
    composition and design.

    I’ve A important resource when it comes to doc production is evc.org. The
    EVC director, Steve Goodman, is a Bread Loaf Teacher Network
    Resource—well known to Tim and Bill Rich. Please check out the evc.org
    website. Would you be interested in going to New York for a youth doc
    workshop? Just dreaming, but….

    Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture by
    Henry Jenkins et al is the best book of know of about how content spreads
    via social media – a new form of social change. Might be fun to dip into
    as you move forward. But evc.org and Steve Goodman are at the top of my
    list of resources.

    Dixie

  • Kiera,

    I’m really happy to hear you’ve figured out what you want to do. Passion is really important, and if you’re truly passionate about nutrition, I’m sure you’ll go far. I’m also glad to hear you realized that this is not something to put off until the last minute; I learned that lesson the hard way, too.

    Good luck!
    -Emily

  • Hi Nigel,

    My name is Erik Remsen and I am one of the mentors in this program. I read your post since it focuses on refugee resettlement, an issue that I have some interest in as well. I am also a former teacher at Rutland High School, and as I’m sure you know, Rutland was just approved to begin the process of resettling Syrian refugees in the city. The city has a volunteer group called Rutland Welcomes that has begun to prepare for receiving refugees. Here is their website: http://www.rutlandwelcomes.org/ In the course of your research on this topic, if you wanted to speak with members of Rutland Welcomes, let me know I can connect you with the leadership of the group.

    Also if you can, try to check out this film, Salaam Neighbor, that is being shown at Castleton University later this month. (Details here: http://www.castleton.edu/calendars/event/salam-neighbor-film-screening-and-discussion-with-one-of-the-films-directors/2016-10-22/) It is a powerful film on the refugee experience (I saw it last spring) and one of the filmmakers will be there to talk about the film and answer questions afterwards.

    Erik

  • Maisie, I think it’s wonderful that you’re pushing yourself to think about exactly what you want your project to be, and how that “what” has the potential to create the change you want to enact. Sometimes, the simple act of allowing those who are marginalized to share their individual voices can be the most powerful rhetoric and lead to significant cultural perceptual shifts. To expose a segment of society that is typically ignored, to give your audience an opportunity to glimpse their humanity – these are the first, most important foundational steps in introducing a social problem to your community.

    I admire your honesty in reflecting on your “why”s for pursuing this particular topic, and your post this week reveals that, in the end, you’re motivated internally. That drive, combined with some further probing of “how,” will surely lead to an authentic, relatable, and influential final product. In addition to the excellent sources of information and insight that you’ve already identified above, you might consider reaching out to local college and university disability studies faculty. Susan Burch, for example, teaches here at Middlebury College (see http://www.middlebury.edu/academics/amst/faculty/node/52261) and the renowned Brenda Brueggemann is on the faculty of the Bread Loaf School of English (see http://english.uconn.edu/brenda-jo-brueggemann/, where she teaches during the academic year). I know that Brenda is a great supporter of Bread Loaf Teacher Network efforts, so if you explain your connection through this course, she might be willing to offer some of her thoughts.

    Wishing you an exciting week of further discovery,
    Dana

  • Hi Megan!
    I love your idea, as I am want to work on women’s equality and the wage gape. I think that the quote “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it,” is really powerful, although it is only a small sentence. I think that your ideas are incredibly important and could really be a great project. Women and men are very alike, but yet they are so different for so many reasons, and I think its something that not a lot of people see.

  • Emily Rinkema
    9 months ago

    Hi Maddie,

    I’m so glad you are a part of WtS now! Your topic, the science behind drug addiction, is so important to Vermont right now. There are many other students here that are interested in related topics, but the angle you’re taking is unique, I think. I look forward to seeing how you all begin to inform each other!

    I’d love to know more about how you want to observe and connect with the community. Have you thought about how to go about doing this? Once you complete the previous post (the one with the informal interviews) you may have some more leads. I look forward to more posts from you so I can understand a bit more about your interest area.

    Thanks,
    Emily

  • Nathan, congratulations on arriving at some exquisitely sharp responses to the questions guiding your project: you’ve identified a clear, focused issue as one significant source of bias, and developed a finely-honed potential solution to that problem. Your surgical approach positions you perfectly to create a final product with genuine vision to which your audience can relate and a substantive direction for your audience to follow. When the trajectory is clear, the audience is not distracted by a diffuse message or multiple/vague calls to action.

    How do you plan to push Vermont to mandate anti-bias training in elementary schools? It sounds like you are thinking of making your plea directly to legislators. Do you think you might also need to get broad-based community support to help make such legislation a reality? Do you see your What’s the Story project as a video documentary that acts as a persuasive piece for one or both of these audiences? Or do you envision a video that documents your own efforts to meet with and convince legislators of the benefits of such a mandate?

    Happy brainstorming,
    Dana

  • Colleen
    9 months ago

    Hello Keira!

    Your post was so enjoyable to read! I’m glad you found a topic you are interested in exploring further. Do you know what area of nutrition you are interested in studying? It sounds like you’re curious about nutrition and perceived health generation to generation, but I wonder what aspect of nutrition interests you most? Are you curious about food production? Food stability vs scarcity? There are so many interesting organizations in Vermont, like Hunger Free Vermont, whose mission is to ” end the injustice of hunger and malnutrition for all Vermonters.”

    Where ever this journey takes you, I’m sure it will be insightful and well worth your time! I look forward to hearing more about your interest in nutrition and to see where this project goes!

    All the best,
    Colleen

    • Nutrition wise I’m curious in general. Though since our projects are based around local or Vermont issues concerning our chosen topic it narrows it down more. The generation to generation thing is interesting in that it provides contrast and also the progressive state that Vermont is there’s probably plenty of diversity. Now that I think about it… Maybe I should incorporate an organization? It’d help to support the awareness/investigation that I want to look into about nutrition. Though now I want to possibly dabble in food available to Vermonters. As in what percentage of what food is generally the norm in super markets in my area? Because I know that food type varies depending on location of course. Oh, this is getting more scattered than I thought…

      I still have time to search further so it’s good. I know it needs to be about nutrition.

      Thank you for giving supportive comments, Colleen!

      • Colleen Kiley
        9 months ago

        Keira, I’m very interested in nutrition as well, and think there is so much great potential here! Yes, hooking up with an organization could be really cool. Other ones that come to mind: ACORN (http://www.acornvt.org/), Farm to Plate (http://www.vtfarmtoplate.com/), Hope (http://www.hope-vt.org/) …
        and if you go to ACORN’s “Partner” page, there are a lot of other good resources.

        The local food movement in Vermont is also quite interesting. You could hook up with local farmers. The Vermont section of National Young Farmers Coalition (http://www.youngfarmers.org/tag/vermont/) could be a good place to start.

        -Colleen

  • Emily Rinkema
    9 months ago

    Hi Kati,

    Your focus on the “why” is so important to capturing the hearts of your future audience, and I’m glad the Sinek talk inspired this for you! The change in your focus from the addict being the problem to society being a problem is such an important one…but also really really difficult. It’s so easy to put the blame on the individual, as that lets us off the hook. We can say, “she needs to do this, ” or “if only he hadn’t…,” rather than, “what do we need to do differently?” I love the focus of getting us to see that this is OUR responsibility through telling stories. Story is so important.

    Thanks again for such thoughtful posts.
    Emily

  • Hi Erin,

    I find so interesting that you recognize both the danger of isolation that technologically advanced communication poses — and the great promise it holds for just the opposite. I imagine your research will lead you to ideas of how to suppress the former and inhance the latter.

    It confuses me. In my own life I am aware of letting myself sink into an anti-social mode because social media lets me have my proverbial cake and eat it, too. On the other hand I feel really connected to some people (former students, for example) whom I would have lost track of forever. And then there is the troublesome middle ground where I don’t know which end is up, so to speak.

    I’m looking forward to your research lending me a hand to find my way out of my confused state. (No pressure! I may be too far gone to expect any clarity.)

  • Dear Jus,

    “There are leaders and those who lead.” Yikes.

    First, I love the kind of sentence, this kind, that hides itself. Leaders? Those who lead? What’s the difference? Then it unfolds itself, and as you so aptly examined, there is a world of difference. Two separate paradigms masquerading as twins.

    I used to think that everyone was like me: resenting authoritarians whom I had to follow, or else. But now I’m not so sure. You see these North Koreans who uncontrollably weep if they should find themselves near their beloved dictator. How can this be? Perhaps I shouldn’t get political here, but… Yesterday, I saw a woman on the news who said that the two most important persons in her life were Jesus and Donald Trump. To paraphrase Robert Heinlein (that must be misspelled), I feel as if I am a stranger in a strange land.

    Oh dear! Look what I’ve done. My post was supposed to be all about you, and I steered it right to me.

    So back to you: Carry on!

    Yours,
    Brad

  • Dianne Baroz
    9 months ago

    Clara,

    Bravo! What a great blog post…you really got at the heart of the topic and brought me along for the ride as you explained how you got there. Discerning what is important to you and how it will further your thinking will ultimately bring you closer to your end result—making a difference in your community about something that really matters to you.

    I was impressed that you switched the paradigm to researching about ELL themselves and how they are assets to their school communities. You are researching credible sources—Education Week, Annenberg, NEA. Also, you introduced me to UP for Learning, which I was not familiar with. I can see that you have learned much by working with this group over the last few years. Another source you might want to subscribe to is The Teachers Edition (http://www.ed.gov/teaching/teachers-edition-archive) put out by the Dept of Ed. This article was in my email this morning:

    Equal Opportunities for English Learners
    The Department recently released new non-regulatory guidance on Title III of the Every Student Succeeds Act to help schools and districts provide effective services to English language learners. The guidance will help support services to the more than 4.8 million English learners enrolled in U.S. schools in grades K-12, as reported in the 2014-15 school year. The guidance is accompanied by the Newcomer Toolkit to help educators and other support staff that work with immigrant students. This work continues to build on the Department’s commitment to educational excellence and ensuring equal access for all students.

    This is an important and timely topic that you are researching. Syrian refugees will be relocating near Rutland (http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/news/2016/09/28/syrians-approved-rutland/91238678/). Transforming schools for English learners is a reality, and you are correct about the “importance about the right frame of mind.” How this happens will be key and getting buy-in by the communities will be crucial.

    Keep up the great work!
    Dianne

  • Dear Grace,

    Of all the wh question words (When, What, Where, When, Why), why is the most powerful one and the most challenging to answer since it is based on people’s worldview and beliefs. Your summary of Sinek’s video is accurate but remember he is talking about marketing and commercial products that ultimately have to result in profit. Success in the commercial/business world is determined by profits and high stock values. Is this how society should think about mental health services?

    As you discovered by researching mental health care, in Finland the services provided are free. You touch on that point by saying that this is “a major help to those who cannot otherwise afford it.” It might be worth asking why in Finland these services are free but at home they are not. What are the socioeconomic conditions that allow for that to happen in Finland and what it would take to offer these kinds of services here. Your research has identified Diversity Rocks as a worthwhile program to investigate. It might be a worthwhile comparing the two.

    Your posts are thoughtfully written and I am looking forward to your next one.

    Bill

  • Hi Petra,

    Just a quick check-in for now. I saw this article; it focuses on research related to the traits of individuals who are at risk for addiction, and how that information might help with prevention measures:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/04/well/family/the-4-traits-that-put-kids-at-risk-for-addiction.html?_r=1

    Best wishes,
    Kate

  • Shel Sax
    9 months ago

    Hi Greta,
    Sounds like you are persevering in narrowing down your topic and at the same time, open to all sorts of new and exciting possibilities. I don’t know if it will help, but when I’m in these situations, I try and ask ‘what would success look like?’ What’s my primary objective – is it learning, analyzing, teaching others, increasing awareness, creatively framing the question? And when all of the above seems to be the answer, to what do I give the highest priority?

    If you can pinpoint your audience, what you’d like them to take away and how to most effectively present what you’ve discovered, it may help to further your thinking on how to move forward.
    Cheers, Shel

    • Shel,

      Thank you for your helpful tips, as always! Those questions will be useful for whatever direction my project ends of taking. I’m not yet sure of my priority, like I said, but I think the audience is a critical point. If you read my next blog post, I actually went back to researching the pipeline. It’s not necessarily a permanent switch, but one good thing about that topic is that I think I could have a clearer audience. Either other teenagers to teach them about the pipeline, or landowners on the route, or Vermont’s government.

      Greta

  • Bill Rich
    9 months ago

    Rex,

    So glad Simon Sinek’s ideas worked their way into you during the week. Sometimes it take awhile for new ideas to sink and and take hold.

    Also glad that you’ve been thinking about bias. Years ago I was introduced to a term that has been really useful. It’s called confirmation bias. Here’s the idea. All of our brains create models of the world, based on our experience. Those models are flawed. Those models make us EXPECT that world to be a certain way, so we tend to SEE the world that way, even when it isn’t. So, we tend to see the world through our own lens, and this lens confirms our bias, which makes life simpler (at first, but then it catches up with us when we realize we were wrong). Anyway, I recommend that you google “confirmation bias.”

    I have two family members who suffer from mental illness. One of my sisters suffers from depression. About 4 years ago she fell into a debilitating depression that lasted almost a couple years. Terrifying, maddening, and sad. I also have an uncle who is bipolar and has suffered manic / depressive episodes throughout his life. I share this for two reasons. On the one hand, appreciate your desire to help the world have a better understanding of mental illness, though it may be that the people who need the most support are those with people close to them who are mentally ill. (Took me a long time to realize that my attempts to fix my sister were futile. I needed to be more patient and learn more about the disease.)

    I encourage you, as you continue to explore your topic, to be on the lookout for ways to focus on a specific audience and purpose related to mental illness. One of the toughest parts of this class (and making change) is in order to make an impact, we need to get very specific about our audience and purpose. Last year’s class really struggled with this (all of us do!), though everyone agreed in the end that being forced to get so specific about audience and purpose made all the difference. So, while I still think it’s okay for you to be exploring far and wide, know that we’re going to insist over time that you identify a specific audience and a specific purpose.

    Hope this helps.

    Enjoy,

    Bill

  • Fiona, I think that your idea: “Instead of starting with why current systems in place at school aren’t good, I start by saying what needs to change and how.” is very important for multiple reasons. People will always get defensive of “their system” in a variety of conscious and subconscious levels when anyone might start to pick apart why it is not good. The idea of hope, of something better, makes it very likely that the initial engagement with someone will open their eyes, make them want to listen more, and make them self-evaluate their own systems. Well said.

    When you get to the first sentence of your pitch, “We believe everyone should feel safe and accepted at school, regardless of their gender identity.” you can even pull it back a little bit, to… “Imagine if everyone felt safe and accepted in schools. Imagine what would be possible for their learning….” Then get into the specifics that you wish to tackle. No one is going to be turned off by those first two sentences, and if they are they shouldn’t be responsible for the well-being of children.

    I hope the revised directions for blog post #5 help you. Please let me know if they do not. Obviously you and Eva are in a different situation than the others.

    -Tim

  • Maisie,

    Thank you for this. It’s wonderful in so many ways. I love Sinek’s thinking, that’s why I asked others to watch, but I love reading these posts and seeing the quotes that stood out to individuals. It always resets my own thinking on Sinek’s theory of creating passion and empathy.

    I love the idea of stories and simply telling the stories of those that are termed “other” (whether that’s a disability, or religion, or race, or something else) humanizes people in ways that are virtually impossible to not connect with.

    In terms of those that you might connect with, I think we should brainstorm about some real cutting-edge advocates and perhaps advocates for a variety of people who experience “otherness.” There’s a wonderful collection of micro-stories written years ago by incoming Colby College first year students. I would often use it when I was teaching ENG 100 at MUHS. Here is a link:

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8w7NuMFR-lpNXhjZXFSZEZzenZGTFNFTWFKS3NUWWxORS1Z/edit

    Let me know how this shapes your thinking.

    -Tim

  • Hi Maddie!

    I hope I get to meet you today on the hike. That police chief in Gloucester, MA is a leader. He really went “out of the box” and did something very counter intuitive for law enforcement when he began a novel approach (at least in this country for law enforcement). What once looks crazy to some can often build a movement. It makes me think of this TEDTalk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXMnDG3QzxE.

    You should watch it. It seems like a silly example, but is so interesting to consider in a variety of contexts.

    There are a number of others really concerned and looking at addiction in a number of ways. I hope you’ll have a chance to meet those students today.

    -Tim

  • Nate Archambault
    9 months ago

    Elsa,

    I love that you capitalized on the statement, “People don’t buy what you do, but why you do it.” This is truly at the root of all the work that we are doing for What’s The Story?. The Vermont Migrant Education Program is certainly a good one and has been at the forefront as a champion for migrant workers. There are multiple resources for you as you continue this valuable work. I think your best bet will be to find the stories of the individuals affected and how their lives are impacted by even the smallest decisions. You’re off to a great start!

    Best,

    Nate

    • Hi Nate,
      Thank you for that first praise. I really am excited to continue to dive into people’s stories and their experience with this issue and I look forward to researching.
      Thank you for your ideas and opinions.
      Elsa

  • Nate Archambault
    9 months ago

    Eli,

    This is a very thoughtful piece. It’s great that you capitalized on the quote, “People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.” Finding a personal connection is of the ultimate importance in work like the one that we’re doing. You’re right that there are multiple factors involved as to why young people are leaving VT in such great numbers. The big question, as you have discovered, might be how to maintain the “VT” way of life while also changing with the times to be more inviting to youth. Are our economic resources going into the right projects? I think you’ll find some very interesting results and I look forward to your continued research.

    Best,

    Nate

  • Nate Archambault
    9 months ago

    Kiera,

    I’m glad that you have found a topic that really works for you. How is your work progressing? Perhaps nutrition in schools in Vermont might be a topic that could prove fruitful? (No pun intended . Maybe a bit intended, actually. 🙂 ) There are multiple resources for this, and I know that this is a topic that is near and dear to Patrick Leahy. I hope all is going well and your research is progressing well.

    Best,

    Nate

  • Theo,
    I happen to have a very close connection to the issue of women and government in Vermont: my mom! She is the Executive director of Emerge Vermont, an organization that recruits and trains Democratic women to run for office. You should check out the website here (http://www.emergevt.org/), and if you decide to pursue this topic (or even if you don’t), I’m sure she would LOVE to talk to you! She is all too aware of the statistics you presented, and she and the rest of the Emerge team are working hard to change them.
    I also personally agree with your opinions, and really appreciate hearing them come from a boy! Advocating for women’s rights shouldn’t just be confined to women, and I’m glad you agree.
    -Greta

  • Emily,

    I hope that the ride to Mt. Philo was bearable given the messiness of my car!

    Along with knowledge, which is great to recognize, how do you think motivation to fulfill a human need moves people to “join a cause?” I think about this a great deal and it’s something that might be worth considering as you progress with your work.

    You may have already heard of Temple Grandin, but she is a very interesting person to consider in your work. I believe there are some classes at MUHS that read her memoir, but I am not sure if all classes use this book. She is a very neat woman, I heard her speak a few years ago at UVM, whose work is profound to the beef farming industry.

    http://www.templegrandin.com/

    Casey

  • Sidney,

    Sorry we didn’t see you on Saturday! A portion of the day was brainstorming/collaborating with those who might have similar topics/ideas. I had an interesting talk with a “group” where addiction was a shared trait. I think that this group might be of interest to you, the only person who was there Saturday from the “group” was Kati (that’s why I put group in quotations). She and I talked for a bit about how addictions develop. We discussed psychological and environmental factors to addiction. As you consider your topic, or others, focusing on the “root” of the topic might allow you to find shared purpose with others.

    Let me know if I can help in any way!

    Casey

  • Hi Nigel,
    I really like the way you organized your why, how, what and then concluded with your pitch. It really feels organized and easy to follow. I also enjoy hearing more about your ideas and the programs you discussed. Reading this made me think further and wonder what kind of health care and medical coverage are the refugees offered since they aren’t technically legal?
    Thank you for a great post.
    Grace

  • Theo,
    I really liked how you added additional visual aspects to your post. I think this really stands out because visual aids help explain your information and keeps the reader engaged. I also like how you wove Sinek’s ideas in with your ideas really blending the two and it works very well. Is your topic more broadly stereotypes or are you still focusing in on Gender?
    Thank you for the interesting post!
    Grace

  • Courtney Krahn
    9 months ago

    Hi Anna,
    It was nice to chat with you Sunday while we sat atop Mt. Philo. When I got home, I saw this front page article in the Free Press, and I thought immediately of you. I’m sending it in case you missed it:
    http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/life/2016/10/08/burlington-students-question-dress-code-enforcement/91685016/

    Courtney

    • Hi Courtney, thank you so much for sharing this link! It’s really interesting to see how different schools are approaching this issue. So far in my reading, I’ve found many schools where students have protested, and the administration claims to be “making progress on a new dress code,” but none have actually made any changes. The lack of actual, concrete progress concerns me, and that’s where I hope to change things. Thank you again!

  • Bob Uhl
    9 months ago

    Hi Lena,

    You’ve done an especially good job here framing this conflict as a struggle between these organizations. Your citation of Europe as a potential model for how we might address this issue here piques my curiosity, and now I’m interested in learning more about what they’ve done well and how we might follow suit.

    I’ll be honest with you, the issue you’re exploring is one I know I’ve pushed to the back of my mind repeatedly when I really ought to sit down and come to grips with it. I love that you’re facing this head-on, and I’m excited to see where you take this. I myself have some soul-searching to do on this topic, and I suspect many Vermonters (and people pretty much everywhere) could stand to do some, as well.

    • Hi Mr. Uhl,

      Sorry about the late response. I definitely agree that the European model is something that I could use to consider approaching the animal rights issues in Vermont. I also am planning on using the Five Freedoms moving forwards, which goes hand in hand with Europe’s successful Animal Rights movement.

      I also find the mistreatment of animals on farms to be hard to stomach, and am positive that many have trouble understanding animal abuse. The disgust that comes with exposing mistreatment of farm animals, is one of the biggest obstacles that it seems like animal advocates face.

      Thanks for the comment!
      Lena

  • Bob Uhl
    9 months ago

    Hi Megan,

    I think the specific issue you’ve identified here–women not being able to work because of the expense of child care–is an interesting one that’s quite relevant to your broader topic. You’ve begun asking some useful questions, and, as the course unfolds, I encourage you to keep pursuing them. I also think the divisiveness you mention in this realm is quite real, and something that, perhaps, you may look for ways to help resolve moving forward.

  • Bob Uhl
    9 months ago

    Hi Brennan,

    You’ve done some good work on the topic of volunteerism, but it’s good to see you branching out, as well, and to an (at least) equally significant issue. I, too, noticed that several other folks in our course were interested in learning more about addiction, particularly to opiates, which seem to have infiltrated Vermont in recent years. You’re right that many of us know people affected by this crisis, and I think having a personal stake in something can be one of the best motivators to work hard toward a goal. You’ve begun asking some useful questions about this, and I’m eager to see where those questions take you.

    Until next time!

  • Bob Uhl
    9 months ago

    Good work once again, Bryce. I like that you’ve identified a few people and organizations who are some of the characters in this story. I’m particularly interested in a few of the other points you mention here, primarily that algae blooms are the result of phosphorus plus warmer temperatures. That makes me wonder if climate change could be influencing–or could influence in the future–the pollution of Lake Champlain. Also, it makes sense that 69% of the lake’s pollution comes from Vermont, given how much of the body of water is in our state. (My guess is that the rest comes from New York and potentially Canada.) Of that 69%, I’m curious about how much comes from agricultural practices. Vermont is a state known for its farming, and lots of farmers use fertilizer that contains nitrogen and phosphorus. Unfortunate that some of the chemicals that help plants grow are also harmful to our water supply.

    Until next time!

    • Mr. Uhl,
      I have thought as climate change being a factor to this issue. But, this post was running on more than 750 words, and I didn’t want to bore the reader. Plus, I was thinking I could use climate change as another point of evidence for another post or something like that. On Tuesday, my class took a field trip to Shelburne Farms, and we learned what they are doing to reduce their impact on Lake Champlain, so I can also use that as a possible solution to some other lakes with this problem.

      Thanks for all or your support!
      Bryce

  • Beverly Moss
    9 months ago

    Hi Sidney,
    Narrowing a topic can be difficult. I’ve been through that. Because drug addiction is so pervasive in our society and so complex, it’s hard to get a handle on how to attack the problem and how to make your topic manageable. This morning, I watched a story on the news about the growing number of college students who are using adderall, a drug used to treat ADHD. The problem is that these students do not have ADHD. I think the story was on NBC if you want to check it out. I wonder if you might find some background information on drug abuse/addiction in Vermont high schools or Vermont colleges and universities. Maybe you can even talk to drug counselors at drug treatment centers. You started out mentioning that you haven’t settled on a topic, but you are really passionate about focusing on the impact of drug addiction on families. I bet you are closer than you think to nailing down your topic. Good luck.
    Beverly

  • Tom McKenna
    9 months ago

    Hi Brennan,

    This is an inspiring reflection on Sinek’s Ted Talk, which I’m now inspired to watch. I love the theme of a leader inspiring others based on his or her own investment in the project/pursuit. Makes good sense to me.

    I see I’m behind a post, and your next post is titled, “A New Topic,” so I”ll jump ahead to that before spending time here.

    More soon,
    Tom

  • Tom McKenna
    9 months ago

    Hi Again, Brennan,

    This new topic area, addiction, intrigues me, too. I agree with Bob when he says, “I think having a personal stake in something can be one of the best motivators to work hard toward a goal. ” In fact Ken Macrorie, who wrote several books on the I-search process, counseled searchers to find a question that had real potential to change your life. I wonder if there’s a question within this larger topic of addiction that might really change your outlook or your experience in life.

    Quick anecdote… Just today I was talking with friend in a coffee shop. He was lamenting that he now has to lock his door in downtown Juneau—something he hadn’t had to do in decades of life here. Our theft rate has gone way up due to opiate addictions. My buddy began to rant about how the city spends all of its money on the cruise ship infrastructure and it people would spend comparable money on “dealing with addiction,” Juneau would a much better and safer place. As I walked back to work, I wondered what the city could do. I have heard of some innovative programs for heroin (such as that in Gloucester, MA http://gloucesterpd.com/addicts/) but I don’t know if that’s the kind of thing he had in mind. I’m still wondering where the best (and most cost-effective) methods of engaging addiction are, and what makes them effective.

    Please do keep in touch. I’m learning quite a bit from already, and happy to be a sounding board if you want to think through some possible directions.

    Best,
    Tom

  • Courtney Krahn
    8 months ago

    Hi Grace,

    I can really feel your topic narrowing down in an organic way. You have been discussing alternative treatment for mental health related issues, but in this blog your focus feels especially strong and determined to me.

    In regard to medication or hospitalization, you write, “This form of treatment may be the norm, but this doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone.” You also point out that medication seems like the go-to solution for a variety of situations in our culture where people appear to be “different” than the “norm.” I love the connection you made with Family Guy, and your description of the show — “This show often mocks or exaggerates stereotypes or current social issues in the world today” — was spot on. You are recognizing where your issue exists (in it’s many forms) in our culture.

    Your questions are excellent, too. As your reader, I see two possible avenues for further exploration blossoming:

    1. You write, “…that is why I believe the awareness of these options needs to be increased.” Your focus could be an analysis of alternative mental health treatment options and raising awareness of these options.

    2. You write, “I would like to explore language and vocabulary related to mental health challenges and care, looking at the use and misuse of language and the labeling of people experiencing challenges and receiving care.” This is a different but equally as compelling angle for your topic. When we chatted atop Mt. Philo on Saturday, I found myself stumbling over the correct language to use as I asked you questions about your research. Exploring developing terminology and an analysis of the risks/detriments of embracing dated/inappropriate language could be an extremely useful tool for the community.

    It was nice to see you this past weekend.
    Sincerely,
    Courtney

  • Clara:
    Not only do you have great anecdotes here but you also have done some great research about the groups that are attempting to bridge this huge gap in our educational system. Nicely done on that front!

    You mention that “There are other instances of bigotry and hatred, overt or covert, occurring in schools and the communities, both of which are relevant as schools are really concentrated extensions of a community.” This is a powerful statement. You then go on to show some of the people who experience difficulties and then some of the groups who are attempting to counteract the bigotry. However, as a teacher for 13 years and a student for a lot longer than that, I always found presentations — whether in school auditoriums or one-day field trips — as important but inadequate. In other words, I always felt that a lot of the students failed to internalize the objectives of presentations/speakers/assemblies and automatically reverted back to their default ways of thinking the next day.

    I mention this because I think you have a unique opportunity here to try to make real, systemic change — and my recommendation is that you try to make it through the curriculum. How are educators exposing students to a WIDE variety of voices and experiences? What do our curricula look like? Are we putting students in a position to not only see the world from a different perspective but also to experience these different perspectives?

    I’ve mentioned this before but will mention it again. This is an awesome topic, and you’re doing some wonderful initial thinking on the topic.

  • Courtney Krahn
    8 months ago

    Dear Nathan,

    Much of your post this week echoes ideas from last week’s blog post. I very much enjoyed the metaphorical narrative at the beginning of this post, and I would push you to specifically identify some of the factors that influence our culture — preschool teachers, police officers and every one else — to “look in the wrong places.”

    I both agree and disagree this is statement from your post: “Literally all we need is to train people not to make assumptions. It’s not that hard, it’s something we can push to become a reality.” I disagree that a training session can simply “fix” the complicated and deep roots of racial profiling and biases; however, training is one unique idea and a step toward making progress toward solving this issue. I totally agree that we can push toward making this a reality, and I am excited that your work is going to be an important influence on this issue.

  • Maisie, I see that you’re branching out into some interesting topics associated with mental health. Has delving into some of the programs you describe above helped focus your attention on a particular issue that you’d like to explore in greater depth through this project? For example, do you now want to narrow your aperture to investigate the problem of housing for those with mental health conditions in Vermont? Or do you think it would be more valuable to do a broad survey, exposing the range of issues surrounding mental health and differing abilities?

    Until next blog,
    Dana

    • It’s hard for me to say at this point. There is so much to be done with this topic and I’m still not one hundred percent sure which path I want to go down. I think that it’s important to look at the far-reaching consequences of the lack of mental healthcare. I would like to extend that beyond homelessness (perhaps to prisons and hospitals, the parent-child center, etc). But I can’t be certain yet.

  • Bill Rich
    8 months ago

    Rex,

    Really appreciate that you accessed multiple sources to learn more. Also appreciate that you cited them, though I’m uncertain what the story is you excerpted at the opening (what a great extended metaphor: spider as self doubt / insecurity).

    Here’s what I’m thinking / wondering:

    1. So great that you have a topic that moves you. If you feel the tug of ongoing interest and a sense that something must be done, then you’re on the right trail!

    2. One think we’ve learned from the last two WtS cohorts: the more specific the audience (the people you will contact and try to persuade) and the more clear you are about your specific purpose (what exactly the change is that you expect to make), the more powerful and effective the experience. Said another way, if students take on too big of an audience and don’t focus on a particular change they want to make, then things unravel.

    3. It’s time for you to begin thinking more specifically: who is your intended audience? If it’s anyone who ever has will experience mental health issues (or who knows someone who experiences mental health issues), then you’re going to bogged down in the hugeness of that topic. Think more specifically. What is a audience / group you can target that is small enough that you can access / impact them?

    4. It’s also time to think more specifically about your purpose: what exactly will you change? Be specific. Rather than, “I want to make sure people are more informed about mental health issues”, be more focused: “I want to make sure clinically depressed high school students are better understood by their schools and families.” These are just examples, but they give you a feel for how focused you’ll need to become in order to really experience the power and pleasure of getting traction with your audience / purpose.

    So, feel free to keep exploring broadly, but know: you’re going to have to make some choices about precisely who you’re audience will be and what impact you hope to make on them.

    One more thing. Art has an amazing way of helping heal people. I loved that piece of fiction, and wonder what kind of collections of literature and other types of art exist out there to help heal / inform people. Could be an interesting thing to learn more about. Maybe creating some kind of resource that collects art that heals / informs about a particular mental health issue could be an approach?

    So excited to see how your ideas evolve!

    Enjoy,

    Bill Rich

  • Bill Rich
    8 months ago

    Ben,

    This is terrific, though I know you’ve already moved on to education, so I’m going to head to that post and reply to it.

    And hey: so glad that you had completed this on time. Sorry it ended up in the wrong place, but that’s the kind of thing that can happen when you’re learning how to learn in a blended learning environment. It’s expected! Glad we figured it out, and glad you’re on track.

    Enjoyed getting to know you and your mom some on the hike.

    Bill Rich

  • Bill Rich
    8 months ago

    Rex,

    Had two afterthoughts.

    1. Blogpost #6 (making and posting a mind map) is a great place for you to explore all the possibilities that relate to mental health. Even though I encouraged you to get ready to be more specific about your audience and purpose, it’s okay to make a mind map that explores all your options. (Unless you desire to dive into a more specific audience / purpose now).

    2. Please consider contacting a mental health professional in the next few days to ask if you can meet with them in two or three weeks to share your vision and ask them a few questions: What services already exist for the audience and purpose I’m serving? Any recommendations for readings / resources that would help deepen my understanding of the story of the issue I’m wanting to influence? Who else would you recommend I speak with to become wiser about the issue / topic / story I’m pursuing?
    I have a friend who is a practicing therapist in the Burlington area. He would be a good place to start, though maybe you know someone already?

    3. Reaching and contacting people by phone and email to set up conversations can be intimidating, AND it’s the lifeblood of WtS: making contact with the people / characters in the story we’re pursuing.

    Let me know what you think. You can email me (redhouselearning@gmail.com) or post here. I think you should go ahead and draft a 3-5 sentence email (to send to whomever you decide to contact). Share it with me as a draft, and if need be, I can offer a couple pointers.

    Look forward to hearing from you.

    Bill Rich

  • Bill Rich
    8 months ago

    Ben,

    It’s not hard to tell when a learner begins to get the feel for a topic / issue that compels them to learn more. Great to see! Spent a week in South Dakota in September and got to watch bird dogs hunt, and reading your blogpost was something akin to watching a dog get birdy (all excited and twitchy and pumped up). I think you’re getting topicy.

    Terrific job both providing an overview of what you’ve learned so far, along with three specific conceptual and foundational belief systems that impact how people design learning. Loved how you threaded in your own experience, too–three schools that designed conditions so differently. Bingo.

    Blogpost #6 is the perfect chance for you to map out your current understanding and thinking about this topic. As you’re doing this, consider taking a couple other steps:

    -WtS works closely with local, national, and international experts in the field of education, so it’s worth making a list of your most pressing questions about your topic so we can help direct you toward folks who can provide the expertise you need. (And they might become characters in the story your pursuing / going to tell.)
    -I’d recommend that you begin drafting a 3-5 sentence email (generic) that describes who you are, what you’re up to, and why you’re contacting whomever the person is. I’d be glad to read a draft and provide, if need be, pointers.

    Reaching out and contacting people by phone and email to set up conversations can be intimidating, AND it’s the lifeblood of WtS: making contact with the people / characters in the story we’re pursuing. The mind map you do this week will help you determine what kinds of expertise you’re seeking.

    Keep hunting,

    Bill

  • Emily Rinkema
    8 months ago

    Hi Kati,

    Again, I am so impressed by the thoughtful and thorough nature of your posts. I watched the TED talk and was so interested in Mate’s approach to addiction. I was struck by his question (and yours) What’s the pain? His thesis that addiction is a pain-killer makes sense to me, though I do wonder about the role of genetics as well. So many people who experience great pain or loss do not become addicts, so why is it that some do?

    You write that we need to cure the life not the addiction. This matches your thinking from the last few posts–that our focus on society, on the external, may help address the internal. Unfortunately this is a huge topic! I get the sense you are getting closer to narrowing down your own focus, and I can’t wait to see where you end up. Are you still thinking about a focus on the children affected by addiction?

    Hope you’re enjoying the fall!
    Emily

    • Thank you for another thoughtful response!

      I do realize that this is still very broad. I see myself either zooming in and focusing on the children’s experience with addiction, or zooming out and trying to look at addiction in a more abstract and holistic way. At this point in the game I remain flexible, the final angle will depend on what happens during the collaborative process.

  • Nate Archambault
    8 months ago

    Hi Megan,

    I’m a dad of a child in a home daycare. We had a very difficult time even finding an open spot for our daughter. In talking to some daycare providers, I often hear that some of their biggest issues are regulations from governmental agencies that make it very difficult to run a childcare center from their home or otherwise. You’re right that there are many facets to this issue, but it is an important and pertinent one for Vermont families. It looks like you’re off to a great start.

  • Nate Archambault
    8 months ago

    Elsa,

    It was great to get to chat with you a bit this past weekend on Mt. Philo. It certainly appears like you have done some quality research. You’re right that this is an extremely complex issue with multiple layers and multiples parties with “stakes in the game.”

    Your question, “I wonder why Milk with Justice is only targeting housing, wages, and education? What sets these issues aside from food and health care?”, is particularly relevant, and got me thinking about the same question. is the reason that these are the issues that are easiest to target? Are they the first issues that need to be addressed? Is this where the most effective change can be made?

    I look forward to continue to read your posts. They are always thoughtful and extremely interesting.

  • Nate Archambault
    8 months ago

    Ben,

    This was a very interesting read. You write with a great sophistication and authority. This is not easy in writing, and I’m quite impressed with your efforts. Education is certainly a complex topic with a wide range of opinions. Your comment about the ancient Greeks reminds me of the root Latin origin of our word “education.” To “educe” means to “bring out.” Sometimes, it would appear, some people believe that the job of schools is to put information into students. Instead, we should all be looking for ways that their natural talents can be brought out. I’m sure you will find many different philosophies on education as you continue to do your research. I hope that they all will have this root meaning in mind.

    You’re off to a great start!

  • Anna,

    I really like how you have begun to connect your issue of interest (dress codes in schools) to some larger issues that the country is dealing with (eating disorders, sexism, rape culture, etc.). It makes your topic all the more relevant and important. I think further research to really connect, in a more straightforward manner, dress code to these other topics would be beneficial.

    I also think that trying to generate a larger list of schools in Vermont with on-going dress code discussions would be helpful. Obviously, going nationwide to investigate this issue is not feasible, but adding to your list of local schools (Woodstock, Burlington, MUHS – where you might actually try to effect change) could become quite beneficial for the later stages of this project.

    On the whole, I think you are headed in a great direction. You’ve identified an issue that you have the potential to influence or even change (dress code at MUHS). Judging by the articles you cited here, you have an understanding that dress codes can be complicated. You also have started to connect your issue to some larger national issues, which makes your topic more interesting and more relevant to more people. Keep on investigating, I’m excited to see where this ends up.

    Erik

    • Thank you Erik! I actually just learned today that MUHS has removed the dress code entirely from the school handbook. I guess they wanted to prevent the, for lack of a better word, “slut shaming,” that comes with the dress code. I’m excited about this change, and I hope Middlebury can be a role model for other schools in the state.

  • Greta,

    I really like the questions you generated at the end of the second paragraph. I know we had talked about short term and long term effects on Saturday, but the other ones are fascinating to consider also. I especially like the questions about the PSB and how they represent the public, and the question about impacts on Vermont versus impacts elsewhere.

    In a sense, the pipeline fight is a case study of environmental issues. Do we prioritize the short term or long term, the economic or the environmental, the Vermont landscape or the landscape elsewhere? Do we trust our government and the rule of law to get things right? If not, how should we act? When should we negotiate and compromise and when do we hold fast and not accept anything less than 100% of what we want? Exploring these questions as they relate to the pipeline could give you a lens with which to view any other environmental issue.

    As to the protest by Rising Tide VT on the 20th, it is a great opportunity to potentially hear first hand from some folks on the various sides of the issue and to get some images that could be used later on in this project. However, their website describes it as “mass direct action to stop construction” which to me sounds like they might end up in conflict with Vermont Gas and/ or law enforcement. Perhaps, reach out to them for more details before showing up. Be careful, be safe.

    Erik

    • Erik,

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment! I like the questions that you posed, as well. I agree that this could be a great lens for the environment in general. I saw something about how the pipeline is cutting through wetlands and other valuable ecosystems, which ties directly into my other topic. The indirect connections abound: after all, the pipeline is a crucial part of Vermont’s changing environment.

      I am wary of the protest, as their other ones have ended in arrests, etc. I will gather more information on it before I decide to go or not. If I do end up going, which may be unlikely, I will certainly be careful.

      Greta

  • Erin,
    Wow, that program sounds awesome! Now I understand where you get your inspiration from. As someone who is really interested in both the environment and other cultures, I can really see the “why” for that project. What’s interesting is that it’s slightly different than your “why”. Like Sinek said, we each take a cause and make it our own. You have certainly made this one your own, and I can see that you do truly believe in it.
    Greta

  • Erin,
    I’m really glad you shared what you’re having trouble with! I may not be able to help with all of it, but I’m sure some of the teacher-mentors will.
    You should give yourself some credit, however. The source you used, while not exactly about your topic, is certainly good background information to have, and you will be able to apply it to your work.
    In terms of further research, I think a good place to start would be the program you are already involved in, the one you mentioned in your previous post, because from your description of it, it exactly fits your topic. Maybe interview the people who run that program. Also, I recommended in a previous comment to look into exchange student programs that already exist, and I think that would be a good source of information. Someone who helps kids live in other countries certainly has knowledge of intracultural communication!
    Also, if you are struggling with this topic, remember to keep an open mind, because you do have the opportunity to switch. That’s not to say you should, but it is always an option!
    Greta

  • Andrea Lunsford
    8 months ago

    Dear Anna: Thanks for another very thought provoking piece of writing. I LOVE what you say about love and its ability to bring people together, whether it’s love of a job, a sport, or a person. So I’m with you all the way so far. But I began to get confused a bit further on. You argue that young people have always wanted to wear less/show more skin than their elders and you give good examples (those Victorians and their hidden ankles, for example: and did you know that they covered the legs of pianos because they didn’t want to be risque?!). But by that logic, wouldn’t we eventually all just be walking around naked? Why not just show everything? For me, choice of dress like just about everything else is a matter of what’s appropriate in what context and what choices I want to make to express myself. I think you’d go along with that, right?
    I’m also confused, though, about what connection you see between dress codes and the incidence of rapes and sexual assault. I’m lost there. So I’d like to hear more.
    In the meantime, though I am discouraged at the very low level of discourse about women in the Presidential race right now, I am hoping that it will lead to thoughtful discussions and to change in ways of thinking.
    Seding all best wishes, Abdrea

    • Hi Andrea, thank you for your response! I believe that the historical trend predicts that someday, yes, we may devolve into a society that accepts nudity. However, I definitely agree that it’s important to dress appropriately for certain contexts. For instance, if I’m going to a job interview, I’ll wear clothes that appear professional, such as a nice shirt and jeans. If I’m going to dinner at my grandmother’s house, I’ll take extra care not to show bra straps or my torso, not simply to respect her opinions, but also because that’s not the person I want to present to her. Contrarily, I’m not going to wear a fitted sweater and slacks to go to the beach with my friends. Context plays a big role in our choices, but the key is that it’s our choice. I *could* wear a crop top and short shorts to a college interview, but most likely I would get rejected. I think that we, as teenagers and adults, understand what’s appropriate for a certain situation and choose to dress in a certain way, considering the inevitable consequences of whatever attire we wear. We’re smart enough to make appropriate choices. And maybe in high school, we’re still learning what’s okay and what’s not, so we need to experiment with outfits to see what we feel comfortable in. If we’re restricted, we never develop that natural intuition, so we’re more likely to dress inappropriately in higher stakes situations.

      As for the connection between sexual assault and dress codes, it’s more about rape culture. In other words, by restricting the way girls dress in order to prevent the boys from being distracted, we’re putting the responsibility on girls, when it’s the boys who “can’t focus” (sidenote: I don’t believe that boys will get distracted by seeing bra straps, legs, or even midriffs. I have a whole anecdote about this but I don’t want to make this too long…). We’re telling girls it’s up to them. Just as we tell girls that they must cover up in order to prevent being catcalled or sexually assaulted. It’s the classic “she was asking for it.” In both cases, we’re manipulating female behavior, when we should be teaching men to deal with their distraction, or keep their hands to themselves. I feel like I’m not making much sense here… Okay, so starting in middle school, girls are asked to change, because “boys can’t control themselves,” but the boys aren’t told to control themselves, because “boys will be boys.” This tells girls that they have the responsibility to keep the boys’ behavior at bay, and tells boys that they can behave how they wish, without consequence. Years pass like this, and now they’re in high school. Suddenly people are thinking about sex, but the ideas that have been drilled into their heads from the beginning don’t disappear. Boys, never having learned the importance of self control, still think they can do whatever they want. So if they want to have sex, they do. Obviously, most men will never rape someone, but the culture is there. The ideas are there. And when it happens? Women blame themselves, because they’ve forever been taught that they need to protect themselves by wearing appropriate clothing, staying sober, etc. This is just a long winded way to say that dress codes are placing the blame on girls and absolving boys from all responsibility, which translates into rape culture as we grow up.

      Rape culture means that rapists have less responsibility than the victims. Rape culture is victim blaming. Rape culture is making sexual comments/advances on a woman who doesn’t want to receive those comments. And I’m glad you brought up the issue of the Presidential race, because there’s a perfect example of rape culture. The fact that obscene, sexual comments about women are viewed as “locker room talk” is a huge problem. It means that we’re normalizing sexual assault, because whether it’s verbal or physical, it’s still. Sexual. Assault. And I’m going to try and abstain from offering up political opinions, but the fact that one of our presidential candidates has repeatedly sexually assaulted women, at least verbally if not physically, and is still being considered in the race, indicates something extremely negative about our country. This normalization of violence towards women needs to end. Right now.

      Ahh sorry I wrote way too much and got off topic. I have so many opinions… I know I wasn’t very clear in my explanations but I hope that gives you at least some clarification…?

  • Stacey Mitchell King
    8 months ago

    Hi Clara,

    I am Stacey Mitchell King, a teacher from Columbus OH. I signed up with Tim to shadow your posts this year. I have found some profound thoughts on your blog. Clara, you said, ‘I am not always the most eloquent or articulate speaker, but given sufficient time to develop something, it is one of my skills. That said, I have a long way to go–one of the biggest things I’ve learned in regards to writing is how much I still have to learn.’

    I completely agree with you. In person, I have no access to eloquent and academic language. I need time, and even then, I need to use the synonym finder.

    As for the driven individuals with good intentions, what do you think about making sure those same individuals allow for creativity in all learners? I sometimes feel that I am imposing my views on my students–any ideas about how to keep this from being an issue.

  • Dianne Baroz
    8 months ago

    Clara,

    I’ve enjoyed reading your latest post and how you are digging deeper into your topic. You’ve researched two ways which are aiding the ELL transitions in school communities. The cultural liaisons have the most direct impact for the family but not the overall school community. The tutoring is a wonderful way for students to have contact with ELL students but really is limited to only those students that do the volunteering.

    I went back and reread some of your earlier posts and one thing that jumped out at me was when you spoke about how ELL and immigrants usually are seen as a problem when they can be seen as an asset. Is there a way to work collectively on a broad effort to show the benefits that ELL families bring to a school community?

    Thanks for bringing up such a relevant and important issue. As more refugees begin settling in Vermont, this topic will be brought to the forefront. What type of impact could you see your social action group making?

    Best,
    Dianne

  • Ceci Lewis
    8 months ago

    Brynna, I am a bit surprised to read the shift you have taken in your research. However, I see many similar threads between invasive plants and marine life with the previous topic that you had discussed, substance abuse. I do applaud you for making the shift, however. The topic of substance abuse and addiction can be equally as overwhelming as invasive species in Vermont, but with a more emotional attachment that can hinder the researcher’s ability to remain objective.
    As you know, I live in Arizona where invasive species have been allowed to run rampant for decades. Currently, we are actively working on eliminating many of them, but as you mentioned in your blog post, this can be difficult and all encompassing. Which should we choose to focus on first and why? In order to prioritize, I believe it is necessary to look at which invasive species are the most dangerous – both to the ecosystem and to the public. For instance, buffel grass has created a severe problem in the Tucson region of Arizona. This highly invasive grass has turned the Sonoran desert, a virtually fire free environment, into a tinderbox. The end result is damage to the ecosystem and to human structures that are currently trying to co-exist in the environment. As a result, there has been a huge movement to remove the buffel grass, one blade at a time. This is not only time consuming and labor intensive, but it is also costly. Volunteers are now working to eliminate this invasive species, and hopefully soon, it will be a thing of the past.
    I tell you the buffel grass story with the hope of helping you select an invasive species that you can work to eliminate. It has been my experience that if I narrow down my research, even if it is to one species, I am better able to manage not only the research, but also the management of a solution for the problem. Ultimately, I believe this is something you might want to focus on also. How can your research effect change in your community and your state? Since you are intrigued with marine life and would like to visit a maritime museum, perhaps this is where you should start looking for a species that you can attach yourself to (how’s that for a pun?).
    I look forward to reading more about your new topic and the ways that you will be approaching it.
    Ceci

    • Ceci, thank you for sharing the buffel grass story with me, it provides a great example of how invasive plant species have created a negative impact on people. I made the topic transition a few weeks ago because I wanted to address an issue that hasn’t gotten much publicity; I wasn’t even aware of how much danger this could potentially bring to our state’s ecosystems until my Biology class had a discussion about it a while back. I feel that substance abuse is an incredibly serious issue, and when it comes down to picking our final topic I may decide to work in that direction, but I thought that this topic was a lot more unique than and brought a different kind of problem to the table, and definitely needs more attention because it’s not something that is addressed or even noticed by many people. I think that narrowing this down to one very specific species or invasive plant is a good idea, but picking the most dangerous would be hard to do because there are many and they all affect the ecosystems they invade differently. However, I have decided that I will be focusing on only plants, and not focusing on animals and insects. I would like to focus on both aquatic invasive plants and woodland invasive plants. I have so many people to contact and places I can visit and collect information from, I’m really excited to keep working with this topic.

  • Shel Sax
    8 months ago

    Hi Greta,
    I very much like the way that your recent post builds on your previous posts and gradually, as you think more on the topic of the environment, you are beginning to narrow down your focus to the gas pipeline.

    While it may be a ‘pipe in the ground’, the issues that it raises are significant and transcend this one pipeline. I’d encourage you to think in terms of the costs and benefits of the project (and one of the benefits might be the difference in emissions from burning gas vs whatever the likely alternative would be: coal, heavy oil, wood, etc.) Also, think about the distributions of the costs and benefits: who is most heavily impacted? Who benefits the most? Are the negative impacts being imposed on those in society who are less able to defend themselves (social justice and equity). Finally, you’ll need to define the lens through which you’re looking. And you have the option of picking one or more of them. You can consider the costs and benefits from the local level, state, national or international.
    Here’s a link to an article about energy-related CO2 emissions and their reduction as the fossil fuel mix the country uses changes. It also notes the increased role of solar and wind energy generation. You might find it useful when looking from a national level:
    http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=28312
    From a more local perpsective, here’s one about Burlington running entirely on renewable energy:
    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/vermont-city-come-rely-100-percent-renewable-energy/
    Like many issues, it’s complicated and important.
    Hope this is of some help. Good luck in continuing to focus

  • Hey Bryce! You’re making really good progress on your topic! You have a lot of really good, specific information that will allow you to develop a solution. By identifying the two most harmful chemicals, you can begin finding a way to reduce these two chemicals, whether it’s banning the usage of phosphorus in fertilizer or figuring out a more effective way to remove phosphorus from the lake. Unfortunately, phosphorus is a naturally occurring chemical so we can’t eliminate it completely, but decreasing human contribution seems like it would help.

    You’ve also identified a number of groups that are already working to improve Lake Champlain’s habitat, and I think that’s really important. Once you begin work on your project, you can reach out to them for information and assistance. It’s also beneficial that our governor is interested in this issue, because he could be a resource for you as well.

    Overall, I think you’re in a really good place right now and I see you being able to succeed immensely with this project.

    • Hey Anna,
      Thank you for your feedback. I didn’t realize when I wrote this that phosphorus is naturally occurring, but I do now. If there is a team for this topic, I will take what you said in mind; reaching out to groups and organizations for assistance, and more information. And again, thank you for all of your helpful criticism and support!

  • Hi Sidney,
    I think have some great ideas, whether they are concrete or not, I think that you could have a great project that a lot of people would be interested in, even if they have ideas for other projects. Drugs, and drug users are a really important thing to look at, especially in Vermont. I cant wait to see what your project turns put to be in a month or so.

  • Hey Zachariah! Last I knew, you were struggling a little to come up with a topic so I’m glad to see you’ve found one, and a really important one at that. The declining bee population is a really big deal. Just recently, bees made it onto the endangered species list, which is a huge, unfortunate development, not just for them, but for us. As part of your project, you’re going to want to spread information about how the extinction of bees will affect us negatively, because people either don’t know or don’t care, believing it doesn’t apply to them.

    From what you said about your sources, it seems that no one is opposing the idea that we have to save the bees…? No one is denying that this is a real and important thing, but they all have different ideas about what’s causing it and how to deal with it. It will be up to you to gather as much information as you can, and decide which trail you want to follow. This is a really important project and I think you can have great success. From what I can tell, you’re on the right track!

  • Shel,
    Thank you for the feedback, pushing me to more in the right direction, and for the interesting sources! I especially liked the video about Burlington. I had no idea that this city, an hour away from me, ran completely on renewable energy (at least by their definition). It’s really exciting to see what Vermont is doing. Also, I saw SO many connections to the pipeline: whether it’s better to do the best we can now, or work towards perfection in the future, the question of whether a source is a good long-term or short-term solution, and which source is best for the people… It’s all related!
    I hope you’re as fascinated with this as I am,
    Greta

  • Petra,
    Thank you for another interesting and informative post! A quickly answerable question I have is, was the 400% statistic for Vermont or the entire country? It is statistics like that which shock me, and make me wonder how something this huge is going on in my own state and I don’t even come in contact with it–or at least, I don’t KNOW that I come in contact with it.
    A deeper question I have to think about: which solution works more effectively, prevention or treatment? I think they’re both important, but should Vermont be broadening our focus to strengthening both of them, or focusing mostly on one to build an extremely strong program? And what is Vermont currently doing?
    Reading about Preventure was extremely interesting for me. On one hand, that does sound like it could be helpful. On the other hand, how do they determine who is most likely to get addicted: the kid’s genetics or their background? And could it lead to stereotyping the kids who do have to take the courses? I think that prevention is the most important part of the program to think about, but could these “side-effects” also have a part?
    I admire how focused and passionate on this topic you are!
    Greta

    • Greta,
      Thank you for you really thoughtful comment! It means a lot that you are thinking that much about my blogs! Anyway, to answer your first question the 400% statistic I believe was for the country. I agree that when I was reading about these statistics it was shocking and scary how much of a problem it is. I also did not realize how close to home it was, I did not realize that it was in my county.

      I also have the same question floating around in my brain too, and I hope to answer it by the end of this year. I think because all of these steps to stop the problem have been relatively new they don’t have any facts about which ones work, and which ones work better. I am really interested in learning about that when the statistics come out.

      You made a really good point that you made about Preventure. They base it off of their characteristics and traits, by the way they answer certain questions. Which could feel like stereotyping, but they might have more information about why those traits would relate to addiction. I agree it is a very thin line between stereotyping, and making predictions based on passed experiments.
      Thank you again for your thought revoking comment, I really appreciate it!
      -Petra

  • Laurie Hickey
    8 months ago

    Hi Lena,

    I’ll also be reading your Blog for the next bit of time. A bit about me – I am a Language Arts teacher in Burlington, Vermont.

    As you mentioned, this is a topic that literally affects us all. In thinking about the story and the characters involved, I wonder to ground the story if the Five Freedoms could become the spine of your work. This is a large topic as you mentioned. If you centered your research on examples – good and bad of each of the freedoms, it might give boundaries and form to your work. It might too, with your end product, give your readers/viewers a more holistic view of the possibilities of both poor treatment and excellent treatment.

    I wonder if another excellent resource would be the college of Agriculture at UVM. They have an ecological agriculture minor. Here is a link
    http://catalogue.uvm.edu/undergraduate/agricultureandlifesciences/plantandsoilscience/ecologicalagricultureminor/?_ga=1.36303523.265148900.1476459798

    See this class: ASCI 122. Animals in Soc/Animal Welfare. 3 Credits.
    Designed to heighten awareness and understanding of human-animal relationships in society, agriculture, and science. Prerequisites: Animal Science major; Sophomore standing.

    What are future farmers thinking about this topic?

    Keep up the good work,

    Laurie Hickey

    • Hi Ms. Hickey,

      Sorry about the late reply, and thank you for your response! I have definitely been considering using the Five Freedoms, a model that has led to many successful Animal Rights battles, as a foundation for my following research, and agree that it gives shape to a complex, and layered issue. During some of my research, the simplicity that the Five Freedoms offers, has been really helpful in considering treatment of animals, and has the prospects to continue to be useful, in comparing various living conditions.

      It is encouraging to see that there are college students who are interested in the well-being of Vermont animals, and understand the importance of the animal rights conflict. I will definitely plan on using the College of Agriculture at UVM as another resource!

      I think that future farmers either care about the treatment of their animals, are are more concerned about their financial well-being, a distinction that seems to become defined as more pressure is applied on farms to create humane systems.

      Best,
      Lena

  • Kate Carroll
    8 months ago

    Hi Petra,

    I was very engaged by your selections from your source materials this week, and I was particularly struck by Rawson’s objectives:

    “The first is figuring out how many people are dependent on opiates, for which he says there is no solid data. The second is taking a close look at the treatment methods being used and determining if they’re working”

    I wonder what other models there are for treatment methods other than the hub and spoke. Considering Vermont’s challenging geography, my gut tells me our current method seems to fit, but what are the other options? I am also eager to see what his research reveals about Vermont’s hub and spoke’s current efficacy.

    I am curious about your thoughts/understanding/questions regarding Rawson’s comment:

    “Understanding addiction not as something that should be treated in isolation but as a public health issue” (citation #2)

    I took this to mean that individual doctors/treatment centers treating individual addicts will not solve the problem. I think his comment about treating addiction as a “public health issue” connects to your consideration of education’s role in prevention and treatment. But I also wonder how other public health issues have been addressed as a way to consider how we might address addiction similarly and differently at a societal level.

    Then just yesterday, I read the following essay that toggles back and forth between the writer’s personal story of her Adderall Addiction and its origins, statistics, treatment, unknowns on a national level; as a teacher, I was particularly struck by how much the writer’s desire to excel academically triggered her initial use :

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/16/magazine/generation-adderall-addiction.html?action=click&contentCollection=Opinion&module=Trending&version=Full&region=Marginalia&pgtype=article

    I wonder if there is any way to track Rawson’s research results before it is officially presented as your questions totally relate to what he is looking at. One sources that might be helpful is The Turning Point website.
    http://turningpointcentervt.org/

    Would it be possible for you interview any primary care/family physicians, so you could ask them about experiences treating patients with addiction.

    Best wishes with these week’s post. I look forward to reading your next installment,
    Kate Carroll

  • Emily Rinkema
    8 months ago

    Hi Brynna,

    I love the direction of your new topic. As someone who likes to fly-fish, I got rid of my old felt-bottomed wading boots a few years ago because of the spread of invasives–interesting to hear from your interview that it didn’t make a difference! Focusing on plants is probably a good idea, as it’s still a huge topic, and being able to narrow it down even more over the next few weeks will be key. I liked Ceci’s story about the buffel grass–very specific, and therefore more compelling. It could be interesting to not only focus on a single plant species, but also on a single source of its spreading. I will interesting also to see if there are ways that some of our local invasive issues are being addressed in other parts of the world.

    Can’t wait to read more!

    Emily

    • Hi Emily,

      It’s nice to see that you’re interested in this topic, I’ve had a few people tell me that this subject isn’t interesting enough. These last two days I have been researching this topic intensely, and I’ve noticed that more and more people are starting to realize that this is a very serious issue that will start to noticeably affect people down the road. I’ve accumulated a pretty large list of people for me to contact in the next week or so. I’m excited to move forward with this!

      – Brynna

  • Emily Rinkema
    8 months ago

    Maddie–the focus on tension is excellent, I think. I love that as a center, and I look forward to seeing if you were able to make more sense of it and narrow it down even more with your mind mapping! I have been thinking about these tensions so much lately, and trying to determine which tensions are most compelling to me in my role this year. There are so many, as you know, but the one that keeps coming up in the high school is the tension between what we know about healthy learning and the pressures (perceived or real) from school requirements, colleges, parents, and other external forces. I think of homework as an example, as it’s something I have become passionate about, but also the crazy expectations that HS students put on themselves (or we put on them) that prevents significant change from happening within our schools. I’m not sure where the breaking point is, but I worry many students are reaching it; and what happens when students push themselves to “play by the rules”, load up their transcripts, build up their resumes…and it doesn’t end up the way it was promised to them?

    I can’t wait to see your mind-mapping!

    Emily

  • Maisie,

    Here is a video that seniors in AP English at MUHS produced last year on the lack of mental health capacity in this state: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkLwys4nBcA. In the video, Fred Kniffin, who then became the CEO at Porter Hospital acutely talks about the craziness of this situation: if you show up at an emergency room with a broken arm, no problem, but if you show up with a mental breakdown, they often don’t know what to do or have the resources to support the patient. Culturally, we have decided mental health is not important and are therefore not allocating the necessary resources; that’s a sobering claim.

    I’m sure you know some of the students who created this documentary. If not, I’d be happy to put you in touch with them or any of the subjects in the video documentary.

    -Tim

    • Thank you! I do know a few of the people who worked on that documentary and can talk with them. Thanks for sharing, I will definitely use this as inspiration.

  • Fiona,

    I’m glad we had the chance to talk on at Mt. Philo and with Eva. While we wait for Eva to rejoin us in our electronic discussions and forums, I only imagine it’s a bit hard for you and feels isolating. I still think the vast majority of schools need intro/starter conversations with their faculty. They have never approached the subject of gender identity in any real way. I think writing that 1/2 page letter to school principals that suggest you can help them introduce that conversation to their faculty will be a positive next step for you to take. How can you say so much in such a small space? What will the format be? Introduction, documentary, follow up, QA?

    I think beginning to draft a concrete document that has a very specific audience in mind is a good next step. What do you think?

    Thanks for sharing that Seven Days article. I hadn’t seen it before now.

    -Tim

  • Hi Nate,
    Thank you for that last comment! I had a lot of fun meeting you and talking to you outside of this blog.
    Those are great questions and ones I will look into as I try to answer my own question.
    I really appreciate your feedback.

  • Hi Keira!

    I know I’ve said this before but passion is key! It’s so great that you truly have a passion for nutrition. People have really begun to ignore what they put into their bodies and how it effects them. If I were you, during school one day, ask your classmates what they had for breakfast, then ask them what’s in their food. Probably everyone is not going to know, nor should they. However, it’s the idea about ignorance that could help you. This is just a suggestion, I’m kind of just spit-balling here, but talking to people is a really fun way to research you’re topic.

    -Emily

    • Yes! Thank you for that idea! I should start asking and getting a feel for what the average person thinks or knows about their food. That’s a really cool idea and I’m looking forward to asking tomorrow 😀

  • Hi Rex,

    I really agree that especially at our age, mental health is almost thought of as a “joke”. If someone tries to make something look really nice or really neat, they might get a snarky comment like, “OCD much?” Mental health is not something to be taken lightly, and I think it’s great that you both understand that and are trying to fix that.

    -Emily

    • Hi Emily,

      Thanks!
      Sorry I couldn’t get back sooner, but I definitely do find a lot of people joke around with mental health. And as you said with my age group it’s a problem at times.

      -Rex

  • Hey Anna,
    Congrats on another job well done! Your first two paragraphs on love are very strong, and applicable to your topic. Speaking of your topic, your posts are making my desire to help you fight even stronger! You are very persuasive with your facts and logic.

    I was wondering… I know at my school, there is a dress code for girls, but it’s not as restrictive as, say Woodstock. Is your school’s dress code similar to Woodstock, worse, or better? I do not recall you mentioning the specific details of your dress code (or maybe that’s just my bad memory).

    Like I said earlier, your facts are very strong. I’m glad you used those. I also like that you mentioned that this issue has had some trouble the past. It could make the demand for social change higher. It’s appalling that you see how much society has really changed since 1992, but this hasn’t been a top priority. Like I said, that will just mean a higher demand for social change.

    I think you could get a lot of people behind you with this. Keep up the good and hard work! Until next time.

    -Bryce

    • Hey Bryce, thanks for your thoughts! I’m glad my posts are inspiring to you, and I hope other people are responding similarly. It’s actually interesting that you ask about my school, as just recently (like, within a week ago), I learned that my school has completely removed the dress code from the code of conduct. I’m not clear on all the details, but they had become aware of its sexism, and, realizing that they hardly enforced it anyway, got rid of it. I’m pretty excited about this development, and I hope Middlebury can serve as a driving force for other schools in the state to make beneficial change.

  • Hey Zachariah,

    I’m glad you have found a topic that you are passionate about. I don’t know much about the decline in bee population, but I know the problem has exploded a lot recently (correct me if I’m wrong). I also agree with you, I would like to know the real cause of the decline in bee population. This is very interesting. I also agree with Anna on this. I think one of the best ways to advocate this issue, is to do just that. Advocate the bees, and tell people why people should care about the decline in bee population, and how it would impact communities all around.

    And since there are multiple reasons that bees or going extinct, you have a good bit to work with. You could tell people about how neonicotinoids are killing bees, or you could tell people about how climate change is effecting the bees (and us as well).

    Good job! Keep it up Zachariah!

    -Bryce

  • Hello Greta,
    I really enjoyed reading your blog post this week, it looks like you really dug into this story and really understand it. It is interesting to have a topic that has two sides to it, so you can look at both the pro’s and con’s. A question that I am wondering after reading this post is; why did phase two of the project get cancelled? Was it because of the protests? Or were they worried that it would affect the lake?
    it is cool that you decided to take a step back, and start digging into this issue even though you think you might change. I also think that understanding this issue might help you gain more inspiration and perspective on the bigger issue of climate change in Vermont.
    Looking forward to see how your thoughts progress,
    Petra

    • Petra,
      Thank you for your comment!
      I think that the protests did have a big part of the cancellation. They brought to light the problems with the plan, including it’s effects on the lake. So the protesters did get somewhere, if not all the way. I’ll have to do more research on that though!
      Greta

  • Erin,
    I agree with Greta, I think that it is great that you are sharing about your challenges. Part of the reason why your topic is so interesting is because it is somewhat unique, but it does propose a challenge of trying to find articles and information directed to your topic. I think that you will be able to find people to interview who have information and perspectives to give you, so that won’t be as hard. Like Greta said I think the teacher-mentors will probably be able to help you. I can defiantly understand the frustration of not being able to find the right information. I hope that you will be able to stick with this topic! It is so interesting!
    Good luck,
    Petra

    • Petra –

      Thank you for your support of my ideas. I am interested in my topic even though i’m struggling to good sources to increase my background knowledge. I will definitely use the program I am already involved in as a resource because there are many wonderful people with different ideas and perspectives.

      Thanks for reading,

      -Erin

  • Mrs. Carroll,
    Thank you for all of the articles that you gave me! I really appreciate all of them they help me a lot for my blogs! I agree those 2 quotes that you mentioned were interesting, and they really stuck with me.
    For the first quote you mentioned, I was excited to see the results too. I was a little disappointed that they did not have the results, but I understand that it will take a long time. It is a very ambitious study. It would be interesting to also find out about other options because the only treatment options that I have read about were the clinics. There might be different treatment options in different sates because of the different characteristics socially, and geographically.
    As for the second quote you mentioned, it took it similar to the way you understood it. I thought he was trying to say: we can’t look at addiction in each individual person, we have to look at it as a state issue and face it together. Partly because of how many people are addicts so it will be more effective if we look at it in general.
    I think it could be a possibility to interview some primary care/family physicians and would help give me valuable information.
    Thank you for your help so far,
    Petra

  • Hi Grace,
    This looks great. I love the idea of branching out and finding more effective and comfortable means of mental treatment. Incidentally, the idea of peer support and personal connection is also shown to be very successful in changing people’s ideas of denigrating stereotypes. So I think we can conclude that personal connection increases peoples wellbeing, both in knowledge and mental health. Is this what you are saying at the end? That it is important to unite people to promote their wellbeing?
    If so, I have a question. What if people don’t agree on something crucial in life when attempting to support each other? What do you think is a good way of getting around this?
    Thanks for a great post! I love the ideas!
    See you later,
    Theo

  • Hi Nigel,
    The debate in Rutland is certainly a very interesting one. I am also keen to know what the mayor’s motives were. It is unfortunate that this issue has divided the town however. Overall, I think the right decision was made. We have a duty to help and protect people in need, and these immigrants have suffered much poverty and danger. I also agree with you that people unite because of need and belief. However, I am curious as to what your own thoughts are on this matter. Do you think the city made the right decision?
    Thanks for a post in which many fascinating ideas were brought up.
    See you later,
    Theo

  • Elsa,

    I enjoyed talking to you at the summit of Mt. Philo and I look forward to collaborating more in the future. Also, I read that article, “Why Farmer Chris Wagner Hired Migrant Workers to Milk His Cows” and I was utterly bewildered. The idea that pushing one wrong button can completely alter your life is almost unimaginable. I would never think of the severity of one wrong number pushed on a number pad. Later you also went into detail about migrants fearing the hospital because they don’t want to be deported so my question to you is, what do you think police should do in cases like these where illegal immigrants are discovered by accident? I had a conversation with my professor at the college regarding this same topic and we weren’t able to come up with a good solution.

    Keep up the good work!
    Justin

  • Theo,
    First off, another fantastic post.
    I was very interested in the report you mentioned from Representation 2020. As a State that is so strongly blue- in fact, the most democratic state in the country (http://www.gallup.com/poll/188969/red-states-outnumber-blue-first-time-gallup-tracking.aspx), one would expect Vermont to be on the leading edge of equality and rights. Especially considering that Vermont is a well-known haven for the LGBTQ+ community, I am always surprised to hear news of events like those at Green Mountain High.
    Your closing statement made me wonder- what do you foresee yourself doing to help change the state of equality in Vermont? I think there are some important things in the work right now that you could help bring more light and attention to, and could make some serious change with.

  • Clara,

    I’d just like to start off by pointing out how well you write. You always seem to capture me in your writing while discussing an important topic. As I was reading about the interpreters and their importance in the community, I couldn’t help but think about the possibility of having more interpreters in our state. Yes, we do have a state with a small population and very little diversity, but we need interpreters to ease the transition of immigration from a foreign country. I’m wondering if the solution to this problem lies within the refugees that have already found haven in Vermont. I bet the refugees would be interested in helping new refugees acclimate to the new environment.

    I’m interested to hear more about your ideas as you continue with your research!
    Justin

  • Grace,
    You’re absolutely right about violence’s place in political movements. In order for real change to take place, serious discussion needs to take precedent.
    My question for you: What is a solution to this? How can we make the wage gap an issue that is taken seriously by the general public?

  • Petra –

    I learned a great deal about the opioid problems here in Vermont from your post. You have a great amount of information already and I understand that you and many others are questioning what we should do first to try to solve this problem. I’m wondering how all of us can get the information out to more young people about this epidemic. I realize that it’s a very sensitive topic and more families in all communities in Vermont are involved in it but they are scared to talk about it. We have been taught since we were young that drugs are bad and the people who use drugs are bad as well. Unfortunately this message is not helpful if we are going to solve this opioid crisis. We need to have confidence that young people can understand the complexity of this crisis. We need to have families talking about this topic on a nightly basis if it will ever get solved.

    -Erin

    • Erin-
      I am so glad that you learned so much from my post! I agree that the perspective of how we look at this problem is essential. If we blame the people without learning their stories first we are not going to get anywhere close to solving this problem. I also agree that we should be confronting this problem more, and learning about it more. We have to first understand the problem before we try to start helping it.
      I enjoyed hearing you opinion on the topic,
      Petra

  • Hi Justin,

    I really appreciate the obvious and meaningful research that went into this post: it’s clear that you examined the issue from several angles, and you do a good job of capturing the bigger picture and then moving inwards. One of the larger issues you mentioned was population, which made me wonder how that fits in with our global population problem–one that is pressing for opposite reasons. Maybe that means that our statewide issue should be solved not by increased birthrate, which would be detrimental to the already alarming global population, but by, as you suggested, an influx of people form other places. This could be a compelling detail when explaining your topic.

    I was also intrigued by your analogy to the U.S.’s involvement in WWII. I really like that you made that connection, especially with a historical and well-recognized event, because I think it adds a lot of depth. I also think that there’s perhaps more to that connection than you mentioned–the U.S. had a lot of reasons to get involved in the war, not all (or even most) of them altruistic. It also exhibited blatant racism through the segregation and harassment of troops of color, and the internment of Japanese Americans was a terrible episode in America’s history. I think that can be a good reminder of the disparity between patriotism and an actual endorsement of the ideals that the U.S. is built on. People were proud of their troops (and rightly) even while ignoring the atrocities that were being committed by their own side, and I think that these kind of blindnesses persist. Although our country was built by a mix of native people and immigrants, and our foundational documents promote equality and acceptance, new immigrants are treated terribly. Anyway, some stuff to think about, and I really enjoy the direction you’re going with this.

    -Clara

  • Hi Elsa,

    I really liked following your train of thought here. I think you ask very valid questions about why Milk with Justice is only focusing on certain aspects of human rights and safety, and I wonder if the answer to that will also help you understand your problem a little more–there might be barriers to addressing those issues that aren’t immediately obvious. I also think your question about undocumented immigrants needing healthcare but unable to reach out to authorities is extremely important. It seems like you have a really good sense of the enormous complexities of your issue, and if at some point you wanted to narrow it down that might be a good thing to focus on. Finally, you mention that some people believe that it is law enforcement’s job to deport those people. I wonder what the flip side to that argument is…what do people have to say about other responsibilities held by law enforcement officers?

    -Clara

  • Nathan, I’d reiterate Courtney’s thoughts and add that it might be useful to try to dig up some data on the efficacy of anti-bias training. Your case to Vermont legislators and/or public that teacher training is the first important step toward reducing bias in schools will be made much more powerful if you can point to statistics showing, for example, a reduction in police bias after training as evidenced by, say, a more equitable distribution of arrests across race.

    Cheers,
    Dana

  • It’s easy for me to identify with how your are having trouble nailing this down. I have often found that in the early stage of research that is in the least “off the beaten path,” it is a problem of identifying search words and phrases that will hit that vein of gold.

    And here’s the kicker: it may very well be that different scholars mean different things when using the same term. I mean, there is no unifying code that everyone subscribes to.

    I would bet that you’ll noodle and noodle around until you find a scholarly piece of writing that gets at just the right thing. Then you can piggy-back on her/his sources in order to wiggle through the aperture you seek.

    At first, it can be a frustrating hit-or-miss experience, and then — Bingo! — you are off.

    But be forewarned. Once in a while you can find yourself repeatedly at dead ends. If that should be the case, it’s time to make a choice…

  • Sidney,

    The importance of your topic is clear. It would be super to include, something that Tim mentioned in the ideas for “branches” of the Mind Map, support for “the stakes?” I know there are a number of startling statistics out there regarding drug use in VT. Finding numbers to support the content of your Mind Map, and tell the story of the “stakes,” will be important to your work moving forward.

    Casey

  • Emily,

    As you look at the “stakes” I wonder what statistics there are to support your position? I would imagine there are a number of students who are not even “successful” in high school and perhaps become discouraged and don’t graduate. Being prepared for life after high school assumes that they are successful while experiencing learning in high school. Great work recognizing challenges for students with autism in school and outside of school! You are well on your way to a very thought out position on this topic.

    Casey

  • Dear Jus,

    When I was a teacher, I was aware that when I read student writing, I most often did it with one of two minds. Sometimes I read it as a teacher: looking for high points, keeping an eye out for inconsistencies… that sort of thing. I did not mind reading student work this way.

    But at other times I read student writing as if it were not “student writing.” That is to say, I would get caught up in the flow of the thing. This is how I read this blog.

    I found your reflection engendering questions, making me angry at the poor working conditions, heartened by the people who are trying to do the right thing.

    I want to know:

    How did the workers got here without getting nabbed?
    How do they cope being away from everything familiar, including those whom they love and care for?
    Why don’t the Feds infiltrate Vermont and do their Fed-type thing?
    How do farmers locate prospective workers?
    What kind of pressure is brought to bear on those who mistreat their workers — not official pressure but family and community pressures? I mean, certainly some people who are in the know consider this kind of treatment inhumane.
    What makes some folks fear the “other,” while others embrace it, and how could an understanding of this dichotomy help shine a light on the path away from xenophobia?

    Yes, Jus, your work may be focused on Mexican migrant laborers in Vermont, but the implications are far wider.

    Yours,
    Brad

    • Brad,

      Thank you for that compliment! I definitely find writing much easier when I’m able to focus on the subject and I really enjoy what I’m writing about. Of course, that’s probably true for just about everything I do.

      That list of questions that you put together is very well thought out and I share the same curiosity as you do. I know that many workers arrive here with “Coyotes,” who are the people that smuggle immigrants across the Mexican-American border. After they arrive in one of the southern states, I have very little idea as to how they get up here in Vermont. I believe that many of them hear about Vermont from relatives but I can’t be certain. The Folk Life Center had an exhibition called The Most Costly Journey which featured a collection of graphic novels illustrating the journey of four different Mexican farm workers as they make their way up to Vermont. They are all short reads (5-10 pages) but you can begin to understand more about the migrants’ travels to our beautiful state. I definitely suggest taking a look at it!

      Unfortunately, that is the only question I can even begin to answer. The other ones you mentioned will definitely play an important role in my research and in any interviews I conduct. I feel like I need personal experiences to answer those questions which at this moment, unfortunately, I do not have.

      I’ll be sure to fill you in on all the answers I come across while carrying out my research

      Thanks for really picking my mind and giving me goals to work for!
      Justin

  • Bob Uhl
    8 months ago

    Very nice, Lena! This is a clear, well-organized map that succinctly depicts relationships among many of the major ideas you’ve been writing about for the past few weeks. Even people unfamiliar with your work, I think, could look this over and get a strong sense of what it is you’ve been investigating. Well done.

  • Bob Uhl
    8 months ago

    Hi Brennan,

    Good to see you continuing to investigate other topics. This one here has been an especially hot one, given the (seemingly never-ending) presidential campaigns. Although it’s a bit hard for me to read the mind map due to the size of the photo, I can tell that you’ve identified some of the major elements of this issue. I admit I haven’t personally thought much of illegal immigration in Vermont, but now that you bring it up, I’m sure it affects our state in some way. If you decide to pursue this topic, I’ll be very interested to see where it takes you!

  • Bob Uhl
    8 months ago

    Bryce, this is a dazzling mind map. Well done! It is clear, detailed, organized, and effectively represents the investigation you’ve been conducting on this topic over the past several weeks. Also, as promised, you’ve worked another pun into your blog post. Puns plus work of this quality makes reading your entries very enjoyable. Keep it up!

    • Mr. Uhl,
      Thank you for your report on my mind map. I appreciate it! I’m very thankful for your support over the 6 weeks and that you enjoy reading my posts. I will do my best to put puns in my posts. I have a teacher that is very laid back and loves puns, so I have heard a lot of puns in my middle school life! Again, thank you!

      -Bryce

  • Bob Uhl
    8 months ago

    Hi Anna,

    I haven’t commented here before, but I wanted to drop in and say WOW! What an impressive mind map! Keep up the good work.

  • Bob Uhl
    8 months ago

    HI Greta,

    I haven’t commented here before, but in scanning through these entries I just had to drop in and say how impressed I am with this mind map. A job well done!

  • Bob Uhl
    8 months ago

    Love the mind map, Clara! Well done!

  • Hi,

    Great post! This was very informative. I especially loved how you opened with that quote, it made me want to keep reading. You seem very passionate about this issue which is wonderful. I especially loved your quote:

    “As many of the neighbors that I have talked to explained, the the main reason for the lack of progress in the movement to improve the treatment of farm animals in Vermont is ignorance, that people either build up around themselves, or true naiveté.”

    I find this quote to be true with many issues in Vermont; it can be hard to inspire change in communities where people are used to things being a certain way or are not open-minded.

    I think you are making great progress. Keep it up!

    Ella

  • Hi Nigel,

    I loved this post. It is full of your voice and your opinions which is one of the most important things in the process right now.

    I loved reading about the refugee program in Colchester because my church is involved with it. I didn’t understand what the program was about, and after reading your post I have a much better sense.

    From what I am reading, I think you are passionate about social justice. If you choose to stray from your topic when we meet in November, think about joining with others who are interested in similar issues. You care about this topic, don’t loose it by changing to a topic you aren’t passionate about!

    You are doing great work! Keep it up!

    Ella

  • Hi Nigel,

    Before this post, it was hard for me to understand why anyone wouldn’t want to welcome refugees into Vermont. I hadn’t really thought about the other side to this issue.

    I think these two opposing sides can really translate into how divided our political system is right now in the country. There is a great number of people that are thinking just like the Rutland First group, saying that immigration puts a strain on an already struggling economy. The same is true for many other Americans who believe that it is our duty to welcome the refugees.

    I wonder what your opinions are on the matter. Do you agree with the mayor’s actions?

    Your curiosity in this post is really evident, I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

    Ella

  • Colleen Kiley
    8 months ago

    Hi Keira,

    I love this line from your post: “I can agree that our psychology has a symbiotic relationship with our nutrition. ” Awesome. Seems like a great jumping off point to begin your research. And I like, through all your muddle-ness, you came full circle. In the beginning of your post you asked yourself “why” you care about this project. By the end you had created a great research question: “Can anyone explain WHY we eat?” I love it. You got this!

    • Haha, thank you 🙂 I like asking those kind of open ended questions and then finding an answer but not an answer that answers the question asked.

  • Hi Lena,

    I really enjoyed reading this post. As I began to talk about in my previous response, one of the hardest parts of creating change is getting those people who are so set in their ways to view the issue differently and change their mind.

    This is definitely true in your case. There are so many farmers (even in VT) who have been doing things the same way for generations. If you channel your research to target change on Vermont farms, there is a better chance of you actually making a difference. If you start out too ambitious with the hopes of changing the agricultural system of America, you might more disappointed in the effect you have.

    Just a thought…

    I am so happy with the work you are doing and the passion you have for this issue. Keep it up and I can’t wait to keep reading!

    Ella

    • Hi Ella!

      Thanks for the reply! I totally agree that it is necessary to start with smaller change, and for “What’s the Story” this year, I definitely plan on focusing on Vermont law.

      I think that with the Animal Rights issue, it is really important for specific states to start to take action, instead of the country.

      Once again, thanks for the response, and I can’t wait to continue working with you!
      Lena

  • Colleen Kiley
    8 months ago

    Dear Keira,

    I’m so excited about your research. You’ve really seemed to find your niche from your original big wide topic of “food love.” I started reading Podhaizer’s article, and will have to finish it later (after some shuteye!). I wonder if Podhaizer would be a good person to connect with about your project? She could be a great local resource.
    Anyways, this issue of food ethics really interests me; especially the idea of local food. One of my favorite books of all time (it’s non-fiction and I’m including this as a favorite for non-fiction and fiction combined, so this is a BIG statement for me as an English teacher) is “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver. It recounts the year her family spent eating only food they could grow, raise, make, or buy locally within 100 miles of their home. From there I’ve read a variety of other “100 mile diet” books, sustainable living memoirs, etc. A few that even take a place in Vermont. There’s so much info out there, as I’m sure you know, but let me know if you’re looking for any additional resources.

    I’m excited for you and the path you’re on. Good luck!
    Colleen

    • :O Additional resources would be amazing! I’d love it if you could send me some links, Colleen. It’d really help. The resources I found were interesting and I find it cool that they were Vermont-based.

  • Hey Clara:
    This mind map definitely suggests A LOT of thinking on your part. I just want you to know that your blogs have been extremely well-written, and it’s very apparent that you’re putting forth a serious amount of time and energy with your topic.

    Specifically, I love the each of your main topics (Stories, Importance, Change, etc) has a number of different branches rather than just one or two. That is, when you branch off of Stories, you don’t just include educators but you are also apt in including student stories. The point I’m trying to make is that you’ve got several different angles in each of your topics, and this is the sign of a sophisticated thinker.

    If you could make one change in the issue that your topic provokes, what would it be?

    • Ben,

      I’m sorry I’ve taken so long to reply, I really appreciate your commenting: you are always very detailed and provide more for me to think about, so thank you for starting these conversations. You mentioned my involvement of different groups, and I definitely see that as a huge part of this effort: Vermont is community based, and so too must be any change affecting it. I know we’ve talked about this more recently, but I think that one change I would really like to see (as vague as it may be) is students recognizing each others’ cultural worth, because it’s so incredibly important and I think it happens far less than it should.

      I look forward to talking with you more!
      Clara

  • Courtney Krahn
    8 months ago

    Grace,
    I think your mind map is fabulous. The term “mind map” lends itself well to your topic. It’s clear from your map that you’ve done a lot of thinking about how your topic breaks down, and about how these sub-categories are interconnected. It’s a pleasure to watch your thinking unfold. Looking forward to seeing you again soon…
    Courtney

  • Courtney Krahn
    8 months ago

    Hi Nathan,
    It’s neat to see how your topic translates into a mind map. I’m curious about the legislative branch of your mind map. Race is legally a protected class, but of course this doesn’t prevent racial biases from manifesting themselves in schools. I wonder what type of legislation you’re imagining, as this is a new element to your topic. I like that you have widened your target audience here to include more demographics of the school community. I’m also wondering if you have done any thinking about what types of activities or information would be presented at workshops, trainings, etc. I think you have the opportunity to present an old issue through a new or uniquely-nuanced lens. Now that you’ve targeted these audiences, it might be good to start brainstorming what key messages about racial biases you want to explore/promote in your pursuit of prevention.
    Looking forward to seeing you soon,
    Courtney

  • Hey Bryce! This is an incredible mind map; I’m so jealous! It was really organized and you have a lot of good content. The Importance branch caught my eye in particular, as these are the arguments you’ll be using in your pitch to convince people to care. This topic relates to me, my family, and my community more than I could have imagined.

    I also noticed that you have a lot more ideas about how to reduce the pollution of Lake Champlain. One of those was to “spread the word,” and I was wondering how you would do that? With all the great information you have, you’ll make a really big impact once you start talking to people.

    Your mind map really helped me visualize your issue and the methods you’re going to use to solve it. Great job, this is really impressive!

    • Anna,
      I’m glad that my mind map has helped you. Also, thank you for your comments. They are very helpful and appreciated. That is one of the main reasons I chose this topic; it’s applies to everyone. Lake Champlain is a big part of the VT community.

      I thought I would “spread the word” by using our resources in this course to publicize my thoughts. Another thought was to make PSA’s or something like that (if possible). I guess there are other ways as well.

      Again, thank you. Until next time!

      -Bryce

  • Hey Zachariah! This is a really well done mind map! I’m a huge fan of color coding (I color code all the notes I take for school and any physical objects I have to organize), so your map was easy for me to read and understand. I like how you listed various organizations you could reach out to in order to get information and make change.

    For the Importance branch, I guess I would like to see you take that further. Like, you have that the declining bee population will cause a loss of plant ecosystem, but I want to know how that impacts us, as humans. How will it affect the food we eat? The agricultural economy of Vermont?

    In addition, you have a lot of really good ideas to improve the situation, including the discontinuation of pesticide use and the support of bee hives. How would you go about that? Would you try to get legislation in place to prevent pesticide use/manufacturing? How do you support a beehive? How can normal people get involved and contribute to this worthy cause?

    You also said you want to spread information. How do you want to do that? Through schools, the internet, petitions, radio, newspaper etc.? And what information do you think will be most valuable and persuasive to create awareness, and therefore change, among the general population?

    You don’t have to answer all of my questions right now. Just think about them and see if you can work the information into your project somewhere. Great job so far!!

  • Dianne Baroz
    8 months ago

    Clara,

    This is a work of art! Your insightful thinking that I’ve enjoyed reading over the last few weeks has emerged into this beautiful creation. Your main points: Importance, Stories, Change—why is it important, what are the stories, and how can change come about? You’ve come full circle from the Simon Sinek video on “How great leaders inspire action.” The section I loved the most was when you wrote: Power in…sharing stories; Power… in appreciating individuals’ experiences. Your story has the power to make change and this project will continue to evolve and take shape as you move to the next phase. Great work.

    Dianne

    • Thank you!

      Sorry I took so long to respond, I really appreciate the feedback. My thinking behind the “Power in…” section was that simply by asking people to share their stories we are legitimizing and validating their experiences, which is especially important for people who may not feel well-received in this non-diverse state, or even feel actively prejudiced against (which wouldn’t be surprising considering the rampant political demagoguery on a national level). As you mentioned, I tried to keep Simon Sinek’s model in mind; it’s one I’ve worked with in several different capacities and having seen its importance in action I appreciate it all the more. Thanks again!

      -Clara

  • Beverly Moss
    8 months ago

    Hi Sidney,
    Your mind map branches point to the many aspects of drug use that one can research. You rightly raise questions about who uses drugs, why they do it, what is the impact of drug addiction, and how do people become involved with drugs? These are such important questions. Have you thought about contacting drug counselors who can talk to you about trends they see in who uses drugs and why? Maybe you can even interview school counselors about drug use in local high schools. Even gathering data about drug abuse among different age groups may help you narrow the topic. I think you will find that there’s quite a bit of information about drug addiction in Vermont. As you continue to work on your project, will you focus more on why people begin using drug and its impact or maybe drug prevention. You have so many choices. Your work will be important to your community.

  • Emily Rinkema
    8 months ago

    Hi Brynna,

    Your map is so thorough, and the sheer number of resources you have found shows what a significant issue this is in our state and beyond. One of the challenges of your topic is that it’s hard to see beyond “we need to educate people about this” as a solution at times. But that’s difficult, because for most of us, invasive plants seem to have little to no impact on our daily lives. I was struck by the Importance section of your map and google doc, and seeing the list of ways the invasives effect people and the ecosystem; this seemed to me the area where you may find a “seed” of an idea to move forward. For example, seeing that there is a connection between Lyme disease and invasive plants may be what the public needs to care.

    Thanks for your attention to detail!
    Emily

    • Hi Emily,

      While writing my latest post I kept in mind that elaborating on certain things is important in getting my point across, for example I found an explanation for the increase in Lyme disease carrying ticks. Putting the pieces together for my plan of action is tricky because there’s so many different elements that come into play here with this topic, and I hope that my newest blog posts sums up my thought process in a clear and fluent manner. Thank you for continuing to read my blog!

      -Brynna

  • Emily Rinkema
    8 months ago

    Kati–cool mind map style. Did you find it helpful to your thinking? I am interested in the words that you put boxes around–are these more important, or more interesting to you? I wonder how they interconnect and inform each other? I am most curious about why you have “social media” boxed? Is this a new area of interest for you? How does social media affect addiction or treatment? I’ve never considered this perspective before and am interested!

    Emily

  • Emily Rinkema
    8 months ago

    Hi Maddie,

    Really cool mind map! Your level of detail and organization is not only impressive, but shows HOW you’re thinking as well as WHAT you’re thinking. It might be worth your time to take one of the areas of tension that you think you’re most interested in (i.e. Parent/child or Traditional/Innovative) and blow that up in its own mind map…

    You’re right about the change section–so difficult at this point to see how to make a change in such a huge system. Your challenge moving forward may be to choose one small component of this map (or the next) and then focus on how to shift mindsets in that area?

    Here’s a TED Talk that you might find relevant. It’s about the parent tension: https://www.ted.com/talks/julie_lythcott_haims_how_to_raise_successful_kids_without_over_parenting?language=en

    Thanks for your map!
    Emily

  • Hi Justin,

    This mind map is very interesting! I’m curious about which of these issues is most appealing to you as a topic for your project and why. How might you decide which direction to go? I wonder if it’s possible to show this mindmap to a migrant worker, or to someone who does work with migrant workers, and ask for their input on the issues you’ve raised. They might point out interesting connections between issues or help you to identify resources on particular issues. By the way, I saw this article in The Campus (Middlebury’s student newspaper) the other day and I thought about your project: https://middleburycampus.com/article/student-group-fights-to-free-migrant-worker/ Keep up the great work!

  • Wow, Maisie. This mapping reveals how expansive your reflection on this topic is. Which of these areas do you think have the most potential for communities to engage with, and in which do you think you might have the most potential to effect change through this project? I’m having trouble reading your entire map, but does that statistic at the bottom center say that suicide is the 3rd most common cause of death in America? Is that for a particular segment of society? That’s a surprising figure, and one that should generate a sense of urgency regardless of whether it applies to America as a whole or to a certain population within America. I hope you can find a way to use that figure to help propel action.
    Yours,
    Dana

    • Yes, there is a bit cropped off at the bottom of the map I believe it is supposed to say “for those with mental illnesses.” The third most common cause of death among all Americans, I believe, is by stroke. As for engaging with those in the community, I’m still not sure I’m hoping that I can gain insights through further research.

  • Greta,
    I have to agree with Mr. Uhl you did a really good job on this map! Looks like you have a lot of ideas and thoughts about this story. It is also very aesthetically pleasing, I really like the color and the picture around the main idea. Even though you had just started digging into it you can tell that you have discovered a lot of information. I was wondering if you are going to keep pursuing this project, and going to present it at the retreat. Or are you going to go back to the issue of climate change in Vermont?
    -Petra

    • Thank you, Petra! I’m glad you liked it.
      I’ve decided that this is what I want to present at the retreat. Obviously, I have a lot of thoughts about it and a lot of directions I can take it in, so I want to at least try. I’m still interested in Vermont’s environment, but I’ve decided that this is the angle I want to look at it from. Hopefully other people are willing to join me!
      Greta

  • Tom McKenna
    8 months ago

    Hi Brennan,
    I see you have your mind map up on another topic, illegal immigration. I imagine migrant farm workers are the main source of illegal (and possibly legal?) immigrants into central Vermont. I’d be curious to know how they impact you, locally, and in particular how their legal or illegal status impacts you.

    Like Bob, I had a bit of a hard time reading this tiny image. I’m available as a thought partner if you want to “talk” through any of this in writing.

    Best,
    Tom

  • Anna,

    Your mind map shows me a couple of things. First, you’ve done a lot of deep thinking about the issue and, second, as the map clearly shows, dress code is a complex issue. For example, the ‘importance’ section shows all of the bigger cultural issues tied up with the dress code.

    I have a question for you related to the map. Looking at the ‘change’ section, I wonder which of the three areas you listed (legislation, schools, and society) would you be most interested in trying to affect change?

    I also notice that in addition to the ‘importance’ section you also have a ‘perspectives’ section which looks to be a collection of quotes you have heard or others have heard and shared with you. I’m wondering about how the two sections can be connected. Could you stitch together personal stories, which can be very powerful, with the important societal issues to create a strong case for change?

    Erik

    • Anna Buteau
      8 months ago

      Hi Erik! Thanks for your input! Oh gosh, I don’t know where I would want to focus my change. Spreading information to society is important, because that how I’ll gain widespread support. The schools are a huge part of that though, because that’s where the dress codes are a big deal. And petitioning for legislation to support inclusive and fair dress codes would create a more permanent solution. I think I would want to get information out to schools, gain support from students, and depending on how it was received, I would go to the state to establish laws.

      I would love to weave personal stories in with the information, as that would make a really strong case. I know a few people who could elaborate on the rape culture aspect, and some (including me) who could describe experiences with sexism, body shaming, and the various emotional effects of these things.

      Thank you for your advice, and I hope I can create a strong campaign with the resources I have.

  • Greta,

    First, let me say that although it makes it more complicated to work through, I love that you drew dotted lines to show connections between things grouped in different categories. It shows a deep level of analysis and understanding of the topic. (I love the color coding, too.)

    So my question for you is, I think, pretty similar to what you are being asked to do for Blog #7. That is, what’s the story here? Or more specifically, what lens are you thinking you will use to tell this story? Is the pipeline a story of environmental versus economic considerations? Does it illustrate the power of local action? Is this a story of local governance? Does the pipeline show the power, or problems, of compromise? There are lots of ways the story of the pipeline could be framed and I’m wondering how you are thinking of framing it.

    Erik

    • Erik,

      Thank you! My goal was that the combination of the dotted lines and the color coding would help me find the connections between different areas of the topics. I got to see that change and conflict are often linked, as well as conflict and importance. In other words, the conflict is over what we should do to change the pipeline, and that is where the importance of the story is.

      After making the mind map, I think there are two lenses I might look through to tell the story. These are the two real levels of conflict, impact, importance, AND change: a) environmental impact, b) public involvement. The environment is what I came into this topic really interested in, and it is certainly one of the hearts of the story. But the other heart is public involvement, and living in the small state of Vermont, I think that is crucial to almost any issue and this one in particular. So maybe I will frame it as a combination of the two:
      The natural gas pipeline demonstrates the importance of public involvement in protecting the environment and balancing the stakes of change.

      Thanks for your help, as always!
      Greta

  • Nigel,

    I enjoyed looking through your mind map. It showed me you’ve done some deep thinking and, given the specific names and events mentioned, you’ve done some in-depth research, too.

    As you continue, I wonder how you are thinking of looking at this topic. Will you focus solely on what is underway in Rutland or look at the issue more broadly across Vermont? Are you more focused on communities that take in refugees, or on the refugees and their experience? Just a few questions to ponder as you try to figure out what’s the story.

    Erik

  • Ceci Lewis
    8 months ago

    Brynna,
    I agree with Emily; you are well on your way. The information you have gathered so far is quite impressive. As I was reading the list of invasive plants, I was struck by finding honeysuckle on that list. I wonder how many people love having honeysuckle in their yard because it smells so heavenly when it is flowering. My husband is a master gardener and certified arborist and he always claims that one man’s weed is another man’s flower.
    How might you change some people’s minds? I also agree with Emily that education is important, but action is imperative. How might this knowledge be turned into action?
    I thoroughly enjoy watching your thinking process play out. Thank you for letting me share this experience with you.
    Ceci

    • Hi Ceci,

      The action I plan to take is still in the process of creation. The slide show I’ve just created (and posted) is really my first step toward taking action. Once I finish the process of turning this social issue into a documentary, I can start distributing it and spreading the word and hopefully provoke action from those who view it. Somewhere down the road I’d like to take action myself, possibly by finding new innovative ways removing aquatic and woodland invasive plant species that are less costly, joining an organization that is already taking action, or maybe a combination of different things. These steps that I’m taking right now are all for the purpose of finding my direction and gathering my sources, so after I come back from the retreat I can take off with this topic and get some serious work done. The further I research and the more people I talk to, the more progress I’ll be able to make later on. I’m very excited to take this idea and mold it into something that will create change in some way, shape, or form. Thank you for continuing to read my blog!

      -Brynna

  • Hi Brennan!

    It is interesting to see you exploring other possible topics, and I think that you have proven that it is useful to keep an open mind, to really figure out what topic interests you.

    I’m wondering if since the illegal immigration subject is so controversial, whether or not you are going to approach this subject with an opinion, and shape your project around that argument.

    Best,
    Lena

  • Hi Megan!

    I loved reading your mind map! It was organized in such a clear, and concise way that I could gain a lot of information surrounding your subject fairly quickly.

    I think that it is interesting how you narrowed your topic down into a relationship that I haven’t considered before. Are you planning on addressing specific issues in Vermont, or national concerns?

    Can’t wait to read more!
    Lena

  • What are your main takeaways from this exercise? Did you make any new conclusions, or discover something you hadn’t noticed before?
    Mind maps are most insightful when you learn something in the process of doing. It looks to me like you did some good thinking about the many facets and pieces of your topic. I challenge you to think to the future, and consider what the scope of your research is going to be. Can you cover all of these issues effectively? Are there one or two that captivate you the most?
    With all your passion for this topic, I think you can make something great happen with your work here. Keep on truckin’.

  • Mind maps are most insightful when you learn something in the process of doing. I can see, (and I’ve read your posts) so I know you’ve put a lot of thought into this topic. Did this exercise help you learn anything new? Did you make any new conclusions, or discover something you didn’t think of before?
    Your topic can be looked at from a wide range of perspectives, and can be a complex thing to think about. Have you put any thought into the scope of your work moving forward? Is there anything specific about this topic that you’re most passionate about? What can you see yourself doing to make a positive change?
    With all your passion, I think you can dig deeper make something great happen with your work here. Keep up the good work.

  • Hi Clara,
    Loved this write up! I particularly loved when you included the expectations of the new American parents. You said they didn’t expect the teachers to be more than just an instructor and that the parents expected they wouldn’t have a lot to do with their child’s education. You also said that the liaison’s job is to inform the parent about the process our education has and to guide them through it. A few questions that I have is what would happen without these liaisons? How do they impact the education and community involvement of the child and family? What do new American families think about these liaisons? Have they helped their child and if so what is their comparison between having a liaison and not having one? I think that you have a pretty sound plan of where you want to go with this topic and I can’t wait to see the outcome.

    Elsa

  • Hi Clara,
    This mind map is really good! I feel like it really shows your thoughts and what you know about your topic. I particularly liked that you included “add not replace”. I think this is an important concept that would help include these new American students into our communities and schools because I think it sends the message that the student isn’t just a person that is here to take on the role of someone else, but is their own individual and is someone other than that person. That they are another community member and should be welcomed. I think the colors and diagrams really made this mind map easy to read and something you want to look at. Keep up the good work!

    Elsa

    • Elsa,

      My apologies for taking so long to reply, I really appreciate your comment! What you mentioned, the “add not replace” aspect, is also one my favorite parts of this issue, mostly because I think it’s an important lens through which to view it. In many ways, I think that some VT communities are struggling with new and diverse members because they’re looking at it form one direction, when really it’s an incredible opportunity to learn something new about someone’s way of life. This is especially an important emphasis when it comes to students, because I think it could be really affirming for young New Americans or ELL students to know that they, too, have something to teach their peers. Thanks again for commenting!

      -Clara

  • Hi Justin,
    Wow, what a moving article. Even though our topics are pretty much identical, I feel like I really learn a lot from your blog posts, especially this one. I had never really connected the population of Vermont to migrant workers, but now that you mention it, I see how they are connected. I do have some questions about the impact of more immigrants. How do they contribute to large population benefits within our state? If they can’t send their children to schools, keeping the classroom numbers the same, how does that help our state’s issue of having trouble funding educations? And because the workers can’t leave the farms and take up other jobs because they’re undocumented, how does that impact the number of modern jobs in Vermont? Can’t wait to work with you as the year progresses.

    Elsa

    • Elsa,

      Thank you! I’m curious as to the answer of some of those questions as well. To begin with, I think that immigrants are essential to our population and the economy of our state. Without them, our state would be almost entirely retired folk who have second houses here. I believe we have the second highest average workforce age and the second highest median age in the country. Not many Vermonters stay in the state, a popular reason being the lack of jobs and job diversity. I agree that some of them can’t send their children to school and many of them can’t get a second job, but there are also many legal immigrants who enter Vermont and are a necessity to the well-being of our state.

      Hopefully that answered some questions and feel free to share your own opinions!
      Justin

  • Hi Rex,

    You seem to have a really good idea about the problem and importance, and a good idea about possible solutions. I know you probably haven’t been thinking about it much, but do you know where you are going to start? As in, what research are you going to do to start the process, who are you going to talk to? You obviously don’t have to decide now, but maybe coming up with some idea will help you with your future research.

    Good luck!
    Emily

    • Hi Emily,

      I’ve been just briefly thinking about talking to others and starting with my topic. So far from what I have researched and explored I might just dive in and try to find people who have dealt with mental health illnesses, only if they approve, and ask them about their story and what’s a good starting point to ease in from. I haven’t found anyone with the topics that I’m working with, but I do have some professionals to get insight also.

      Thanks
      Rex

  • Anna,
    I really like your mind map! It’s really artistic, and creative. I’m the one who should be jealous! 🙂

    I think you used all of your blog posts, and put it onto one piece of paper, which is really awesome, and convenient when using your resources. I also like all of your sub-categories as well. Me, personally, am more of a visual learner, so this would be really helpful for me to understand the very complex issue of the dress code. But, I’m also good at absorbing info from text too. So, I’m just saying, this is a good tool to use to aid visual learners more efficiently.

    This mind map is truly amazing. It’s well organized and thoughtful and creative. I would definitely give it an A+! Keep up the good work!

    Until next time,
    -Bryce

  • Hey Zachariah,
    Wow! This is awesome. I agree with Anna; it’s really organized with the color coding. Plus, you have a good bit of information to work with. Good job!

    I also agree with Anna on this one as well, but I would like to see more of the Importance branch. I think that is one of the biggest, if not the biggest thing you need to tell people to get them to get on board with you. If people don’t know why, they are less likely to help with your cause.

    I know there is only so much you can do on a mind map, and I’m saying this for future reference, but I think it will help to be more specific on how your going to make change. How are you going to get people to stop using pesticides? How are you going to tie this in with education? Don’t worry! This happened to me too.

    I can’t wait to see the remarkable things you will do with this topic. Until next time!
    -Bryce

  • Maddie,
    Hi, I’m Greta, and I’m a junior at Middlebury Union High School. Your mind map popped out at me while I was scrolling through the blog! It is incredibly organized and in a really unique way. I agree with Emily that it really gives us an insight into your brain! Even though you said you were struggling, I think it turned out really well and you have a lot to work with now.
    ~Greta

    • Hi Greta,
      Thank you so much for your comment, I really appreciate what you had to say.
      I took a look at your mind map/blog post as well and was super interested in the way you organized your map. I think that your style of organizing your thoughts is one that I could learn a lot from, I like that your mind map shows that you have a lot of ideas, and that you know what to do with them.
      – Maddie

  • Erin,
    Nice job! I noticed right away that your first split leads you to two possible ways to go at this option: Human connection (“youth connecting with youth”) or problem solving (“awareness or change of issues”). Both have elements of hearing different perspectives, learning about other cultures, and having meaningful conversations. But one focuses on individual connection, while the other focuses on broader problem solving. I think that if you are trying to focus your topic, choosing one of these angles to look at it would be a good way to go. Your mind map does often blend the two, and you could cover both small and large scales in your project. But I wonder, which is more important to you? What do you want to accomplish? Do you want to help kids have a better understanding of other cultures and have new connections, or do you want to use those connections to create some kind of change?
    Good luck on your next post!
    Greta

  • Petra,
    Really nice work on your mind map! It was detailed and gave me a good insight into your thoughts on the issue–I hope it is helping you work through them, too.
    I noticed that you talked a lot about kids and youth in the mind map. That made me wonder: maybe you could focus in this incredibly broad but important topic by focusing on how opioids are affecting kids and teenagers in particular. I also saw that you basically had a two-way split in the “perspectives” portion: people who have been or are addicted, and people who are trying to help. Which side do you want to bring to light in your project? Lastly, I also saw how your “change” section was divided into three parts, but it really could be two: treatment, then prevention and education which you showed as strongly linked. Which of those two is your end goal for change? I think that’s a good question to figure out so that you know which direction to take your project in.
    Greta 😀

  • Clara,

    This mind map is very well designed and clearly shows your deep understanding of the issue at hand! I noticed that you mentioned, “benefit to community.” I’m curious as to what you mean when you say this, and how you are hoping the new American will do so. I can think of ways how they can benefit the community with a different background and diversity, but I’m curious what your ideas are.

    Keep up the great work!
    Justin

    • Justin,

      Thanks for commenting! Sorry I’ve taken so long to reply. I think your ideas about what I define as “benefit to community” are pretty similar to mine…I believe that in our rapidly globalizing society, understanding how to interact with people with different experiences is essential, but unfortunately many Vermont students (and even communities in general) have never had the chance to interact with people culturally unlike themselves on a meaningful level. There is a lot of tension around this issue currently, but I think the discussions that open in small communities when they are joined by new people are worthwhile, and it is important, especially for young people, to have the skills and mindset to interact with all people.

      I look forward to talking more!
      Clara

  • Hi Brennan!

    I really loved the way you set up your mind map. I also noticed that you changed your topic to illegal immigrants. I think it is really cool that you are exploring topics and trying new things. Do you think that you are going to stick with this topic, or are you thinking of any others?

    Talk to you soon,
    Megan

  • Hey Elsa,

    I like your mind map! I tried the link but it said I was unable to view it, so I tried my best to read from your featured photo. I noticed that one of the conflicts you mentioned was their unfortunate lifestyle. I agree with many of the things you mentioned and that they often don’t live a very leisurely life but I’m curious, is there some way to correct this? The workers who have to come here to make less than minimum wage and live in horrible housing conditions aren’t often able to make the decision to leave. This being said, I agree that they should be treated better but is there a potential solution to this problem?

    I look forward to hearing your pitch and comparing ideas in a couple of weeks!
    Justin

    • Hi Justin,
      I fixed the link, so you should be able to read it now (hopefully). I have had a similar question to yours for a while now and I’ve pondered yours too. I think there is a solution, there always is, but whether that solution is something I can do, I don’t know. To fix the problem of living situations we would have to start at the root and that is that their aren’t legal citizens, making it hard on the farmers to decide what to do with them. But it also makes it easy for farmers to get away with treating them without fairness. We would have to create a system that would allow these immigrants to get the same rights and privileges as legal citizens that only gives these rights to the people who deserve it and really need it. We would then have to get it to pass through the government and I don’t think that’s really possible for an eight grader to do, because someone would have already done it. I know that sounds really negative, but I’m just trying to think realistically. I definitely think that there are changes we can make, smaller ones, but I don’t know if that is one of them.

      I’m also excited to hear your pitch in about a week,
      Elsa

  • Hi Lena!

    One thing that caught my eye was the five freedoms. I thought that was really cool. Where did you get that information? If it was from a website, do you have any tips for finding good websites, which is something I struggle with?

    • Hi Megan!

      The “Five Freedoms” concept is really popular in Europe, in which various officials use it to gauge what’s considered animal abuse. This model has been really influential in making Europe so humane.

      Resource wise, animal cruelty has been surprisingly easy to research. There are many animal rights advocates that provide a ton of information, and various resources. For your subject, I can see how it might be difficult to find reliable assets. I might start by looking for Women’s Rights Advocacy organizations, and working from there.

      Thanks for the response!
      Lena

  • Emily,

    Great job putting your ideas together for your presentation! As I was reviewing your slides, and the narrative, I was looking for the “stakes” and why your “inquiry” is not only interesting but important. I wonder how you could make the first paragraph (or first slide) just focus on why your topic and its importance? As you prepare for your three minute presentation I wonder how you might get your audience’s attention and buy-in? I did look for statistics and “stories” as ways to engage your audience and present the importance of your topic. I’m sure there are better examples of what could be used to create an experience during your presentation, but feel free to look through the links below.

    Casey

    https://www.edutopia.org/autism-school-special-needs
    http://educationnext.org/autismandtheinclusionmandate/
    https://www.autismspeaks.org/science/science-news/new-government-survey-pegs-autism-prevalence-1-45

    • Casey,

      Thanks so much for your feedback. It’s really helpful to get someone else’s perspective on a presentation before I present it. I will be sure to take your advice in clearly stating my topic, and I’ll look into those resources as soon as I can.

      Thanks!
      Emily

  • Sidney,

    Nice work picking a topic for your presentation! It seems like a huge decision to find a single topic to focus on, when as you noted, there is a ton out there to speak about. As I was reading your “pitch” I found myself thinking about “the” issue. Are you exploring drug use, drug trafficking, or both? Certainly they are connected, but for the presentation I wonder if you should present the case of a single issue. You describe aspects of both using and selling in the writing of your pitch.

    As you move to prepare your slides, and your three minute narrative, I wonder how you can present the “stakes” and why your “inquiry” is not only interesting but important. As you prepare for your three minute presentation I wonder how you might get your audience’s attention and buy-in? I did look for statistics and “stories” as ways to engage your audience and present the importance of your topic. Feel free to use any of the links below if they are useful. There is a short video and an NPR story with only audio. Often, when presenting a “case” listening or seeing in order to evoke emotion can help you tell the importance of your issue.

    Casey

    http://www.businessinsider.com/why-vermont-has-a-drug-problem-2013-10
    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/heroin-epidemic-hits-vermont-community-hard/
    http://www.npr.org/2016/01/30/463952989/tragedy-moves-a-community-to-combat-drug-addiction
    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/02/vermont-heroin-capital-of-america-103280
    https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/state_profile_-_vermont_0.pdf

  • Bill Rich
    8 months ago

    Ben,

    Nice job laying out some more of your thinking. The three outcomes you describe in your final paragraph are biggies. One of the challenges of this course is thinking big, while also thinking on a scale that is do-able in a year. Most students end up needing to refine their outcomes until they are specific and doable. At first this is hard, but as students learn a lot more about what’s going on related to their story, it becomes more clear where they can lean in and make a difference.

    For example, here in Vermont (home of John Dewey, an educator worth looking into!), there are large scale changes underway. It might be that, as you learn more about what’s happening locally, you decide to target an audience that needs help understanding: How are schools making these changes? How should they be making these changes? How can parents and learners engage more actively in shaping how this plays out in Vermont?

    One way that schools are often categorized: are they traditional or progressive? Here is a site (http://www.wingraschool.org/who/progressive.htm) that compares the two. Give it a look and see how it fits in the frame you’ve been developing.

    Keep up the good work.

    Bill Rich

  • Bill Rich
    8 months ago

    Rex,

    Thanks for sharing theses additional resources / ideas, though I’m wondering where the slides are that this assignment asked you to make, to go along with your description?

    Thanks,

    Bill Rich

    • Hi Bill,

      Sorry I didn’t get back sooner. I was trying to create the presentation and I came across the problem of people not being able to view, but I trouble shot with some of my peers from school. I put the presentation link in my #8Refining Mental Health post which is up.

      -Rex

  • Hi Grace,

    This is a wonderful mind map. It gives one a visual snapshot of the topic and its intricacies. It also highlights the challenges one faces when dealing with such an important topic. A good map will deliver you to your desired destination. Your map will help you choose your destination and the way to get there. Nicely done!

    Bill

  • Erin,
    Your mind map is great! I love how clear it is to understand! One thing that I noticed was how there are many benefits to intercultural communication. Is there any disadvantages to it? I also agree with what Greta said there are two main parts about your issue. Connecting kids from different parts of the world, and talking about the bigger issues facing our world with youth. Do you think you are going to peruse the big over arching topic? Or one of the smaller sub topics? Like I mention in earlier comments I think your topic is fascinating and can’t wait to hear more about it. I was wondering what inspired you to peruse this topic?
    Can’t wait to read more!
    Petra

  • Hi Nigel,
    I noticed that on the branch of refugees you had what looked like specific names? I wasn’t sure if that is what these were so I am just clarifying and wondering if this is true. I thought your perspectives branch was very interesting, especially in the break down of the different types of perspectives you are considering and I can’t wait to hear more about this. You have lots of cool thoughts on your topic and I can’t wait to see more!
    Thanks for the thoughtful mind map,
    Grace

  • Hi Theo,
    The break-down of your mind map was very helpful and it is really cool to see how your focus has shifted as you have been studying your topic. I think the different colors, shapes, symbols and visuals really help accent and convey your topic and thoughts. I also really like how you look at more broad, nationwide examples of gender inequality but then pull it back to the focus of Vermont. Thank you for a great mind map Theo!
    -Grace

  • Bob Uhl
    8 months ago

    Lena,

    It’s been a delight watching you build a case around your topic for the past month-and-a-half. In keeping with the directions for this post, you’ve provided a solid basis for a pitch that I look forward to hearing at our first overnight! I’m seeing a well-organized synthesis of your previous entries, and your passion for this issue really shines through. On top of that, your argument appeals both to emotions and reason. Most of all, I love your delivery of the line “hidden in a state that is inaccurately famous for it’s humane farming industry.” You frame your story here as a corrective to a popular but misleading narrative. Well done!

    • Mr. Uhl,

      Thank you for the encouragement! It has definitely been interesting to learn how to develop, and refine a general subject, into something that genuinely interests me. I also am curious to see the presentations at the retreat, and what subjects people express interest in.

      I’m excited to continue working on my pitch!

      Best,
      Lena

  • Bob Uhl
    8 months ago

    Hi Megan,

    I can relate to your feeling, expressed in your opening line, about having a hard time explaining a topic because it feels so obvious. Sometimes the simplest things can be the most difficult to put into words!

    In thinking about your pitch, I wonder if there is a story or anecdote you might be familiar with that could help capture the audience’s attention. For example, do you know, personally, a mother who has had to choose childcare over working a job, or have you encountered a story like that anywhere? Leading with a hook like this could help draw in your listeners.

    PS: You may want to check on your link; instead of taking me to a presentation, it took me to a Google image search results page!

  • Bob Uhl
    8 months ago

    Hi Bryce,

    This post nicely combines much of the information you’ve gathered over the past several weeks into an effective pitch. Your passion for your topic is clear (“We can and will do it!”), and I like that you’ve incorporated some rhetorical flourishes into your writing such as the repetition of “I would rather” to close the last paragraph. Also, I appreciate your logical organization, dividing your writing into sections corresponding to the three questions. I look forward to hearing your pitch at our first overnight! See you there!

    • Mr. Uhl,
      Thank you. My pitch is supposed to be motivational for my peers, so I tried to make it as motivational as possible by using phrases like, “We can and will do it!”. I will try my best at the retreat. Again, thank you! Until next time!

      -Bryce

  • Bob Uhl
    8 months ago

    Oh, one more thing! When you can, Lena, would you change the share settings for your slides so that anyone with the link can view it? As of now I’m unable to access it. Thanks!

  • Nate Archambault
    8 months ago

    Megan,

    As a dad who has sturuggled, briefly, to find child care for my daughter when my wife and I both went back to work after her birth, I know this is a struggle for many Vermonters. Have you thought about looking at regulations placed on registered home child care facilities as a reason that some are closing?

    This is a great map.

  • Nate Archambault
    8 months ago

    Hi Elsa,

    Your map certainly looks comprehensive! I wasn’t able to view it, though. I’d love to see it if the link works again.

  • Hi Nigel,

    I like your Mind Map!

    It’s clear to me that you’ve done some pretty deep thinking about this topic. I like how you show the different perspectives very clearly here. I also like how you include aspects of this issue that are present in our entire country, not just Vermont.

    Great work,
    I look forward to reading more!

    Ella

  • Nate Archambault
    8 months ago

    Hi Kiera,

    I like where your mind map is going. Have you thought about narrowing your focus to nutrition in certain areas or with certain groups? In schools? Early childhood? Nutrition for the elderly? There are many different directions to go, with many resources at your fingertips. Please let me know if I can help you in narrowing your scope to a specific group or situation. Then you can start focusing on individuals and the stories that they have to tell. That is where the best learning will happen.

    • Thanks! I think what I’m going to do about narrowing my topic is to pitch my topic first, so like encompass everything about my topic I’m most interested in, and then state that nutrition can be linked to all sorts of things. I feel like I should do that because I know that we’re going to work in groups towards a single topic and since no one has nutrition as a topic I don’t know if I should pitch “nutrition” in a way that opens it up for becoming apart of a group…?

  • This is awesome, Lena!

    I loved reading your thoughtful, well planned out mind map. It seems that every week you are bringing something new to your investigation of this issue.

    Well done!

    Ella

  • Nate Archambault
    8 months ago

    Ben,

    It’s clear from your map that you have thought of a number of different issues and complexities that arise in regard to your topic. It’s true that education and how we learn best has long been a debate over centuries of study.

    Are you able to articulate how you learn best? is it the same for all situations or subjects? How did you come to realize this was your learning style? I know that I struggle with these questions when I think about what’s best for my own students. What change, if any, would you like to see in education?

  • Awesome, Clara! I’m going to continue to try to get you to think about a narrower focus. For instance, your general topic is great, and it will be extremely important to get this wide angle. However, after you introduce and examine the problem at large, we’ll want to get to the nitty gritty of what, exactly, you’d like to change. Education is always a good thing; that is to say, the fact that you want to educate the state on this problem is commendable. However, let’s try to think beyond just education/information and focus more on change. What, specifically, would you and could you change in this issue? I’ve been biased in my blog responses to you: I want you to focus on curriculum, even if it’s just at one school. A truly global, international perspective in Humanities courses could be fun to push and exciting to explore.

    Looking forward to talking more about this at our retreat!

    • I really appreciate the feedback, and I think you’re right: I need to be clearer about my actual goal. Raising awareness is an aspect of it, and an important one, but it’s more of a step in the right direction than a definitive goal. I like the idea of changing curricula, but I guess I don’t quite know yet what that will look like, mostly because I don’t know which specific curricula is causing the problem. I think I might be pushing for more cultural integration in schools: New Americans and English Language Learners don’t just assimilate into American culture and language, they teach Vermont students about their culture and experience. This could change, but right now pushing for that seems like a good goal…what do you think? (Also, is that a part of curricula or simply school structure?)

      Thanks for making me think more about this!

  • Courtney Krahn
    8 months ago

    Hi Grace,
    I think you have a convincing pitch, and others will certainly recognize the importance of your issue. From the poking around I’ve done on our collective blog site, I see several other students are exploring issues that dovetail with mental health.

    I know I’ve said this before, but I love the narrow focus of this idea: “Additionally, people need to be educated on the preferable vocabulary because many do not know what is correct or favored so they simply stumble around trying to phrase their sentence which may cause them and those they are speaking with to feel uncomfortable or awkward.” I think even just this step is a lens for seeking tangible change.

    I just requested access to see your slides, and I’d love to check those out before the overnight (for which I am getting quite excited!).

    Take care, and I’ll see you soon.
    All the Best,
    Courtney

  • Courtney Krahn
    8 months ago

    Hi Nathan,

    This is great. I’ve requested access to see your slides, which I’d love to peruse before the overnight (can I be granted permission for a sneak-preview?)

    You’ve stayed true to your topic throughout this blogging process. I’m wondering which other students’ blogs you see your own topic possibly dove-tailing with? I have found a couple as I’ve poked around our collective blog space.

    I challenge you to continue thinking about the logistics of your topic and ways to possibly narrow down your thinking in terms of exactly what types of biases you want to address and what tangible skills or knowledge you would like to pass on to teachers, students and the community.

    Looking forward to seeing you soon, Nathan!
    All the Best,
    Courtney

  • Thank you so much for the thoughts on my post. I have made the slides accessible to everyone who would like to view them now so I hope that works! Let me know if it doesn’t. I am looking forward to seeing everyone again on the overnight.
    Thank you so much,
    Grace

  • Great post, Lena!

    You seem so, so passionate about this issue which is awesome! While reading this, I began to wonder why owners of these animals are mistreating them in the first place. I understand how farmers who don’t have a lot of money might lack resources to make their practices more humane, but why are farmers acting cruel towards animals and “downing a calf 11 times” when they have no reason to? You may be as unclear on this as I am, it’s just something to think about.

    Also, my aunt works at a humane society in Mass. and is extremely knowledgeable about animal rights. She focuses more on domestic animals than farm animals, but I could put you in touch with her if you’d like.

    Great work!!

    Ella

    • Hi Ella!

      Thanks for the response! I am also unclear on why animal abuse occurs, but I definitely don’t want to frame my presentation with farmers as the “bad guys”.

      It would be great to talk to your Aunt! I would definitely be curious to see what she has to say about abuse on farms!

      Thanks!
      Lena

  • Hi Nigel-

    I love how clearly organized your work is. It is easy to read and well written.

    Let me say first that the picture you chose to accompany your blog is VERY powerful. It drew me right in and even began to argue your point without you saying anything (a picture is worth 1000 words). I also loved the quote: “You have to understand that no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land”. This is emotional and powerful stuff that more people need to hear.

    Great work, I look forward to seeing where this goes!

    Ella

  • Nathan, I’ve also requested permission to see your slides – I’d enjoy the chance to give you some feedback on your presentation plans if you’d like.

    In your response to question #2 above, you’ve demonstrated a keen awareness of one of the potential obstacles to your proposal for teacher and student bias training. If you haven’t already, I would suggest undertaking a bit of research to learn more about the issues such people might have with the conversations that you think should be included in anti-bias educational programming. The more informed you are about opposition to your planned action, the better prepared you will be to develop counter-arguments or to define your proposal in a way that it can gain broader support.

    Best wishes for the upcoming retreat – I’ll be eager to hear how your presentation went!
    Dana

  • Colleen Kiley
    8 months ago

    Hi Keira,

    Cool mind map! It will be interesting to see what sort of data you gather from the various perspectives or if you will find some sort of government data around nutrition. Like Nate said, it seems like you have wide and varied interests and I can’t wait to see how you narrow this down.

    Best of luck,
    Colleen

    • Thank you 😀
      Narrowing it down shouldn’t be too difficult, it’s just what to narrow it down for and why that’ll be a trying task.

  • Dianne Baroz
    8 months ago

    Clara,
    You have an exciting topic and the making of a really great pitch. You know a lot about your issue and now you need to think about what you would really want to see changed. Here’s my quick recap of how I read your pitch: Your focus is Equity in Vermont Education. You therefore believe that the ELL students are not being treated equally and are being denied the same level of skills as a Vermont student. (How?) The barrier is that they speak a different language and must learn English first. There are some towns that provide support for ELL students and their families, but there have been reports of prejudice. You would like to raise awareness and the importance of diversity. You would also like to speak to those ELL students who have assimilated in the past and gather their experiences in public education. I think that is where the ‘meat’ of your story lies. One angle might be to think about a reflective practice or review of ELL integration and lessons to be learned. Are those school communities ready for the next wave of refugees entering the Vermont school system? Just some thoughts as you prepare for your next overnight. Good luck—I know that you’ll do great!
    Best,
    Dianne

    • Dianne,

      I think you’re definitely right that I need to refine and narrow my pitch. I also think you make a good point that I don’t really provide examples/evidence for the claims of injustice, and I actually think that that will be something that is proven (or at least shown) through interviews and dialogues as part of the process…it’s one of those issues that is easy to see but hard to qualify (I read that about racism somewhere and it’s really stuck with me). Part of that interview/learning process might be, as you said, gathering information about first efforts to integrate have gone and compiling a resource of, as you put it, “lessons to be learned.”

      Thank you, you’ve given me a lot to consider!

  • Anna Buteau
    8 months ago

    Hey Bryce, this is a really good pitch! You used motivational language and illustrated the high stakes, so as listeners, we realize that this situation needs to change. I also like how you organize the post according to the key points, so it’s really easy to understand. If you plan to deliver this exact text as a speech, I would try reading it aloud. I think that will help with the flow of it. I would also see if I could add some anecdote, personal or otherwise, to hook your audience and ground us in the reality of the situation.

    I think you’re going to succeed in gaining a group and making progress on your topic. Good luck!

    • Anna,
      Thank you for thinking it was good. I appreciate it. Since this post for this week is revising, I think I will read it aloud, so I can identify mistakes, fix them, and fix parts where they don’t flow as well. I will try my best to make this as motivational and drawing to our peers as I can. Until next time!

      -Bryce

  • Anna Buteau
    8 months ago

    Hey Zachariah, thanks for an informative and convincing pitch! You make this really persuasive with specific statistics, as well as a look at the big picture. You demonstrate this topic’s importance and stakes effectively. I also like your slideshow – the graphics are great and contribute to understanding and enjoyment of the presentation. If I were you, I would add a few sentences to hook the reader at the beginning, perhaps an anecdote or a look at what the future would be like without bees.

    All in all, this is an excellent job and I hope you get the support you need with this really important topic!

  • Greta,

    First, having read your previous blog posts, I’m already kind of hooked on this topic. It’s such an interesting local case study on how complicated and messy it can be to try and balance environmental and economic concerns. For me, the complexity and the messiness of the issue is the compelling piece. I’m not as interested in choosing sides or picking a winner here as much as understanding the process and learning from it. My impression in reading your pitch is that, in the end, you tend to sympathize more with those opposing the pipeline. (No problem there, I’m on that side as well.) However, for the purposes of this project do you want to look at the issue through that lens, or stay more neutral in presenting the story, but then use it to instruct those fighting climate change on how better to fight battles going forward. In other words, tell the story in a neutral tone and then lay out lessons learned that can be applied (hopefully, with more success) in the future, like when the final stage to Rutland gets underway. For me, it would be compelling to hear a dispassionate retelling of the story and then have some takeaways that could be useful for future conflicts between economics and the environment and between governmental processes and public opinion.

    A couple other notes on your pitch; first, wasn’t there someone who stayed in a tree for a few weeks in order to prevent pipeline construction. If so, that might make for a compelling vignette to start off your pitch. Also, I think your section on public opinion lacks some details. As I understand it, Vermont Gas sought and got approval from state government, the Public Service Board, and local town selectboards to build the pipeline. That might lead one to conclude that through their representatives, the people did have a say, but that the decisions made by representatives are not approved of by everyone. This ties back to the messiness that, for me, makes this story compelling. Did the process fail? Is it flawed? Do the protesters have a right to contest the decisions?

    It’s a lot of questions for you, but that’s a good thing. It means you have a compelling story that you’ve got me interested in learning more about.

    Erik

    • Erik,

      THANK YOU for this detailed response! I’m glad you’re hooked and I hope other people are too (I certainly am).

      Yes, I am leaning towards the side opposed to the pipeline, but I definitely want to present an objective stance of both sides like you said! I think it’s so important to present a fair view of both sides before stating your opinion, especially as someone who as grown up with parents who do really spin the stories they tell me. Even though I agree with them on pretty much every political or social issue, I would have preferred to get all the facts and then come to those opinions on my own. That’s my goal here, and I’ll revise my pitch accordingly!

      Thanks for your other suggestions, too. I do think I can make my pitch more detailed, especially on the public opinion section. Do you think I can do that while still keeping my pitch concise and interesting? That’s another broader question about the pitch I have: is it too long/too short/just right, and is it compelling enough? i.e. would you be hooked if you hadn’t read the other posts?

      Greta

      • Greta,

        If you incorporate some of the information that both Shel and I shared with you, that should make the sections on public opinion and the Vermont Gas perspective more detailed and equivalent to what you already have from the perspective of those opposed. It shouldn’t add a lot more to the length because I imagine you would be replacing or revising some sections.

        I also think the length is about right, though it’s a bit hard to judge a pitch by reading it on the screen. What I would say is if you have a lot of slides that need explanation it may run a bit long. As long as the slides are images or bullet points that reinforce your pitch, you should be in good shape. If you are stopping to explain slides, it will likely be too long.

        Erik

  • Anna,

    I think as you refine your pitch, I’d like to see you continue to work on better connecting the larger issue of sexual assault to the dress code. The pitch starts with a macro look of sexual assault but then zooms in really fast to dress code in Vermont schools. The same thing happens in reverse at the end of the pitch. Can you work to strengthen the connections and lengthen the transitions from sexual assault to dress code and then back again? Are there some pieces of specific evidence you can include in your pitch to show the link between the two?

    The dress code is a intriguing topic, but if you can directly link it in your pitch to the larger issues you mention it will make the pitch that much more compelling.

    Erik

  • Emily Rinkema
    8 months ago

    Hi Maddie,

    Your ideas are still broad, as you wrote, but I actually think you are getting closer to a story. When I look back at your posts and your mind map and think of the conversations we’ve had, I see a few distinct possibilities that seem to be of most interest to you. The first is the tension between parents and students when thinking about ed reform–I could imagine an amazing “story” told through interviews of both parents and students, trying to get at the heart of their hopes and concerns. The second could be the story of Nexus, one which is being written as we type! In both cases, I’d love to see you tie in your interest in the brain and learning.

    I’d suggest trying to commit to something narrow like this for your pitch, because if you come to the weekend unsure of your focus, I’m afraid your ideas might get lost. Challenge yourself to spend a few solid days figuring out if one of the above feels right. I’d love to chat about it if you want to hunt me down at school!

    I’m excited to see what you choose to focus in on–that’s where the actual change is going to begin!

    Emily

  • Emily Rinkema
    8 months ago

    Wow, Brynna! What a great post. Don’t apologize for how long it is–it was so passionate and well-organized, and I was with you the whole time. Your passion is contagious, and some of your analysis was so beautifully written. One of my favorite passages: “I wish we could live in a world where there were beautiful Tatarian Honeysuckle and Yellow Floating Heart blooming all around us in Vermont, seemlessly blending with our ecosystems. But unfortunately as lovely as some invasive plants appear to be, and as insignificant and innocent as they seem, they create an imbalance that will directly affect the organisms in that ecosystem, which will indirectly affect us through a chain of different changes in that particular ecosystem.” This is just great. So vivid and engaging.

    Your slide show is excellent–so informative; but I think your gut is right to cut it some. You won’t have much time, and if you present too much information, you could lose the audience. The puzzle metaphor works really well! That might be something to begin with? Or even beginning with a picture of Honeysuckle or Floating Heart and then sharing the above quote…leading so nicely into the puzzle metaphor?

    I’m so impressed with your work, Brynna. I can’t wait to see where you go with this!

    Emily

    • Hi Emily,

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment! I was wondering if you had any opinions on which specific slides or ideas I should cut back on in the slide show. While looking it over today it was hard for me to determine what information wasn’t a necessary. My issue is that I want this topic to make sense to the entire audience by providing context and examples, however I don’t want to branch away from the big idea, which is reclaiming biodiversity in Vermont’s ecosystems. Thanks and let me know what you think.

      – Brynna

  • Maisie, while I wholeheartedly agree that raising awareness about issues facing those with mental health problems is a worthwhile endeavor in its own right, I wonder if you might garner more interest from your peers in the TED-style presentations you’ll be giving if you can additionally define an action – a specific area of change that might help solve the problems you’ve identified. People are generally most motivated to join a cause if they feel there’s real potential to act and produce change. So if you were to introduce a possible way to, perhaps, help integrate into the community those who don’t benefit from a strong social network, you might generate a more receptive, engaged audience. I would say that it is a smaller-scale, incremental solution that is seen as most achievable. And if people believe results are obtainable, they’ll be more likely to invest their own resources in that solution.

    Hope you enjoy the retreat. I’ll be eager to learn what you thought of the presentations!
    Dana

  • andrea lunsford
    8 months ago

    Dear Anna: Brava! I think you’ve made a much stronger connection here between dress codes and violence — good work. I especially like your focus on equity — that is on gender neutral dress codes. I would suggest stressing that a bit earlier than you do. And one other suggestion: should you introduce the topic of dress codes right up front? When I read this draft, I think that you are going to be talking about rape prevention and while you do connect the two, you need to let your readers/listeners know where you are headed early on.

    Good luck with the presentation: wish I could be there to see and hear it!

    Andrea

    • Thank you for your suggestions! I will definitely take these into consideration while I revise!

  • andrea lunsford
    8 months ago

    I say go for it! I hope very much that you’ll get an enthusiastic and good response.

  • Shel Sax
    8 months ago

    Hi Greta,
    I, too, very much like the way that you’ve framed your pitch. I think you bring up several issues of import. The one that came to my mind is the apparent lack of a voice of local communities in the pipeline process – it being determined more at the state and state agency level.
    Here’s a link to ‘Regulation of Interstate and Intrastate Gas and Hazardous Liquids’ from the Conference on State Legislatures:

    (http://www.ncsl.org/research/energy/state-gas-pipelines-federal-and-state-responsibili.aspx).

    One of the dilemmas here is how to give the local citizenry a voice and at the same time develop a state-wide (or even country-wide) framework to ensure safety, public health and the delivery of liquid natural gas. If every town and locality could come up with their own guidelines and regulations, it would likely be a patchwork of incoherent regulations and each town would have effective veto power over any project. So, there is an interesting trade-off here.

    As for the pipeline itself, it is easy to say I want to protect the earth and am against the pipeline. People need energy and in northern climes, it needs to be reliable, easily stored and accessible. Many of the renewables (hydro, wind, solar) have storage and delivery issues, at least until better technology improves batteries and storage technologies. So, how do we supply needed energy with the least environmental damage? I think that’s something you’ll need to be able to answer to folks arguing in favor of the pipeline.

    Here’s a useful appendix to the Dept. of Energy’s Natural Gas Infrastructure report.
    http://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2015/06/f22/Appendix%20B-%20Natural%20Gas_1.pdf
    That provides a lot of summary information about natural gas, pipelines and their role in meeting the energy needs of the country. Of particular relevance to your work:

    “Climate and Environmental Implications. The growth in gas-fired power generation can reduce carbon dioxide and criteria pollutant emissions from power generation. Methane emissions contributed to roughly 10 percent of gross greenhouse gas emissions (on a carbon dioxide-equivalent basis) from U.S. anthropogenic Appendix B: Natural Gas Page | 2 sources; nearly one-quarter of which (or 2.5 percent of total U.S. carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions) were emitted by natural gas systems.a More than two-thirds of those natural gas-related emissions of methane emissions from natural gas systems are from natural gas transmission, storage, processing, and distribution”

    In any case, I’m impressed with the way that you started from a very dispersed set of ideas for a project and then honed in on the pipeline, and the energy and thoughtfulness with which you’re approaching the issue. Good luck with your pitch!
    Shel

  • Shel,

    You bring up a fantastic point with the regulations and protocols, one that I hadn’t thought of enough. It’s true that we need a concrete and constant way of approving projects such as pipelines, and I’ve enjoyed looking through the documents you sent in order to see what those currently are. I guess I need to define what I mean by “public involvement” and HOW I really hope the people get a voice. It’s not as simple as I had thought, and not as one-sided. In fact, I often side the opposite way when it comes to renewable energy. All the issues about people wanting to control whether they get solar panels or wind in their area make me annoyed, because I have a narrow lens of seeing renewable energy as inherently good, so I think it should go up. But really, it’s very similar to the pipeline, and some people see the pipeline the way I see solar: it has an environmental benefit AND an economic benefit, so of course it should go up, no matter what other people say. Now I see that it’s not so concrete. Conversely, some people see solar the way I see the pipeline: it has some benefits, but overall it’s going to involve a lot of construction and degrade the natural environment and private land, so it should be prevented. So why am I/why are others in favor of one but not the other? WOW this is complicated and fascinating.

    Anyways, maybe what I want in terms of change in public voice (and what the non-profits want? I don’t know) is not for the every single town to have its own system, but for the state government and select boards to reflect their/the people’s opinion. How do we make that happen? I don’t really know, so that’s a question to drive me.

    And that ties into your point about finding the best energy solution. Not only do these all have environmental downsides (although I personally believe 100% that wind and solar are the best sources of energy for our future, not quite so much with hydro), they all are also opposed by the public in some form. I just remembered something one of my parents said way back in the initial interviews: no matter what source of energy anybody comes up with, somebody will be opposed to it. So what is best environmentally, and what is best popularly? And where is the intersection between the two/how much does one determine the other?

    Thank you for inspiring all this higher thinking, and reading my responses which have increasingly become mini blog posts! Actually, if you do read this one, would you mind telling me which areas of my thinking you think have promise and/or should be included in my pitch? Thanks again!

    Greta

  • Maddie,

    I am enthusiastic about your topic. I think the Nexus program is a big step in the right direction to personalize learning while balancing responsibility, reflection, and common learning goals (or proficiencies). On some level, you could be a rep for CVU and Nexus as you tell your story, but it might be hard because you’re in the middle of writing that story by being in the class. It could be interesting to consider how Nexus was generated. Who were some of the first students to perhaps morph what used to be simply called independent studies into what Nexus hopes to be? Could you reach out to them to interview them? Can you interview your principal and perhaps the previous CVU principal, too?

    It will be great to figure out where the most creative and innovative programs for secondary students are in the state (and maybe neighboring states). Also, who are those adult change makers pushing the envelope who would be wonderful people to interview?

    This is exciting stuff.

    -Tim

  • This cultural landslide toward equity for people of all different gender identities is the story of the decade if not the last half-century. The news that broke yesterday, that the Supreme Court will take up the lower court cases involving gender identity as it pertains to bathroom use is an example of this making its way to the highest decision makers in our land: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/29/us/politics/supreme-court-to-rule-in-transgender-access-case.html

    I’m still waiting to hear from you, and see, a 300 word (or so) letter to principals to offer to be a conversation starter for their faculty. What’s in it for them? Why should they make time and what are the stakes. What can you clearly and concisely offer?

    Good luck and we plan to have a team of adults sit down specifically with you and Eva during our overnight retreat to really push you two forward in concrete and meaningful ways.

    -Tim

  • Maisie, I love Dana’s point about considering Actionable Steps here. It makes things concrete. They might be fuzzy and they might change, but let’s consider what they could be. Inciting a cultural shift and call to arms to provide the resources to address the growing mental health needs of all of us is paramount. From schools to ERs to not having enough clinicians, time and time again different entities don’t have enough resources (space, trained people, money, etc) and often times the resources that we do have access to are stigmatized. Talk about a cultural revolution to bring mental health out of the shadows! The path ahead should be exciting and could be daunting. You’ll want to think about and learn about who are the pioneers that we might have access to that are pushing the envelope about some of the things you care about. Let’s get in touch with them and use them as resources.

    I’m excited about our retreat.

    -Tim

  • Hey Anna,
    Wow! This is awesome. It really gets the point across effectively. I like how you put the “Think of something that happens every two minutes.” part in there to start. It kept me reading. I also like the repetition of “It’s about the person…” in the last paragraph. I don’t really know what about it made it interesting but it’s very powerful.

    So using your advice, I read my pitch aloud and it really helped me find parts in mine that didn’t fit or flow how I wanted it to. I would recommend you do the same (if you haven’t already). It could help you in a lot of ways. And since this week is all about revising, this would be the perfect opportunity to put little details in there that would strengthen your pitch even more.

    Your pitch is great, and I know you are going to leave a mark on people’s minds at the retreat. Fantastic job! Until next time!

    -Bryce

  • Beverly Moss
    8 months ago

    Hi Sidney,
    I found your pitch really interesting. I like that you include a statistic about the number of people in the US who die from drug overdoses. It would be great if you included statistics about the number of drug overdose deaths in Vermont and in your local community. That could have a dramatic effect on your audience. I also wonder if maybe you can start your pitch with a story about a young person (or more than one) who died from a drug overdose or who have suffered greatly from drug addiction. Again, that would have a major impact on helping your readers visualize the problem. When we attach a name and face to a societal problem like drug addiction and overdose, it really makes it real for he audience. You can start with a specific story, move to statistics and then identify the problem and what action you want your audience to take–a kind of call to action. You have a picked such an important social issue, but it is a big one. I’m sure that you’ll do great with your pitch.
    Good luck,
    Beverly

  • Hi Erin,

    I totally agree. Since we go to the same and classes and have talked about this many times. I still find talking to others across the world interesting since we live in such a small state and don’t get to interact with others even though they live around just 5 minutes away. If it weren’t for my topic I would join you and add to the conversation what I can, but from the point I’m at I can only really add some views from an outsider (get it). I’m wondering, since I really don’t know much about talking over a huge gap to others how are you going to get the technology for communication from here to there? And you started talking about how we’d all have conversations with each other about different issuses, would this program your creating be for kids interested in politics or just for anyone to have a pen-pal to talk to. Some things you can try that I thought could help (you’ve probably thought this through) but you could start a go fund me or maybe to some extra jobs even though it might be considered child labor. Lastly you maybe do what we did in girls scouts and have bake sales (just relised you had a bake sale for the Kenya, I think, talk we had in 6th grade). If you think about doing the second one I’d be interested in helping you earn the money if you’d like.

    -Rex

  • Erin,
    I really liked your pitch! It was very clear and concise, it also helped me understand what the change you want to make is! It is interesting how you connected your topic to exchange programs. I never thought about it like that until you mentioned it. I think that was a great way to try to interpret the change you want to make, and how you will go about doing it. I agree that kids younger should have a chance to experience other cultures. If we did get the chance how do you think that it would change our attitudes around other cultures? This is a topic that every one will be able to relate to somehow, because we all live in same small state. It is something that people will think is interesting because it would be such a cool opportunity if we had it!
    I can’t wait to hear your final pitch!
    Petra

  • Greta,
    I feel like I had the same problem as you! I was sitting down trying to write and nothing came, especially for my slides I had/having trouble to find pictures to put in it. I look at your slide show and I really liked how it was laid out. The reason why was because it had lists and also some pictures. I had not thought of putting in lists, in my slide show! One idea I have is maybe adding a few more pictures. I know (at least for my topic) it is really hard to find pictures for it. Though, if you find any interesting ones I think you should consider putting them in.

    As far as your pitch, it was very good! I think that even though you had trouble you ended up making a clear pitch. Your topic is different from mine, your is like a debate. So, I can see how it would be hard to try to persuade people to join you. I think that you have done a good job. For your topic I think you just need to get people curious about it. So far what you have is really good, I think.
    I was wondering if you have decided witch side you are on for this topic? Or are u just looking into this topic and finding more information about this topic?
    I am excited to hear your pitch!
    Petra

    • Petra,
      Thanks for the advice!
      I think I am on the side against the pipeline, but actually, I’m working on having that NOT influence my pitch and my project, at least the beginning of it. I want to present an objective view that lays out all of the perspectives, and then say what action I think we should take from there.
      I’m excited to see you tomorrow!
      Greta

  • P.s,
    I can’t get to your slide show. I requested accesses, I hope I can see it soon! I am very interested in looking at it.
    Sorry for not putting this in my previous comment,
    Petra

  • Zachariah,
    This is really awesome Zachariah. I knew that the decline in honey bee population was serious, but I didn’t know that it was life and future threatening. So I think the quote from Einstein was really helpful. That quote alone makes your pitch more strong and convincing. I also like those stats you put in about the decline. That also makes it very helpful for us readers to see the big picture.

    I also really like the slides. The graphics are very helpful for your peers to understand, visually, the consequences of this issue. This is a job well done! Good job! I can’t wait to hear your pitch at the retreat. I’m with Anna on this one, I hope you get the support you need for this issue.

    Until next time!

    -Bryce

  • Eva–
    I love your opening approach– that is, to return to the ending of your first video. And you make an obvious, but good, point: there is A LOT to be learned around gender identity in schools. You then asked for suggestions. I think an interesting approach might be to look at the HUGE discrepancy of gender education in our schools. For instance, Sharon Academy is obviously trying to stay current, but what about my school, where there has been literally NO discussion about this? What is happening in elementary schools? And at schools where nothing is happening, what are the consequences of that? What is the school climate around the issue of gender at schools where nothing is being discussed?

    Juxtaposing a proactive school community with a passive school community could be a very interesting approach.

    Let me know if you have questions or comments, and we can start a discussion.

    • Ben-
      You definitely put into words what I haven’t been able to for some time. YES- lets look at what schools are and aren’t doing, model schools, having teachers set goals, etc. What school are you at? I’d love to do some direct stuff there….
      Thanks

  • Kate Carroll
    8 months ago

    Hi Petra,

    I don’t think I remember reading what prompted your interest in Vermont’s Opioid crisis. I will try to find the VPR story you mentioned as it seemed to do for you as audience the next task you will have with your team members: creating a digital story that compels change.

    I just looked at your slide show, and I really like how you start with a framing questions followed by the images. Also you avoided ‘the trap’ of have a presentation that is fully readable rather than slides that provide cues for your presentation content. I am curious about why you selected the order of photos. For example, why did you hold the bucolic image of Vermont until after the image of the child and the Rolling Stones article image?

    I am most curious to see if you continue this topic after the peer presentations, but no matter what, I think you have done an excellent job of identifying the necessity of keeping this crisis in the forefront of our minds as Vermont residents as well as avoiding the trap of simplifying a very complex issue.

    Well done, and I hope I can see your presentation in person at Common Ground next weekend.

    Best wishes,
    Kate Carroll

  • Shel Sax
    8 months ago

    Hi again Greta,
    I’m going to leave it to you to decide the points of your pipeline analysis and argument that you want to emphasize in the pitch. I would like to offer a couple of different ways of thinking about it though.
    First, resources. Here are a couple of links that you may find useful.

    How to create an elevator pitch (business oriented but you’ll get the main suggestions):
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/chicceo/2013/02/05/how-to-create-an-elevator-pitch/#7129e93072a3

    Creating your elevator pitch:
    https://campuspress.yale.edu/cnspy/2016/05/25/creating-your-elevator-pitch/

    And some tips on effective PowerPoint presentation:
    Creating an effective PowerPoint presentation:
    http://mason.gmu.edu/~montecin/powerpoint.html

    Designing Effective PowerPoint presentation, a quick guide:
    https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/686/01/

    As for the pitch itself, ask yourself what are the most important 3 things that you want your audience to understand. What points will you emphasize in your argument to convince them (be prepared to answer questions on counter-arguments). What do you want them to think about after they’ve left the room.

    Another way to think of it might be as a short music recital. What mood do you want to strike? What’s the rhythm and pace of your presentation? Does your presentation build to emphasize your theme? Does it come to a satisfying conclusion?

    Hope this is of some help. – Shel

  • Mrs. Carroll,
    Thank you for your feed back, I always appreciate it! I was trying to look for the VPR story but I could not seem to find it. I think it was a special week that was focusing on the opioid epidemic, and they had that story as apart of it. It was around may of this year, when I listened to it on air. I hope that helps when trying to find it. It would be amazing if you can!

    When you looked at my slide show you caught me in the middle of revising it, so the places that I put the pictures are not final. I will definitely keep comments in mind, when finalizing it!

    I can’t wait for the retreat!
    Petra

  • Petra,
    Nice rough draft of your pitch!
    I noticed that you never quite defined the opioid epidemic in Vermont. Although by now you are an expert and I have learned quite a bit from reading your posts, and while I’m sure other people will have at least a basic understanding, I think that they may want a more comprehensive explanation of the issue. I know I would have a month ago. So maybe after your paragraph about the girl’s story (which I really liked, presenting a personal story is a great way to introduce a larger one!), you could talk more about the general story. Maybe something about how she isn’t the only one, even in our state of Vermont (which I think is important to emphasize).
    I liked how you left your perspective on this topic open! I think that will convince many to join you, because it gives them a say in the direction the project takes. As long as you present with passion, which I know you have! I’m looking forward to seeing you present this next week!
    Greta

    • Greta,
      Thank you again for your comment they are very helpful! I just realize that I did not explain what the problem is! I guess I was just rushing to the points. I just revised it and added a little more, on my blog post #8. I hope that adds a little more context. Over the week I might revise it more if I think about other things, or practicing presenting it. So it might change even more. Thank you for pointing that out though!
      That is a good point, about leaving my topic a little open. I did not intend it to persuade people more, but I guess it could!
      Your thoughts are always helpful!
      Petra

  • Nate Archambault
    8 months ago

    Elsa,

    It’s been very exciting to see your ideas develop over the course of these posts. It’s clear that you are passionate about your topic and have done your due diligence in regard to planning. It’s also clear that your work is coming from a place of compassion and humanitarianism. Is there anything specific that you would need for help to make this project work?

  • Nate Archambault
    8 months ago

    Hi Megan,

    As Bob has said, personal stories are often the best places to start. It’s much easier to understand a topic, this one especially, by hearing from the people who are directly involved. Do you know of anyone specifically who is facing difficulty finding adequate childcare in Vermont. If not, I’m sure we could help you find some people with some interesting stories to tell.

  • Nate Archambault
    8 months ago

    Ben,

    As I’ve written to you before, there certainly are many opinions about your topic. Some of the best stories will probably come from students, but there is a wealth of knowledge to be gained from the personal stories of teachers and administrators as well. Education is a profession that inspires a great deal of passion. Many involved, I believe, hope that they are working for the best interests of students. Sometimes student voices need to be shouted to be heard, though. Great work so far.

  • Emily,

    Great work putting together your refined pitch! I really think that you have a wonderful topic that could lead to real change. My only comments are setting the stage, to engage the audience during your presentation. Perhaps, asking people to think about how they feel when you do not fit in, after you ask them to recognizes their differences. Perhaps then asking, what disciplines (areas/subjects) or organizations do not fit them, maybe ending with what could/do you do if you were not accepted as a learner? This might allow you to pick up at the end of your talk with something about, people are born learners but if not provided with the tools and environment unique to them….

    If you felt like discussing learning at the end of your talk maybe stating that all ‘people are born learners’ and then pointing out that when we are born we are unable to walk, talk, etc. Asking how humans figure those things out might continue your engagement with your audience? Telling them that, YOU LEARNED….Not all schools, classes, etc. are organized to do what humans are BORN TO DO…Human beings can do nothing BUT learn. So school, classes, should not some insurmountable feat FOR ALL LEARNERS, it’s what they were born to do PERIOD. Maybe you then state that you are on a quest to create spaces for people to learn based on their uniqueness (connects back to your opening statement), ask people to join you in the revolution!

    Just a few suggestions! Great work and I am sorry that I will miss the overnight. I will be in Atlanta, GA at a conference.

    Casey

    • Casey,

      Thanks so much for your feedback. I think people will be much more interested and engaged if they felt a personal connection or even empathy for those learners.

      I once saw a video on Khan Academy that said exactly what you said, “Even Shakespeare had to learn his ABCs” It’s a really great concept, and I think incorporating it into my pitch will be great.

      Thanks!
      Emily

  • Sidney,

    I think that you do have a topic that connects to everyone. As you consider refining your pitch, I wonder if you might ask a few questions, play a short clip, or provide a few statistics about drug use. I do think that if you asked questions about addiction that you would engage the entire audience. Thinking about addiction as a ‘brain reward’ that motivates to the point of an irresistible need could create a common experience for the audience. If you pose questions, or a scenario, at the beginning of your talk asking people to bring themselves to a place where they are experiencing happiness and then asked them to consider their “high” as something that they cannot let go of that this might set the scene for your talk. I know Halloween will have passed, but I am trying to think of a stimulus that would get people into a mindset where they were ‘giddy with happiness,’ and candy is what popped into my head.

    You might be able to play a funny YouTube clip, play a song, or tell a joke. After creating an experience for everyone and asking them to reflect about how they felt, you might go into your pitch about the harsh realities of addiction related to drugs and continuing to engage the audience. As I am making all of these suggestions, PLEASE know that I am not making light of addiction and drug use. I think that it would be important to express the siveraity of drug addiction to the audience, if you did take any of my suggestions. Drug addiction is not funny, but you are trying to relate to topic to extreme feelings of happiness and engage an audience. Emotion-happy, sad, scared, etc. is one way to ‘hoook’ your audience during your talk.

    Good luck over the weekend! Sorry I will not be able to make it to the overnight, I will be in Atlanta, GA at a conference. Let me know if I can help in any way leading up to this weekend.

    Casey

  • Bob Uhl
    8 months ago

    Megan, great job making this concise post. You cut right to the chase, and what you’ve written accurately reflects the writing you’ve done so far. I applaud both your commitment to your topic and your willingness to remain flexible as we move forward. I’m wondering, what might be some topics that you’d consider similar to this one?

  • Bob Uhl
    8 months ago

    Brennan, one of the things I’ve enjoyed about reading your posts is the variety of topics that have interested you (this year and last): dispatch cuts, volunteerism, and illegal immigration, plus your willingness to pursue another topic should that prove to be your best option. As I may have noted last time, Vermont is probably not a state that jumps to mind when thinking about illegal immigration, but that doesn’t mean it’s an issue unworthy of investigation. Is this the topic you think you’ll pitch this weekend?

  • Bob Uhl
    8 months ago

    Well done, Bryce. As I said last time, I’m looking forward to hearing your pitch! One question for you: I’m curious about your thinking behind the decision to target an audience that wants to do something about the lake’s pollution, as opposed an audience that doesn’t. By no means am I suggesting this is a change you should make; I think your focus makes a lot of sense! I’m just wondering why you’ve made that choice.

    One last thing: Could you change your sharing settings for your “script” so that anyone with the link can view? Thanks, Bryce!

    • Mr. Uhl,
      I look forward to giving my pitch as well! I never thought of that of targeting people who haven’t thought of Lake Champlain. I will consider that when I give my pitch. I guess I was thinking that I would try to further motivate people to help me. Thank you!

      I have changed my “script” so everyone can view it. Until next time!

      -Bryce

  • Hi Nigel,

    I’ve loved reading your blog! This post is full of honesty and I think you know what you want, which is great! As I mentioned before, if you choose to join another action group, think about sticking with one related to social justice. You seem passionate about it.

    See you on Saturday!

    Ella

  • Hi Justin,

    After reading through your posts, I notice a real passion for the issue you are researching which is key to this whole process. To be honest, I really don’t know anything at all about migrant workers in Vermont. One way you could begin to tackle this complex issue is by informing Vermont citizens about it.

    Great work!
    Ella

  • Greta,

    I heard this commentary on VPR tonight and wanted to share it with you: http://digital.vpr.net/post/schubart-consensus

    I was reminded of your project on the pipeline as I listened to him explain what consensus is and how it relates to individual rights and opinions.

    It got me thinking: if we are considering the health of the planet, should we still strive for consensus, or is that how we end up with things like the pipeline?

    Erik

  • Emily Rinkema
    8 months ago

    Hi Brynna–Sorry it took a few days to get back to you here! I looked at the slide show again, and here are some specific suggestions based on your questions. First, keep in mind the difference between slides and notecards. You can have notes that you use when presenting that have all the information on them, but the slides are for your audience to view, and shouldn’t have as many words. For example, in slide 7, consider just including the verbs (Educate, Study, Remove, Prevent) in bullets, and then you can have the full sentences on your note card. Give the audience the most important words, and fill in the others with your actual presentation.

    The puzzle is such an effective metaphor, so I would consider starting with that (after a title slide, maybe). Maybe start with the question from slide 3 at the top of slide 4. That means cutting the first few slides completely! (remember you can say some of that stuff in your pres). Finally, I would suggest ending with the puzzle again–tying that into what you plan to do.

    I love your topic, and I look forward to watching you become even more targeted as you continue!

    Emily

  • I’m right behind you on this topic Anna! And seeing what you have written in your posts, your level of interest can’t only be at a 7? You seemed like 9 level passionate about this. I think you should continue to pursue this topic. I’m willing to bet that you will get support from people at the retreat! I know you got mine! See you at the retreat. I can’t wait to actually meet you. Until then!

    -Bryce

  • Jus,

    I’m looking forward to talking with you about all of this during the upcoming weekend in Starksboro.

    One of the things that I’m curious about is how you plan to highlight the unjust conditions that Vermont’s migrant workers must endure without exposing them to unwanted scrutiny. Since their illegal status makes them vulnerable, it must be a delicate proposition to shed light on their situation without making them even more vulnerable. Yet, ironically, without attention paid to how they are forced to live practically in hiding, things will never get better for them.

  • Well, I see your conundrum. It’s not that I think your idea is “not worthy of a film,” but the issue in my mind is how would you create a film that would represent experiences so individual and diverse.

    This may not make sense, but what if you were to make a film about you and your quest to help students communicate, using available technologies? (I’m new at this, Erin, so forgive me if I’m off base here.)

    I mean, something really interesting to me would be how you would build in structures that would help students avoid the common pitfalls associated with typical pen-pal exchanges. How would you help participants avoid just chatting about this and that, so they could get down to the business of substantive conversations? And would these substantive conversations all be geared toward social injustice, or could they be more diverse?

    Putting your own experience at the center may make you squirmy (it would me; I’m a little shy about stuff like that), but it may serve as a roadmap for others who would like to undertake something similar but don’t know where to start.

  • Dear Grace,

    Great opening slide that illustrates your approach to mental health care. The quotes provoke thinking and encourage reflection. As you continue to explore your topic, take a look at the comparison between the medical (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medical_model_of_disability) and social justice model of disability (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medical_model_of_disability). Another example of this different way of looking at mental health care that is highlighted in your slides can be found here: https://sendthewholebattalion.wordpress.com/2015/03/17/668/.

    Looking forward to your presentation.

    Bill

  • Ceci Lewis
    8 months ago

    Brynna,
    Please accept my apology for my delayed response. I have been up to my eyeballs in metaphorical alligators over here in the desert. I love the image of the jigsaw puzzle that you use in your presentation. Certainly one species of invasive plants can alter the environment, and when there are multiple invasives, then picture can alter permanently and radically.
    When I was reading your message, I was particularly struck by this idea you present: “Nature is constantly changing and evolving, and I’m not in a position to delay the process of evolution whatsoever. However we’ve played a huge role in speeding up the process of spreading these harmful invasive plants without even being aware of it. It’s already creating more of an imbalance then there would naturally be which is not good at all. ” Nature is always changing, and as a result, we often change with it, without recognizing how these changes may affect our communities later. Many indigenous people live by the seven generation idea. What am I doing today that will affect seven generations down the road, or my great, great, great , great, great, great grandchildren. You get the picture. This is something we should all be asking ourselves.
    Particularly impressive in your journal entry is that you recognize and understand that you cannot change the invasion of all plants, but that you can focus on halting or eradicating those plants that are brought to VT via traffic or recreational vehicles. Powerful!
    Arizona has a beautiful climate, as you are probably aware. Many people moved here for health reasons and then when they arrived, they wished that they could bring their home lifestyle with them. As a result, many planted Bermuda grass and Mulberry trees to make themselves feel more comfortable in their new home. Guess what? Both of these species are not only high water uses, something the desert doesn’t have a great deal of, but they are also air pollutants. Unknowingly, people were planting the very plants that promoted allergic reactions in individuals and that threatened our already limited water resources. Arizona has since outlawed the selling of and planting of Mulberry trees, and hopefully will follow suit with Bermuda grass. What do you think can happen in Vermont for those whose boats or vehicles are bringing in unwanted plant life?
    I wish I could be at your retreat this weekend because I would love to hear the passion in your voice that I can read in your writing. You are really on to something here. Good luck!

  • Colleen Kiley
    8 months ago

    Tim,

    I was blown away by the student slideshow. Such an amazing range of topics, but also very obvious patterns. I am so excited to see that WtS is expanding to other states.

    Bravo,
    Colleen

  • Stacey Mitchell King
    8 months ago

    Check out this article by Luc Sante. I can email you my annotated article if you like.

    Living in Tongues
    By Luc Sante
    The first thing you have to understand about my childhood is that it mostly took place in another language. I was raised speaking French, and did not begin learning English until I was nearly 7 years old. Even after
    that, French continued to be the language I spoke at home with my parents. (I still speak only French with them to this day.)

    I think many of our schools like the ‘idea’ of equity in education. Until we can look at all of our students as bringing something important to the table, when language is involved, and accept our learners for who they are, we limit ourselves and our ability to improve ourselves.

    This angle, you are looking for may indeed be a help to others.

  • Very good blog post.Really thank you! Fantastic.

  • Shel Sax
    8 months ago

    Hi Greta,
    Came across this article which has a somewhat optimistic slant and thought you’d find it of interest. Cheers, Shel

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/apolitical/the-cleverest-countries-o_b_12863488.html

  • Ceci Lewis
    7 months ago

    Brynna,
    I am so happy to read that you found others in WTS to work with you on this topic that you have become so increasingly passionate about. Yes!!! This is exactly what forming a community of writers and like-minded thinkers looks like. I consider myself fortunate to see how your mind has worked as you have shared your journey through finding a topic, changing that topic, looking for something that you could “sink your intellectual teeth into,” and then working to not only understand the problem, but also consider solutions to the issue that you are becoming increasingly invested in. Wow!
    Since you have identified at least one major issue that contributes to the pollution problem, run-off of phosphates into Lake Champlain, and you know where and how these phosphates are entering into the lake, it will be interesting to see how you and your group will look for innovative ways in which to prevent or lessen the run-off. Is there any way that this run-off could be captured and repurposed? Additionally, how might you encourage the dairy farmers to become part of the solution?
    The retreat sounds like it was just the connection you needed to move into the next phase of your research – finding solutions! YES!!!
    I eagerly look forward to reading more about your discoveries.
    Ceci

  • Courtney Krahn
    7 months ago

    Eva,
    Yep, your work has never been more relevant than it is at this very moment, and, if the news that’s flooding my screens and coffee table are any indication, your work will only become even more relevant and crucial with each passing day. That is, until, who knows when…

    My job last week was to provide you with some resources, and clearly I’m late to the game here. I think that your storyline is excellent. For the heck of it, I will post some neat links below, but you may have already found them on your own.

    Like you, I’m fired up, too!

    Resources:
    http://niemanstoryboard.org/stories/multimedia-narrative-and-how-to-interview-structure-choose-your-medium-edit-for-sound-identify-the-story-arc-and-more/

    http://www.mentorless.com/2015/03/18/ira-glass-on-finding-ideas-and-the-story-structure-that-is-not-taught-at-school-but-should-be/

    http://blog.storyandheart.com/blog/2014/2/2/4-lessons-from-ira-glass-in-telling-stories-the-way-theyre-meant-to-be-told#.WCfBSjslekY

  • Rex:
    Good questions and good thinking. Your struggles are normal and natural. We’ll definitely talk about how to work through these struggles when we get together in December.

    What are you planning on doing this week?

  • Good questions, Maisie. We’ll definitely chat about these specifically when we meet in December.

    Quick question: what will your focus this week be?

  • Brynna,

    I think your exploration to the other side of Lake Champlain will provide greater understanding VT’s efforts. What VT’s neighbors are doing will certainly have an impact on the VT side. So, how do you think you might go about exploring?

  • Courtney Krahn
    7 months ago

    Grace, Thanks for sharing some tracks of your thinking. You are an important member of our group, and you’re doing a great job of communicating. Do you think it’s possible that you might have a rough draft of a short video to share at the next overnight retreat?
    Courtney

  • Rex:
    You’ve done a lot of thinking this week, and I really appreciate the time and effort you put into your blog. Please make sure to include me on any and all correspondences. for example, you mentioned something about a meeting this week, but I wasn’t aware of that at all. Given how we are in disparate locations geographically, it might be tough to get together, especially when everyone doesn’t drive. We can firm out these details at our December retreat.

    We will work out strategies for how to contact people when we get together. And at that time, we’ll figure out how to make these interviews work within your busy schedule. I’m glad you’re already thinking about this, though. The teacher you mentioned is a very good place to start given that you can meet with them before, during or right after school.

    Please email me (bkrahn@acsu.org) or call/text (330-962-0766) with any questions or concerns.

    For the next 2 weeks, please try to come up with a list of 5 or more specific people to interview and we can work on the details of these interviews at our December retreat.

  • Clara,
    Your point about Quebecois French relates directly to the article about language and social justice. You should read it if you haven’t yet (I put it on the resources page)! It talks a lot about how languages/slang/accents/ways of speaking that are considered “improper” are discouraged at schools, and how that can be a form of social streamlining, whether people know it or not. I really would be interested in knowing more how people’s attitude towards language influences ELL and new American students in particular. And I may have mentioned this, but the professor that is talked about in the article is one of the people I’m planning on contacting this week.
    Greta

    • Greta,
      That’s a really interesting note, thanks for pointing me in the direction of that article! I’ll be sure to read it. I think that there’s definitely a level of eurocentrism and racism involved in the way that people perceive different accents.

      Clara

  • Bryce,

    Thanks for getting your post up! The list of potential interviewees makes sense, as you note many of them have Lake Champlain in their title. I do wonder as I reflect on this list and potential questions, what is the story that you want to tell? Are you celebrating the efforts of those involved in the preservation of Lake Champlain, trying to determine if the proposed legislation will be enough, move the conversation from the lake to individuals, or figuring out if the agricultural efforts make sense to those who are being asked?

    These are a few thoughts, and I am sure you will work through them at the retreat. Starting to reconsider what your story is based on what new information you have, the list of potential interviewees, and your questions will allow the team to have a laser focus on the story, the stakes, and audience.

    The statement “all in” is something that has stuck with me from the movie you shared with the team. This statement is said towards the end of the film, around the 31 minute mark, and I am curious what this means to those involved. It’s a catchy, and meaningful, slogan/statement.I wonder if this might be part of your story. What does this mean and how does everyone embody being “all in”?

    One last question to consider as you head into the retreat, what do you think is the best way to pursue the potential interviewees? This will be important as the group moves into next steps.

    Have a great week!
    Casey

  • Zachariah,

    I do think that locating people within your locality is important, great job identifying senators and organizations in your/our area. Bryce seems to have access to people and places in Chittenden County, and Addison County is rich with resources too. Your questions seem spot on as well. The next challenge for the group is to consider how to follow through with the people and questions.

    I am not able to make it to the retreat this upcoming weekend, so let me know where the group stands and we can hangout the weekend of December 10th.

    Casey

  • Bob Uhl
    6 months ago

    Lena, there are some great questions here! Very open-ended and inviting. Looking forward to our hangout this morning!

  • Anna Buteau
    6 months ago

    WHAT IS THIS PICTURE AND WHY

  • Anna Buteau
    6 months ago

    Wait this is so cool?? You’re so talented??

  • Hi Greta,

    I think you’re asking a lot of really important questions. I left a few suggestions and additional questions on the shared doc, but as far as the pre-interview goes, I think that a big part of it could be explaining in more depth the purpose and format of the interview so as to minimize discomfort and inefficiently used time in the actual interview. You could also ask her to give you a brief overview of her experience and field of study, so that you can ask more directed questions in the interview itself, or, if your main purpose is to get a better sense of her speaking style, you could even ask her to tell an unrelated story so that you can plan for her mannerisms and movement. I would be wary of asking too specific questions, in case she says something that you regret not getting on camera, but it’s totally up to your discretion. I hope this was useful in some way!

    -Clara

    • Clara,
      Thank you, that does help! I like the questions you added, and I also think you’re right that I shouldn’t ask all of those today, but rather get a general overview of what she does so I’m ready for the actual interview.
      -Greta

  • One of the most important issues regarding equity is the different needs of high income and low income students and the important role played by small schools. Today Act 46 puts small schools on the chopping block when a consolidated board has the power to adjust attendance boundaries. Students from less affluent families who need more personalized attendance (usually from small, rural communities) are the big losers.

  • Courtney Krahn
    6 months ago

    I LOVE your picture here. Very cool. I’m glad the show went well! Have you been able to schedule any interviews?

  • Ceci Lewis
    5 months ago

    Brynna,
    Hello! I am so happy to read that things are moving along quite well for you and your group. The idea of interviewing millenials about their work in the environment is wonderful! Not only are they the present, they are also the future. This focus provides an additional inspiration knowing that there are youth who are working for a better environment. I certainly hope you find the third interview for your project. Middlebury is a great place to start. I can hardly wait to see the end result. This summer I will be working at Bread Loaf, so I hope to meet you and view your film.
    Ceci

  • Zachariah,

    The picture you took of your pond is beautiful! You seem to have the ability to capture the essence of a moment in a still. Do you think there are opportunities to “capture” running water near the pond, maybe as an example of runoff ?

    Casey

  • Beverly Moss
    4 months ago

    This is wonderful, inspiring work.

  • dixie goswami
    4 months ago

    The WtS newsletter is full of energy, action – and opportunities. Seeing the Vermont and Louisville Social Action teams in the same space is exciting – and important.
    The list of opportunities and call for participation sends a message about WTS (Louisville and Vermont) opportunities for going public.

    Thanks,

    Dixie

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