#2: Do I have an idea?

Yes: I have no idea. No: I have too many ideas. Actually, I don’t know what ideas are.

Seriously! What constitutes an idea? If it’s a vague notion, then sure, I have plenty. But if it’s a fully formed topic that I am sure I’d like to pursue, I’ve got nothing. My problem right now, and a lot of times, is that I want to pursue everything but simultaneously have the urge to find a topic that is completely original and perfect for me. Scrolling through the list of possible ideas, I was thinking: oh, yeah, I would like to do that. Renewable energy, gender and sexuality, Vermont school systems, anything related to feminism. But choosing one and narrowing it down to a specific, doable topic is where I’m going to have a challenge. I came in with a calm hazy cloud of ideas. Now the ideas are bouncing around my head like crazy. I’ll admit: I need help.

Some things I am really, really interested in: Environmental action. Endangered species and how to protect them. LGBT+ and womens’ rights. I love the environment and music and writing and languages and education. I think I can call those ideas, or at least interests. Now let’s get a topic.

Greta Hardy-Mittell

6 Responses to “#2: Do I have an idea?

  • Erik Remsen
    7 years ago


    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,
    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,
    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

  • Shel Sax
    7 years 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!

Leave a Reply Text

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *