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Monday, June 13, 2011

Reflecting: Ginger

Here are my thoughts.

1. What worked? What would you celebrate?
I celebrate being invited to have a voice in a university project. I celebrate using the voice that I have, even though I am unaccustomed to using it on campus. I celebrate the great welcoming that I experienced from the existing Sustain group and the group's excitement to do something meaningful for students, something not yet done.
I celebrate the group's willingness to have an idea that would be so costly--in time, in money, in experiences of dissonance, in political standing, oftentimes in discouragement--and the further bravery to sit with it and let it bloom even in light of what it might mean in terms of these personal and professional costs. I know: I sound dramatic. I don't think I'm overstating here, though. Ideas are easy to have at universities for the most part because the university is the place built to protect the right to keep having new ideas. Ideas about the university, however, are trickier to have--they are not the ideas that the university meant for us to have when they offered us the chance to have the ideas. So I celebrate that boldness. I stand up on a high, high bleacher and wave pom poms at it.

2. What is missing or yet to be done in order for the 100-student freshman initiative to be successful?
I feel as though we spent the quarter talking about how to accomplish a project that not everyone in the room was yet convinced should be accomplished. And that was counterproductive at best, disheartening at worst, or maybe even nullifying at very worst. It all strikes me as ultimately do-able, though. It just hasn't been done yet. Once a central group in power assents to the project's basic worth and champions it in the university, I believe it will succeed. I feel very confident that there will be plenty of hands to pitch in and get the work done once the project is allowed to proceed. I don't feel that's happened yet, though. Right now the project feels as though it is running on a hamster wheel: everyone is sweaty, but it doesn't feel like we've gained much ground.

3. What are your reflections on our last day's conversation?
I was relieved to hear honesty in the room. It would have made for a good first day instead of a last day. It was a breathtaking last day, though. Bold and brave. I felt glad to be part of a group that was willing the risk such honesty.

4. What did you learn? Was there anything valuable?
I learned about myself that my own experiences of power are not the most limiting thing about my experience in our university: my responses to them are. This sounds like some bad self-help reflection, but I mean it this way: I think often of myself as not being heard, but I think truly I am more often not making any noise. I have conditioned myself to not say much in anticipation of not being heard. And that piece is the most telling, the saddest, really. I found it so valuable to sit in a group and make a reasonable amount of noise and to feel heard. I wish only that I had pushed a little harder and asked all of the questions that I felt sure needed to be asked. I didn't serve the group well in these unwillingnesses.

5. What else do you have to say that the above questions may not have covered?
Thank you for having me.


  1. I so appreciate your voice. I love that word: VOICE. I sometimes think of what we are trying to do and think "there is no way," then I think some more and see we already are....making noise, listening, and building a community. Thanks Ginger for showing up!

  2. Ginger, :) Oh my gosh, such a joy it is to read your reflections. I so appreciate the way that you speak with insight, honesty and personal responsibility. ...oh, and humor! We will need to laugh at ourselves over and over as we go through this. I'm so glad for the journey together.