Crafting Communities Workshop

art studio supplies on shelves

Prior to the world going to hell, I participated in a wonderful six days of professional development put on by Thinking Rock Community Arts and Jumblies Theatre. Titled “Crafting Communities” this workshop was based on Jumblies well-known Artfare Essentials training which is focused on skill building connected to community arts facilitation.

“Crafting Communities” focused on creative facilitation approaches to community arts, with a focus on textile art/craft. The workshop covered the a range of topics including: the basics of what community arts are, different styles of arts based facilitation, how to plan a community arts project, common challenges associated with community arts projects, and potential funding for community arts.

Personally, I loved that much of this content was delivered through active art making and engagement. Instead of simply talking about facilitation techniques we participated in facilitated activities and had conversations while making art.

I also really enjoyed that this workshop helped develop a community of practitioners. It brought together fiber and textile practitioners, folks engaged in music as community arts, and others working on dance, movement, drama, and art based community projects. We had the opportunity to connect with practitioners who live in work in Northern Ontario as well as community arts folks from the Toronto region. This mixture of geographic backgrounds helped fill the workshop with a range of perspectives and experiences.

The next phase of the Reclaiming Shingwauk Hall project includes more of an art and participatory focus. It also includes the development of hands-on workshops for visitors to the site, allowing them to learn about colonization, decolonization, and Residential Schools in a more engaged manner. I’m looking forward to trying and testing out some of the facilitation techniques learned during this workshop in the Reclaiming Shingwauk space.

Photo by Katya Austin on Unsplash

Historical Reminiscents Podcast EP 65: Letting Go To Make Space

Building with words time is precious. Right side reads Episode 65: Letting Go To Make Space

In today’s episode I’m thinking about making space for new opportunities by letting go of old ones. I discuss balancing commitments, knowing when it is time to move on, and changing interests. 

Mentioned in this episode:
Thinking Rock Community Arts
-Erin Wunker, “Surthrival” on the Hook & Eye blog

Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash

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Historical Reminiscents Podcast EP 64: Professional Growth Within An Organization

Plant in a pot with the word grow

I’ve been working at Algoma University, in the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre, since 2010. That’s a decade. In today’s episode I’m talking about means to stay at one institution for a long period of time and how to grow within local opportunities. 

Mentioned in this episode:
-Erin White, “What It Means to Stay

Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash

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Historical Reminiscents Podcast EP 46: Professional Development Vs. Professional Learning

Lego storm troopers teaching darth vader how to ride a bike

Conference season is quickly approaching for many Canadian academics and with all of this travel comes conversations about professional development. In this episode, I discuss the differences between professional development and professional learning.  I also tackle questions of ongoing career development, active learning, and the funding of professional growth opportunities.

I would love to hear your thoughts on professional development and professional learning. Leave a comment or send me a message on Twitter.

Mentioned in this episode:
David Porter Explains a Couple Things Video, Ontario Extend mOOC
-Linda Darling-Hammond, Maria E. Hyler, Madelyn Gardner, Danny Espinoza, “Effective Teacher Professional Development” (PDF)
-Ann Webster-Wright, “Reframing Professional Development Through Understanding Authentic Professional Learning

Rapid Reads:
-“Feeling Grief: On Emotions in the Archive of Enslavement“, Nathan Dize

Download or listen now.

Photo credit: Daniel Cheung on Unsplash

Historical Reminiscents EP 28: Spring Cleaning Your Work Life

Blue flowers on left. Right side reads: "Episode 28: Spring Cleaning Your Work Life."

It is finally warm here! And flowers are starting to grow! As Spring rolls around I’ve been getting the urge to start Spring cleaning.  What does Spring cleaning mean for folks working in academia and public history? How do you set yourself for success in the coming season?  In this episode I chat about shaking up schedules, planning for the Summer, and getting the most out of Spring.

I would love to hear about how your writing or professional routines change with the seasons, leave a comment or send me a message on Twitter.

Mentioned in this episode:
-“A Semester Needs A Plan

Download or listen now.  

Historical Reminiscents EP 25: Conference Season – Networking As An Introvert

Cords plugged into a sound board. Right side reads "Episode 25: Conference Season - Networking As An Introvert"

I’m currently at the National Council on Public History annual meeting (yay!) and with conference season ramping up I’ve been thinking a lot about networking.  In this episode I discuss networking as an introvert, conference survival tips, and small steps to building a strong network.  I also chat about virtual colleagues, asking for help, and reaching out to people you don’t know.

I would love to hear about your conference plans for this year and your favourite conference tips, leave a comment or send me a message on Twitter.

Mentioned in this episode:
-Katie Linder, “How to Meet Really Cool People
-Andrea Eidinger, “A Beginner’s Guide to CHA

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Historical Reminiscents EP 17: Leadership, Admin, And The Things They Didn’t Teach You in Grad School

Woman holding a "Like a Boss" mug on the left image on right reading: Episode 17 Leadership, Admin, and the things they didn't teach you in grad school

New podcast episode! In this week’s episode I discuss building admin and leadership skills within public history.  I talk about education gaps, how to gain hands on experience, and the importance of mentorship.

How have you worked to build admin or management skills within public history? Leave a comment or send me a message on Twitter.

Mentioned in this episode:
Developing History Leaders 
Archives Leadership Institute

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NCPH Election Results

Dictionary definition of vote

Jumping up and down news! (Okay, I admit that I might be the only one who jumps up and down at this news). I was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the National Council on Public History (NCPH). Folks can find the complete election results in the March issue of the Public History News publication. Congrats to Kristen Baldwin Deathridge and Kimberly Springle who were also elected to the Board and congratulations to Gregory Smoak to who was elected as NCPH president.

I talk about NCPH a lot. It is a professional organization that I truly care about and the space that I consider my professional home. The folks who I’ve meet though NCPH are a constant source of inspiration.

Each year I come away from the annual meeting with a sense of renewed love for my profession, enthusiasm for emerging public history practices, and possibilities for projects within my own workplace. For example, the Canada-wide Canadian History Edit-A-thon organized by Jessica Knapp and I developed out of an idea we had at the 2017 annual meeting. Details on this year’s annual meeting, which is being held in Las Vegas from April 18-21, can be found on the NCPH website.

I look forward to serving on the NCPH Board and to giving back to an organization I love.

Talking About Failure in Academia

Red door against a painted wall that has paint peeling.

Taking about failure is hard. The ways in which we talk about and process failure can be deeply personal. We often see failure of a representation of ourselves and take it personally. Folks in academia talk about success, however we are less apt to discuss those times we’ve failed to hit the mark.

Failure is an experience. It has the potential to provide room for growth, professional lessons, and examples for others. Talking openly about failure also has the potential to contribute to conversations about systemic problems and allows us to acknowledge when systems are stacked against communities.

The Shadow CV

Since 2010, there has been a movement to create public ‘shadow CVs‘ which instead of documenting accomplishments document failures. These documents often include rejected papers, grants submitted but not received, job rejections, etc. The idea behind these cvs is to talk about failure and let emerging scholars know that the road to success if often filled with missteps, disappointments, and hidden failures.

This practice of publicly documenting failure has been criticized as a form of privilege that is only available to those who are in a position of success.  New scholars, adjunct faculty, and precariously employed folks often can’t afford to publicly advertise their failures.  Additionally the narrative often hidden behind these shadow cvs is that look – even with all of these failures I’m still successful. You just need to work harder. Sometimes working harder isn’t an option and it definitely isn’t going to improve flawed employment systems.

Speaking to Failure

Despite some of the problems with the shadow CV movement, I do think that it is important to talk about failure.  It’s important to talk about how receiving a “revise and resubmit” on a journal article is common and part of the publishing process. It is important to acknowledge the emotional labour that is tied up in every professional successes and professional failures.

Even the lines on our cvs that represent success – a grant or a publication – can have layers of failure behind them. That published article might have been rejected from your first choice of journal. That successful grant might be the only grant you received out of the three you submitted. Success and failure isn’t always as straight cut as it seems.  The “How I Fail” series by Veronika Cheplygina is a good example of numerous academics talking openly about the complicated nature of failure.

It is important to have these conversations in places that be inclusive of students and new professionals. They need to know that academic life is filled with failure. And that even though failure can be soul crushing, sometimes it isn’t as personal as it seems at first glance.

Rethinking Failure

Measuring academic success and academic failure has long been related to landing tenure track positions. A shift away from measuring tenure as success has started to happen with the emergence of a vocal alt-ac community and the acknowledgement of problems within the tenure system.  Personally I think we need to evaluate success and failure on individual levels.

Having work and life balance is a success. Being happy with where you live and getting satisfaction out of your job is success. And how you measure success is going to change based on your health, career stage, and personal life.  Some days just getting out of bed and putting pants on counts as a huge success.

We need to talk about how we evaluate failure, talk openly about the unique challenges of failure within academia, and work to build supportive communities that exist throughout all the ups and downs.

Photo credit: Ronald Cuyan on Unsplash

Historical Reminiscents EP 16: Building Moderation Skills

Stopwatch on left and black writing on right "Episode 16: Building Moderation Skills Historical Reminiscents Podcast"

New podcast episode! In this week’s episode I discuss effective moderation techniques and the role of a good moderator.  I try to answer the questions: How do you become a moderator? What does a moderator actually do? What skills do you need to bring to the table as a moderator?

Do you have good or horrible moderation experiences to share? Leave a comment or send me a message on Twitter.

Mentioned in this episode:
Moderating a conference session YouTube video
-Linda K. Kerber, “Everything You Need to Know about Introducing Speakers and Running a Panel Discussion,” American Historical Association

Download or listen now.