Action Planning

Today’s #reverb10 prompt: Action. When it comes to aspirations, its not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step?

When thinking about what career and heritage based actions I would like to take next year the first thing that comes to mind is planning. But, does planning count as action? It’s an activity and at times a very important first step. However, planning is often a predecessor to actual physical action. Despite its apparent lack of physicality, I think the importance of planning gives it merit to be included as an action, even if it is more of a mental action.

My next step is to begin prioritizing and planning what long term activities are going to help me grow professionally in 2011. I need to prioritize based on gain, enjoyment, and effort inputted into the activity. Currently, I’m debating about trying to focus on one or two volunteer activities or one volunteer activity and one major project to take on in the new year.

Intergration through tradition


Today’s #reverb10 prompt was: Body integration. This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?

The moments this year where I have felt the most integrated have occurred since I started my new job. I have recently had the opportunity to participate in three Aboriginal smudging ceremonies. Each time I have participated in a smudge the feeling in the room has been one of thoughtfulness, remembrance, gratitude, balance, and unity. I feel fortunate to have been able to participate in these activities. Smudging also brings to mind the importance of preserving traditions, especially in an oral, marginalized, or aging society. Actively practicing traditions have the potential to allow people to become in touch their history, learn more about their culture, and to become integrated with their roots.

Seeking balance at work

I struggled with yesterday’s #reverb10 prompt. That struggle combined with spending Saturday in a meeting resulted in my response being pushed back to today. December 11th’s prompt was:

11 things. What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

Things I don’t need in my life next year include:
Unnecessary worry. I need to remember that sometimes things are simply out of your control and that there is no point in worrying about them, as it doesn’t actually fix them.
Constant contentedness. Despite my love for my job, there is no need for me to be constantly connected to it or to the internet. I need to take more time to unplug.
An overflowing Google reader. I subscribe to far too many RSS feeds. In the new year I plan to weed out feeds I no longer have an interest in or which aren’t updated regularly.
Physical clutter. I spend two hours a day in my car, so despite my neat freak tendencies clutter does tend to build up. Being more proactive on keeping clutter at bay in my car and on my desk has the potential to help alleviate stress and annoyance.
Shyness. I need to be more assertive when it comes to promoting myself, voicing my concerns, and putting my point of view out there.
Procrastination. I know we all have moments of it and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I just need to avoid procrastination caused by doubt or dislike of an activity. When that happens procrastination is more a form of avoidance than anything.
Negativity. Eliminating non-supportive people and activities can help turn negative thoughts into positive ideas.

I think all of these items can at be minimized through cultivating a sense of balance in my life. Balance needs to be created between work and home, clutter and neatness, and procrastination and pro-activeness.

Wisdom in a feeling

#reverb10 prompt for December 10th: Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?

The wisest decision I made in 2010 was to apply for a job I had a gut feeling was a good fit for me. At the time I applied I wasn’t even really sure I was looking for a new job or what my chances were in the application process. I applied on a bit of a whim and didn’t really put to much thought into what could happen if I actually got an interview or the job. I ended up getting the job and couldn’t be happier. I’m proud, grateful, and happy working where I do.

An additional perk of this decision is that I now feel like I am beginning to put down roots. In the past five years I have lived in seven different cities or towns. This is the first place where I’ve begun to feel a sense of permanence and a sense of attachment to. I am extremely glad things have unfolded like they have.

Contrary to popular belief librarians do know how to party

Today’s #reverb10 prompt: Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

OLA Super Conference 2010 was the best work related gathering in 2010. This conference was the first library focused conference I attended. The level of enthusiasm, the roar of the vendor floor, the sessions I attended, and copious amounts of good food and good company made this the work related gathering of 2010.

Highlights of the conference included:
-Presenting with OurOntario on collaboration and community building withing the Community Digitization Project.
-Reuniting with OurOntario staff for the first time in six months.
-Seeing the Knowledge Ontario staff in action on the vendors’ floor
-The Extraordinary Canadians authors session.
-Learning more about the different branches of the library field.

I also had the opportunity to see the Rain Tribute to the Beatles while in Toronto for the OLA conference. That combined with the OLA conference made for a great week.

Beautifully different heritage


Prompt: Beautifully different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful.

The heritage field is filled with differences all of which have the potential to compliment and learn from each other. Academic historians, archivists, curators and those involved with museums, archeologists, digital historians, built heritage professionals, genealogists, and public historians are some of the many people involves with history and heritage.

Each heritage or history field is unique, and each group of professionals has a unique set of skills and strengths. Within each heritage field there are specializations and further compartmentalization which adds to the different qualities of each field. The variety which exists in the heritage world is ideal for collaboration.

There is also a number of people involved with the heritage field who have embodied a number of different roles throughout their careers. In the past five years I have worked and volunteered with a number of museums, a historical litigation company, a research department of a not for profit group, with a number of public libraries, and at an archive. One of my favorite things about heritage and public history is that there is always multiple options for a project, opportunities for collaboration and chances to learn from other professionals.

Connecting with Heritage and Beyond

Prompt: Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

In 2010 I discovered and further explored a number of communities:
-This year through twitter I became more connected with heritage professionals. This sense of connectedness was a huge help when I moved to a part of Northern Ontario without knowing anyone in the heritage field. My daily interactions online helped remind me that there are lots of people passionate about history and heritage out there.
-In 2010 I also was exposed to the public library community when working with OurOntario on their Community Digitization Project. I worked with a number of small public library, participated in the OLA Super Conference, and the OLS-North conference. The enthusiasm, kindness, and collaboration in the library community made my experience a memorable one.

Looking forward:
-I have started to explore my new found local community. Despite the fact that the town and surrounding area is home to only slightly more than one thousand people I’m constantly surprised by the number of activities and choices in the area. I hope to connect with more people in this community in 2011.
-I also hope to further connect and learn from the Aboriginal community in the area. These connections occur naturally at my work but I hope to learn from the community on a level above the level required by my job.

Constructing a reading list

Today’s Prompt for #reverb10:

December 6 – Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it? (Author: Gretchen Rubin)

I’ve been struggling with today’s prompt since this morning. The most recent thing I’ve made is chocolate chip pie. However, I wanted to focus on something related to my foray into the heritage world. I’m in the process of compiling a list of things I would like to read of re-read in the upcoming year. The part of the list I’ve completed so far is below:

History/Heritage Related Reading:

  1. Shingwauk’s Vision by JR Miller (re-read)
  2. Death So Noble: Memory, Meaning, and the First World War by Johnathan Vance
  3. The Madman and the Butcher by Tim Cook
  4. Compact, Contract, Covenant: Aboriginal Treaty-Making in Canada by JR Miller
  5. I’m also still debating about reading a number of books from the Extraordinary Canadians series

Fiction and Leisure reading:

  1. The Origin of Species by Nico Rici
  2. Fall of Giants by Ken Follett
  3. The Forrest Laird by Jack Whyte
  4. Sanctuary Line by Jane Urquhart
  5. Light Lifting by Alexander MacLeod

Considering my passion for books this version of the list is a shortened one of the list that seems to constantly be multiplying.

Letting go of built heritage

The December 5th #reverb10 prompt is: Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

A number of Ontario communities let go of valuable built heritage this year. Old buildings have been damaged by neglect, torn down by cities, or ‘renovated’ in the name of modernization. Earlier this year the Heritage Canada Foundation put out a ‘worst losses’ list which named the most significant buildings lost in 2010. The list includes:

1) Century Theatre, Hamilton, Ontario
2) 35 – 151 Colborne Street, Brantford, Ontario.
3) Downsview Hangars (Buildings 55 and 58) – Former CFB Downsview, Toronto, Ontario
4) Fleming Grain Elevator, Fleming, Alberta
5) River Street, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
6) Watson Lake Hotel, Watson Lake, Yukon

All of these buildings were valuable based on their age, architecture, or provenance. It’s disconcerting that three of the six major losses on this list are from Ontario. Built heritage preservation simply isn’t a priority or fiscally feasible for a lot of communities. As a result, it seems as though at least once a month another irreplaceable historical landmark is let go of.

Finding Wonder in Natural Heritage

The fourth #reverb10 prompt is:

Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?

In the past year I have renewed my appreciation for Canada’s natural heritage and beauty. In the past I have often over looked natural heritage for more man made history. A few of the natural heritage sites which filled me with wonder this year include the Agawa Canyon, Aubrey Falls, and Lake Superior.

The hours spent on a train to get to the Agawa Canyon were more than worth the trip. The canyon park includes numerous striking waterfalls, a river, and the canyon itself is a great display of natural heritage. The canyon was created by faulting in the Canadian shield and the remote nature of the canyon has resulted in the majority of the natural beauty of the site being maintained.

My visit to Aubrey Falls inspired further appreciation of natural beauty in Canada. However, that site is directly impacted by a hydro plant next to it. The amount of water which flows over the falls is actually controlled based on how much power is being generated. The stark contrast of nature and development at Aubrey Falls reminded me of the importance of preserving our natural heritage for future generations.

The drive up to Thunder Bay allowed me to take in the vastness of Lake Superior. The changing temperament of the water, the quietness of the North, and the sea like waves were some of my favourite parts of that drive.