What I did:
Wow…This week really started out slow and seriously picked up fast. In the beginning of the week I was really trying to reach out to people and became frustrated when the response was limited. I felt my project was out of my control. I really have to understand that my entire project deals with working with other individuals, and while that is a risk, it can also pay off in the end. I must have patience.
Spent two hours learning and experimenting with my new Olympus sound recorder. I love it. Side note-the recorder's packaging is beautiful, almost reminded me of an iPod package. The simple and slick black design made me so eager to open the package and begin recording. Funny how the packaging really has such an impact.
I went to another Tent community meeting on Wednesday night for one hour. Very interesting meeting and provided great insight. This is where I first tested out my recorder.
Another two hours was spent at one of the best lectures I have ever attended at the University of Michigan. Kenneth Cole came to the School of Public Health and talked about his business and how his name brand has provided him the opportunity to fight for various causes. He talked about how the recession has provided more opportunities for creative individuals to thrive. Multiple times he stressed that in these hard times, creativity is necessary to prevail. He also talked about his business and how he started selling his shoes out of a parked trailer on the streets of NYC. His blog http://awearnessblog.com/ is awesome and I recommend checking it out. (image from website)
Why did I want to attend this lecture? Well the name "Kenneth Cole" first got my attention, but when I clicked on more information about the talk, the first article that came up on his blog was a sign! The blog post "Will the Recession Change our view of Homelessness?" discusses the current problem and how the recession might actually shine a light to the issue:
"Will profiling families like this help the homelessness problem? Will we stop assuming that people live on the street because they are lazy and don't want to work? Can we begin to see them as human beings who caught a bad break or have other issues which require outside help? If one good thing comes from the current recession and the increase in homelessness, I do hope it is a change in our culture's notion of who is homeless and most importantly, why."
Spent about three hours on my grant proposal this week. The toughest part of the grant proposal was not even budgeting the materials, or writing the proposal summary. The most challenging part was deciding the title of my project. I created a temporary title and realized I need to develop a compelling title in the next few weeks. I honestly think the project title is the most important part of our IP project. It is the face of our project, the first impression. In any art piece, it is all about the presentation, and the title serves as the introduction. I really feel the title is one of the most important and challenging parts of this project.
I also spent time sending out e-mails, following up with SOS and Alpha House. Both are supposed to get back to me within the next few days. I am eager to see if any families have agreed to me interviewing them.
This week when I went to the tent meeting, I planned specific times to meet with Jay. We agreed to meet in the downtown library today. I arrived early to scout out a good location to record our conversation, and found a study room on the third floor. I spent about 50 minutes interviewing and recording his story. And honestly, during our conversation, it really hit me. This issue is real. This guy is homeless. He has a college degree and once ran a successful marketing business. And now he can’t find a job that will give him enough hours bussing tables. I left the conversation fulfilled that I got a successful interview, but truly sad about his situation. I had a pit in my stomach on my walk home but realized this is a story that must get out.
What I achieved/accomplished/discovered:
This week taught me that these two semesters will be filled with significant ups and downs. My dad always says to treat the good days just the same as the bad ones. It is extremely difficult to depend on others when completing the most important year-long project of our college career, but I am really passionate about this and want to continue working.
I also learned the challenge of interviewing. Jay was an excellent first interview because he speaks well and is very open about his situation. Because I ultimately want the audio component of my project to be told in first person by the homeless individual, I don’t want my voice to be heard on the tape. I can’t interrupt his train of thought and I need to be careful in how I phrase my questions. I can’t ask questions in the form of “Do you like living in Ann Arbor”, because that will elicit a yes or no response. “Discuss your thoughts on living in this town” is more appropriate.
What should I do next?
I am going to photograph Jay tomorrow. He mentioned specifics today about certain objects that he keeps with him to remind him of where he came from.
I also need to edit down the 50 minutes of the interview. Trying to think about the best way to go about this. I will probably break the audio down into important segments and take notes on the most important parts I want to address.
In addition I am going to continue following up with SOS and Alpha House. Both places are going to let me know this week if I can work with a specific family. I have also reached out to IRF (homeless shelter in NJ) and they have displayed interest in my project. I need to aggressively follow up with them as well. I am also going to reach out to Avalon Housing and two other places that provide help for the homeless. I better make all of the connections possible.
I will leave you with this quote from my interview today with Jay:
“I really try to keep up appearances. And even though I don’t look homeless…sometimes when I walk around town on the street…I have kind of like a…a complex…that everyone is looking at me…judging me…and I feel like they know I am homeless.”