Sunday, January 31, 2010

Eclecticism


"Eclecticism is self-defeating
not because there is only one direction
in which it is useful to move
but because there are so many:
It is necessary
to choose."

- Clifford Geertz

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Grace

Today was a warmer, breezy winter day in Boston and as I was walking through Harvard Square I smelled the scent of fresh flowers in the air. It was coming from half a block ahead of me--a bucket of pink and white carnations in front of a flower shop being rather haphazardly 'arranged' by a man.

As I approached, I said "those smell delicious. I could smell them half-way down the block." He smiled and replied, "Here. This one is for you."

I was so pleased to have a carnation to carry with me, and I admired its very long stem (about 2 feet) and its delicate frosted slips-of-leaves and breathed deeply into it as I walked down the street toward the T. I knew that as it warmed up a bit, the flower would release more scent, and I enjoyed the coolness of its creamy ivory petals on my nose.

"How under-appreciated you are," I thought, to the carnation. "You are so beautiful, so voluptuous, so taken-for-granted. Cheap flower. Filler in a bouquet of more exotic specimens. But YOU are beautiful." My next thought was, "OMG. I'm 'talking' to a flower."

"Stop staring at me," I thought to it as I sat silently in the subway car. One white flower in a dreary, mid-winter subway car actually asserts quite an imposing presence. Well, I felt it. It cheered me and brought something special into an otherwise ordinary moment. A woman was talking to herself at the other end of the car and I recalled a line from a movie about how we're all terrified of going crazy. "Where does this flower-telepathy put me?" I wondered.

A remarkable thing happened to me with this flower today. People on the street, in elevators, on the bus talked to me! I talked with more strangers today than I have in the past 2 months. "That's a nice carnation," one said. "Special occasion?" said another. "Early Valentine's Day," another guessed. "A stranger gave it to me," I answered.

The power of this flower! Wow! "I should just carry around a flower every day," I thought. "How the world would open up to me!" Or was this a special moment? A special flower? Just a day with a sniff of spring in the air ... a dead-winter day when the sight of a flower might remind people of a forgotten fecundity?

This flower and its delicate scent made of a dull day something remarkable. Without words or actions it brought comfort, beauty, surprise, conversation and opportunity into my day.

Am I crazy?
It felt like grace.

The Danger of a Single Story



This is a brilliant talk, from the perspective of a Nigerian novelist, about how stories define "others" and create stereotypes. I think it's a "must see" for anyone working in Public Affairs. Of course, the use of the "single story" is a technique that has often been applied intentionally to achieve a social or political end (could we call it propaganda?). It raises the question of ethics, and whether means justify ends. Telling a "single story"--even as it may achieve one's goal--often has pervasive negative consequences.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

New Path

If I have any followers these days, I would let you know that I have certainly been wandering aimfully out of range of this blog for quite awhile. But much good stuff is happening. The world will be pleased to know that the wanderer has returned to the blogosphere, thanks to an assignment in my Public Affairs class at Emerson College.

Subsequent posts this spring will relate to Public Relations, Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy...and of course, anything else I happen to wander into.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

C'est pas compliqué

Love this song by Awilo Longomba feat. DJ Skalp.
"Life is beautiful. Don't complicate things."

Monday, January 04, 2010

Stereotype Threat and Black Achievement


A conversation between Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Claude Steele






This video was produced for the Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Financial Food for Thought


For any woman who has made the resolution to get her finances in order this year, this book is really helpful. Along the same lines, Bach has other books entitled "Smart Couples Finish Rich" and "Start Late, Finish Rich."

While the series seems a bit gimmicky/self-helpy, I find them very easy to read, with good suggestions for how to set and maintain financial goals and how to get your financial documents organized.