First time posting in almost five years! Yikes. Again. In the days following my recent Buffy talk at the Adriance Library, I’ve found myself wanting to update my website, but as I’ve written about before, I always struggle to describe my “brand,” my unique niche in the ecosystem of media education, art education, community impact, media production, academic film and televisual studies, non-profit management…it’s just always been difficult for me to encapsulate myself and the sheer breadth of everything I do in a succinct turn of phrase. And the admission of intentionality behind consciously constructing one’s brand identity has just always triggered my imposter syndrome to kick in. Not to mention that I’ve developed all sorts of complexes around motherhood and identity, as I’ve had a wonderful child since the last time I posted who is adorable and precocious and to whom I happily so many of my waking hours, it’s just made it hard to be productive academically or engaged with social media. By the time I get an hour to myself, I’m exhausted and can’t think straight. But if an exhausted hour is all I can get, I’m trying to get done what I can in that hour. Hence me using naptime to try and get this update post out there!
In updating my resume recently with a couple of recent public speaking engagements, it struck me that maybe my brand can be gleaned from the titles of the five public speaking engagements I’ve done recently (all in the past three weeks, no less):
The Monster Metaphor in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Arts, Access, and Excellence: Creation and Community in Poughkeepsie with The Art Effect
Digital Media Production for English Language Arts Teachers
Animated Expression: Digital Animation for Social Justice Storytelling
Mid-Hudson Regional Child Care Advocacy Hour
So there, you’ve got the nonprofit angle, the media education angle, the academic angle, the empowering pedagogue angle…and the Buffy scholar angle. And though it’s been an exhausting few weeks, it’s also been incredibly inspiring to get to work alongside so many wonderful humans.
The Monster Metaphor in Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In this talk, I used Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a lens through which audiences can understand how using supernatural allegories to understand and interrogate social issues can function as a tool for hope in hard times, even as it runs the risk of reinvesting in the monstrous conditions it aims to escape!
Arts, Access, and Excellence: Creation and Community in Poughkeepsie with The Art Effect: How can the arts empower and uplift communities struggling with poverty? In this presentation, The Art Effect’s Director of Programs Mary Ellen Iatropoulos discusses how arts-based workforce development programs can provide a pathway out of poverty, from helping youth obtain their first paying jobs in the arts, to increasing first-generation students’ access to college, to developing a Youth Arts Empowerment Zone that helps to sustainably revitalize Main Street Poughkeepsie.
Digital Media Production for English Language Arts Teachers: in this professional development session, 9 ELA teachers from Poughkeepsie High School received a three-hour training in turning literary assignments into digital media production assignments. Teachers learned two project-based learning methods: Google Websites Character Studies and Flexier Video Book Reports. It was fun to see teachers get excited as they began to realize the possibilities of using digital production technology for offering students ways to perform their understanding and demonstrate their learning. One teacher had the idea of adapting the traditional charatcer study assignment to become about creating “dating profile” websites for characters. She created an example, “Hold Holden Close,” an imaginary dating profile for The Catcher in The Rye‘s Holden Caulfield. Other teachers got excited about adapting persuasive essays into persuasive video essays.
Animated Expression: Digital Animation for Social Justice Storytelling: In this workshop at the 2023 Multicultural Education Conference, I led attendees through applying the Open Minds To Equality (Schniedewind and Davidson, 2011) four-step framework for teaching social justice to the project of producing digitally animated shorts in diverse learning contexts. This workshop was really fun, with teachers and high school students alike in the audience. I based this workshop around my past experiences implementing digital animation residencies at Poughkeepsie High School and Wappingers Junior High School, and by the end of our 90-minute session, every attendee had used FlipAClip to create a short animated sequence as well as concrete lesson plans for using animation in any educational setting to empower learners of all ages, for social-emotional learning, for challenging identity-based stereotyping, and for social justice storytelling.
Mid-Hudson Regional Child Care Advocacy Hour: I had the pleasure of emceeing this political advocacy event, during which two hundred+ parents, child care providers, non-profit directors, and business owners appealed to elected officials to lobby for expanding child care funding. I could have sworn I got some screenshots of me hosting the meeting and facilitating the discussion, but it looks like all I managed to get was this…
I don’t remember what the above was in response to, exactly, but am grateful for the opportunity to get to speak out on child care, which I’ve some to understand is a fundamental aspect of the way our society works, but is criminally under appreciated in general terms and specifically to the NYS budget, undervalued.
What a whirlwind. I’m grateful for this lazy Sunday afternoon, grateful I got to write this while my child napped, and yet, more grateful still to hear her stirring in the next room. Until next time, friends, take care of each other out there.