Friday, June 24, 2011

Stacey's First Week o' Grad School

So, despite starting grad school in the summer, I can’t think of anything better...
My first day, we collected in a room in the library for pastries and coffee and a kind of welcome/introduction from Petra Hagen, who is in charge of Graduate Programs in the School of Journalism and Communication. We got a better idea of what we were to expect in the coming months and how she, along with the rest of the Journalism grad faculty crew are all very much available for us. What is happening right now, is that the journalism school building is getting a total makeover over the course of the next two years so our classes will be held in the Library as well as other buildings. The faculty will be stationed in Agate Hall (where I’m told the Vaux’s Swifts swirl out of the sky and down into the chimney in the evenings at a certain time of year!). So it sounds a little scattery, but I’m it’s easy to zoom around from one side of campus to the other on my bike. I think the faculty really wants to make extra care to be accessible to us, what with these changes going on just as we’re coming in.

Funny that Boulder, my other choice of school, was going through very similar changes, it was just their bad luck that the situation blew up in their faces with the audit falling right in the middle of it all.

I have no regrets, though. Just seems like I’m coming into grad school for Journalism just when the educational movement is making sure to keep up with the changes that the field is experiencing. What I like hearing is that we are going to have classes available to us now that keep us right up there in the running.

Willamette River Trail
For example, our first class has us each in front of a huge Mac computer learning about blogging on Wordpress and how to navigate Twitter and use it as a journalism tool. Suzi Steffens is our teacher for this class, Reporting and Information Strategies. The name just sounded boring so I didn’t have much hope for the class.

Not til Suzi walked in the door.

This woman pretty much blew us all away. Not five minutes into class she had us all cracking up, talking about her obsession with twitter and flying from one interesting topic to another.

Before we knew it, we were on our first “assignment”. Like, she literally had us choose a part of town based on our interests, partnered us up, and kicked us out onto the streets to “find some news”!  Way too cool.

So I was partnered with Chris and we took off on our bikes (good thing I got a fellow cyclist!) and headed off along the river trail. Chris is a California native and comes from a background in photography and just graduated a few weeks ago! So in a whirlwind, now he’s in grad school.

This couple was just too charming not to capture in a picture.
We tooled along the trail and checked out some of the various sites just off the trail, the Rose Garden which is now in bloom. I got to talking to this one man and we discovered he was the father of Chad who led our Mt. Hebo trip yesterday, haha, so I got to see him again and he seemed a little horrified that I was meeting his father who had opted to go to the Fairy Festival over joining our hike. His father was a very sweet character.

Chris and I carried on and pulled up to the River House where there was a community garden. With the intention to ask someone about that, we discovered the house itself was run by the Eugene Outdoor Program. After asking where we might find someone to talk to about the garden, we struck up conversation with one of the employees of the program and ended up finding a good story lead in him! He’s the Lead Kayak Instructor and told us about the program and how it caters to the youth of Eugene. Chris manned up and asked if we could get some photos of him (as a photographer, this is something he is use to..and something I’m going to have to work up to!) and took a couple great shots of him in the boat shed with the colorful array of kayaks lined up behind him.

Afterwards, we were outside and found a woman filling up a bag next to the garden and we asked her what she was up to. Turns out the compost is free and she was getting some for her own home garden. The city provides the various community gardens around the city with the fallen leaves and clippings they collect in the fall which is something gardeners drool over.

We rode on and talked a bit with a man in a motorized wheelchair who called himself Scooter. He was outfitted in bright orange reflective clothing and said that even that didn’t keep the cars from hitting him! He’s been here for decades and told us how much change he’s seen as Eugene has developed over time. Nice guy, once he found out we were riding on the sidewalk because we were lost and a little afraid of the road construction that was going on where we had intended to ride.

In an attempt to find a reclaimed farmland (unfarmed and let to return to natural landscape) that Suzi had told us about, we got hopelessly lost. A map would have been helpful, something I usually tend to have on me but of course not today. So we road in what we swore was a straight line but crossed Coburg Rd about three times (despite the fact that I’m pretty sure it is in a straight line as well…). Meh. Smh…

Somehow we found our way home and that night I wrote up my article on the kayak guy and the outdoor program.

That was all just Monday!!

Okay, so I don’t really remember all what happened on Tuesday. Suzi gave us a big tutorial on Twitter and Wordpress and we went over each others’ articles. I’m discovering how cool twitter is after half-heartedly giving a dang about it for however long I’ve been a member (aside from posting links to my articles and blog posts..). You really just constantly have a stream of real-time news right at your fingertips and you can follow whatever you’re interested in and get updates all the while. So I’m excited about my local resources, it’s fun to see what’s going on in Eugene from various different perspectives (including the police, my teacher, classmates, Eugene new resources, Eugene bikers…pretty great. So suddenly I’m understanding Suzi’s obsession and am suddenly realizing I’ve developed one quite similar…

Oh yea! I went on a jog up the trail to Fox Hollow and then on toward’s my second time and will be a long time before I’m not gasping like some desperate, flopping fish out of water as I “run” (aka, put one foot in front of the other, if barely) up the path.

One of the lush, overflowing plots at a Eugene Community Garden
Wednesday Chris and I made another news-finding expedition. We hung out sketchily outside of one locked community garden that had its gate ajar ‘til we got up the nerve to just walk on in. Well after watching us amusedly as we walked up, one of a trio of gardeners asked us what was up and we told him. “Did you come on bikes?” he barked, we nervously pointed at them propped up near the gate. But no, they were actually really nice and eager to talk. Pat Bayes told me he’d been at that garden for two years but has been a gardener for fifty. He pulled me off to show me the various plots while Chris took pictures and talked with the others. Bayes’ dream is to run this garden as a community, rather than having it under the control of the city. In essence, they want “control over our own existence and how we do things”, sharing crops as a community and paying dues with “sweat equity”.

Both days out in search of news, Chris and I have marveled over how open and friendly people here are. We’ve learned so much from this handful of people we’ve encountered who were more than happy to stop for awhile and just talk with us. It’s been really quite an experience..especially for the introvert in me. I definitely have had to give a little extra shove to urge myself toward that next unsuspecting interviewee. They won’t all be so nice, right?

After covering our “beat” for the afternoon, I headed home and met Cathy and we got ready for our Wednesday GEARs ride. I’d had it in the back of my head all day, knowing we’d be doing Gimple Hill which Cathy had told me weeks ago was pretty rough! Well, we met up with the group under some slightly ominous skies and headed up Loraine (which sure ain’t an easy feat in itself!). The ride was pretty flat for the majority after that and the clouds broke apart, allowing for another golden evening that will only be a vague memory in four months or so.

The beautify of the sunlight cannot begin to be fully expressed here
Gimple Hill loomed ahead and Gary, the ride leader told me to just shift way down, take it slow and “enjoy yourself”. Well I made it and am not any worse for wear. Cathy was right there too and I didn’t hear her about hard core-she just did a big ride only yesterday! We were both very happy we’d gone. The skies were phenomenal on the ride home.

For Thursday, Suzi told us she’d be in class for our scheduled block but that we didn’t have to come in. Well, I was glad to see about five or so of us showed to take advantage of another opportunity to learn something new from Suzi. Well, we are definitely being introduced to some interesting slices of the internet! Sorry, I’m not going to divulge all my secrets! Not yet!

We had a little cohort lunch get together, my classmates and I. It was nice to enjoy an opportunity to bond as a group on the patio at Agate Alley. We’ve got some characters! It was great to sit back and relax as we laughed, related to each other and shared our stories.

One thing we all had in common is we are so excited that this adventure is starting and are looking forward to what is to come.

1 comment:

  1. sounds like it'll be great! missyaloveya
    yr mom


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