Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Stepping Back & Asking More Questions

(In which the author talks about her feelings in fragmented thoughts the day after our fall exhibit, The Cost of Home, goes up, which by the way, is free and open to public til January 2017 at 1725 Baronne. Okay, shameless self-promotion done.)


A visitor looking at The Cost of Home exhibit

I’m thinking about theater, how performance or the culmination of any big event seems to wipe away most, if not all, bad feelings and the aftertaste of disagreements, headaches, tears, and angry exchanges.

Thinking also about the connection between managing projects and graphic design. Both require imposing order or hierarchy (of information, of tasks, etc.) on a chaotic mass of information. Design is a powerful tool to make information accessible and understandable. Also have been thinking about how you can’t design anything without understanding whatever information you’re designing. (All these thoughts are related to my recently reading some data visualization books, including Richard Saul Wurman’s Information Architects and Alberto Cairo’s The Truthful Art. Highly recommend both of them if anyone’s interested in graphic design for education/advocacy and complex storytelling.)

How do I make sure not to get caught up in the small day-to-day details of work/life and instead be constantly vigilant in asking bigger questions, or aware of bigger, overarching issues? Ex: Why are we making exhibits that mostly get seen by people who already know stuff about affordable housing? We seem to only be attracting Tulane folks — how do we expand our circle/contacts/connections? Update our communications strategy? More door-to-door handing flyers out than online promotion? How do you build those relationships?

With Red Beans Roundtables, we have the same conversations over and over again with the same people; I think it would be more productive for people with different views to engage in dialogue with one another (but perhaps this is a bigger issue of polarization in the US…)

Similar question of expanding connections: How do we make our Request for Proposals more accessible? Why are we only focused on giving assistance to other non-profits? Is that a specific qualification in the Johnson Controls Inc grant money, or a self-imposed constraint?

At the exhibit’s receptions, we had Tulane Law Professor and Associate Dean of Public Interest Programs,Stacy Seicshnaydre, explain how federal government policies created segregated housing. Incredibly eye-opening, scary, and sad. It almost felt akin to lifting up a rock and seeing the ground beneath it teem with a whole city of bug monsters.

Thinking also about the importance of self-determination w/ people I work with. Relevant to both being an outsider in a new city and working in a non-profit that’s trying to improve life for residents, AND to working within any group.




This entry was posted on September 25, 2016 by in VISTA Field Reports.



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