Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Uncovering The Wolf PACC

It's been a couple of weeks since my last entry, so I thought it was about time to check in. I am in sunny Jacksonville, Florida currently for the Eastern Region Campus Compact Conference. Not only is it 80 degrees, which I couldn't be happier about, but I'm also getting to hear about the impactful and impressive initiatives currently happening at other universities throughout the Eastern Region but particularly in Florida. 
This is Stephen Black, the grandson of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo L. Black, and one of the most eloquent and inspiring speakers I've seen. He was the Keynote at ERCC. Hope you enjoy his words as much as I did.

There's a lot of exciting things going on in the PACC world! All of the Fall Site Visits are scheduled and making my calendar full and colorful, the Fall Retreat is quickly approaching and the planning is underway (although I'm pretty sure even if I were to just stick this group of VISTAs in a room together, they'd find a way to enjoy it), and we launched the 15-16 PACC*VISTA Application. 

Meanwhile, I've been getting snippets of what all of the VISTAs are doing, and I know they are extremely busy. There's a lot going on worth sharing, so this is just my first attempt in getting some of the information out there:

Conference Calls:
Kelly and Emily M. ventured down to good ole' Harrisburg for a meeting to discuss Veterans Affairs in the Poconos region and the collaboration between Universities. We set up a conference call with Ashley and Lucio and the Student Veterans Coordinator for VFW (there's so many ancronyms in these VISTAs' speech now that I can hardly keep up). We spoke about all of the cool projects they've planned lately, involving such things as self-defense classes and motorcycles (these were not in the same activity) Ultimately, our conversation involved a lot of discussion on "Collective Impact," which is the "sexy" word in the Higher Ed. Civic Engagement world currently. I found it to be a really productive and exciting conversation about the future of these programs. However, the conference call was, as it always is, a rather awkward form of communication. I think this video sums it up best:

I went to an event that PHENND (Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Development) put on a few weeks back and along with the many initiatives they spoke about being involved in (Daisy Villa, a PACC*VISTA Alum is coordinating one of the programs), they devoted a sizable portion of the meeting to "election engagement." With the elections approaching, it made me consider how important it is to really encourage folks to vote. So, if you are not registered, I would encourage you to do so (though you've missed your opportunity to vote in this upcoming election, there are other ones afoot). If you are registered, make sure you actually get out and vote. Here's a video that has gone pretty viral at this point but Lil Jon really captures the essence of the importance of voting and gave me a little chuckle while he was at it:

I've been thinking a lot lately about how I sign my emails. I would say that this is a part of the professional world that I'm still actively navigating. Maybe that says something about how many emails I'm writing if I think about the act of emailing even when I'm not currently emailing. I love to write, I got a Masters in Writing for that very reason, but I'm still very uncomfortable with the culminating curtsy at the end of an email I've taken a while to craft. Last year, I taught my students about the "dénouement" which translates into "the untying of the knot." In a disney movie this is when they live happily ever after but in an email I think it's the salutation. The ones that resonate most with me are "Warmly," "Best," "Be Well," "Sincerely," and "Thanks" but I'm often left wondering, "am I offering them an alternative temperature?" "The best of what?" "Are they currently unwell?" "can you sincerely sign an email about tax forms or performance measures with something as sincere as sincerely?" In the old days, before emailing, when people wrote letters or made calls it seems likes how to sign off was more straight forward. But, I suppose few wrote letters with the same frequency as we write emails. In conclusion, how do you best "untie the knots" of emails with a salutation?

Forbes addresses this very issue in the link of provided, though, with very little resolution:

And if that doesn't work, I found these alternatives to standard salutations:

In other news, here's what some of the PACC*VISTAs have been up to:

Click Here to see a new piece about a program that offers free tuition to low-income students to break the cycle of poverty at Alvernia University

With the Walking Dead starting back up last week and our VISTAs hard at work, it only seems fair for Zombies to pop up in the service you're doing. I know Kevin Zuidervliet put a lot of time and hard work into this zombie race to raise money for the Lewisburg Community Garden at Bucknell University. It looks like the event was quite a hit. Sarah Dickerson even showed up to share her support while running away from a Zombie that seems to have quite a lively stride (see what I did there). Anyway, this project really exemplifies the diversity, commitment, and creativity of what you all do. 

(VISTAs, keep sending me news about your projects, so that I can continue sharing all you're doing!)