“The end’s not near, it’s here.”

Graduation is in under four days. Graduation. From my Masters program. God that sounds weird. I rushed this program, ran right through it. But it doesn’t feel like I began yesterday and I feel older and more tired than I ever felt. With the exception of one email from a professor, my semester ended today. I finished the end-of-semester paperwork in the library and that sat in my chair for hours too tired to move.

For the last year, I’ve been immersed in one project and one project only, really. My thesis and all the research and thought that went into it, “Integrating Food Access, Food Security, Food Justice, and Food Sovereignty Paradigms in Order to Develop an Integral Food Systems Theory of Change: A North Minneapolis Case Study.” What has amazed me about this research has been quite simple: the extent of the radical, transformative organizing happening in North Minneapolis and the importance of community-based research and research structures in powerful community organizing. Which is not to say my research is the end-all and be-all of research in North Minneapolis, but what I have learned from this is fairly straightforward. Marginalized communities, much like they need their own food systems and banks and policies and social systems, need their own research structures and researchers.

One day soon I’ll have a link to the completed thesis up on this blog. But I want to say two other things first. I’m currently working on two very inter-related and intersecting projects, two projects I feel intimately connected to, the Rizoma Community Media Collective and a training series I’m calling “Embedded Journalism for Solidarity Journalists.” Rizoma is one of less-than-a-handful of independent media organizations in Northern Arizona. It is a founding collaboration amongst myself, a PC student Mack Macner, and our mentor faculty Ernesto Todd Mireles. Our aim is to build a collectively-run, community-based news organization that aims to both amplify the voices of marginalized communities (through multimedia news platforms, trainings, etc…) and connect the Prescott College community with marginalized communities in Yavapai county.

For the latter of these goals, we are asking whether or not research can be be effectively used as a tool for social change. For the training program “Embedded Journalism for Solidarity Journalists,” I’ve just begun considering a training manual, a white paper, a way of teaching new journalists and change agents how to tell and share the news from within social movements. Taking the best of citizen journalist, independent journalism, and legacy journalism, and lessons learned from each of these journalism modes, and then developing a new way of doing social movement journalism. My goal for the next year is to continue reporting from within protests, rallies, and social movement discussions and activities. My intent is to continue learning from these journalism experiences and then develop a publish-able white paper on the topic. More importantly, however, my goal is to develop a training curriculum on the topic, as well as an entire class on the topic. I don’t doubt that this project will be incredibly intense and require more out of me as a journalist than anything I have ever encountered. For all that is meant to be educational, I know that I will learn more about the world, journalist, and my role and work as a journalist than I could have ever imagined before.

The projects, the commitments above, all three of them: my thesis research, Rizoma, and the training program, I’m so excited for them. It’s been a good long while since I’ve not felt cynical about either journalism or community organizing, but I feel like I’m more realistic about these projects. My intentions for myself and this work are more clear. And I am very, very excited. It’s tough to not be working on any one of the three.

With graduation on Sunday, it’s really fulfilling and rewarding to know I have work on the horizons that is even more exciting, that these projects would not have happened without having attended graduate school (let alone this graduate program). I’ll keep you updated as to what’s next.

Speaking of what’s next, two things. First, I apologize for the near-radio silence over the last few months. I’ve been dug deep into my thesis. Second, expect some changes and additions to this blog space in the next month or so, accomplice links, my training portfolio, resume, published thesis, and writing & media portfolio, as well as some exciting new content.

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