Something I thought about:

  • A couple of weeks ago, I was thinking about how to create a classroom environment that's inclusive by default. In an interview with Naomi Shihab Nye, Danez Smith talked about how they want their poems to be accessible but they said they preferred Nye's word "welcoming" because it feels more gracious. It's an invitation. I like it, too, in the context of both learning environments and writing.
  • Their conversation reminded me of one of my favorite words related to learning: convivial. I first heard it in the context of Illich's Tools for Conviviality – one of the foundational texts for the Epistemology and Learning groups at the MIT Media Lab. Our goal was to build convivial tools and software environments. Now I think in the opposite direction – instead of how do I build a tool for conviviality, I ask what kind of convivial space I can create, and which tools can I use that will either support the interaction or, at the very least, won't get in the way? How do I create a welcoming space, whether in person or virtually?

Something I did:

  • With Andrew's help, I overhauled my website — it’s now on Ghost, which I love. We had everything on Jekyll before, which was fine and much better than WordPress, but I didn't like the long build times on git. Every change that I pushed took several minutes to post. Ghost has the lightness of Jekyll and is even easier to use than WP.
  • I've been setting up all of my various systems for 2021. I have a new digital planner that I love. I use it on my iPad with a pencil, so it's like having a paper planner, and I can write all of my lists and doodle and all of that. The big difference is that I can copy and paste across pages, months, etc. – Rewriting was my biggest barrier to paper planning. I can also insert random pages wherever I want. The planner also syncs across devices, so it's on my laptop and phone, so this feels like the best of paper and digital planning.
  • I've started doing weeknotes and have a few other new habits and processes in place for the year.
  • I took the Projects and Practice workshop with author Nina LaCour, which was a terrific way to kick off the new year. I love her podcast, and it was great to see and get to work with her live.

Something I read:

  • I picked up Helen Macdonald's book Vesper Flights when it came out, and I've been dipping in and out of the essays. (I seem to only want to read essays right now because they're brief, intense, and varied.) This week I read and really liked her essay "Symptomatic," which is about migraines at first and then turns into a consideration of structures of thought and how we try to make sense of apocalypses like climate change.
  • There's the Naomi Shihab Nye interview I mentioned above (the Poetry Foundation's VS podcast). Nye is just such a lovely person and poet – I like her work for both adults and children and enjoyed hearing her speak about it.
  • I also liked Jenny Offill's New Yorker essay on Mrs. Dalloway, which explores both the act of rereading and the complexity of a deceptively simple text.