Jennifer Sedell

Once upon a time, I used to guide the development of workplans for AmeriCorps members. The plans needed to be clear lists of discrete and do-able tasks with outcomes that were measurable in some way. For many projects, the workplan provided a meaningful guide to an otherwise fuzzy three- or ten-month project. Over the years, I oversaw a few hundred workplans. I got a good idea of what panned out and what didn’t. So it is somewhat embarrassing that I now find writing my own workplan for a summer project so challenging.

To be fair, my project is still in development. Not only that, the project is not a discrete thing that I have been handed to create and implement. It is part of a highly collaborative, dynamic process, bouncing between the program manager of Cal Ag Roots, an advisory committee, and a series of key stakeholders. How exactly I fit into the equation, what role I take, a specific task list remain under negotiation. And in that, I actually relish some of the ambiguity. The project forms and moves with the communities it serves. That said, my involvement has a time horizon, one that is much shorter than that of my collaborators. So one summer, what’s going on?
The things I know: I will be very involved in generating and locating material for the project. We want to develop a podcast, so we need to collect audio material. This material will include several interviews, a walking tour of orchards in the San Joaquin Valley, and hopefully sound clips we can rustle up in archives. I will be part of the core team conducting interviews and collecting archival material. We need visuals to accompany the story when it is later performed live and presented on the website; I will also help find and collect those. Overall, we need enough material to identify and develop story threads. So, I will be in archives in the Bay Area and possible Los Angeles, as well as talking with folks.
The unknowns: How far will we get in the actual production of the podcast before my term is up? How will I participate in the development of the podcast script? What role will I play in the assembly, editing, and mixing of the podcast? Will I shift gears off the podcast to focus more on developing the project website? How much content will I write for the “story hub”?

 

After the summer ends, I hope I will have left the project with at least one or two tangible outputs: be that short written pieces, an ESRI storymap, or the podcast. I’d rather not simply dump a series of files on the already overextended program staff and run. I also realize how valuable the relationships are that I am developing through this project, and I hope to in some way continue an affiliation with the organization… and maybe help wrap up some of the inevitable loose ends from the summer.