Friday, August 11, 2017

Utilizing Diverse Communities within Menomonie for Water Quality through Community Organizations

I’ve learned in the past few years of my life that community is a crucial element of what’s important to me. But for me, that has only been defined as far as having people around me who are supportive and make me feel at home. This summer I’ve had the chance to really think about what makes a community works, how it actually functions, and how it creates change. The more academic, but helpful, term for this is community capacity. It’s a concept that includes elements that work together to accomplish just that, a functioning community. These elements include having a sense of community, commitment, being able to define and access resources, as well as the ability to set and achieve goals. Actually thinking about the elements that contribute to a community is valuable when it comes to solving issues. At this point in my life, my interactions with community have been transitory – traveling and moving around, working seasonal jobs, being a student. I haven’t had the chance to establish myself as part of a long-term community yet. Having the opportunity to have a glimpse of what that looks like and study it this summer in Menomonie has been insightful. It is very fitting then that my final research project revolved around this idea of how community organizations can contribute to the community’s capacity for changes in water quality.  

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Long Live Nach Raff: A Summer Session in Policy Analysis and Interdisciplinary Fun

“We are all born with a unique genetic blueprint, which lays out the basic characteristics of our personality as well as our physical health and appearance...And yet, we all know that life experiences do change us.”
- Joan D. Vinge

Purpose. Many aspects of life are centered upon a sense of purpose, upon the “why?” factor that either motivates us or moves us to find another use for our time. Fortunately, this summer was devoid of the latter and saturated with the former. The beginning of these past eight weeks was nothing short of a search for purpose as I tried to find my footing within the larger scope of the program. Thanks to the guidance and support of my faculty mentor Zach Raff, that purpose was found in short order as we promptly set our research project in motion. While I was excited to begin and well aware of how rewarding the process would be, I quickly realized that this summer was going to be a lot more than an exercise in research exposure; the experience as a whole would shape my career goals and personal outlook on what it means to find one’s niche in the world.