Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Strand of Yarn To Be Unstrung

Is it providence, magic or a process of generational learning? Either way, I'm a lucky one! The first thing I was blessed with, before even breathing the oxygen of this existence, were my parents, Dave and Trudy DeMarle. Last week I was fortunate to be able to spend my vacation time with them in Vermont and my home state of New York.

To this day they are an example of respect and care, intelligence and creativity. They are the spine of a strong family and support each other even more fully. What is the magic that made them such and me so?

Unfortunately this is not to say that I have not made detour choices or overcome very difficult challenges, to include a long forgiven, misbegotten abusive relationship. However my parents' early example has shown me the magic and held forward a light to steer towards.

In the past two weeks, inclusive of my fractured vacation, an activity surge has hit the Emergent Media Center. The AA team projects are completing. Deadlines are nearing for the Information Literacy and the Burlington 3D projects. We are planning the renovation and move to a new space in the Champlain Mill in Winooski—off campus but across the street from the Spinner student residences. Looming largest of all was the kick-off of the Robert Wood Johnson funded Cystic Fibrosis project and the Violence Against Women project for the UNFPA (UNFPA VAW).
Three prior weeks were spent selecting the teams for these two projects. It was highly competitive and students were matched to projects by interest, their potential for individual growth and the potential they bring towards solutions. The photos here are from the kick-off beginning with President Dave Finney addressing the UNFPA team, underscoring the significance of the project. Others include the students getting to know each other with Apples to Apples, recognizing the immensity of the task at hand with Population Media Center's (PMC) Scott Connolly, and working through early brainstorming.
This past Monday, PMC president Bill Ryerson and I met with Aminata Toure, our UNFPA grantor in New York City. Her comments illustrated her passion for creating change and her intuitive understanding of the unique power games can bring to creating it. Likewise she was deeply interested in who makes up our student team: what were their personal experiences with domestic violence, what early ideas did they have, and what game mechanics can be envisioned to reach young men? She stressed that this is a universal tragedy—distributed equally between cultures, ethnicities, economic strata. There are no stereotypes.
This afternoon the UNFPA VAW team met to share progress made this last week. Many excellent discoveries were shared. Poignantly, the group has found that each question they pose and answer, leads to a multiplicity of new questions. A strand of yarn becoming unstrung.
This evening my central question with a yet to be uncovered answer remains this: what is the magic sauce that has created a strong, respectful, joyful partnership for my parents—and in turn instilled for their progeny a joyous respect for all humanity? Is it possible to game-ify that?

Believe it or not, in a bit over two weeks most of the team travels to South Africa AND the Emergent Media Center moves into a new home off the Champlain College campus. Stay tuned. And thanks Mom and Dad for sharing the sweetness of life's air.

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