Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Monday, August 21, 2006


I hung out with the UNC SKS kids at FallFest, and annual welcome-back-to-school street fair at the Chapel Hill campus. My brain is still working at half-steam today, after staying out half the night with them.

Some reactions:
  • That event was at least twice as big as the last one I went to four or five years ago. I don't think Carolina has doubled in size since then, so something has changed . . . I'm not sure if it's just that the event is better-run, or better-promoted, or if the student body has changed.
  • What struck me the most was the overall coolness associated with extracurricular activities. It used to be that extracurricular activities were considered, well, extra: people did the things they thought were fun, but mostly they were there to go to school. But the overwhelming spirit of the people I talked to was that belonging to student organizations was necessary and expected. It was the opposite of apathy, which was the common challenge faced by student organizations ten years ago. What changed?
  • One of the core principles of the SKS is that you can only really get to know somebody by doing something with them. You can talk with someone in dozens of group meetings and never really know them, but you can work a booth with someone for a couple hours and know vastly more about who they are: the way they approach people, the kind of people who approach them, the friends that stop, the things they talk about. I felt a much stronger connection to everyone there by the time the night was over. As much as facilitators like us have longed to be freed from the on-the-ground grunt work of group-building, there is a tremendous amount of insight to be gained from it.
  • No matter how old you get, when you find yourself talking to young people in a young person's environment, you start to worry about whether you're cool or not. Or, I do, anyway. But, as Buffy creator Joss Whedon knew, you can evoke all kinds of hellish associations in people by making them imagine what school was like.
  • It's going to be a really good year for the SKS. Thaaaaank God.


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