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Monday, July 28, 2008

Knitting here, ideas there

Just set up a new blog, to keep my writing about ideas and abstract creations elsewhere ( I'll keep this blog for concrete creations (like knitting).

Sunday, June 29, 2008

What looks good on larger women?

I'm thinking of knitting for a small store in Vancouver that caters to women in sizes 2-26, with a desire to provide beautiful clothes to help us look great and feel good.

It's an exciting idea; I've been interested in pattern drafting and clothing design and why there are so few clothes for me once I get to a certain level of overweight for a long time. I spent many years reading and contributing to the ample-knitters mailing list (thank you Shelda!), and for a while even thought about writing a book collaboratively out of that group.

So, I've bought some lovely yarn, and started swatching to see what I might make. And asking folks on Ravelry for feedback.

Any thoughts? What would you like in luxurious colours?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Authentic voice

I spent the weekend at Western Half-Yearly Meeting in Sorrento, BC, a gathering of Quakers in western Canada that I have attended most years since 1994. Again I felt the opening, welcoming community of those I have watched grow and change. That experience, and listening to what I had to say to other people, has helped me to further name the journey I am on, which is about finding authentic voice, and about growing the courage to speak with that authentic voice in full awareness that others may find it uncomfortable, may react, may feel that it is inappropriate. I am ready to leave my life-long strategy of carefully tuning my self-presentation to suit what I thought I knew of my audience. In that process, I think I will probably discover that what I thought I knew was often wrong. And will often be confirmed in my prejudices.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Chia Rebranded

On a recent tour of a whole/health food store, I came across a glossy display for a new wonder food, "Salba" tagged as "Nature's most powerful Whole Food". With a lot of bright packaging and glossy ads, Salba seems poised to be a big player in the nutriceutical world, promising many omega 3's, fibre and antioxidants. Salba certainly has had some serious marketing work! It takes some searching, but I did discover that the latin name for the plant is Salvia hispanica - in the mint family.

Turns out that the remarkable Salvia hispanica has already had a glorious marketing history. A google search, or a look at Wikipedia uncovers the fact that Salvia hispanica was wildly successful - as the fast growing seed in the Chia Pet!

It may or may not be a remarkable food, but it certainly has hefty marketing pedigree.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Interdisciplinarity I

Recently, I attended a workshop on "Intersectionality in Women's Health Research" at Simon Fraser University. It was terrifically stimulating for me, and part of that stimulation is a reframing of my entire way of being in the world.

In some ways, intersectionality is a fancy name for a simple concept. But it has important connotations and context that seem very powerful. And it seems important for me to figure out exactly what I mean by that, why it is so exciting and stimulating, and where I can go from here.

Intersectionality arose as a way of describing the experiences of black women activists, who found that their experiences and challenges were not being met within the women's movement, nor within black activist groups. They describe being dually penalized, and describe the ways in which both marginal (I use it in the statistical sense) movements (women, black) failed to include them and left them feeling that they had no political options that spoke to their needs. So, fundamentally, intersectionality has been a concept that allows people in multiply-marginalized roles to articulate their unmet needs, and to take political action to have those needs included in the wider discourse.

What was exciting for me?

  • Complexity as a legitimate topic
  • Transdisciplinarity embraced as a powerful research paradigm - a way across/outside of the research silo model of academic organization
  • A model for transdisciplinary work that is built on mutual respect and a delight in the ways in which each contributor's expertise can inform the collective understanding
  • Resonance with my mathematical modelling history, particularly an intriguing book I read while working for Carl Walters as an undergraduate student in 1985. The book was a set theoretical framework for understanding how natural systems work, and included some very interesting ideas about actors in a complex system, with ways to address features of each actor, and a relation (like a filter) that described how each actor was seen by other actors in the system. So, our observation process will recognize some (but not all) aspects of A and B, but A and B may see one another in entirely different ways. The theory was helpful to me in that it suggested ways in which apparent random processes might actually be driven by incomplete observation processes.
  • Where I then went with this is to think about identity- self-identity, identity by others, feedback from others, feedback from groups, systemic recognition (and failure to recognize) identities, and the role of activism and policy work in retuning systemic understanding of individuals to redress implicit and explicit processes by which individuals are seen and categorized.
  • Out of this has come some interesting ideas about integrity, the costs of not having integrity, and the ways in which living in a congruent environment facilitates integrity, while living in a fragmented environment makes it much harder.
  • My math-geek self was also challenged by the fact that both of the introductory speakers (Rita Dhamoon, Ange-Marie Hancock) were struggling to find a representation to visualize what they were describing.
One opening that I believe this may represent is for those of us who find our expertise is excluded from acceptable discourse because we are positioned within biomedicine. Just as class may act through gender, and gender may act through class (Gita Sen, public evening lecture), both may act through physiological mechanisms. If you understand those mechanisms, you can ask more interesting questions, and ask them in ways that are enriching and helpful for policy.

I would like to write more fully on many of these topics, but this is a useful start.

Caterpillar steps

So, finally, I have started a blog. I know that I have a lot to write about, and having a public place to put that writing is interesting. And also scary.