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2021 Update Covid Numbers Declining, Heartland Access, Studio Space and Class Visits

It’s 2021 and there’s surely been some changes in the world and just as many things that are absolutely the same. I’ve made some progress and some things are still waiting to happen with my fellowship and I’m going to list those things out below in several categories.

Class Visits: I’ve scheduled class visits with a number of people including Kelli Connell, Joan Giroux and Melissa Potter at Columbia College and one with Jonathan Trundle at MTSU who I know from SPE and who came to our presentation last year. I’ve got more emails out to other professors and will be following up with them shortly. I’ve also got some ideas for classes outside Columbia College that I’m reaching out to as well.

Studio Space: I’ve recently acquired a new studio space that I’m using for the fellowship so that I have a place to work where I can pin up work, have a quiet space that’s away from distractions and a place where when I go there it’s exclusively for working on my fellowship. I also have 24 hour access and the space is unused 95% of the time so it’s an ideal space where I don’t have to be around anyone and I can work into the night if I like as well. I spent some time building movable walls that I can thumbtack prints, notes and research to so that I can more easily reflect on and keep track of the threads in my fellowship work. I’m feeling particularly good that I was able to make this happen as it’s also forcing me to do more walking and physical activity which is really helping me mentally. The physical exercise of just doing the carpentry work and painting to make the walls for a couple weeks was really energizing in that way. I also spent a good amount of time getting all the work I’ve made printed in small 4×6 prints which are going up on the walls I built. I brought over a small printer I have and set it up in the space for this purpose. There’s some pictures below of all that. The next step is more thinking and writing about the work I’ve made to date (which I can finally see up on the wall!) and going over my notebooks from the fellowship site visits, meetings with Heartland staff and meetings with Judy and Betsy. I am now able to go to this space and work on these things in a similar way to when I had my studio at Columbia or could more easily spend time on campus in my office.

Access at the UC Shelters: Over the holidays and into early January there has not been any changes in access to the UC shelters. Much of the ICC staff is working at Saura instead which helps American children in a similar group home setting. I have heard that the ICRC might be having children coming soon but I have yet to confirm if that is true with Maria Kenney. I sent an email to Maria Kenney to see if there were any changes in the UC programs that might allow me to continue photography or some of the other proposals (thank you letters, interviews of staff, etc) but I’ve not heard back yet. We had a zoom meeting back in December after we had our end of semester review and at that point things were completely unknown and there was no timeline for when things could resume. I had pressed a little bit to see if we could start with online presentations and interviews with staff in the interim while we waited for things to reopen but I got the impression that Maria and the UC management had some things on their plate and that it wasn’t going to happen quickly. As I’ve mentioned I’m trying to not annoy Maria and the UC management too much so I’m definitely leaving some time before following up with requests for updates. I have a follow up email scheduled to go out this Friday if I haven’t heard back from Maria by then to gently remind her. With Covid restrictions in Chicago rolling back and allowing indoor dining and infection numbers falling it seems like access might come back as it did over the summer. Additionally staff are now eligible for the vaccine as my wife was just informed she could get the vaccine because of her job at Heartland. If enough staff are getting vaccinated that should certainly ease some of the worry at Heartland and potentially make access better.

I’ll have another post soon with some more updates and content…

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