Happy New Year

Dear Friends,

After a whirlwind of work at the end of 2017, an update is due. I have a feeling that 2018 is going to be a much better year.

The end of 2017 has me feeling road-weary. Since September, I have visited eight countries, met with countless friends and colleagues, finished my Master’s thesis (pending final approval from Dave), and applied to a PhD in Social Research Methods at the London School for Economics. I look forward to seeing the fruits of these adventures in the future.

Sunset on The Canary Islands

The universe taught me a lesson on my way the U.K. in December. As many of you saw because of my rantings on social media. My bag was taken from me due to the bus company. In that bag was nearly every possession I had acquired to transition myself from student life to professional life. I felt as though I needed to make a fast transition by buying a nice jacket, a new pair of shoes, various gadgets and everything to live a comfortable life on the road. Maybe losing the bag was just bad luck. It could be. But after much reflection, I think that being stripped of my possessions was a message to return to the basics- being present and letting my work speak for itself. I’ll be traveling to Thailand tomorrow with my school bag that I’ve had since my undergraduate time at George Mason, accompanied by my ever-present Moleskin notebooks, my laptop, two shirts, one pair of pants, a toothbrush, and a clear conscience.

Being on the road has also caused me to think about how disconnected and fragmented Millennials are. The hostels I’ve stayed in are filled with people sitting by themselves and on their phones. I’m starting to seriously question if technology can be actually be considered beneficial to our social condition. It’s great to be able to message family and friends across the world, but when we are sacrificing our presence in the ‘real world’ and our now-ness, we risk being alone all of the time. I’ve struggled with this in the past months. Innovating the new method for conflict transformation during my studies has often forced me to develop ideas alone. I want to leave this in 2017.

In 2018, I’m making it my goal to bring more of you into the conversation. I dream of developing a community of like-minded friends working together toward a common cause. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a job that allows me to travel freely and work with some of the best minds in the world. I want to use this privilege to break the monotony and precariousness cause by the neoliberal catastrophe that has befallen my generation and bring as many of you as I can along for the ride. This is on my mind every day, and I’m working on it. Stay tuned.

Now, some updates:

  1. In March, I will be presenting at SXSW with Dave Snowden in a session titled: “Sensemaking for Cities: Conflict and Complexity”. Thank you again for your support in the voting process that resulted in our selection.
  2. To prepare SXSW, I will launch a pilot project in Lawrence, KS that focuses on the recent instances of gun violence. If Lawrence is good enough to be the center of Google Earth, it is certainly good enough to be the first site of a new research method for conflict analysis and transformation. My goal is to collect at least 200 responses to the survey, which will be showcased during the SXSW presentation. I will need your help once again to participate and share the survey with your friends. A successful pilot will not only help the Lawrence community make sense of some of the violence that has recently occurred on our streets. It will also be a proof of concept that can be used to start many future projects. I anticipate launching the project within the next two weeks.

There are many other irons in the fire. In 2018, I also want to practice writing and publishing more. Ideally, I will go back through my notes and bring out some essential concepts for development. Time will tell.

Here is to more learning, exploration, and hopefully some vacation in 2018.