You know it’s bad when you can’t find your own website.

How do I login to Dark Ally Redesign?

I have a lot to write today: a brief description of the MEDIEM/UMass Dashboard tool for online social deliberation, some notes on accommodation concerns, and a public report on the findings of the action learning research that I did in a workshop at RID Region II. The conversation threads with each associated interlocutor-group are simultaneous-they are happening in concurrent real time.

2:37 pm
Two long text messages were just sent, by me, to one of my longtime interpreter supporters. Because she texted me a “BTW” message while I was typing the preceding list of things to do. In the duree. That’s what we’d call it if we were talking in terms of historical time, instead of at this microscale of time presently passing. (If she responds to my request to use the screenshot of that “BTW” message with an affirmative informed consent – ( as opposed to the more conservative negative informed consent) – let’s just call ’em IC-A and IC-B. Informed CONSENT Type A (Affirmative) or Informed Consent Type B (Negatory on that good buddy.)

2:44 pm
Mediem/UMass Online Social Deliberation Project: There’s a quote I want to find, either from a blogentry or a Transmittal with Readiness Consulting Services, which described the duality at the core of the delay in the requisition and guaranteed provision of emergency management sign language interpreting for communicating with Deaf Americans. I mean, if there’s actually a crisis – you know, an emergency stemming from a natural or man-made disaster – and you don’t already have some sense about how to talk with a deaf person, then you’re both gonna wind up in each other’s way.

2:51 pm

Searching for that quote related to Serve DC… five blog entries popped up.

(I keep getting distracted.)

Just heard some of the neighborhood kids getting off the schoolbus. It’s been a chilly rainy day, since whenever it started . . . sometime last night.

2:54

Accommodation concerns for the MA IRAA Project, e.g., the action learning research study of constructing mutual understanding on the top three things a first responder needs to be thinking when interacting with a person needing help in a way that they are unfamiliar with (this is the collaboration piece with UMass’ Center for Knowledge Communication).

2:58

Region II Report (action learning from www.reflexivity.us). Hopefully this is going to get published on the CIT Weblog:

when cows fly

The indoor/outdoor Fine Arts Center exhibits were a charming surprise, fitting right in to the swirl of family routines, whirlwind tour of family haunts, recitations of familiar and revised family stories, cheerleading for the kids, and somber offerings of solace to Aunt Georgia by all our various and sundry means, each according to personality. Lately I have been thinking about loyalty, especially the definition provided by Rudolph Steiner. “I am thinking of the other’s ageless image, after all, I saw it once. No deception, no mere seeming will rob me of it.” I am grateful to partake in the loyalties of family.

Soundtrack: Jean Luc-Ponty, The Gift of Time

Transitions are rough.

Hurricane Ridge figures deep in family history.

I left my aunt’s deathbed feeling strong. Earlier, my youngest cousin had announced she was expecting a long letter from me. Some time afterwards, mom’s encouragement came to mind: “Keep writing.” The farewell postcard I wrote while sitting with my aunt summarized the healing I had achieved (and thought worth sharing) during this visit. It had taken more than 36 hours to be released from the grip of a stress reaction to a dynamic between my father and my brother on the second day. I was glad to have gotten through it quietly. Relieved to feel calm, I was able to just be present while my aunt rested deeply during an early morning visit, both of us settled into a brief spell of relative comfort. The inspiration to write fit the peaceful situation. Having written, the long trip home was uneventful. When the usual waves of withdrawal hit I was unprepared for their ferocity; mortality driving the lessons home hard.

 

Humor is one family strategy for coping with missed communication.

Family is a journey.

I wrote my aunt about love. The tenacious stubborn kind. The kind that embraces you even if you haven’t visited for twenty-seven years. The kind that acknowledges the fact of having gone through experiences in common: good and bad, historical, present, and on-going. Not necessarily sharing or understanding the experiences in the same ways, but mutually effected by them and thus bound together by their effects. There’s my uncle, telling jokes that make us laugh so hard as a substitute for crying. My cousin’s children, hugging me even though we have never met. In-laws, outlaws and stalwart characters, every single one.

Families are for healing.

The visit had to get divided up, somehow. My aunt might have preferred for us to stay with her rather than dash up Hurricane Ridge, but when I indicated that I would probably go she said, “Well, you better all go together.” I witnessed a similar form of courage from mom when she died nearly three years ago. They were not sisters, but Georgia and Elaine are of the same generation, less than a year apart in age. As it happened, I shared some amount of quality time with nearly everyone, including a side of the family (by marriage) that I had never met before. The indoor/outdoor Fine Arts Center exhibits were a charming surprise, fitting right in to the swirl of family routines, whirlwind tour of family haunts, recitations of familiar and revised family stories, cheerleading for the kids, and somber offerings of solace to Georgia by all our various and sundry means, each according to personality.

A portion of a work exhibited as part of the current exhibition, “In the Shadow of Olympus,” by Jack Gunter.

Some emotions are excruciating to experience: strong ones can be shattering.  The rate and rhythm of changing feelings is also challenging to figure out, not to mention accounting for perceived changes against the stability of a baseline – provided the baseline is not also in flux! Riding the waves together is itself a small miracle. No matter cresting or dipping, treading water or swimming along with smooth strokes, even heading in different directions; families exist in a unified sea. Jack Gunter paints the history of Port Angeles tongue-in-cheek, adding bits of satire to leaven life’s horrors. Whether cows or pigs fly or not, the improbable remains possible, pending creativity and desire.

Lately I have been thinking about loyalty, especially the definition provided by Rudolph Steiner. “I am thinking of the other’s ageless image, after all, I saw it once. No deception, no mere seeming will rob me of it.” I am grateful to partake in the loyalties of family.

 

Homolingualism and the Interaction Taboo: Simultaneous Interpretation in the European Public Sphere

This case study presents conference-style simultaneous interpretation in the European Parliament as a dynamic microcosm for communicating Europe. In the enlarged EP, the regime of controlled multilingualism has been challenged by an emergent pluralingualism in which Members use multiple and mixed languages in addition to the services of simultaneous interpreters. This marks a temporal and paradigmatic shift in the larger game of languages in the European public sphere.

This chapter is included in The European Public Sphere –  From critical thinking to responsible action.

Introduction

This case study presents conference-style simultaneous interpretation in the European Parliament as a dynamic microcosm for communicating Europe. In the enlarged EP, the regime of controlled multilingualism has been challenged by an emergent pluralingualism in which Members use multiple and mixed languages in addition to the services of simultaneous interpreters. This marks a temporal and paradigmatic shift in the larger game of languages in the European public sphere. First, ritual effects of jockeying for voice through the use of pluralingual communication skills establishes co-identification among the Members while also revealing the power of simultaneous interpretation (SI) to alleviate status inequality by leveling linguistic difference. Second, discourses of and about SI, language policy, and communication policy participate in an interaction taboo by overemphasizing information and technology. This reduces communication to one dimension—the transmission of information in space—by minimizing the relationship and identity effects of communication in the unfolding of time. This artificial separation of information from the social interaction of human beings is also evident in strategic planning about communicating Europe. The findings suggest that institutional inertia in communicating Europe can be altered by making SI a common resource for the pluralingual development of everyone who lives in the European Union.

 

You can view and download a (large) pdf file of the poster, Beyond Homolingualism, that  I presented at the conference hosted by the Committee of the Regions on this topic in Brussels, February 2012. The original poster abstract is here.

The book is edited by Luciano Morganti and Léonce Bekemans (2012)  in the “Multiple Europes” series from P.I.E Peter Lang S.A. Editions scientifiques internationales, Brussels.

A Case for Action Learning: Living the Question Now

The present state of general knowledge about simultaneous interpretation is slim, and specialist knowledges are dense and possibly counterproductive to best practice. I chose action learning as my research methodology… Finally (after many years), I can ask (what I think is the best) question in various forms, fitting the question to the particular perspective of the audience or receiver(s) in the given context. Recently, I am living the question with several different groups. The simultaneity of the conversations give me hope that we are, already, somehow living ourselves into the best answer.

I am writing my dissertation.

One chapter involves making the case for the research method of action learning. I announced this methodology in a blog-entry about my prospectus defense. The kind of knowledge that I am interested in is applied – I want to generate and circulate knowledge that can be used by everyone. The present state of general knowledge about simultaneous interpretation is slim, and specialist knowledges are dense and possibly counterproductive to best practice.

Young people aren’t being taught
the right words to even ask
the right questions.

~ Erin Watson, No Experiences
quoting @horse_ebooks

I chose action learning as my research methodology because I did not have all of the right words, and the batches of the words I did have would not just fall into making a single best question. Finally (after many years), I can ask (what I think is the best) question in various forms, fitting the question to the particular perspective of the audience or receiver(s) in the given context.

A few days ago, I interpreted the opening ceremony at an area college. I commented to my interpreting teammate that one of the benefits of being associated with education is that we are exposed to inspirational speeches a couple of times a year. No matter how many motivational speeches I’ve interpreted (usually from English into ASL), nearly every presenter manages to say something new or particularly relevant to whatever challenges I am currently living. This time it was Rainer Maria Rilke:

Be patient toward all that is unsolved . . . and try to love the questions themselves . . . the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

Recently, my writing has involved email correspondence with a range of different groups of people with various degrees of interest in simultaneous interpretation. I am living the question with each of these groups. The simultaneity of the conversations give me hope that we are, already, somehow living ourselves into the best answer.

 

Homolingualism and the Interaction Taboo: Simultaneous Interpreting in the European Public Sphere

Kent, Stephanie Jo. (2012). Homolingualism and the Interaction Taboo: Simultaneous Interpreting in the European Public Sphere. In The European Public Sphere –  From critical thinking to responsible action. Luciano Morganti and Léonce Bekemans (Eds.)  in the “Multiple Europes” series from P.I.E Peter Lang S.A. Editions scientifiques internationales, Brussels.

This case study presents conference-style simultaneous interpretation in the European Parliament as a dynamic microcosm for communicating Europe. In the enlarged EP, the regime of controlled multilingualism has been challenged by an emergent pluralingualism in which Members use multiple and mixed languages in addition to the services of simultaneous interpreters. This marks a temporal and paradigmatic shift in the larger game of languages in the European public sphere. First, ritual effects of jockeying for voice through the use of pluralingual communication skills establishes co-identification among the Members while also revealing the power of simultaneous interpretation (SI) to alleviate status inequality by leveling linguistic difference. Second, discourses of and about SI, language policy, and communication policy participate in an interaction taboo by overemphasizing information and technology. This reduces communication to one dimension—the transmission of information in space—by minimizing the relationship and identity effects of communication in the unfolding of time. This artificial separation of information from the social interaction of human beings is also evident in strategic planning about communicating Europe. The findings suggest that institutional inertia in communicating Europe can be altered by making SI a common resource for the pluralingual development of everyone who lives in the European Union.

 See the poster from the conference presentation: Beyond Homolingualism [pdf] and the original abstract.

Practice How You’ll Play: Lessons from the Era of Neil Armstrong

Dad watched the time as we drove some winding high mountain highway in the Colorado Rockies. He had purchased a black-and-white television that could be powered from the cigarette lighter to bring along just for this trip. As the target time approached, he pulled onto the shoulder, and sent my brother and I to wag down passers-by and invite them to watch the moon walk with us.

Or maybe it was the moon launch. I don’t remember clearly. The picture was grainy, only a few cars drove by and none of the drivers thought it was important to stop. (I can’t recall if there were any passengers; I don’t recall any consultations.) I think we weirded them out. I know that I felt a little embarrassed, what were we doing, this strange behavior out of the norm of everything I’d ever seen?

I was six years old, just trying to grasp what was happening and why it mattered so much.

How did they get the camera there?! That required foresight, pre-planning and imagination: visionary (imagining things in the category of “we don’t know what we don’t know”) and apocalyptic (“things could go bad”). I feel a sense of nostalgia for that kind of epic stage when one of the largest visible masses of people being presented through the media were joined by a common dream – to reach the stars! My tendency is to ignore the other forces that contributed motivation: specifically a military space race based on nationalism. Because Vietnam was happening then (I don’t think my parents were paying attention, or maybe they were studiously avoiding it, I’m not sure. Or they talked about it, but not ever when I was around.)

That kind of scientific endeavor seems like a new form of social organization. Wasn’t it distinguished by  voluntary selection? Meaning, most of the people who worked on the moon project were in fields they had wanted to learn about and contribute to… right? That’s a kind of classic scientific research which seems much less common, these days. When such large-scale works have been done in the past (e.g., the Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, US railway and highway system, etc) the organization has been coercive: I’ll pay you what I want and beat you if you protest.

Isabel suggested today that I am able to be an optimist because I actually “touched” the ’60s. I was born and grew up during that phase of historical economy when the system really was working for nearly everybody.

Not many people, these days, get to be a meaningful part of the machine, the economic engine that drives us to work, tuning for efficiency and exerting rigid controls. This is a major reason why I’ve become so interested in the work of emergency management professionals. First Responders are feeling a sense of urgency, on a large system-scale, that suggests the kind of intensity motivating the US’s original space program. They care about their work. This caring was in constant evidence at a recent pilot training that the DC Mayor’s Office on Volunteerism, Serve DC, provided at Gallaudet University. CERT training is required for establishing a Community Emergency Response Team (a CERT). The pilot was earmarked for the Deaf community associated with Gallaudet because, as Dwight Benedict (Dean of Student Affairs and Academic Suppor and a co-chair of Gallaudet’s Crisis Leadership Team) explained during a focus group: “We know if something catastrophic happens in DC the Deaf community is going to come here. They are going to come to Gallaudet just like they went to the Lousiana School for the Deaf when Katrina hit New Orleans. We need to be ready.”

Three focus groups were added to the usual training package in order to explore the ramifications of using simultaneous sign language interpretation within the field of emergency management. The challenges of communicating in two different timestreams were apparent. Frustrations with adapting to the special circumstances of intercultural communication are complicated even more when one of the languages is based in vision and light instead of hearing and sound. These frustrations were more-or-less contained by the focus groups, which allowed each primary stakeholder group (Hearing interlocutors, Deaf interlocutors, and interpreters) the chance to explore their experience and draw comparisons and contrasts internally. Because there was a formal structure for processing the experience, the interpretation itself did not become the main issue of the training – the content of the training material and relationships among Deaf and Hearing interlocutors were able to be the most important dynamics.

One of the instructors, Chief John Sollers, shared with the group how important the experience had been for him, saying that he had learned a lot and that direct interaction with Deaf people using interpreters should be a part of routine training: “We  need to practice how we’ll play.”

 

 

 

 

sharp curves and time-out-of-time (TOOT!)

Sometimes, sharp conversational curves feel like precipitous cliffs. There is what I do, sometimes, which is to say something spontaneously about something that is going on within the context of a group that is within the realm of things most people have been trained not to say. This is more than a sharp curve, and it calls upon whoever is involved to exercise a deeper level of social resilience. Mental agility has to be combined with emotional savvy, too.

My neighbor is thinking about going back to college but – like many people – is not sure what he wants to study. I asked Kevin if he knew the difference between psychology and sociology. He did. (I wish I had recorded his answers; they were great!) He said something to the effect that psychology is about the mind and how a person thinks of things, and sociology has to do with how people relate with one another.

Taking a sharp curve in conversation

Then I asked if he knew the implications of this difference in terms of time. “What?” He was puzzled and asked me to repeat the question. I elaborated: If you start from psychology, you make the individual the center; if you start from sociology, you make the interconnections the most important. “Oh!” He got it, saying something about the inter-relatedness of all things. “You lost me for a minute.” Teasing, he added: “You took a sharp curve there, but I gotcha!”

Kevin is one of those flexible kind of folk who is accustomed to having things come at him unexpectedly, not according to the usual ways. His reflexes are quick. Usually quicker than mine! Foin. With most of my friends (and many of my colleagues, too), it occasionally happens that I do or say something that catches them momentarily at a loss, then they’ll pick up and make the next move and it’s my turn to sputter.

Sometimes, sharp conversational curves feel like precipitous cliffs. I am still learning how to help people productively engage with difficult group dynamics by saying, as one boss and I described it, “stuff about stuff” – meaning, being direct and clear about social challenges as they emerge in collaborative work situations.

Time-out-of-Time, also known as “tooting”

There is a facilitator’s technique of structuring a “TOOT” to allow participants in a learning context to reflect on a particular topic or process or experience. The kids’ punishment called “time out” is cultural (not everyone uses it or even knows about it), but the idea of being discharged out of a group’s shared timestream into the corner (or wherever) is another kind of structured use of time. The intentions behind these activities are acceptable because they are familiar; even though someone may not like doing them, they are relatively comfortable because they are (more-or-less) common social experiences.

Then there’s what I do, sometimes, which is to say something spontaneously about something that is going on in a group that is within the realm of things most people have been trained not to say.  This is more than a sharp curve, and it calls upon whoever is involved to exercise a deeper level of social resilience. Mental agility has to be combined with emotional savvy, too. Lately, I’ve been pushed to this edge in almost every group I belong to. Now, if you start from a psychological perspective, it could be that I’m becoming increasingly disassociated from reality (since I am ignoring certain social norms). But if you start from a sociological perspective, then the question becomes something like, what is it about the relationships in these groups that keeps giving me reason to say stuff (about stuff)?

Each approach (the psychological, the social) has something useful to contribute to understanding the dynamics of whatever it is that is going on (with me, with the groups), but neither will capture the whole picture by itself. Psychology and sociology are complements of a greater phenomenon, call it culture or human evolution or the social construction of knowledge (or whatever academic or religious flavor you prefer).

Communication as science

The young discipline of communication is based on the notion of equilibrium between the individual and the social. This is not the typical chicken-or-egg question, because the basic assumption of communication is mutuality. My personality (e.g., tooting or not) is “called out” by the group, just as my participation in the group adds to (or detracts from) the character of the group: its norms and performance (for instance, as a team working toward certain goals). The fancy jargon word is constitution. It is a tricky word to define, so I am linking to the disambiguation page in Wikipedia, specifically to the section labeled “other uses.

Notice: “the well-being of an organism” and “to maintain or improve health” in addition to legal, medical, and political definitions of constitution. Not only are constitutions things (a noun) but also activities (a verb). The concept of constitution is the philosophical equivalent to the observer effect in quantum mechanics: at the sub-atomic level, physicists get what they look for because those dang-blasted tiny particles respond to being observed.

So it is with human behavior. We perceive what we’re looking for – or, more accurately, we understand things based upon the lens used for thinking. This is why applied social science, especially action learning/action research based in communication theory, can be useful in getting groups through difficult dynamics. In communication, everything is always happening simultaneously, there is no “cause” and “effect” – instead there are cycles and stages and intersections which involve history and the biographies of everyone involved.

Maybe its rocket science. For me it is a way to live with integrity.

A Deaf CERT to Serve DC

In two weeks, a training for Deaf individuals to create or join a Community Emergency Response Team will occur at Gallaudet University in the District of Colombia. There are still some slots available for deaf and hard-of-hearing people associated with Gallaudet or in the larger DC Deaf community. Sign-up now through the Preparedness for All webblog: Gallaudet Hosts CERT training.

Next week, a training for Deaf individuals to create or join a Community Emergency Response Team will occur at Gallaudet University in the District of Colombia.  The special training is hosted by the Mayor’s Office on Volunteerism, Serve DC, and is described in more detail at the Preparedness for All weblog: Gallaudet Hosts CERT training.

Planning for this pilot training began in earnest several months ago with an observation of a drill using moulage to simulate extensive injuries to victims. That drill brought some already trained CERTs into interaction with some of the District of Columbia’s Fire Department personnel. There are rules and procedures for how volunteers are included in emergency response, especially for large scale disasters.  First responders work with CERTs so that people who want to be able to volunteer in case of a disaster will have already gone through special training that establishes a basic level of skills and understanding about how they fit into the entire system of emergency response and recovery.

The average person does not usually worry about a crisis until it happens (which is why they are called emergencies – they emerge, popping up suddenly, often without warning).  Volunteers are vital to emergency response efforts, but untrained volunteers create a burden that the system has to accommodate on the spot. While just-in-time training is sometimes available, even that requires set-up and delivery.  If just-in-time training is not ready, volunteers wanting to know what to do and how to help divert time and energy from activities that allow First Responders to quickly re-establish control and reduce the chances for loss of life and damage to property.

Gallaudet’s Deaf community is taking a big step in preparing volunteers to be ready and able to help constructively if an emergency happens on campus. Participants in the training earn certification and receive a backpack with some emergency gear. The CERT certification is a national-level qualification to participate in any CERT, which can involve creating a new one or joining an established CERTs in your neighborhood, at your children’s school, in faith-based communities, even at the Deaf club.

There are still some slots available for deaf and hard-of-hearing people associated with Gallaudet or in the larger DC Deaf community. Sign-up now: http://conta.cc/gallaudetcert

stay awhile, and go easy

Graffiti in Beirut, Lebanon.

When I Am Among the Trees

by Mary Oliver

When I am among the trees,

especially the willows and the honey locust,

equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,

they give off such hints of gladness,

I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

The power of suggestion (graffiti from Beirut, Lebanon)

I am so distant from the hope of myself,

in which I have goodness, and discernment,

and never hurry through the world

but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves

and call out “Stay awhile.”

The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,

“and you too have come

into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled

with light, and to shine.”