The Real Value of Interpreting

Here is the script for the lightning talk I gave on June 15, 2013 at Interpret America’s 4th Annual Summit. It was first published by the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC) on their weblog and then in the Conference of Interpreter Trainers (CIT) newsletter. The slides continue to receive views too: at Slideshare (static slides),  and Authorstream (animated slides). The video of the talk is contracted to be published by Interpret America.

holding_cloudswaterboathands_SacapuntasI am excited to talk with you today about the real value of interpreting, which is communicating pluralingual relationships into the future. Now, that’s quite a word, pluralingualism, but all it means is two or more languages used at the same time by people interacting with each other.

I’ve been thinking about interpreting in terms of history since the late 1980s, which is when I met Deaf people and began learning American Sign Language. At that time, the American Deaf Community was in the midst of an empowering movement for social change. The Bilingual-Bicultural movement included criticism of signed language interpreters. The criticism focused on what Deaf people called “the machine model” of interpreting. When the profession was established in 1964, it had quickly become dominated by interpreters with weak or no ties to Deaf culture.

Continue reading “The Real Value of Interpreting”

Peak Connectivity and Social Resilience

The “intersection” in this blog entry on social resilience involves computer science and brain science. Combining the social aspect of resilience with the human-computer interface and education has potential to enhance sophisticated problem-solving around the globe. For instance, what if we gamed Twitter?

The “intersection” in this blog entry on social resilience involves computer science and brain science.

What if we gamed Twitter?
What if we gamed Twitter?

While Professor Beverly Woolf and colleagues from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst presented on smart tutoring at the Artificial Intelligence in Education conference, I listened to a webinar from Dr Dennis S. Charney, MD, from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai present data supporting his “resilience prescription” for individuals.

Stimulating processes of social resilience

Two of Charney’s eight resilience principles, however, involve other people: role models and a supportive social network. Combining the social aspect of resilience with the human-computer interface and education has potential to enhance sophisticated problem-solving around the globe.

The developing world has 4 billion mobile phone subscriptions. In Africa, average penetration is a third of the population, and in north Africa it is almost two-thirds. South Africa now has almost 100% penetration. In sub-Saharan Africa, mobile phone ownership is 30%. ~ Dr Beverly P. Woolf

The potentials for knowledge communication through savvy tele-education exceed youth. These technologies can also enable adults who care about intercultural social networking and mass organizing for social justice. Continue reading “Peak Connectivity and Social Resilience”

Slow Learning vs Fast Living

I can only offer what I know, what I have learned, slowly and at the cost of many dear relationships. Diversity matters. The differences among us are more important than the similarities, because they enable creativity. Here we are, thrown into consciousness and connection. What shall we make of this precious chance?

(Not) rushing into the urgency of now (while still arriving)

Turning the World Upside Down
Turning the World Upside Down

Every day I face the irony of needing to hurry up to slow down, or perhaps it is the other way around, of slowing down in order to speed up my alignment with lifeforce—call it chi or God or Gaia or maybe it is just with other humans in society, thinking of society as a verb—the actions of living together through culture, work and art. Continue reading “Slow Learning vs Fast Living”

The ANSWER . . . is DIRT (the question is irrelevant)

One of the challenges of inspiring people to care about transforming land to better grow food is making the lifestyle appealing. So far, no go! The aesthetic is monotone: white people playing folk music. This is seriously problematic! Forging alliances is not easy work, but it is meaningful labor.

   Life Affirming & Life Enhancing

cows save the planet

It is the stuff of Douglas Adams-style science fiction, but what if it were true? That cows could save the planet? Not by themselves, but with a little help from their biped friends–especially everyone who has ever harbored a herding fantasy or wants their children and grandchildren to enjoy special elements of the natural world.

Large-scale rotational grazing would require a massive leap of imagination and concerted effort of collective will.  Humans–lots of us–would have to decide to choose to salvage a living planet rather than continue to pretend catastrophic climate change isn’t happening. While most people delay, many people all around the world—alone and in groups—are already acting on the decision to try. Continue reading “The ANSWER . . . is DIRT (the question is irrelevant)”

Spontaneous Action Research: Interrogating Intersectionality

The challenge of making the invisible visible, of bringing those aspects of relationships and identities that have been silenced into awareness and open conversation, was a common problem across seven international research projects explored at a workshop on “intersectionality” hosted by the Center for Gender in Organizations at the Simmons College School of Management.


Q: How many intersectionality scholars does it take to count who’s at the dinner table?

A: One Japanese waiter. (Male.)

“Be gentle.”researchmethodsB

Charlotta’s request came toward the end of the 2nd meeting of our Working Group on Research Methods at the “Interrogating Intersectionality” conference sponsored by the Center for Gender in Organizations at the Simmons College School of Management. Charlotta was the last member of our group to present. At this point we had been engaging with each other for about 2 & 1/2 hours, and I was glad that everyone was reminded about our interaction being blogged. We had negotiated authorization during my presentation on the first day, and clarified the boundaries (of who & what might potentially be bloggable)  at the start of this (2nd) session while welcoming Lisa to the group.

“I don’t have ownership of this project.” Continue reading “Spontaneous Action Research: Interrogating Intersectionality”

Emergency Management Interpreter Training in Massachusetts

Use google to search for #demx and use Twitter to participate in spreading information about the professionalization of a new subfield in emergency management interpreting.

Introduction to the Incident Command System and Interpreter Strike Teams

FireTracker2 RT Pope quote

Discussion during this introductory module demonstrated the importance of interpreters taking four of the FEMA courses offered free online before attending ASL Interpreter Strike Team training, including NIMS 100.B, Introduction to the Incident Command System, and NIMS 700.a, National Incident Management System. Two additional NIMS courses are also recommended as the minimal requirement for preparing to become an emergency management interpreter – IS 800.B, Introduction to the National Response Framework and IS 7, A Citizen’s Guide To Disaster Assistance. Additional recommended coursework is listed at the Florida Interpreter Strike Team’s webpage.


Self-Care and Trauma Mitigation

toys and self-care EMI trainingIdentifying the behaviors that indicate depression or other responses to trauma are crucial to maintaining emotional and cognitive balance before, during, and after interpreting in emergency management contexts.

English Transcript for “Holding Time: The Significance of Deaf Interpreters”

What’s the real difference between CDIs (Certified Deaf Interpreters) and ‘regular’ hearing interpreters? It’s not only language and internalized culture….Something else that could be described simply and taught to interpreters to help them realize one thing to do differently.

This transcript is offered instead of captions for a 14 minute videotaped conversation in American Sign Language with Deaf elders Winchell and Ruth Moore.

View the ASL vlog at Continue reading “English Transcript for “Holding Time: The Significance of Deaf Interpreters””

Listening for Action and Engagement

The capacity of people with disabilities (or, as FEMA says, “functional needs”) to contribute to emergency response and emergency recovery begins with listening. Participants in a focus group outline a sequence of creative interaction stemming from high quality and careful listening.

A few weeks ago a dozen people who self-identify as disabled gathered at UMass Amherst to begin a conversation on emergency preparedness and accessible emergency response. FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, defines those individuals who will most likely require help during a disaster as having “functional needs.”

“We are great listeners”

The most common skill named by participants with established functional needs is listening. We aim to prove that the capacity of people with disabilities to contribute to emergency response and emergency recovery begins here. Continue reading “Listening for Action and Engagement”

Adventures in Looking

Coincidences of of time/timing, language, and existence are simultaneously the very stuff of the scientific method, the foundation for religious faith, and the source of madness. Only blatant ethnocentrism discounts the magic of a society that successfully sent a message over one thousand years into the future.

Quoting Adam Gopnik.
Quoting Adam Gopnik.

Adam Gopnik just wrote a piece entitled, “A Point of View: Science, Magic and Madness,” in which he compares Galileo’s scientific method with a “half-bright” contemporary of that era, John Dee. Gopnik provides descriptions that articulate the experimental framework of a Learning Lab for Resiliency.™ (More on LLRs in upcoming blogentries.)

I read Gopnik’s piece this past Sunday morning, having flagged it from a Tweet I’d seen a few days previously; it was published on April 12, 2013. As it happened, that same morning I saw and read an article posted to Facebook critiquing institutionalized classism and racism, noticing only after I had read it that it was a blog entry from a blog called That Way Madness Lies. The specific blogentry was written on April 20, 2013; the blog was initiated nearly a year previously, on April 12, 2012.

Madness, you may have noticed, occurs in both titles. Continue reading “Adventures in Looking”

Mudfire! May the World Be Good to You

When the early crowd at Pat and Carol’s New Year’s Day Open House invited me to blog about the event, I was thinking of the kind of entries that are tagged “group dynamics” – most of them are pure fun, although they can include a serious subtext which was sometimes made overt and other times left at the level of implication.

Then I met Paris.

Borrowed on a whim from the household library . . .
Borrowed on a whim from the household library . . .

Before Paris asked me if I was concerned with global warming and climate change, I had realized that I might be able to use this blog entry to introduce some new friends (with whom I hope to remain and deepen in friendship) to the serious subject that has recently become the main focus of my blogging.

I imagined that I could make this introduction lightly, ease everyone gently into the most disturbing challenge of human existence. I certainly did not anticipate it becoming an overt topic of conversation. But it did – perhaps this was inevitable. (After all these years I should never be able to forget that this kind of blogging is risky).

We were all getting along so well! I hate to be in the position of spoiler. The conversation with the Curious Skeptic about animal intelligence returns to mind, particularly the example of cheetahs being able to be trained for hunting but not for domestication, because becoming domesticated requires “getting along in confined spaces.” And then there was the part about guinea pigs and rabbits as “meal-sized meat.”

Evolution of Conversation: The Beginning was FUN!

“The time has come when men and dragons must talk.” (Leguin, 2001, p. 112)

It was such a great party! I’d guess 100 people may have circulated through, certainly many dozens. I met a fraction of the folk and had substantive conversations with a handful or two. The potluck offerings were continually refreshed, everything was delicious, the laughter was loud, there was even spontaneous music: a stringed instrument soloist and singer who was accompanied on various tunes by additional voices, invented percussion instruments, and – gee whiz! – a few couples dancing!  The mood of the gathering was so appropriately and wonderfully festive! As my conversations evolved, I could not help but think what a blessing to be part of such a high quality in-the-moment-now experience of social interaction, and how necessary it will become to sustain this capacity in the difficult times that lie ahead.

It happened like this: I arrived to a gregarious atmosphere filled with banter. I haven’t blogged an event like this for a long time; doing so was not even on my mind – too much work in the midst of other demands. But soon the teasing had me passing around my “Invitation: You May Be Blogged” business card and folks got curious. Because we were having such fun, and since I was clearly being invited, I thought, why not? A change of pace, a digression to the olden days, a contribution of my playfulness to the spirit of the day… we discussed the ground rules, first names only or chosen aliases, draft to be sent around for thumbs up/down before publishing, was I taking notes? Did I have pen and paper? I allowed myself to be drawn in and took up the familiar role.

Evolution of Conversation: Overview and Background (Boring?)

“Indeed he did not know what weighed more heavily after all, the great strange things or the small common ones.”  (LeGuin, 2001, p. 109)

Cynthia and John quizzed me for quite a while, which gave me a chance to express my motivations and share some of the history of how I began to blog in this style, what obstacles I encountered, whether/how much uptake I’ve had, etc. I explained how I could look at the Open House as a type of communication scene or situation with similarities and differences with other Open Houses. That how we engage with each other evokes identities, because we share, for instance, pleasure in dancing jigs or knowing the hosts through a particular social activity or type of work, etc. That over the years this blog has been a tool for writing myself into being and becoming more the kind of person I want to be: someone who can share what seems important and still retain relationships that are warm, kind, and loving (or, at the very least, rooted in respect).

Evolution of Conversation: Backdrop (Hilarity!)

The initial authorization to write this blog came from Ecarg (the token Klingon) & partner; Pat & Carol, Angelica, Loretta & Jan (of the gender irregularities), Catherine, Carlotta (who had the first toast and sip of mimosa with Cynthia), and John.  Later the Toadchildren, Bo, a Curious Skeptic, Sparker, and Marcia were brought into the fold. Kira is into criminology and cosmetology (among many other interests), James the Brain wanted me to link to his hacker friend’s blog (the search is on, E.L. aka boogledoo, where are you?) They also recommended seven-year-old melybabyxoxo to me but I was unable to locate her blogs on Tumblr. She apparently maintains several, including one on fashion and another on self-harm. (Did I hear that right?) Geez, can we just play another round of Zonk, please! Or how about a ruckus sledding adventure? A meeting of the Ward-Thayer Street Chicken Advisory Council regarding upkeep of the PWDLCP? There were the red sisters, blue guys, and black folk (by clothing, ignore gender!), a crazy cat lady, and myriad more unrecorded minglings within this diverse assortment of colorful characters.

Evolution of Conversation: The Future depends on our choices, now

“Something is happening,” Tenar said. “A great change in the world. Maybe nothing we know will be left to us.” (LeGuin, 2001, p. 111)


Being liberal is not enough.
Being liberal is not enough.

Who said, “This is a miracle,” when he realized I take climate change for real. “Everything is going to die if we don’t do something,” he said. “We’ve known about this for years, and no one is doing anything.” “Wars are bad and they should stop,” he continued, “but we need to look at a higher level, if there’s no planet…” As we talked, he asked me many times if I “really think” people will do something, now, finally? It’s up to us, I said, to make sure that we do.

The urgency has been weighing heavily on me, especially as I read and become more familiar with the extent of how extremely bad things are (and will thus become), how small our chances are already, and how quickly they will diminish beyond any hope at all. Opening these conversations with friends and chosen family in the weeks since I realized the dire necessity of immediate radical action has been discouraging – the denial and reluctance to uproot our personal comforts are entrenched. However, there are also inspirational voices out there, and the opportunity to live truly meaningful lives has never been greater.

Can we inspire each other to greatness?  Megan Quinn Bachman is on the path: “If we don’t get this right, we won’t get another chance.”