Project Manager Moira Fratantuono is not only a great organizer and educator but also a natural community artist. She connects and corresponds with the myriad of Living Chapters players and has the rare talent of being able to balance the skill of implementing and directing a plan while at the same time remains open to and responsive to her environment and collaborators. I am very grateful to be working with her on this particular project. In her post below, Moira discusses how her role in the LC process and has mirrored or influenced experiences in her own life and artistic practice.
As someone who has watched Beth work her magic for years, I had long wanted to collaborate together on a project. I responded to her initial email assuming I would be a chapter writer, but was invited to be the LC Project Manager, and thus have gotten an inside look at her thought process and methods of engagement. As such, my relationship to the Living Chapters project is perhaps more intimate than monthly chapter writers, as I have signed on for a year-long commitment that provides a unique perspective into the “behind the scenes” aspects of her creative endeavor.
Each month, I pre-screen the submissions and track her progress in following her assignments. The monthly tasks I organize and publish on her behalf trickle through my own thought process, shaping my daily routine like water slowly seeping into the fissures of a rock: June coincided with my own personal health kick, characterized by running regularly and eating well (albeit in preparation for my 30th birthday, not just general self-improvement); in August, I mentally tracked an abbreviated version of my own carbon emissions; September brought frequent thoughts of Beth while I sat on the floor, allocating a few moments to my own meditative practice.
Ergo, much like my relationship with our Protagonist, Living Chapters has re-shaped aspects of my worldview, not only in terms of the self-growth model Beth is experimenting with, but also as an artist, educator, and community worker. Conversations about definitions of community, the future direction of LC, explorations of what an online community constitutes, and utilizing the public blogosphere to hold oneself accountable, are now part of my rapport with Beth. As someone who, without hesitation, considers herself lacking in “tech savvy-ness”, I now contemplate other potential models that create genuine, reciprocated community through new media.
And so, in addition to my daily routines, the ongoing conversation I have with Beth about Living Chapters and her experiences has influenced my community-based work. One example is the Baltimore-Delhi Art Exchange, an online blog that I recently started with two other educators. This space serves as a collaborative project that creates common shared experiences between youth from both cities. Although I wanted to pursue the Exchange before hearing about Living Chapters, its execution and the ways I consider its impact are shaped by my experience as Program Manager.
These instances, on the micro (daily/routine) and macro (theoretical/life choice) levels, reflect how broad social trends are shaping both of us. The Baltimore-Delhi Exchange was something I wanted to pursue months before my involvement in Living Chapters, and thus perhaps speaks to social and cultural shifts in the conceptions of the role media plays in developing community. Similarly, as we get older, many of us decide to prioritize mental and physical health, recognizing the inherent freedom it brings us, or allocate more time to cultivating our interpersonal relationships. Although Beth is decidedly unconventional in her approach, there is a definite connection between her personal ambitions for the project and over-arching shifts in our collective worldview, both of which make the Living Chapters project intriguing because of its relevance.
Just finding this blog today? Read more about the Living Chapters project here.