Saturday, May 5, 2012

Time for the Quarterly Mea Culpa: Been Busy

Although I am a strong believer in the general principle that entering into the world of social media means a sustained commitment to that activity, I am also all too aware that life sometimes intervenes, and blogging activity therefore waxes and wanes. And sometimes, even within that natural cycle, there are spikes: the equivalent of tonight's so-called (and over-hyped) "Supermoon." Admittedly, we are more likely to notice the lows rather than the highs.

The fact is: most of us have other commitments, many of which legitimately take precedence. I have a good many acquaintances in the blogosphere. Some drop temporarily out of sight when busy with daily work or completing a book or other project. Some, exhausted from publishing multiple posts per day on current events month after month, in addition to their paying day jobs but for no material reward, decide to call it quits or "go on hiatus" for an undetermined period (which probably helped many a career and yes, perhaps, marriage). Yet others, by contrast (God only knows how), just keep going on all cylinders and all fronts.

In my case, it's simply been a matter of first things first. 2012 has proven to be unexpectedly busy: mainly in good ways, I am pleased to report.

For the most part, it has been the "day job" that has kept me busy: some travel during winter and spring breaks, completing the search for and hiring a stellar new library director at Hampshire College, wading through a resultant backlog of student work, and then mainly just teaching classes and (this being the spring semester) supervising theses of graduating seniors: some great ones; reading them, at once pleasurable and instructive.

At the same time, I've been busy with related academic activities:  writing the introduction to an intriguing memoir of women's experience in interwar Belgium and World War II Britain (1, 2), and several book reviews. In addition: revising plans for our Hampshire College field study program in Prague and Kraków and developing a new one with a focus on historic preservation and heritage studies at the Master's level in collaboration with Rutgers University.

Then there is the Town of Amherst. The first half of the year is also when your Town government moves into high gear in preparation for annual Town Meeting. The Joint Capital Planning Committee, on which I serve with Diana Stein as one of two representatives from the Select Board, begins meeting in the fall but turns to a detailed review of new spending proposals from January through April, in preparation for debate on the budget at spring Town Meeting. The Select Board itself has to review and take positions on the articles on the warrant.

Although there are a number of "political" petition articles on the warrant this year—i.e. those that take stands on supra-local issues such as national security and human rights, my bet is that those that meet basic standards of legality and administrative pragmatism/fiduciary responsibility will pass easily. The most controversial articles, by contrast, are likely to be those dealing with the rezoning of Atkins Corner and North Amherst village centers (Articles 24 and 25), and the proposal to create a "local historic district" in the Dickinson historic district downtown (Article 27). All are vital to the future of a sustainable Amherst, and all require a steep two-thirds majority.

At any rate, I take solace in the fact that this blog is not primarily concerned with news and contemporary events, and so, most of what I have to say can usually wait. (To the extent that I do need to comment on pressing political issues, I do that at Select Board and Town Meeting [video here], or on the Town Meeting Listserve—also known as the "Yahoo List.")

And in the interim, I have all along continued to share information and views with my friends on Twitter: that's where one finds real immediacy. It's the daily bread of social media for me, which I attend to religiously (more on that later). Just follow me at @CitizenWald.

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