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288 Days


Dan: This fall season began with a discussion that included our podcast team. We thought it would be fun to close out with some additional reflections from them. So, let me first reintroduce the team. We have our A team: Allison Baumbusch, who is our creative director, Amy Willard, who is our website content manager. And we're joined this time by Amanda Behrens, who is our media production specialist, and has been working more and more on the podcast. And along with our A team is Jeremiah Prevatte, our media producer. So welcome to all of you.

Allison: Thanks for having us again.

Dan: I usually ask our guests how they're holding up during this pandemic. So, at this point we've been, 10 months or more in this remote work environment. How are y'all doing?

Allison: I'm doing great. I feel like, once I set boundaries around the workday and space as well, just defining workspace, it's really helped me settle into to the now. I hate to say new normal, I'm kind of sick of that term. But I think now, yeah.

Amy: I agree. I feel like it's more of a routine now. It's less of a ... There's less trying to figure it out. So we've done that already.

Amanda: I think for me, one of the things that I found later into the process was like Allison said, having a dedicated space for a while, I had an office and I wasn't feeling it. And then, I was working from the dining room table and a couple of months in, I'm like, I need to go back to the office again. So I took time and set up that workspace and made it into an area that I really wanted to be in to do work. And it's been really, really helpful, especially in the last couple of weeks. So, yeah.

Jeremiah: I am kind of doing what I normally do, which is focusing on the day to day. A lot of that is stress management for me and with everything that's going on in the world, a lot of anxiety management. That's how I'm holding up. It's not too different than other times when we're not in a pandemic.

Dan: We really have fallen into some routines, as Amy said. But I love the fact that Allison, you pointed out boundaries. I'm curious a little bit about what's working for each of you. What currently is your guilty pleasure, if you have one?

Allison: I'm generally not a TV or movie watcher, but I've definitely gotten into a series like “New Girl” and watching “The Office” again and “Friends.” And just those kind of creature comfort series that have been just a good mindless release. And I think it's been really helpful right now.

Jeremiah: I've been watching “The Mentalist” and these procedural crime dramas are just absolutely mind numbing and I love it.

Amanda: We're also in a kind of TV watching space, but going back to shows that I've seen before, my husband and I started re-watching “Lost,” and it's a lot less stressful going back through it again. I know what's happening, so I'm able to pay attention to the fun parts of the story and how all these different pieces connect. And I don't give myself grief if we end up watching two or three in a row.

Dan: How about you Amy? Any current guilty pleasures?

Amy: I read a lot and I've been reading a lot of just mindless novels, but I think my biggest guilty pleasure is probably sleeping in a little bit. And then, I get up at the last possible minute. And my commute wasn't that long to begin with, but without that, whatever 20-minute drive, I sleep those 20 minutes now.

Dan: What about what inspires you?

Allison: What's really inspiring me right now is, just watching how friends that are teachers and faculty members have really shifted their lives. I mean, I see some of them really reframing the situation they're in and finding that it's fun now, which is interesting. But, I just can't imagine the constant adjustment that it's been throughout this semester. And it's just really inspiring to me. I love the way they're making learning fun online.

Dan: Yeah, that's so true. I so agree with you.

Amy: I think, similar for me, it's the people who really just stepped up to the plate. Despite dangers or criticisms, they really are stepping up to try and make a difference. And whether that's in healthcare or in the bigger world, I think that that is inspiring.

Jeremiah: I find a lot of inspiration from coming to work and working with this team. It's the relationships and getting excited about things and tackling something together that really helps me feel motivated.

Amanda:               I started the pandemic right on the edge of that. I was still a freelancer. And then I started back in working here at the college and the work that I was doing before, was the same, but different. And now, I'm inspired by how we're able to directly impact our community, with the work that we're doing. Helping people achieve their goals through this time. And then, just the work with this team. A lot of times through this, it's felt like, how can I be doing something to help? How can I be doing something? And I feel like the work that we do on this team is doing something. And that's really important to me. And it's very inspirational to me.

Dan: It's inspiring to hear all of them. I'm hearing a lot of our team's values in this impact, is one of our top values, but then also collaboration. And I'm hearing that people are being creative and that we, as a team, are trying to have some fun while doing all of that. So I'm hearing all of that in those responses.

What about the opposite? What's been keeping you up at night or worries you most? Hopefully, it's not actually keeping you up, but, what worries you most at this time?

Amy: What doesn't?

Jeremiah: Yeah.

Amy: Right?

Dan: Well said.

Amanda: True.

Amy: We could be here for the rest of the day going over that list. But I think if I had to pick a top three, it would probably be, some of those are the same that they always are. And that, my children, the safety of my family and I think just, what's going on in our country right now. The way that, we just can't agree on anything and the anger and the hatred over that.

Allison: Yep. I'm with you. It's safety of family and just worrying about everyone's behavior or how they're staying safe. The other thing that's woken me up, I think, the past, I'm going to say, four nights, is just thinking about the real estate market. We're moving in the spring, so the real estate market and just thinking about that, which I can do nothing about at night. I don't know why I'm thinking about it then. But that's keeping me awake as well.

Jeremiah: I've had to deal with some pet losses during the pandemic, and that has been particularly hard. And the silver lining is that we've been able to spend time with our animals in their times of need. And our times of need too. My wife and I ... Lindsay, and I have been able to just be here and care for each other.

Amanda: I'm mostly feeling what Amy and Allison were talking about for sure. And then, the other thing that has kept us up at night a bit is, we adopted a kitten over the pandemic and we already had a cat. And so, trying to create a harmonious space for both of them. All of the people on this call have heard over multiple occasions, how we've been trying to make it work and the ups and the downs. And now, we're four months in and things are going much better.

Dan: Well, you can't see my head nodding at so many of your responses. I'm hearing a lot about relationships. People, animals, and it's interesting to me that, while we are separated, how important those relationships really are.

Well, once again, we shifted our podcast format slightly, this time focusing on timely topics. And, Amy kicked us off with, there are so many timely topics that we could be talking about. When you reflect back on some of the things we discussed in the podcast episodes, what resonated most from those discussions?

Amy: I think because they were timely, there's at least a nugget in each one of them, even the ones that I didn't think would resonate to begin with. So, I think there was something from all of them.

Allison: I think if I had to pick one thing, it would be John and Latanya's episode, reframing the current situation and finding the joy in it. I loved what John said, "When is this ever going to happen again?" I mean, I hope he's right. But, when will we ever have this time, this dedicated time again? And really, let's take advantage of it and enjoy it.

Dan: It made me think back to ... Now I'm going to forget who said it in the spring, was like a big reset button.

Allison: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jeremiah: I really got a lot out of the last episode with Kim and Mary. The history, which, I, like they mentioned with their students, I hadn't heard a lot about the cases that they mentioned.

And that goes along with Reggie saying that, allies are best not taking space away from those they're supporting.

Amy: I thought the other thing about that particular episode was how Kim said, "One of the things we're trying to redefine as a country is our integrity."

Allison: Mmm.

Amy: I remember when she said that in the interview, those of us who are listening were like, "Oh." That was very impactful.

Dan: Yeah. That was one of those moments where I almost fell out of my chair.

Jeremiah: I literally started headbanging.

Dan: At the start of the fall, we reflected back and talked about what had been missing and what has been gained in the pandemic. And we touched a little bit on that a moment ago, but has any of that changed for you over these many months? What are you noticing now?

Allison: I don't know that it's changed for me. I'm still missing colleagues in person. I mean, we've had some random, small outdoor gatherings. And I was able to deliver holiday gifts to my team this week, which was just so good to see everybody in person. But I'm really still missing that interaction, that day to day, "Oh, you are a real person. You're not just a talking head on the screen." I definitely missed that still.

Amy: I agree. It's still that the contact with people, which, surprises me a little bit, because I'm such an introvert.

Allison: Same.

Allison: It took long Amy. It took us this long.

Amy: Seriously.

Amanda: I also identify as an introvert and I miss having the option to not go out.

Amanda: The thing where it's like a Friday night and you're like, "Oh, we can go do this and this and this," and having the choice to be like, "Nah, I'm tired. I don't want to." And on the heels of that, we had several friends get married this year. Some in the State, some out of State and not being able to go to the weddings, was really tough.

Dan: I'm missing going out and about anxiety free. Like you said, being outside, you see someone, there's this moment of hesitation. And it's getting routine to maybe, step to the side, if you're on a trail or whatever, but there is this moment of anxiety that goes with it. I am not going to miss that.

Jeremiah: About that routine, Dan, I'm finding what's different is that, the spaces which I usually would go to have adapted. So I think last time I mentioned that I haven't had band practice or been to any shows, but I've actually had band practice the past two weekends at a space in DC, which, there's regulations and protocols to keep it safe. And I got the play and listen to loud music.

Dan: That's fun.

Now all of you are communications professionals. You bring a range of perspectives from writing and crafting messages, to visual design, to video and digital development and production. Professor Eggleston talked about communications in one of the episodes. What are you noticing about either the profession of communications or communications in general?

Amanda: I remember earlier on in the pandemic, I think, within our team, we joked about this, how there were so many messages in communications using the same words of like, "Getting through this together," and a lot of these different things. And there was a tone that everybody had, and it was universal across the board that we were seeing in communications. And now that we're so much further into this, I have noticed that things have gotten a lot brighter. Not in the way of toxic positivity, but just in a reinvigorating, "We are going to get through this.”

Dan: Well, even just the initial idea that we were all saying the same thing, it didn't take long for that to suddenly feel cliché and that people started satirizing it.

Allison: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

I think several of us have noted that authenticity has become more of the focus over perfection. Obviously, we see so many things recorded over Teams or Zoom or whatever at this point, or just self-recorded with a phone or tablet. In the video world, that's becoming the norm. And I've just loved watching the creativity of new shows and different forms of media, how they've adapted and how they've created something new using the tools that are available and safe right now. It's just fascinating. I love watching, especially the nighttime shows, just to see how they're doing it, it's a really cool.

Amy: I've enjoyed that too. And the little peaks that you get into people's homes or my favorite, their bookshelves.

Allison: What? I know. I love that too.

Jeremiah: I'm reminded of what Dan Nataf said about the partisanship just increasing in our country. And being a media psychologist, I think of the narrative aspects of this and our hero worship and how we're looking at figures just as these heroes. And how media narrative and our social structure supports this polarization.

Dan: It is a strange contrast that on the one hand we can have so many messages where we are rallying together and you can see evidence of people pulling together. And at the same time, we have so much divisiveness and vitriol. It's a very strange time.

When you were young, is this the work you envision doing? I'm just curious of what you all saw growing up. What did you want to be?

Amy: I'd say yes and no. So, when I was growing up, I wanted to be a novelist and I wanted to be an illustrator. And sometimes I also wanted to be a farmer.

Jeremiah: Same here.

Amy: And there was a time when I wanted to be an academic. I would say that there's pieces of those in my life. Maybe I'm not doing those things exactly, but there's a piece of all of that in what I do.

Dan: Oh, that's so fantastic. You're working at a college as a writer, with designers and you garden.

Amy: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Allison: I think I've always wanted to be a designer. Since we're moving, we're cleaning things out and I found these photos of myself, I think I was five years old, and my room was in perfect shape. Everything looked perfect in the room and I wanted somebody to take photos of me watering my plants.

Amanda: That's amazing.

Allison:  This like, five-year old, Martha Stewart like, "Just take a photo of me watering these plants."

Dan: Oh, that's brilliant.

Allison: But, the older I got, I just was so curious about how magazines were created and how they were put together. And I can remember just focusing on catalogs and just like, "How is this made?" I mean, I can trace those roots way back.

Jeremiah: I wanted to be a baseball player when I was young. I was pretty good up until I hit puberty and everyone else grew way bigger than me. But, I remember the first time I heard a friend of mine play guitar and I was just amazed. So I've been playing music for a long time and I definitely get to integrate that into my job more and more, especially as I'm learning how to mix music and apply those skills to projects we're working on.

Amanda: I always knew I was going to be some kind of a storyteller. I was always, as a kid, I was writing books. Allison like you were talking about, I was fascinated with catalogs and magazines and how they came together. If I was going to write a story in elementary school, I had to staple the pages in and make it look like a book.

Allison: Oh yeah, me too. Me too.

Amanda: And then, I loved film and video. That's what I ended up choosing to pursue in college. And so, it's interesting that out of all of that, I still ended up being a storyteller, and it's what brought me from, pursuing, for the last couple of years, pursuing health coaching and doing that. And I missed video so much. I missed doing really strong storytelling video and I miss doing that with a team. And so, having the opportunity to come and join this team and be a part of the work that we do here, was just such a great blend of all of those things. And I've also gotten to have my hands in doing a little bit of writing here and there and scripting. And I literally started this job at the start of the pandemic. So for the last 10 months, that's what I've been doing and, it's been really, really rewarding.

Dan: It's fun to hear all these little pieces of each of you and how they fit in to our roles. Now, when I was little, I used to love making little recordings with friends of mine. We would imitate news programs and we would come up with little sketches, like little comedy things here.

Amanda:  I love it.

Dan: And here we are doing a podcast, so many years later.

Allison: Good for you.

Dan: We're starting to have conversations at the college about, coming out of recovery sometime in the future and what that will look like for community colleges. It's a pretty exciting opportunity to start to explore that. It's certainly fun to look ahead to the future of learning. What are some of the things you have been learning for yourself during this pandemic?

Amy: So I mentioned in the episode at the beginning of the season that, I'm taking a general botany class and it's hard. There are a couple of times when I go up to my husband and I'm like, "It's like science."

Dan: Amazing that it is. Farmer Amy.

Amy: But I have loved it. It is hard but it is the good kind of heart. It's challenging. There's times when I feel like I'm trying to cram something else into an over-packed suitcase when I'm studying, but I really enjoyed it. And it's been interesting to give that background in why things are happening in my garden. So that's been the personal part of it.

The other thing is that I think is interesting is to experience taking a class again from the student's side. It's been a little bit since I've been a student and this is the first time I've been a student in our college.

My son is also a student and he has some special challenges. Also seeing the experience from his point of view, has been really enlightening and I hope will educate the way I communicate our processes in the future.

Allison: I've also taken this time to try out a class with a college. I enrolled in interior design. And so, my five-year-old self was very happy about that. It was a lot of fun, I think, to learn the terms of interior design, as far as how they connect with graphic design. We do so much work on campus. We're doing more work in spaces and environmental design and to be able to have the proper terms to communicate, has been really helpful. The other thing I've been learning is, reactivating that Duolingo account, so I've gotten back into my German lessons, Dan.

Dan: Excellent.

Allison: Yep.

Jeremiah: As I mentioned, I've been learning to mix music. So that's how I'm growing right now. And that, I think I alluded to it, it's a real mix of passions in different avenues: professional, personal.

Amanda: From a personal standpoint, something that I've come back to with learning is, I finally signed up to ... I mentioned health coaching earlier. I signed up to renew my certification, so I'm doing some more continuing education with that outside of the college. But it's been fun to start diving back into, just more learning in general. Lifelong learning is a huge, huge thing for me. I took a couple of months off and I was starting to get that itch. Like, "I need to take a class, I need to learn something and be quizzed on it."

Dan: You mentioned lifelong learning, today we all have to be lifelong learners. That was the case before COVID, the world just moves too fast, not to be a continuous learner. What intrigues you about the future of education and learning?

Amy: I think we've learned, well, I hope we've learned some interesting things from this time. I know that, I've always said that if I had unlimited funds and time, I would be a permanent student. But as I've gotten older, that time piece is as difficult as the money piece. And I think because things are online and also we're working online, so schedules are a little different. The opportunity to learn is a little bit easier. And I think that there are lessons to learn from that, from just the availability.

Allison: Yeah. I'll echo that. And the flexibility. Just learning your own way.

The chance to take a class online is just, it opens up a whole new world. I can remember my first online class, I'm going to say, the early 2000's, and it was a self-paced class and I was working full time, at that time. But the option to take that class on my own pace was, opened a whole new world for me then. So seeing more classes online and more flexibility, I can't imagine how much it's opening up for our students.

Amy: I think flexibility is the key there too, because it would be difficult for me to take a synchronous class. But on the other hand, for my son, who's just out of high school and has some learning issues, he does terrible with the online class. He needs the synchronous. I think having the flexibility and offering it classes in different ways, I think is really important.

Amanda: So we regularly get emails from PRIA, which is, Planning Research and Institutional Advancement with the college. And I was looking at one of the emails that they sent us with survey data. And one of the things that they mentioned was that, of the people that responded to the survey, 79.7% of those respondents planned to continue taking online courses, even when more in-person courses are available. And I thought that was really cool because I feel like, in some ways, the fact that students were kind of forced in some ways to take classes online when maybe that's not what they would have originally chosen, had the circumstances been different, they've now seen how beneficial that can be and that it is something that they can do.

And like you mentioned, Amy, by having different types for somebody who wants to do something that's more self-paced versus something that's more guided. You can have such a well-rounded experience with an online course and still have the flexibility you need to do it. I thought that was really neat.

Jeremiah: I think that, with all these different modalities and people's desire to learn the availability of content, I think and hope that, we will be encouraged to learn and explore more as part of our daily lives and our jobs.

Dan: It sounds like the future of learning and education is a good topic for the spring, that we can explore more deeply. Until then, we get to take a bit of a break. How do each of you plan to celebrate during this holiday season and our winter break?

Allison: I'm hoping to relax and not open my computer. I think I keep a, many of you know that I keep a Christmas journal, and one of the notes I wrote to myself last year was, not to make so many plans. I was feeling kind of bummed at the beginning of this thinking, "Oh, watch, all of our plans are being canceled. Everything's closing down." And then the other day I realized, "Oh, you said not to make plans, so you got your wish." I'm hoping to just chill and relax.

Jeremiah: I'm just going to be spending time mixing some music. I recorded my band about a year and a half ago and have been slowly nudging my way along. And we're set to release in the beginning of March, so I got to get this mixed done.

Amanda: That's awesome.

Amy: I think anybody who knows me knows that I have a huge family and they're very important to me. So we won't be gathering, in the way that we normally gather. But I think, going back to what John said in that episode about, "We won't have this opportunity, hopefully we will have this opportunity again." So, I'm trying to focus on cherishing the time with my immediate family, whether my teenagers like it or not.

Amanda: I'm planning to work my way through “Lost.” We're in like the middle of season four right now. And then, yeah, relaxing and I'm probably going to work my way through another one or two of the continuing education courses for my health coach certification. And start the new year off with, just a little bit more of a focus on that. Because it's something that I really love doing, but, it definitely took a back seat over the last 10 months. And I'm looking forward to getting back into it again.

Can we ask, Dan, what are you doing for the holidays?

Allison: Yeah. Seriously.

Dan: For me, during the holidays, I think less screen time would be a goal, but then I also imagine that we're going to be watching shows and movies and stuff. So screen in quotes would probably be less work. And we found over Thanksgiving that we did all of the things that we normally do as a family, but it was just the four of us. My wife and two kids rather than the big family gathering. And it was actually enjoyable to do all that we normally do, but not have the time pressure of making sure that everything's ready by a certain point because guests are coming, or we have to rush out the door. And so, I'm looking forward to more of that and enjoying the holiday season as a family, still connecting with extended family and friends, in a socially distanced way. But being able to just enjoy time with each other and relax.

Amy: It sounds lovely.

Dan: Well, I just want to say thanks for all that you do. I hope each of you gets to take a much-deserved break to recharge and reconnect with what's most important to you. You are a stellar team. It is a pleasure to work with each of you. Happy holidays.

Allison: Thanks, Dan

Amanda: Thanks, Dan

Amy: Thanks, Dan


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