Website Draft Update

Since class last Thursday, I’ve been able to upload all of the interview videos to YouTube and embed them to my site. The homepage shows the proper moving header, and that play button triggers a modal that autoplays the video (give it a try!). I have also synced up closed captions, though YouTube has a […]

Since class last Thursday, I’ve been able to upload all of the interview videos to YouTube and embed them to my site. The homepage shows the proper moving header, and that play button triggers a modal that autoplays the video (give it a try!). I have also synced up closed captions, though YouTube has a wait time, so those changes may not be reflected.

The videos are the biggest piece to the site, so I’m grateful to have them out of the way, but the rest of the site is bare. I hope to make my resources page a robust piece for all of my materials. I’ve taken several pictures of the campus, which may be able to help. I’ll be posting the menu to last year’s Glendi as well.

Week 11 Update: Organization

I dedicated several hours today editing and have finally cut my two-hour long strip of footage to 15 manageable minutes to be rearranged and perfected. As I ventured into the later interviews, I’m astounded by how much history got unearthed in that time. My contract may have to be revised to de-emphasize the timeline or […]

I dedicated several hours today editing and have finally cut my two-hour long strip of footage to 15 manageable minutes to be rearranged and perfected. As I ventured into the later interviews, I’m astounded by how much history got unearthed in that time. My contract may have to be revised to de-emphasize the timeline or shift it away from immigration to a Glendi-focused timeline.

As I am cutting the interviews down to their most candid bits, I am finding natural ways to arrange clips. For instance, several interviewees say “The food is great” with a spike in energy. They all list off their favorite foods, and I hope that collages well.

One of my interviewees was the gatekeeper of history. Her interview was rich with dates and facts; however, for the video I will need to cut for a digestible runtime. Though I will need to transcribe the video for closed captions, some interviews are still in need of a full transcription.

When one of the parishioners provided me with their PR work, I had another challenge: how will I organize all this information? In class, you may have noticed that I have transitioned to keeping notes on a tablet. Now I am placing all my odds and ends on Evernote, which includes the consent forms, class notes, key email exchanges, and absolutely everything else. So far this has helped me prepare my mind with all this information.

Week 10 Update: Video Editing

This week I’ve cut several of the interviews. Soon I will have them all. I have yet to start on my website, but I understand that time is short and I should get to it as soon as I can. Here are the notes I shared with class on Tuesday: When I arrived at Saint […]

This week I’ve cut several of the interviews. Soon I will have them all. I have yet to start on my website, but I understand that time is short and I should get to it as soon as I can.

Here are the notes I shared with class on Tuesday:

When I arrived at Saint Seraphim church, I was struck by how large the campus was. As I followed signs for the main office, I tried to imagine Father L working at a computer. The idea itself was blasphemous, yet our entire correspondence was electronic.

He directed me to an event hall. A group of Norwegians were taking a tour of the campus. And there, in a group, was my interviewees: one young woman, one young lady, and three elderly ladies. One, who dealt with publicity, brought a bin of all the recent print ads and press releases in the last three years.

I immediately felt these people were family. Rather than interviewing alone, they took comfort in knowing their fellow parishioners were in the same building, listening in, fact checking, and giving warm, silent support. The mood changed when they spoke in the church among the iconography. They behaved silent, introspective, calm, and not overly animated as one might get over Glendi – a huge party.

I immediately picked up on one of Father Lawrence’s favorite phrases: as it should be. Through stefan and I were worried about the outcome of the video, the father sensed our worry and through his precense alone, helped me feel more calm.

As it should be fed into the answer to one of the first questions. The tropical rainstorm ended up being mystical, a warning that they were not ready. It brought them together.

Week 9 Update: The Video-recorded Interviews

At this point in my blog, I am going to make a shift: I will be vaguer I will be briefer I will focus on the project update, rather than the details This is in order to channel my energy toward building the final project. This week I intend to begin building the website and […]

At this point in my blog, I am going to make a shift:

  • I will be vaguer
  • I will be briefer
  • I will focus on the project update, rather than the details

This is in order to channel my energy toward building the final project. This week I intend to begin building the website and make huge progress on my final project. In order to do this, I must allocate my energy in the best way possible.

Tuesday evening, I had the privilege of interviewing six different coordinators of the Glendi Festival, all at various ages, and all with different perspectives on Glendi’s history and ultimate meaning. All of the participants were so willing to share information, and one member gave me a box of publicity (all originals), that I must scan and return.

The interviews directly confirmed much of what I had hoped to find, solidifying the festival in my mind. It is a culturally rich festival worthy of documentation. And I would tell you more, but you’ll just have to wait to find out.

The Challenges of Video Recording

Recording the interviews on video was the most anxiety-inducing part of the project. My boyfriend, the videographer, had just purchased a new camera which arrived in the mail a couple days previous. By the time we loaded into the car, he was still fumbling with the settings and unsure of himself.

We set up in the gorgeous church with the exact meaningful backdrop I had imagined for the interviews to take place. But we had only two lights, when a proper light setup requires three, and as the sun went down, the backdrop darkened, and since the camera settings were not properly set up, the footage is grainy and orange. Seeing the footage afterward was so distressing that I didn’t know what to do. My boyfriend had immediately afterward bought a third light online and learned how to adjust the whitebalance and ISO. I’m glad that we were able to learn from this experience, but I am still heartbroken over the footage.

For the interviewees though, they were perfectly comfortable talking to me under the lights in front of the camera. For most, the camera became invisible, and the conversation took place with just me and subject — as I had hoped.

Week 8 Update: The Pre-Show Jitters

I woke up this morning from an anxiety dream. My interviews are scheduled for Tuesday. I have not yet had IRB approval, though I have been told I will get it if I remain responsive throughout Monday. And as of tomorrow, we will be nine weeks into the semester. It was the first night back in […]

I woke up this morning from an anxiety dream.

My interviews are scheduled for Tuesday.

I have not yet had IRB approval, though I have been told I will get it if I remain responsive throughout Monday.

And as of tomorrow, we will be nine weeks into the semester.

It was the first night back in my bed after a camping trip for Spring Break. I arrived home appreciating every piece of my life: my dog, my stove, my friends, my job security. But the night tore my insecurities from my subconscious. No doubt, I am nervous about my interviews. I have doubts about my ability in ethnographic research. I don’t know what I’m doing.

But I realize that this is all natural in the course of a college semester and in the development of every project. At work, I am developing a website. The build started at the beginning of this semester and should be completed near the end of this semester. So, right now, I am at two mid-points, and perhaps I am doubly scared.

The Positive: I got some Gilroy Garlic

On my drive back north, I stopped by Garlic World and got myself some Gilroy garlic. Naturally, I told my boyfriend all about the rationally constructed festival we talked about during my leadership discussion. As I bought garlic and brought it to my car, I realized I had no other associations with Gilroy other than garlic, and as far as I was concerned garlic was Gilroy; they had succeeded in creating a commercial staple for themselves.

I am glad that I was able to conduct leadership discussion on this article. The topic was close-to-home and easily observable from my everyday. It put me in the mindset to contemplate the origins of tradition and the communal bonding of food, which I hope to observe in my own festival research.

Asparagus Festival: The Constructed Culture of Stockton, CA

These are my notes for the “Celebrating Asparagus” article. My initial draw to picking this article for leadership discussion was two-fold: my own festival is a food festival so I thought it might relate, and the festival takes place in the Bay Area next month, so I might check it out myself. The paper also […]

These are my notes for the “Celebrating Asparagus” article. My initial draw to picking this article for leadership discussion was two-fold: my own festival is a food festival so I thought it might relate, and the festival takes place in the Bay Area next month, so I might check it out myself. The paper also took a writing style similar to how  might construct my own festival analysis. The paper’s tie to Thanksgiving at the beginning was crucial for forming a picture. America has a short history with many cultures from other lands. Since we had no history, we constructed it. The Thanksgiving tradition is built on a story as true as a fairy tale, yet the tradition remains in the present, more powerful than its historical origins. The festival examples all take place in California, and I as a citizen have pride for my state, my county, and my town. Yet California’s American history is even more shallow than the eastern states. California was founded in 1850, made official in a now-famous adobe building in Monterey,  which was then one of California’s only towns – a pitstop for sailors. My hometown,  Santa Rosa,  was lucky enough to be one of the earliest cities, dating back to the 1868. But the town directly north, Windsor, was established only in 1992. Rohnert Park, home to Sonoma State University, was a  planned city, constructed in the 1960s along with the highway system. Though the article doesn’t touch on this fully, it’s no wonder these planned, constructed, and commercialized festivals blossomed in California towns that have no real history, Rohnert Park among them. Here’s summarized bulletpoints I wrote as I was reading the article, which can serve as jump-off points for discussion.
  • The food festival has received far less attention than other festivals, although it has deep cultural significance itself.
  • The first food festival is thanksgiving. Though myth, it is a powerful message about forging social bonds through food.
  • Food festivals are a way for Americans to celebrate their cultures while being inclusionary and nonpolitical.
  • rationally constructed food festival – based around a foodstuff associated with a community or region. It is linked to no ethnic heritage
  • The Stockton Asparagus Festival – it’s in California. Celebrates the asparagus harvest. The three-day event went from 20k to 100k participants and 150k Spears of asparagus.
  • Chocolate dipped asparagus, asparagus tea, asparagus ice cream. Even an asparagus shaped cookbook.
  • Asparagus is marketed as a “high-class vegetable” or the cadillac of festivals. Do you buy that label?
  • Asparagus is not associated with ethnicity, making it a great choice in a diverse county. What does this say about festivals that are unable to achieve a diverse attendance (like the Dogwood festival, for example)?
  • The festival is highly organized and commercial.
  • Since asparagus is a ‘male’ vegetable, the coordinator consciously feminized it for cross-gender appeal.
  • People go to be “out of time”, similar to marti gras. The asparagus theme is fun and bizarre. You feel silly eating asparagus ice cream while wearing an asparagus hat.
  • It has a “non-community commercial gloss.” Many non-asparagus events revolve around the festival, although they have nothing to do with Stockton.
  • Therefore, we have the “rationally constructed” festival.
  • This type of festival has become wildly popular. We have the Garlic Festival in Gilroy. Even Rohnert Park is mentioned for the Crane Melon festival, used as a desparate attempt to put us on the map (but now we have a casino).
  • ((Note: Rohnert Park is our quintessential commercially constructed town. It has no history or character of its own, which is why this type of festival is so attractive for such places. It puts them on the map. It says “hey, I have character too, guys.”))
  • But is there anything authentic in it at all? Is there really a difference between Gilroy’s Garlic and Stockton’s asparagus?
  • Maybe. Though constructed, Stockton has a history and a sense of community it may not otherwise have.
  • As far as anyone knows, Stockton has always been the asparagus capital. We see traditions in the present, after all

Project Contract

Mission Statement The goal of this project is to build a detailed ethnographic exploration of Santa Rosa’s Glendi festival as it relates to Eastern Orthodox culture, both at a local and global level. I will dissect the festival’s complex cultural roots in connection to its location, the Saint Seraphim Eastern Orthodox church. I will conduct research […]

Mission Statement

The goal of this project is to build a detailed ethnographic exploration of Santa Rosa’s Glendi festival as it relates to Eastern Orthodox culture, both at a local and global level. I will dissect the festival’s complex cultural roots in connection to its location, the Saint Seraphim Eastern Orthodox church. I will conduct research starting from a broad cultural view (food traditions and geographical relations in Eastern Europe) to a narrower local view (Eastern European immigration to Sonoma County), and finally, to the festival itself — the tactile and sensual experience of food and dance under the spiritual setting of the church. After pulling together these three levels of research, I will be able to make insightful conclusions based on data rather than try to force conclusions based on preconceived biases. Having been raised in the Orthodox tradition myself, I am personally interested in knowing the potential draw for my current generation and how Glendi may be actively working to keep an old tradition vitalized. My website will thrive on minimalism and easy-to-find information. I like the WordPress theme I am using (Intergalactic) for this purpose. My subjects have already agreed to be on camera, so my plan is to conduct three interviews on camera, splice together a mini-documentary, and have that documentary play in the background as a full-screen header as someone enters the site. A large play button will allow it to play with color and sound (and with captions). In addition to that, I plan to use a timeline tool to outline Glendi’s history in parallel to Sonoma County’s history of Eastern European immigration. The site architecture will be basic. A bibliography of all my research sources will fill one page. On another page, I will have my written research, which will be well designed and broken up with pictures for readability. The page will include a column of downloadable links in PDF, ePUB, MOBI, and MP3, so my research can be totally accessible by anyone. The homepage I hope to make glamorous and less research-intensive: a copy paragraph that describes the festival, an address, and dates & times. This won’t be just a piece of well-written, well-documented ethnographic research; it will be visited by an average person seeking information about the festival.

Project Tools

  • A camera, a lapel mic, lights, editing software, pictures, audio zoom and royalty-free music – For making a documentary. I have filmmaker friends who I plan to utilize as well to help me set up and get the cut together.
  • Royalty-free image sites
  • Timeline JS3 – For creating a timeline of Glendi history as well as Eastern European immigrations and large historical milestones as it relates to their cultural traditions.
  • Yoast SEO Plugin – Needs to be said. Writing metadata is important for site archiving. It’s like the importance of an abstract for a scholarly article.
  • Adobe InDesign – To layout and export my research in a variety of formats. I also have an audio recorder to read aloud my research for an MP3 version.

Milestone Schedule

  • Wednesday, March 9th – Have interview questions IRB approved. Interviews scheduled.
  • Tuesday, March 22nd – All interviews will be wrapped and video in post-production, audio begun transcription
  • Sunday, April 10th – Interviews transcribed as much as required. Timeline will have been built and deployed on site.
  • Sunday, April 17th – Video and transcriptions submitted to festival coordinators for approval.
  • Tuesday, April 19th – Annotated Bibliography posted to site.
  • Thursday, April 21st – Draft of site is built and ready for review.
  • Thursday, May 5th – Website complete with all details promised in the mission statement.

Week 4 Update: Ethnography Assignment Reflection

Thank you, Cathy Kroll, for writing me detailed feedback for my Ethnography Assignment. This gives me a perfect time to reflect (and a perfect excuse for a blog entry). Rather than becoming more aware of others, I became acutely aware of myself. Ethnographic observation is difficult. It’s real time and fast moving. We are photographers, […]

Thank you, Cathy Kroll, for writing me detailed feedback for my Ethnography Assignment. This gives me a perfect time to reflect (and a perfect excuse for a blog entry). Rather than becoming more aware of others, I became acutely aware of myself. Ethnographic observation is difficult. It’s real time and fast moving. We are photographers, posed to capture the golden moments at a gathering, but those moments — all happening simultaneously — get framed seconds too late, captured too blurry. And while the imperfect moments are still perfect in their own right, I could have observed it better. That’s why I fell so heavily into my own training and mode of thinking at the Flamingo. I observed age since age is what made me the fish-out-of-water. I gravitated toward the dance floor rather than the bar or the tables. I made no mental notes about the band; their clothes, their movements and their use of space were invisible to me. Yet the singles (those who were not blending) caught my attention. My own cognitive biases glared at me when I sat to write. Dr. Kroll’s feedback helped me see that I can leave these insecurities behind. Rather, I should suspend my fear of tarnishing objectivity and take my observations further — explore the why. I need to ask questions and pose answers about my subjects’ motivations. I only started at observation; I didn’t analyze. Despite those shortcomings, my assignment was a success. But I know it wouldn’t have been as much of a success if I had walked in with no previous experience. Just about the entirety of my job experience fed into my finished Ethnographic Assignment.

My previous training:

  • Before I was a literature MA student, I was a creative writing student at SFSU, focusing in creative nonfiction. Surprise?
  • After I received my BA in creative writing, I worked as a blogger for a software marketing company in Silicon Valley. There, I learned that (readable) blogs need…
    • Lists
    • Frequent headers
    • Short-short paragraphs …All of this I use in this blog.
  • When I chose to move back to Santa Rosa, I began a career in web development, where I met amazing designers who taught me how to find great royalty-free photography (hence, these spectacular header images).
I feel that, without my experiences leading up to this point, my trip to the Flamingo would have turned into a drastically different piece, despite our reading. That’s the scary part of this work. And that’s where I am determined to break out of my mold and grow.

Prospectus of Project

Firstly, I apologize for being late with this post. Not only have I writers block from having written something a lot like a project prospectus the first week of class, but I was laid up with the stomach flu and had missed class already too much — sorry! Here’s most of what I had written […]

Firstly, I apologize for being late with this post. Not only have I writers block from having written something a lot like a project prospectus the first week of class, but I was laid up with the stomach flu and had missed class already too much — sorry!

Here’s most of what I had written in the previous post:

[M]y research will center on the Glendi Festival in Santa Rosa. This international food festival takes place in my hometown. Put on by St. Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church, they serve Eastern European cuisine and provide live Balkan music. Though the festival has existed since 1989 (predating my birth), I hadn’t heard of it until just last year. I thought my Eastern European Orthodox heritage was uncelebrated by Sonoma County locals. I was dead wrong. The weekend-long festival has attendance in the thousands, which makes me think — somehow Glendi is creating the magic that makes Eastern European culture worthwhile and relevant. So far I’ve felt little pride in my heritage: my father was raised by two strict, authoritative Ukrainian-immigrant parents. True parties were not a thing, much less presents under a Christmas tree. At church, I would stand for two full hours and listen to Ukrainian chants echo through the elaborate church halls, watching my priest grandfather swing smoke and incense. It was plain to see that I was standing with nobody my own age, listening to a language never taught to me. I didn’t get it — but I sure hope to. Glendi is Greek for party, already shattering the stiff, conservative assumptions from my upbringing. Glendi understands the key ingredients that makes us come together and have a cultural celebration. They know how to establish pride, both for those involved and for onlookers. Through interviews with the church, I hope to become inspired by their love — for people, for food, for tradition, and for their own beliefs and lifestyle. I want to discover what entrances people. Why do they go?

But in addition to that, here is all that is new:

  • I have locked in my festival. I reached out and the festival has confirmed interest, stoked for the publicity, aware that the process involves interviews. They are also aware I want to get the interviews on camera.
  • I will film my interviews and cut them together into a short documentary. Given the time frame of this project, I am unsure whether I can get a perfect cut of the video by the end of the semester. For our purposes, clips that go on long will be okay.
  • My research will have three tiers:
    1. Bird’s-Eye View: Exploring the cross-pollination of Eastern European cultures. Particularly looking at the culture of party and of food. Also, from my upbringing I know there’s some politics surrounding who talks to who in Orthodox religions, so I may or may not find answers to that in my research.
    2. Medium shot: Explore Sonoma County’s history of Russian immigration.
    3. Close-up: Explore local newspaper references and coverage of Glendi over the years.

The Art of Prep: Training the Mind for Research

Knowing that I don’t have a backup plan, I sent an email to my festival of choice, asking if they are willing to participate. I was unsure to ask ((Would this be jumping the gun?)), but I did anyway, just to know whether my subject is interested. Now solidly in week four of the class, […]

Knowing that I don’t have a backup plan, I sent an email to my festival of choice, asking if they are willing to participate. I was unsure to ask ((Would this be jumping the gun?)), but I did anyway, just to know whether my subject is interested. Now solidly in week four of the class, I feel . . . odd. This class is perhaps the strangest I have ever taken, given our diversity of backgrounds. Here. Let me explain. Things that make me feel odd:
  • Calling myself a scientist. As a grad student in a literature MA program, I have not once thought of my craft as scientific. Reading literature is an emotional task, and we are rarely asked to separate our feelings from our research. Analyzing literature is commonly accepted as a subjective art. But in this class, we discuss minimizing the subjective, putting our ‘self’ away to further understand our subject’s reality through his or her own eyes. It’s strange to me. I’ve never been ‘scientific’ in any of my practices.
  • Being on the West Coast. I have lived in the SF Bay Area my whole life, and I am embedded in my own culture. My father has always told me I “live in a bubble,” and I don’t fight it. Reading Cracker Circuit and other various articles connected to the south, I am aware I am relating only through the imagination, whereas my peers might have some personal experience.
  • Being Unsure In General. I have a small idea of the finished product: interviews, archival material, and transcripts. But somehow, with the reading and the deep exploration of ethnography, I feel thrown off. The articles show there’s far more to it, yet at the same time, I have conducted, transcribed, and approved audio-recorded interviews before. I have worked at the Office of Institutional Research, where I learned the immense importance of unbiased questions. Perhaps I’m just psyching myself out.
My current plan is to get a confirmed interest (or disinterest) in my festival of my choice, so I can launch into research and questions. Considering my subject is at an Orthodox Church, I see no harm in earning trust by going to services and getting a sense for their spirit, similar to what I had done for my ethnography assignment. As the semester progresses, I hope to be able to call myself a scientist.