Somedays I am the student freaking out. Other days I grab the available seat.
I recently found out that I had a month less than anticipated to hand in the complete draft of my dissertation. If it is in good enough shape by July 1 and my committee members are available, I may be able to defend this summer. The hustle is ON.
At this stage of the first draft compiling, writing this dissertation feels like selecting quotes out of a salad bar and trying to string them together coherently, although hopefully a step above this word salad:
Here is the latest clip from the literature review. It addresses what I think is the most important, sustainable aspect of interagency collaborations, namely the relationships that are created between collaboration members:
In addition to these tangible gains of participating in an interagency collaboration, much research has discussed the intangible benefits of participation in terms of relationships between members. Mizrahi and Rosenthal (2001) observed that achieving tangible interagency collaboration benefits is difficult but members considered continuous participation in the collaboration to work on common goals to be a successful outcome. Rivard, Johnsen, Morrissey, and Starrett (1999) found that interagency collaborations resulted in growth in interorganizational relationships between members. This finding was supported by Chever, Clifton, and Hogan (2005) who also found that interagency collaborations develop in such a way that a “wide range of entities, systems, and individuals can, in fact, develop a synergism in which the sum of the total is very much greater than its parts” (p. 12). Agranoff (2006) found that each individual agency participating in the collaboration gains:
Access to other agencies’ information, programs and resources, access to information and communications technology, cross-training of agency staff, and most important, enhanced external input into the internal knowledge base . . . collective process skills that accrue from working together over a sustained period of time . . . developing interagency planning, piloting an adaptation of new technology, developing a mutual interagency culture that leads to subsequent problem solving. (p. 58)
Agranoff (2008) concluded that these results were beneficial for individual member agencies and described this synergism as “reinforcing human capital growth by the benefit of successes” (p. 344). However, Byles (1985) notes that “collaboration requires more than the sharing of responsibility; it entails working together closely and observing each other’s performance – the dissolution of agency boundaries” (p. 553).
Yes, it’s quote heavy and some of them will need to be summarized rather than quoted, but PROGRESS.
I would like to thank every kind soul who has innocently asked “how’s the writing going?” lately. I defer to the eloquence of Big Gay Al:
My writing is not half as brilliant as this guy who adapted T. S. Eliot’s Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock for the technology age. It’s not a quarter as brilliant as MC Lars somehow rapping T. S. Eliot into a song.
But there is slow and steady progress being made, and for that I am grateful. Because it’s inexplicably hard. I think it’s the sheer volume of work involved, knowing that each and every word will be analyzed by my committee for what’s there and not there, for the sheer reward of jumping into an uncertain academic job market at the trough of the slowest hiring time of the year. It might be easier if I knew right now that I could afford to turn on my air conditioner this summer and at least be comfortable, but given that this line of thinking is one of the stupid habits you develop growing up poor, I should probably just try to ignore this as much as possible and just keep going.
So onward. Here’s the literature review outline:
The literature is all coded and organized within this outline and needs to be put in sentence form. If I send this to my advisor before he leaves the country, and complete my data analysis and send that to him too, and he approves of all this writing enough to send to my full committee by March 1, and they all agree that it’s good enough to set up a defense date, and I defend by March 30, I’ll graduate in May.
After all, if I can’t afford to turn on the AC, at least I’ll be a doctor who can’t afford it. Here’s to slowly working towards the sense of accomplishment of finishing this PhD and edging one step closer to the next chapter in life, which will truly be a fresh, blank page.
In an effort to keep myself on task and accountable to deadlines, I may use this blog to highlight pieces of my dissertation. As some readers familiar with dissertation writing may know, it is very likely that each piece will be revised radically before inclusion into the final document. I also tend to be very concise in my writing so I will spare you, gentle reader, the revision process by which my dissertation committee determines that all necessary information is included.
To that end, here is the first draft of the abstract. Data has not yet been fully analyzed and the abstract will be updated as more analysis is completed.
The Charlestown Connects program sought to provide improved community outcomes via an interagency collaboration between local government and nonprofit agencies. Building on a prior evaluation, this study examined the long-term effects and information on the processes involved in the Charlestown Connects interagency collaboration. Using qualitative interviews with program stakeholders and observations of community meetings sponsored by Charlestown Connects, this study provided useful information on improving interagency collaborations for social workers and others engaging in community work. Major findings discussed include challenges involved with collecting data in a closed community, the impact of interagency collaboration relationship building, and an examination of factors that helped grow and sustain the collaboration.
UPDATE: Good news, a memorial fund has been established in Dan’s name! Here are details from Dan’s brother Bruce:
In memory of Dan Schackman’s commitment to supporting the public presentation and review of our students’ work, and to honor his teaching, scholarship, and service, The Daniel Schackman Memorial Fund for Students has been established by the Department of Communication and Media at SUNY New Paltz. The purpose of this fund will be to defray the expenses of students studying within our Department who wish to present their academic work at a conference or submit their creative work for review or evaluation by a recognized organization.
To contribute, please address your gift to the SUNY New Paltz Foundation, 1 Hawk Drive, New Paltz, New York, 12561, or go to http://www.newpaltz.edu/gift. Be sure to specify The Daniel Schackman Memorial Fund for Students.
My friend Dan Schackman passed away a couple of weeks ago. I can’t believe he’s gone, and I haven’t accepted that I’ll never hear his voice again, that we’ll never get to co-write a paper together, that he’ll never get to see me finally graduate with my PhD, that we’ll never get to see each other grow old.
I met him about 10 years ago while working for CTCNet, a nonprofit focused on community technology and digital divide issues. He was there to serve as an AmeriCorps *VISTA member, and since I had also served a few years as a VISTA I took him under my wing to show him around and help him feel welcome. I’ll never forget a few months later when I was laid off, in shock and feeling like the office leper, Dan brought me to the park near our office and shared that he too had been laid off before and gave me advice on how to cope. At that moment I said to him, in my own brand of high-class vernacular, “You know, I’ve always wanted a PhD and it won’t go away. This is God kicking me in the ass to go back for my PhD. Fuck it, what am I waiting for?” Dan was quiet. I didn’t know at the time that he had been bitten by the PhD bug too and may have been having similar thoughts. He later went to Syracuse University and graduated with his PhD. I edited his dissertation and he helped edit my dissertation proposal. Dan was so supportive of me and my journey. Whenever I had yet another Twitter or Facebook status bemoaning the latest PhD struggle, Dan was always there with a smile, joke, or helpful comment. That feed feels so oddly quiet now without him there.
Our ladders of success and survival nudge us to move and change and grow whether we want to or not. Our families become people we see perhaps a few times a year if we are lucky, and our family of friends, the people we may see in person day-to-day when our schedules collide or when our paths cross virtually on Facebook and the like, become so important. Since Dan’s passing I’ve been reaching out to other old friends, burying ridiculously old hatchets from too many years ago over things that, in retrospect, pale in comparison to not being involved in some small capacity in their life. Time is so precious and I don’t want to miss a minute more. Because Dan was something of a walking IMDb database, I like to think he might be chuckling at me having a ‘Big Chill‘ moment right now on his behalf.
Thank you Dan for being my friend, for throwing the greatest Oscar parties and for somehow getting everyone to dance to All That Jazz every time Chicago won yet another Oscar, for being a great cat-sitter, for introducing me to a book group of friends that I still hang out with nearly 10 years later, for being my Mad Men buddy and especially the Mad Men Suitcase episode and agreeing that it was one of the best hours on television and sharing that sense that maybe if we didn’t live in the same zip code anymore, at least we were not alone together. I miss you.
Folks, here is an update to an earlier post on the film Mother’s Red Dress that I wrote about for The New Social Worker Magazine. I was able to preview the film in its entirety. Here is the updated film trailer:
Why is running away from problems so seductive even though it never works to solve them? What does it really take for people to change? The film Mother’s Red Dress invites the viewer to explore these questions, to have an honest, unflinching dialogue with ourselves and reflect on our own experiences and behaviors, and, if we are willing to do the work, shows us a path in which we can chose to triumph over our own adversity to find a place of peace and hope.
I think the film poignantly captures the crazy- making orbit and trajectory of abuse, i.e., that oh-so-personal walk through someone’s head feeling and wondering if these oh-my-God-horrific experiences are real. So often experiences with abuse make us feel crazy, as if we did something wrong to cause this unfathomable shit torrent upon us. It is lived insanity and crazy-making personified, except it’s not because it is real and it’s happening to you and when we’re children, there may not be a damn thing we can do about it. I hope the folks I know who have survived terrible abuse and incest see this film. The film touched upon some places I have traveled in my own life, and revisiting those chapters was not easy.
In the end, however, I think the main character in Mother’s Red Dress is ultimately fortunate, for how often in real life do we act upon the chance to confront that which made us who we are, truly face those chapters of our stories that form our own individual constitutions, our character, however painful they may be? We cannot undo them anymore than we can unspill milk. Every day we make choices about the kind of person we will be in this world, even if some of us due to abusive experiences are more acutely aware of the effect we can have on others. While some may say we suffer the sins of our fathers, every single day we can chose how we respond to them and choose to build our own capacity to heal and grow and thrive.
I’ll post another update when the film is publicly available to view – I hope you get to see it too! You can rent it here: