I turned in my application to the MA history program with an exciting proposal to collect oral histories from the last women to give birth on Pelee Island,Ontario, back in the 1950s. By then most women were relocating to either mainland Ontario (Leamington or Windsor) or to Ohio to give birth. I’m excited because there’s a personal connection – my grandmother was one of the last women to give birth at home on the island (to my father). Even though she died over 10 years ago from breast cancer, I feel connected to her through this project. It also means I’ll get to go to Pelee to talk to people and talking to the older generation of islanders is always a hoot. (photo credit Jonath, flickr.com. Click the image to go to the photo’s flickr page.)
I’m working on a directed study this semester, cross-listed between the Women’s Studies and History departments about how the emerging technologies of blogs and user-generated media have changed the form and content of communications between mothers and information about mothering. I’m not a mommyblogger but I’ve followed the flurry with interest since BlogHer 2005 where it was identified as a radical act by Finslippy. I’ve watched La Leche League change from a personal mother-to-mother organization for breastfeeding help to an organization with a strong emphasis on online helping and information sharing – including providing mothers and health care professionals with links to Dr. Jack Newman’s video clips for help with latch and positioning and the online Community Network for leaders, and forums for mothers. It’s still mother-to-mother, but it’s changed. Online communities help with the sense of isolation mothers can feel after having a baby, but the technology changes the style and who has access to helping. The project is still too large and it’s hard to cut out pieces of the research in order to make the project more manageable, but it’s getting there.
I’ve begun writing a summer project grant that will (hopefully) allow me to make podcasts of historical Canadian texts in the public domain. I’m excited about it and hope to work with Toronto’s Mitchell Girio for production quality and also hoping for some original music from Mitch and some local Windsor artists. I’ve had some skeptical response to the idea from traditional historians who wonder if people would actually be interested in downloading and listening to Canadian history on an mp3 player — but I see it as a great way to encourage interest in our past — and to give attention to works that maybe haven’t been included in the traditional canon of what is Canadian History. I think it’s incredibly exciting and of course, you never know until you try. I know I would do it, and I know my kids would be into it too. That’s enough for now, for me.
Actiongirls is getting busy too. We’ve planned a pile of Stitch n Bitch sessions with more to come. This project is slowly attracting community interest. There was a reporter from the Windsor Star at our meeting yesterday who asked plenty of baited/leading questions. No doubt there will be an article filled with misquotes in the paper on Monday. /sigh/
So… I’ve discovered that there are places where people with ideas like mine gather and brainstorm and plan and develop and change the world. One of the conferences I’m trying to get to is later this month: Norther Voice 2007. They’re offering a travel subsidy (deadline today, Feb 2 at 12 PST). I never considered that I might be able to go to this since travel across Canada is crazy expensive but when I found out about the funding assistance I decided I should try. With the bursary I could get there and learn and contribute my experience as a women’s-studies-history-IT-student-mom-activist-artist-geek. Without it, there will be nothing but homework and dishes and laundry for me until I save more pennies. Maybe it will help me sort out where I’m headed, trying to combine computer science, history, feminism, activism, and art. Either way I’d get to see the Rockies.