The title of this post is a wise paraphrase of something Liz said last week that really resonated with me. Research isn’t a well-oiled machine, and it’s not streamlined or aerodynamic. It is clunky, inefficient, and slow. I’ve been feeling that a lot this week, as I’ve been trudging through a lot of literature on social capital: bonding, bridging, and linking. I found some really great articles and literature reviews this week, but it’s a really slow process going back and reading all the references that have been cited by the literature review. I’ve found some really great and helpful articles this way, but I’ve also read through pages and pages of not-quite-relevant material that has been really time consuming. Aldrich and Meyer (2015) has been an incredibly helpful overview on social capital, and I also just checked his book out of the library. From their article, I found Hawkins et al. (2010), which was helpful in describing different kinds of social capital. Szreter and Woolcock (2004) were also instrumental in defining the different kinds of social capital, as well as theory about social capital.
I’ve done some more thinking about my alternative outcome this past week as well. In my (Un)Natural disasters class, the Collins View NET coordinator came to talk to us. It was both encouraging and discouraging to hear his thoughts, because he was not very supportive towards or optimistic of Nextdoor as a tool for NET to use, and he was also reportedly not interested in community outreach. As this is is basically the focus of my thesis, and most likely the center of my alternative outcome, I was a bit discouraged to hear that this isn’t something that the Collins View NET would want, at least with the current leadership. However, I think it’s still incredibly important to connect NET teams with the community, because not everyone has time or energy to become a NET, but they might still want to help in the event of a disaster. I learned that these people are called SUVs, or “spontaneous unsolicited volunteers”. I also learned the term ATV, or “affiliated trained volunteer”. These people will want to help after a disaster, but don’t know as much as trained NET people. I think it will be really important for NET or a trusted community member to know how to organize these SUVs and ATVs to ensure that they can help where needed, and minimize potential harm that they could inflict. If I don’t create this manual for NET teams, hopefully it will be helpful for some other organization. I’m also having some doubts that this alternative outcome is not significant enough to be an alternative outcome. I’ll work on it this weekend and talk to Liz about it on Monday.
In class, we discussed how to tackle the bottom of the hourglass, and why it can be so daunting. I’m actually really excited about my discussion/conclusion, because I’m able to expand on so many things that didn’t quite fit into my introduction and background. When Liz told me that it’s okay to include new sources in the discussion, that was a game changer for me and the symmetry of my scholarly essay. I think one reason I’m excited about the bottom of the hourglass is that I can justify my research to myself (and everyone else) instead of being stuck in such a small bubble. It’s the part where you get to convince people why its important, and explain why you devoted a year of your life to doing this research. Well, that’s how I feel right now at least. We’ll see what I think when I actually start expanding my discussion!