The difference between my first and second mad-libs is probably the best representation of the struggles that I have been having with my thesis the last month and a half. I came into the semester with a very concrete idea and a plan of how to put that idea onto paper. Because of this concrete plan I was very confident about my work with the first mad-libs. The process of filling the questionnaire out really did help me to be concise and as clear as I could be, and was a great starting point for my theoretically elevator pitch. My framing and focus question were (what I thought was) clearly stated: “How can communities be resilient to nuclear disaster?” and “Are there specific parts of resilience models that the residents of Fukushima were unable to fulfill due to the nature of the disaster and what does this tell us about resilience to nuclear disaster?” respectively. I was not surprised to have trouble with the bottom of the hourglass but was glad to be able to very intentionally give a method for achieving my goal: “I will choose a resilience model that I feel best applies to disasters and attempt to fulfill each portion with evidenced responses with the area around the nuclear plant.”
I knew that since this was done in the first two weeks of the seminar, there was no way that my work would stay exactly as it is, and if anything re-reading what I wrote, it was clear that I was trying to sound like I had more information than I did. But the point was that I was confident and heading in the direction that I needed to be. However, I quickly realized that this wasn’t the case and failed to clearly lay out a map for the next few months of work. Instead I ruminated on possible ideas and skipped straight to trying to find my methods, rather than taking the time to fully build and organize the beginning of my work to support them. This was really evident to me when looking at the second mad-libs that I did, a few weeks ago now, and before I even started more thoroughly looking for my methods. What that really means was that when I did my second mad-libs, I truly felt like I had achieved nothing new since the first attempt and was frustrated to find my answers more or less the same.
The few things about my second mad-libs response that are different include my focus question, which morphed into the following, “What types of local, regional, and national responses to the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi meltdown suggest resilience to nuclear disaster?” What frustrates me about this new question still is that I remember when I changed it from the original, for very little reason. I am more than happy with this question for now (I don’t really expect to keep it for long) but when I read it, it feels very unnecessary and obvious. To me, the focus question is what should be driving the backbone of my work; the question should be interesting enough that when even I read it, I am dying to learn more and find answers. Perhaps this is too big of a goal but considering the struggles I have been having with finding the motivation and framework it also feels like exactly what I would need to feel confident that I am heading in the right direction. For now, the focus question remains a work in progress.
The second thing I wish to point out about my second response was the way I described my methods. At this time, I had begun to really think concretely about what kinds of things I would be looking for to help me work with resilience models. Though I had yet to actually begin my search in earnest, this shift in my thinking at least prompted some change in my methods description as compared to my previous one, “Using a resilience model, I plan to use different studies and political/social action to see how the country adapts within vulnerability/risk, resources/education, planning and policy, and community relations.” By starting to divide my thinking for methods between different subjects, I was able to start compiling surveys, data, and graphs that seemed to fit more into specific categories. This was seemingly helpful until I realized that my background and framework wasn’t worked through enough for my method collection to be efficient yet. Realizing this caused me to dig deep into my current pool of ideas and information (with a friend) and talk through my process until I had a much more narrowed down top of the hourglass.