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Beginnings :: Pamela Vail


Students yell out during a rally at Hartman Green on Friday, November 8, 2019. The rally was to show support of people of color in light of recent racial incidents at the college. Hundreds of students, adults, and faculty showed up for the rally. Photo by Ty Lohr for Lancaster Online

Okay just start! There, now it’s begun. Treat it like the work—keep going, shaping as you go, not knowing where it’s going, and not going back to edit. Acknowledging the beautiful, articulate posts made by my fellow Architects, and grateful for the groundwork they laid. And the “chorus” they create. So I guess this is a solo? But is it? You are reading it, so I’d say that’s sort of a… what? But this has already been written, and I can’t change it in response to how you read it. So, maybe it’s not a collaboration. (I need to stop using “so”.) I don’t know. But thanks for reading it if you are. Now what? More space to shape, put words into.


Today there was a rally at my school, protesting some recent culturally degrading behavior of some students. There have been several disturbing events this semester. There is unrest. Many students of color spoke, impassioned, angry, measured…. a range. But the message is clear: they are sick and tired of doing this. Beginning again. And again. Feeling like they never move forward. The don’t want to begin anymore. They want to get into the development of the thing—of healing, of changing the culture. I want us so badly to get there.


But I’m talking about beginnings here, not development. We are always beginning, whether that feels invigorating or frustrating. How can we approach it with optimism, and energy to move in new ways? To create something we don’t understand yet? I want to see potential in that beginning moment – for something exciting and inciting. And it doesn’t have to be fancy, loud, complicated moves to call attention. Who knows what it needs to be. We won’t know ‘til it happens.

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