I'm a big believer in the idea that it's okay to complain about something only if you're willing to take the steps to resolve the problem. It just seems like good karma; no grousing if you're going to just tell someone else to fix it for you.
I've been frustrated with work a lot lately. It's been a weird combination of overwhelmed with things to do yet simultaneously unmotivated by any of it. Let's cut to the chase: I hate the design review component of my job. I dislike the conflict inherent in telling someone they can't do an ugly addition to their historic house. I find my car driving itself to Joe's Parkway for bulk candy when I have to write a staff report; trying to numb the pain with high fructose corn syrup.
But, it's a part of my job. We have bills to pay. And I had a few realizations about it last week, the biggest being that my position in local government gives me automatic credibility, deserved or not, when I hand over my business card.
Let's not BS here, there are people in this community who would do my job 100 times better than I have the ability to. There are some excellent cultural resource experts out there. They're just smarter than I am and employed in a field where they don't have to get in a pissing match with an architect about divided light vs. single pane windows. I really do think that I'll look back on this portion of my career in 30 years and be sad about what I could have accomplished rather than eating 23432567 chocolate-covered cinnamon bears.
Anyway. Along the lines of feeling unfulfilled and knowing that I was the only person wholly responsible for making myself happy, I finally contacted the former chair of the history department at MSU to discuss an idea we'd batted around a few months ago. I've wanted to teach American History, or cultural landscapes or cultural geography or historic preservation or architectural history since... well, the beginning.
Historic Preservation is inherently an interdisciplinary field, and today I pitched the idea of a seminar for undergraduate students at MSU in Public History. The idea is to use a number of lecturers to discuss how geography, public policy, public administration, history, architecture and landscape architecture come together in the field of historic preservation. To discuss how to understand how a landscape came to be, the laws that might apply, who has a vested interest, and how to interpret or preserve those cultural resources.
Hopefully students who participate in the course will want to intern for me in the future, thus getting a lot of stuff done for me!
The interim History Department chair was really enthusiastic about the idea. He's going to see how it fits in their course book, and I'm going to create a single page "pitch" that he can shop around in the department and to other departments and students. I'd teach, err coordinate, the seminar in the spring of 2012 as an adjunct faculty member.
And? Dudes. They'll pay me. Not much, but still. Awesome!