By Aimee Edmondson
During our last week of spring classes in late April, I took a grading break and scrolled across an Instagram post from my friend and colleague Julie Elman, who teaches design and the creative process at Ohio University.
In her trademark zany style, Julie drew a pointed purple face with plants growing out of her open brain and included the hashtag #100DaysOfWhatever. The image reeks of exhaustion, but there’s determination on that pinched, weary face. Summer break was upon us, and Julie reminded me that it’s the perfect time to nurture those sprouts, those little green tendrils of creativity.
Julie knows of what she draws. A professor in Ohio’s School of Visual Communication, she brings 15 years of newspaper design experience to the classroom. She designed the book “The Rise of Barack Obama” for another colleague, Pete Souza, who left Ohio University to become the chief White House Photographer during the Obama years. Her book of freehand drawings, “Fear Illustrated: Transforming What Scares Us,” was published in 2017 and will change the way you think about your own biggest anxieties.
So, taking a cue from Julie, I set out this summer to make the most of my #100daysofwhatever. To me, this was to be THE summer for regrowth, mindfulness, and nurturing creative processes. What was I going to do with this time?
Certainly, there’s the research agenda and a few open-at-last archives to visit, but work could be done at a less frenetic pace than the pre-tenure and pre-promotion years. The pandemic consumed and transformed everyone’s school year, and I had not even taken the time to think ahead to the summer break.
Then my mom died unexpectedly in May, and I have a dear friend who is battling the end stages of cancer. These #100daysofwhatever began to matter even more as I think about how we spend the time that we have.
So, for the rest of this summer: more time paddling on the lake, more time in the garden, more reading just for fun in the hammock, more in-person visits with friends and family after 15 months of isolation (everyone fully vaccinated, of course).
And yes, more time to think about the AJHA and how our organization can continue to contribute to the national conversation about journalism and journalism history during this pivotal time in our profession. As you may have read, the AJHA officers are working to provide our membership with more information about media literacy—this is one of our main goals of the year.
As journalists and media historians, we must continue our work addressing the onslaught of misinformation and revisionist history narratives that have become all too common in today’s information ecosystem. If you haven’t done so yet, please take a look at some of the resources on the AJHA web page and stay tuned to the Intelligencer as we continue to solicit more content from the nation’s top experts and educators in the area of media literacy. AJHA president Donna Lampkin Stephens, second VP Mike Conway and I want to hear from you about this topic. Please share your ideas and any resources you have relating to media literacy, and we’ll make them available to the AJHA membership.
I continue to draw inspiration from the creativity of our AJHA members, and I love keeping up with you via the Intelligencer, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
And, of course, summer is still a time for assessment reports, accreditation self-study, directing graduate students’ theses and dissertations. But there’s still time for regrowth, reflection on what really matters in our lives and nurturing our own creative processes.What are you doing with your #100DaysOfWhatever?
Aimee Edmondson is a professor and Director for Graduate Studies at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. She serves as First Vice President of AJHA.