Friday, October 16, 2009


A student asked me recently why I haven't been blogging so much of late. I'm not really sure why. There's probably not a single reason. But one factor is that I've spent an enormous amount of time writing grants lately. In the last month or so I've submitted three grants. One is a proposal to the National Science Foundation to support the Beijing Complex Systems Summer School that I help to organize. (This is with the Santa Fe Institute, not College of the Atlantic.) The other two grants were each for around 100k to support various sustainability and sustainable energy things at COA.

The grant narratives totaled 36 pages of pretty dense, single-spaced text. I also had to write budgets, budget justifications, project summaries, timelines, and so on. So it was a lot of writing. Writing three grants in a row has been interesting. I don't mind writing grants. I think it's a good challenge, and it's nice to be able to get money to do good things. However, it can also be a little odd or disorienting, as it can require writing things in ways that I'd really rather not write things.

For example, two of the grants were ostensibly about education, but there were certain educational activities that they wouldn't fund. So I had to talk about education without too directly talking about teaching. And for one grant I had to use the words "sustainability" and "stakeholder" a lot. I don't like either of these words very much. But this was clearly what the granting agency wanted to hear, so I used these words often. I took some small solace in the fact that my spell checker refuses to believe that these are legitimate words.

Anyway, I'm glad to be done with grantwriting for a while. I have some other writing projects I need to work on, but they're not grants, and so I can write them as I want to, not as I think somebody else wants me to. Of course I still have to be mindful of audience, since I'm not writing things for nobody to read. But I feel like I have a lot more flexibility in how I write things.

So, in part I haven't been blogging because I've been doing a ton of writing, and thus writing blog stuff doesn't provide the change-of-pace that it does when I'm busy with non-writing tasks.

In other news, the term grinds along. As usual, I like my classes a lot. And as usual, I'm a little behind in grading and I wish I had more time. Fall has definitely arrived. The leaves have turned and are starting to fall. We've had a number of frosts this week and it's been grey and windy. It's quite beautiful, if somewhat cold.

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