Saturday, May 21, 2011

Why I write/ Why I wrote & The "Next" Step: Not the End

This blog is/ was the result of my reaction to a specific moment of time. It began at the end of May 2007, just a couple of weeks after the massacre at Virginia Tech (my home institution). I thought I had something to say, especially because I was an academic, and needed somewhere to say it. And people wanted to hear it; I was warmly welcomed into a community of blogging medievalists that already existed. In turn, this blog has created new friendships and academic collaborations. I have not, for a moment, regretted my decision to create and maintain this blog. Every once in a while, I even got to see evidence that people were reading this blog (and not just at Kalamazoo).

As I have written elsewhere, I always saw this blog as simply one part of a larger effort - an effort to bring academia back into the world -- something Tony Grafton and Jim Grossman have recently called for (though my decision predates their essay). Blogging is a part of that. Tweeting is a part of that. Public talks hosted by my home institution are parts of that. Op-eds for the local paper are parts of that. And there's more.

As some of you now know, this year I'm running for political office.

I'm running for County Board of Supervisors (here in VA, this is a partisan, elected office that's "above" town council).
It's a part-time position, so if elected I'll keep my research and teaching duties as well. But this coming election cycle was an opportunity to take another step in attempting to engage academia with the public. Our county has problems (whose doesn't?) but it has possibilities as well, and I have a skillset - particularly as an academic, perhaps even as a medievalist, and one with a young family to boot - that I can bring to bear as we tackle both. We need fresh perspectives, from people who can think, who can argue, and who can listen. Scholars are researchers, innovators, teachers, and students all at once. Sentences like "It's always been done this way" aren't adequate explantion; they're excuses. No more.

So, this may be the end of my participation in this blog. Then again, I may be posting much more. I just don't know right now. I do know, however, that this blog has always been just a tool, one part of a larger, core mission that will continue on, again, anew.

This is, as you surely know by now, not the end.


theswain said...

I for one would like to take this much belated opportunity to congratulate and support you on this decision to engage on another level. I hope your participation on this blog and other places increases rather than decreases. As for your comments above, Here Here!

Steve Muhlberger said...

Yes, let's have more (I'm not a twitter fan).

Historian on the Edge said...

Nicely put, Matt. Similar reasoning to why I started blogging regularly less than a year ago - but I'd never have the guts to run for office (plus I don't have the temperament): good luck with that and with the next steps. I hope you do keep blogging, though.
One piece of advice if you do want to get elected: stop booting the young family. People don't generally like that sort of thing.

Matthew Gabriele said...

But Guy, doesn't that make me seem "tough?" :-)