living a 24/7 portfolio career
Brainstorming about new vectors of practice for public historians is a conversation I want to be part of.
But I stumble over how to describe a best day at work, and I feel very ambivalent about the idea that college/grad school is or should be about job training. My hope is that education fosters critical (visual) thinkers, as a goal in itself. I have been poking around the public history tent because it seems to me that public history is a dynamic gathering place for a diverse group of publicly minded intellectuals and activists. I haven’t felt public history to be, exclusively, the domain of disciplinary gatekeepers anchored solely around university departments and allied institutional employers. In my opinion, we are living through a time of tremendous change with much work to be done, and much of it will never be for pay. I hope our working group can have broad conversations about how to meet this challenge, conceptually and pragmatically.
Almost all of my recent projects have been self-initiated and under-funded. Like many an artist, I do not have a defined workday or institutional home base. Like many an entrepreneur, I touch base frequently with a wide range of people and projects in various fields and locations — sometimes this translates into a paid job; often it does not.
Today I contributed to a curated conversation sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation on an interesting blog called Glass House Conversations. As a public historian, I am supportive of this kind of initiative to build a networked audience and dramatically broaden the kinds of conversations that might be triggered by, for example here, Philip Johnson’s Glass House. http://glasshouseconversations.org/
I offer it as an example of one hour spent in my 24/7 portfolio career. Off now to work on antebellum urban signage….