On the day after the tsunami anniversary, I ran into Ed, a Reuters foreign correspondent whom interviewed me and I had first met at an all-day meditation tsunami memorial event on Christmas.
We sat down for a couple of Singhas at an outdoor bar before he had to catch the island ferry and start the trek back to Bangkok, his home. We were directly across the tsunami memorial park started by a couple who lost their little girl Sacha. I had just departed there and lost in my own world when I bumped into Ed.
We talked about the beauty of the paper latterns the night before. Dozens, maybe hundreds, were released by families along the beach to commemorate the one year memorial. Their burning flames trailing into a stream of lights across the night sky. Watching the twinkling fires fade and grow distant and vanish from view into the starry night. They continued onward beyond the limits of my perception. "When I die," he said, "I'd like to have those latterns in my funeral."
He asked me how things were going with my writing and the blog.
"This story [tsunami recovery and rehab] is like trying to photograph the Grand Canyon," I told him. "It's more nuanced and complex than the aftermath." I lamented no photograph can possibly do the Grand Canyon justice. No telephoto lens, no panoramic lens, no IMAX film. It all falls short of the 360 degree experience in the flesh.
"If it's like the Grand Canyon, then every shot will be a great one," Ed rejoined.
And bingo! there he had it. The closest "strategy" I've come up with for sharing the avalanche (or dare I call it a tsunami) of material I have is to simply write keep writing vignettes. Dozens, hundreds if need be.
Yes, there are overarching themes and patterns and big picture stuff, and I fret those will be missed if one reads a standalone post only. I thought of using tagging to tie related themes and patterns. And I always keep pitching for essays in print media where there is space and attention for long-form journalism.
Ed's optimism reminds me of an exchange I had with Bala Pitchandi (SEA-EAT blog and wiki) and Brian Oberkirch (Slidell Hurricane blog) today. We're preparing for next week's panel at the NewCommForum confererence (see speakers page for bios) in Palo Alto, CA.
We're on for the "A New Voice: Citizen Journalism and Disasters" panel on Friday, March 3, 11:30 a.m. (I'm hoping as a citizen journalist and marketing consultant to tie-in the citj lessons learned to the PR, communications, and business audience in attendance.)
I called them vignettes in my head and in my journal, Brian called them microstories in our chat. Brian said one of the points he'd like to cover is blogs as ideal vehicles for microstories.
I don't normally blog private exchanges, but this small excerpt from our chat I thought needed to be shared.
[11:50:51 AM] Bala Pitchandi says: but from your perspective, how do you think the rehab is going?
[11:56:17 AM] evelynrodr says: the rehab is a huge issue - no sound byte I'm afraid - physically Thailand is doing good - emotional and economic not so good (they calll it economic tsunami); Sri Lanka - lots of folks still in tents and the one-room wooden temp shelters still - but I am trying to also focus on soln's & what IS working in my writing
LATER BRIAN JOINS IN:
[12:30:58 PM] Brian Oberkirch says: I was talking with a group of tech non profit folks last week
[12:31:23 PM] Brian Oberkirch says: and I told them that I was at a loss when people ask me how things are in NOLA now
[12:31:27 PM] Brian Oberkirch says: I can't tell you one big story
[12:31:33 PM] Brian Oberkirch says: but I can tell you a zillion small ones
[12:31:53 PM] Brian Oberkirch says: That's what blogs can do well, I think. Help you make a composite image, made up of lots of story fractals.
[12:31:55 PM] Bala Pitchandi says: just browse the NOLA metblogs for all of them --
[12:32:01 PM] Brian Oberkirch says: right
[12:32:05 PM] Brian Oberkirch says: lots of data points
[12:32:22 PM] evelynrodr says: wow - bala asked me earlier about rehab - how's it going over there - I said I didn't have a sound byte - i tooo have zillion stories & vignettes
[12:32:34 PM] Brian Oberkirch says: which, as a whole, are much truer than whatever 2:30 min. standup they'll do on the NBC news tonight
[12:32:49 PM] Brian Oberkirch says: perfect, see....your experience is the same
Perfect, hmm, yes perfect indeed.