Dispatches from Graduate School – Post 37

Cali Pitchel McCullough is a Ph.D student in American history at Arizona State University. For earlier posts in this series click here. –JF
[Reposted by permission of *The Way of Improvement Leads Home*]

Last week I made my first (of many, I hope) public lectures for History to the People. When I first had the idea for the website, I connected with a local marketing agency for some direction on developing a brand. The agency’s managing director makes himself available for mentoring hours each week at their office, which happens to be a really cool collaborative workspace in Chandler, Arizona, called Gangplank. Gangplank helps to create a “new economic vision comprised of collaboration and community” through sharing workspace, resources, and most importantly ideas.

Fourteen small businesses occupy the space at Gangplank and co-work on a daily basis free of charge. In exchange for space, each anchor business (the marketing agency included) must commit to reinvest into the Gangplank community by planning events such as a weekly brownbag discussion.

After my mentor-session with the agency’s managing director, he suggested that I share my idea with the Gangplank community at a brownbag discussion. The next day I received an email from Gangplank’s Director of Community Outreach, and she put History to the People on the calendar for September 21st. I asked my classmate and co-founder to join me for the discussion. The thought of debuting the idea to the public by myself seemed a bit daunting. She agreed, and together we shared our vision with a group of individuals who work in entirely different industries. Most of our audience were “creative types”—web developers, graphic artists, and social media specialists. The marketing agency team and our graphic designer showed their support, as did my dad (I thought he might be the only one) and a friend who has close ties at Gangplank. Brianna and I were the only “academics” in the building.

Despite our fear of that we might put the crowd to sleep, everyone responded enthusiastically to History to the People. We received great feedback and people raised questions that are important to address as we continue to move forward with our vision. (One attendee even posted a response to the brownbag on her blog!) We learned a lot from the discussion, and most importantly, we discovered that there are people outside of academia who believe thinking historically is crucial to contemporary life.

Our time at Gangplank provided us with that extra impetus to press on. Last week we met with our web designer, and this week I complete our registration with the Arizona Corporation Commission. By the end of next week I will officially be the Director of History to the People. Once the designer finishes the logo I can finalize our executive summary and begin the laborious fundraising process. In the meantime my benefactors (i.e., my mom and dad) generously give of their resources to help me realize this goal.

I believe in the success of History to the People. Most Americans agree that history matters, but not all Americans understand the implications of ahistorical thinking. Through the website we will provide our audience with both the tools necessary to think historically and a plethora of accessibly written and rigorously researched historical material. One day HTTP will encourage thousands of people to think historically, and as a bonus, we might even be able to pay back my parents.

Explore posts in the same categories: Academic Anecdotes, Blogging, Dispatches, Getting Connected, Grad School

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