Tuesday, July 18, 2006

CR Taller

Taller" in Spanish means workshop, but we find it sophomorically amusing that the English transliteration means... well, taller, you know?
Here you see Terry in his natural "Habitat" (I think I might be short on sleep), with the ubiquitous coffee mug. It became so cemented to his hand that he unintentionally took it with him to Fiorella's goodbye party on Friday night...
(l to r): Triana, US volunteer; Alicia, Mexicana anthropology student (ABD); the Antsy Jantzi; yours truly; Lina Maria, Colombiana; Fiorella Rojas, Tica; Marcos, Puerto Rican Princeton student; Eric, Tico sociologist; Diana, Peruana-Tica intern; Mauricio, Peruano director of something or other. You can tell we were having fun :-)

It was highly stimulating and enjoyable to spend time with this group of smart, dedicated people all united with the common cause of eliminating poverty housing. Eric, the sociologist, would periodically jump up and draw an elegant diagram on the board that just nailed the concept we were constructing. Mauricio with his booming voice would summarize the vague ideas in very sensible terms. Lina Maria would point out the subtle implications of statements and ideas, and Fiorella would get all enthusiastic. Terry would manage to cram some fairly insightful thoughts into a few mangled Spanish phrases that somehow everyone would understand - at least, they nodded thoughtfully :-) I made sure he didn't get too off-topic...

Friday, July 14, 2006


I just learned that there is an actual Journal of Happiness Studies - I think I may get Terry a subscription since he seems to have a particular radar out for science about happiness. Below is a link to a summary of some of the research Terry's been talking about (relating happiness to income level, genetics, and other factors). It's actually quite interesting.


The bottom line: "If you want to be happy, put in a good day's work, call some friends, drop in to the gym, then go out and help a young person across the street." Sounds good to me :-)

Of course Terry's version of "giving back to the community" may not be perceived the same by everybody... (ask him about it!) :-P

Alive and Kicking

Hm... somehow I had the impression that Terry's thought burps came around much more frequently. Well, I suppose that they occur quite often but usually with an audience, which to me obviates the need to blog about it. However, this blog has been too long neglected so I thought I'd give a little update/post.

This morning we facilitated an exercise during which we asked people to place themselves on a spectrum between "Efficiency" at one end and "Participation" at the other - recognizing that these are not mutually exclusive goals, but that sometimes one must be sacrificed in the interest of the other. It was a group of about 20 people, with roughly equal gender representation - and what do you know, only two women placed themselves on the "Efficiency" side (both from the US) and only two men placed themselves on the "Participation" side - one very close to the middle. The other is a Freirean ideologue from Brazil. Fascinating! We had not expected a gender pattern with this, so talked about it for a while. Turns out that most of the women came from a social work background, and most of the men from an engineering background - both roles important within Habitat. Even more fascinating.

The workshops have reinforced my understanding of contexts in which Terry does well and I don't - open-ended brainstorming kinds of contexts. At the end of the day yesterday I found myself gravitating to the back corner of the room with my knitting in frustration as the task of summarizing principles learned gave way to a free-for-all discussion about various inter-related ideas. Terry was in the thick of it, really in his element as various conceptual threads wove together... and the task of systematizing the "lessons learned" into a numbered or orderly list went by the wayside. Evidently T and I will work on that together back in VA.

We make a pretty good team.