Working out research tasks

So what should I be writing about?  The two main projects I have on my mind at the moment are my dissertation and this emerging research around the self-organizing groups and the challenges of growing and sustaining such organizations. At this point, the dissertation is a set of routine tasks that need to be completed and as I go along new ideas and thinking added.  In terms of the self-organizing project, what is it that I have to accomplish?

Well, an initial literature review would help.  I think I might be able to have Matt work on that during his summer internship.  He has 10 hours a week for 12 or 13 weeks.  That is a120 hours or so.  The literature review stuff should take about 40-60 hours.  He will also want to come to a couple of 119 Gallery board meetings and I may have him do an analysis of some things I have for my dissertation research.

I am also thinking that I will test out the ED interview questions for my dissertation on Jessica.  I want to use the autobiographical sketch exercises with this.  So could she spend 10-15 minutes doing that and I’ll then need to go back and look at the other questions I have.  For instance, talking about the dynamics of the funding, board interactions, staff interactions, interactions with youth, vision for future.  What are the challenges the organization is currently facing, etc . . . . depending on how that goes, we will see.

So what am I bringing from this workshop back into my own work?  Certainly the idea that collaboration in any environment is indeed a difficult thing.

If I were to design a research study on the 119 Gallery what would it look like?  I think more of a grounded theory / ethnographic / participant observation type of endeavor.  I would want to know how does a group like the 119 accomplish its goals and are there lessons to be learned that could inform larger scale environments that have a common goods production aspect to them?  What is the key question then?  Or is it that I am more interested in the lessons learned by individuals within such environments about their roles as active participants in their own lives?  The idea would be to talk to selection of people or maybe as many people as I can and see what issue arise out of those interviews.  Perhaps I can enlist others in doing this.  So what would I ask?

An autobiographical sketch and also the narrative exercise from Woods Hole.  What were you doing and what was your life like before you first started to get involved in the 119?  How did they first hear about the gallery and how did they become involved?  How long have they been involved?  What sort of things have you done here? If you were to think about yourself contributing to the space and its community, what do you bring?  What is it you get?  Can you tell me about one of your best moment here?  How about something that was really challenging?

Ok so now I have a beginning set of questions that are really about how folks grow and develop, etc.

So what about a sampling strategy?  First let’s see about roles – past and present — “board members”, event organizers, artists (musicians, exhibitors, performers), audience members (from guest list).  Survey about general perception of the 119 Gallery and what it does.  This would be anonymous and sent to – Facebook fans, Constant Contact folks, selection of city leaders, funders, etc. . . . Go through old website materials as well as board materials, and other things to reconstruct the space.

I am mostly concerned with the organization during its existence at 119 Chelmsford Street.  I should also place the Gallery within the context of larger collectivist art movements and the growing interest in “creative” economy.  I am wonder if I could have Matt do a search and literature review on this.  I also wonder if he might do some searching on small, community-based arts organization and think about designing a survey that could be sent to them related to their management challenges.  I could show him the NCCS database and we could request datafiles and then seek organizations in the arts and culture category with budgets of under a certain amount.  How would we capture very small organizations?  Perhaps those who only filed a 990-N?  I think Matt might find this to be of interest.