When I first saw the call for the Creative Producers International program, I thought “Oh, this is a program for me.” It’s like they distilled everything I’m interested in, and everything I care about, and said “come be excited about things with people who are just as excited as you are.”
And that was a very exciting prospect for me, especially because I often work at the fringes of several disciplines, and it’s often hard for me to find people who understand the challenges and affordances of that. And that kind of support is something I found myself needing after I moved to Denmark to start a PhD at IT University Copenhagen. While I work on a very exciting research project, I was unaware at some of the major differences that exist between universities in my home country (the United States) and universities in Denmark, and the differences between the humanistic disciplines in which I was trained and the values/rhetoric of a technical university. There were (and continue to be) many moments in which I have experienced a lot of shock and disorientation at ITU. I attribute much of this to my experience as a foreigner in a new place, but the most brutal realizations relate to what I perceive as a lack of intersectionality. I applied to CPI because I really needed regular access to colleagues and advisors who had a more global perspective on phenomena like power and identity, who foregrounded social justice and inclusion in their practices, and who understood that the pursuit of these values should often be joyous and playful.
I found those people! I have those things now! I never could have imagined that I would find (and bond so closely with!) people like this. The residential lab was such a special experience. As it was happening, I was mentally bookmarking so many things and thinking “I have to take this back to my work at home!” And now that I’m back, those things have been so helpful. As I manage a research cohort myself, I often find myself borrowing behaviors and processes modelled at Watershed, and it has vastly benefitted my practice and relationship with my research partners. Even though so many other factors in academia and institutional organization often say otherwise, precedent, process and form are all secondary to making human beings feel seen and cared for. I know this, because I saw it happen to myself. Knowing that the PM Studio team understood who I am/how I work/what I need created space for me to engage with ideas and experiences that I almost certainly would not have engaged with otherwise.
I am so delighted by my new CPI colleagues. As an adult, it’s a very funny feeling to think, “I have 15 new friends!” But, thanks to the immense care and labor of the Watershed team, I’ve been connected to this group of people around the world who do and care about the same things I do, and surprisingly, I see a lot of familiar personality traits amongst us.
Watershed has done something very powerful by creating this network of highly skilled and motivated individuals, and I am so honored to have them as colleagues and friends. I have already drawn from them to answer questions about my day-to-day work and practice, and I am confident the volume of support and opportunities we generate between us will only continue to grow.