The “#NetNarr Bus Stop” concept is about exploring local worlds, reaching across divides so we can understand and make new connections.

We are interested in sowing seeds of more meaningful connection across vast divides. What does it take to pull this off?

In the spirit of this idea, we are imagining activities in which a “host” community might create a unique digital artifact to share with #NetNarr, and then the #NetNarr community can respond and connect with questions, remixes, and further inquiry. We imagine that hosts might want to identify their own local themes based on shared local interest. In sharing their familiar world with those from the outside, what might special qualities, challenges, or rare glimpses might they choose to offer the open #NetNarr community?

For instance, if we make a bus stop to Kate Bowles’ corner of the globe, perhaps we can engage her students in questions about the “desire pathways” (unendorsed dirt paths that veer off of paved paths) that traverse her campus/community. What do these desire pathways reveal about how some choose to navigate that locale?

We also imagine that it might make sense to take a “general temperature read” of the outside community’s assumptions/associations with the Bus Tour locale before they have the opportunity to see digital artifacts created by the locales themselves. For instance if the bus goes to Vermont to stop at the Young Writers Project with Geoff Gevalt -what do people who are not from Vermont think about what is like to live in Vermont? How do people from Vermont reconcile the outsiders conception of a place to what they know? And how generalizable are our own perceptions and experiences of our locale to others who live in the same place? Do we examine who is not in our locale? What our locale is missing that is in the rest of the world?

We would not be asking (hopefully) too much of our tour stops hosts to plan, besides scheduling, and gathering a few locals. A generalized structure would include:

  • Asynchronous pre-meeting activity. We might use an open Google Doc for people to share their perceptions of the other participating groups, e.g. if we were planning stop with Maha Bali in Cairo, her group might be asked for what they might know of New Jersey (locale of Kean U) while the Kean students would share their perceptions / associations of Egypt. We might ask them to drill down with research, to find what info they can learn online at the city / community level of the others
  • .

  • Media prompt. As also a “before” activity, we’d create some kind of prompt to share media representing something about where they live- it might be pictures of food, videos of modes of transportation, styles of houses, environmental sounds. We would have them upload to a shared Google Drive folder so everyone has access (this would be made available only to participants and others we trust)
  • The Tour Stop. This will be run as a Google hangout, at a time that works for our destinations (e.g. it need not be the same day every week; we prefer Wednesday if it works in our class scheduled time, or Thursday / Friday after) (but we will make it work with whatever day of the week works for our guests). It would be 60-90 minutes max. We will aim to have a few Kean students if possible to represent the whole class, but a small group is best. If possible we may have 3 locations represented if timing works out. We will design some kind of discussion / activity prompt around the shared media, likely a remix activity. It will be framed within an interest of the people we visit, like Kate’s interest in desire paths or Maha’s interest in empathy games. The outcome would be to create some representation of what we learned of each other and some kind of challenge for a follow-up, maybe on what is missing or not shown.
  • The Followup – It will be on our Kean U students to develop some kind of networked narrative representation, that anyone, whether participating or not, could contribute to.

These are some folks we have talked to, and they might still be talking to us. We’d like to find out (a) if you want to be on the tour stops and (b) what week would work for you (weeks of Feb 27, Mar 6 — Spring Break here– , Mar 13, Mar 20, or Mar 27)

  • Laura Aguilar (Mexico) -tentatively week of Feb 27, topic: food
  • Geoffrey Gevalt & the Vermont Young Writers Project (?) — two of our Kean students are middle school teachers, maybe they can even get their students in the mix
  • Kate Bowles (Australia)
  • Laura Ritchie (UK)
  • Maha Bali (Egypt)

Featured Image: “Pickwick Coach2” Public Domain Wikimedia Commons image, inverted for contrast and darkened.