Archive for April, 2009

Map Diary Reflection

My activities on April 16, 2009 very accurately represent a normal day for me as a college student at William & Mary. As a senior living off-campus and a Young Life volunteer leader in the greater Williamsburg community, much of my day takes place off campus. In fact, I calculated that of my “awake time” on April 16, only 3 ½ hours were spent on campus, while over 12 hours were spent off campus. In addition, of the 12 hours off campus, only about 4 were spent in my house. I realized that I only go to campus when I absolutely need to – such as for a class, group project, to go to the library, or to print something from a computer lab. Otherwise, I eat, sleep, and do everything else off campus. It was also interesting for me to map out my route at the end of the day because it made me wonder how much gasoline I went through! It amazed me how many times I drove up and down Richmond Road, the fact that I went to New Town twice and the huge geographic circle that my tracks made in Williamsburg.

On my campus map, I tried drawing a line tracking my steps, but it ended up being messy; my lines overlapped (since I often drove the same road more than once), and my route looked muddled. I also felt very limited with the campus map since I went off campus so much during the day – I found it very hard to adequately show how long and how far distance-wise I had been gone from campus. I had to write my off campus activities in the cramped margin, which did not show at all how far I had gone for each of those stops. It would have been interesting to fill out map of greater Williamsburg as well as a campus map to get a better idea of the scope of our route.

I enjoyed creating my own map of Williamsburg because it tested my sense of direction in the city. It was challenging to visualize where Second Street, Queens Lake, my Uncle Jeff’s house were in relation to the campus. I realized that I view campus as the center of Williamsburg; however, this is most likely not true for most Williamsburg residents. They might consider greater Richmond Road the “center” or the former Confusion Corner as the center of the city. Younger people might even view New Town as the new center of the city. It shows that I tend to think that “my world” is the center of everyone else’s world, while in reality Williamsburg is much more far-reaching than that. One direction that I travel often but did not venture down on April 16 was Richmond Road out to Toano. The development near Toano shows the growth of Williamsburg into a much larger city than it was ten years ago.

The setbacks were that my handmade map was not drawn to scale and that I wasn’t able to accurately represent the distance from campus to Queens Lake neighborhood or to New Town. I had to simply draw them next to the campus and hope that the viewer has an idea of the location of these other places. If I had a bigger map I think I would draw my actual tracks to show my route.

Overall, it was a very positive experience mapping my activities for a day. It showed the way place is so key to a person’s daily routine, and the places I went to revealed things about my life in college. My “coffee dates” are spent off campus (at Great Harvest Bread in New Town, for example), and I drive to class from my house off campus. Since I’m not on a meal plan, the snacks and meals I get are also off campus (7-11, Great Harvest, my home on Matoaka Court). The fact that I am able to drive a car separates me from many students who do not have that opportunity. The car enables me to travel to the ends of the city whenever I need to.

My daily route also tells the viewer the way Young Life is part of what I do; I drive to high school girls’ houses (I’m already friends with them through coaching, etc.) and hang out with them there or in another space. A big chunk of my time off campus on April 16 was in the Queens Lake neighborhood with two high school girls. Also, because of volunteering with Young Life, I’ve been able to visit all the public high schools and private schools in Williamsburg and I have a sense of Williamsburg’s school system and the two counties, James City and York Counties.

It was a little frustrating to be limited to such a small (8.5×11) sheet of paper for my hand drawn map and the campus map, but I think it was good to be clear and concise in the way I chose to track my route. I thought the number system would be a neat and clear way for the viewer to find the number and look below to read what I did at each corresponding place. I will be interested to see what my classmates decided to do with this assignment and to see where they went in Williamsburg – where they went will probably reveal much about what they’re involved in and also what spaces they most frequent on or off campus.

Map Assignment Reflection Paper

In mapping out my movements on April 16th, 2009, I was pleased to find that for most of the day I was out and about, either socializing, doing work or running errands. The next day, I continued the exercise to a lesser extent and was disappointed to find that my movements were not nearly so interesting. I was then left to ponder: had I just been lucky that my map diary was completed on a day in which I was particularly productive or had I altered my general actions and destinations in order to create a more interesting narrative?
Getting up and going to the gym is not a daily occurrence, but as I generally work out on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, this action was completely abiding by my normal routine. My trip to the College Apartments and then to Barbara Carson’s house was specific to that date, but the appointment had been made far ahead of time, so that, too, was not affected by the knowledge that I was mapping myself. Yet, the fact that I drove to CVS after I left Barbara Carson’s house on Griffin Avenue is a huge deviation from my normal actions on a weekday. I generally do all my errands on weekends, yet for some reason I chose to go to CVS on a weekday; while I was eventually going to pick up some toiletries, I wasn’t in any desperate need for them at that particular moment in time.
After going home and having lunch, I walked to and from my Sociology class in Morton. While I am a bit ashamed to admit this, I generally drive to class. But on this particular day I walked. I wonder, did I walk because the weather was pleasant or did I walk because I wanted to illustrate that specific path on my map? Maybe I was simply embarrassed to admit that I drive 5 minutes to a class rather than walking for 15 minutes. (In my defense, I often run late due to varying circumstances, leaving me two options: drive or show up 10 minutes late. I’d rather drive and not annoy my professor.)
The trip to Rita’s was a special treat. I generally have Up ’til Dawn executive board meetings on Wednesdays, but as it was our last meeting of the year, we went to Rita’s on a Thursday instead. While this deviated from the norm, it was not a conscious addition to my map. The movements that followed my time at Rita’s, however, was particularly driven by the knowledge that I was meant to map myself. While I am a social person, I am generally – due to a packed schedule and a need for sleep – much more likely to stay in for the evening rather than going out. But not on Thursday the 16th. I went to the Green Leafe and then – gasp! – continued my adventures into the wee hours of the morning at King & Queen apartments, also located on Scotland Street.
Completely recognizing that the assignment was not to alter my general movements and then map them on a piece of 8.5×11 paper, I still felt compelled, in a small way at least, to make my day seem more exciting. While I have definitely experienced days much like last Thursday (without conscious recognition), I’m not sure that my movements would have been the same were not for the fact that I was keeping tabs on my actions.
To be clear, all the places I went were not outside my general territory. I’m just not sure that I would have normally gone to all these places in succession. The map provided is a fairly clear depiction of the locations that I visit on a fairly regular basis. It also shows that there is a definite boundary within which I tend to remain on weekdays, at least. This boundary exists for two main reasons. First, I don’t have the time to go much further without missing an appointment. Second, I am not that familiar with the Williamsburg that exists beyond those boundaries. Of course, I know the New Town and Monticello Marketplace areas well, but those are generally reserved for weekends. On weekdays, I stick to my comfort zone. I can get from one place to another quickly and efficiently and I never run the risk of getting lost. This does seem to exhibit a sense of alienation from the city as a whole. I stick to campus and places very near to it. I’ve never had a great desire to expand my horizons, and I doubt that the citizens of Williamsburg greatly mind my absence.
The activity of mapping myself was a telling experience. It showed me how limited my movements are while also giving me insight into my desire to appear a certain way to others. I am very glad that I am oblivious to my movements on a day-to-day basis, because when truly begin to think about them, I wonder what I might be missing, or what my lack of travel might say about me as a person. And, while it’s probably an important lesson, I think I’d rather remain oblivious to the subject.

Jacob Charron – Map Project Reaction

The process of mapping a typical day in someone’s life, especially my own, was an entirely new concept to me at the onset of this assignment. I am admittedly skeptical about the significance of such a document, but can see how it is an interesting way to present an account of a typical day for a college student in 2009. I do believe, to some extent, that providing a current map of the area and a prose journal entry may be a more effective way to immortalize this information.
Benefits and Drawbacks to Map-Diaries
Based on my own research experience, if I were to seek an account of a typical day in the life of a student in the 1970’s, I would first look for a written document. I would certainly not look first for a map of his or her movements. The benefits of doing that, though, have become a bit clearer to me. The map I created includes very specific times, and I have to believe that preciseness is always appreciated by an historical researcher. Even if it is not extremely important in the context of a project, the knowledge that someone went to dinner at 6:30 instead of “in the evening” or “after work” can be helpful. It simply adds a more specific description of the time that the activity took place. The map also lays out, very clearly, the order in which all of the day’s activities were carried out. These levels of specificity that the map provides can be helpful in some types of research, especially in investigations of certain individuals in specific periods of time.
Several things about the map struck me as problematic, though. First, if the intent is to demonstrate a “typical” day in my life as a college student, the fact that April 16, 2009 was not representative of a typical day for me could be problematic. I spent a lot of time that day meeting with a professor from Georgetown University who was visiting the campus to give a talk. That evening, I joined some music faculty to take him and his wife to dinner at the Blue Talon Bistro. Even though this is a pretty well-known restaurant in Williamsburg, that night is the only time I have gone to the Blue Talon in my four years at William and Mary.
The map-diary is limited in the amount of description it can give about certain activities. It is great for describing chronology and location, but nothing can be learned about the Blue Talon Bistro from the map. All that is made clear is that is a place where I ate dinner on April 16. Viewers of the map would presumably be able to deduce the fact that the Campus Center is home to a dining hall and WCWM, and that the Sadler Center is where students retrieve mail, but they would not learn anything about those places. A more in-depth journal or daily log of activities would most likely provide more description.
The Process
On Thursday, I decided to simply create a log of my activities and times, and transfer them to a map later on. Mapping my movements as they occurred, I believe, would have resulted in a very messy, mostly illegible document. Instead, I created a very detailed log of my activities and movements, and later transferred them to the maps.
When creating the map on the blank sheet of paper, I was at first having trouble deciding how to present it. I tried to create a very precise, drawn-to-scale, map, but that became very difficult. I decided to create a very sparse map, only highlighting the places I went to on April 16. The campus map that I filled in ended up being too complex to clearly present my movements and activities. My lines overlapped and were too small to distinguish from one another in certain places. So, I figured the combination of the two maps would be necessary to get the whole picture accurately. The William and Mary campus map shows a very accurate representation of the geography of the area, while the map I created very accurately describes my movements and activities, while at the same time presenting a clear view of my path throughout the day. I decided that the best way to present the information was to create keys explaining symbols and colors on the map. I marked each significant movement with a different colored line. For each color, I attributed a time at which I made that movement. For every place I was stationary at for a significant period, I ascribed a number. Each number was placed next to the building I was inside of during the time of the activity that the number corresponded with. For example, the number 2 represents the five minutes, between 1:25 and 1:30 pm, that I took inside of the Sadler Center to retrieve my mail.
I also struggled deciding how much annotation I should include. I felt it was important to indicate how I was getting around, so I included a note that informed the reader of the map that all of my movements were walking. I decided to remain fairly broad in the description of my activities. I did not, for example, indicate my movement within large buildings. While inside the Campus Center from 1:40 to 4:00, I moved from the Marketplace dining hall upstairs to the WCWM radio station in the basement, but I felt this would be hard to map.
Overall, the process was enlightening, and though I believe the combination of detailed logs and professional maps might be more useful to researchers in most cases, I discovered some ways that map-diaries can provide information in a unique way. I am now curious to see how long map diaries have been created and it which contexts. I also would like to discover how they have been effectively used by researchers.

Journal 4/28/2009

This week was very frustrating on the interview front. I made three phone calls to Aroma’s, and left messages on both the owners’ personal answering machine and with an employee at the coffee shop. I also made follow up phone calls to The Spot and JM Randalls. The Spot does not have an answering machine, and there was no response each time I called. I left a message with an employee at JM Randall’s, and am optimistic that Mr. Randall will call back. Regardless, I plan on visiting both places on Thursday to talk with staff and try to procure an official interview. I also spoke to a friend who knows Samantha Greenwood, a business student who has worked on the marketing campaign for the Green Leafe Underground. He said he would ask her to respond to my emails.

On Friday, I indexed for Katie’s interview of the owner of Five Forks. The interview went well, and I think I may have gathered some useful information about Williamsburg demographics.

I read a lot more of Andy Bennet’s Music Scenes, which contains valuable information about many different cities, mostly of which are international. Many of the concepts can certainly be applied to Williamsburg. The notion that social and economic class may decide the extent to which a music scene exists is one I am eager to explore in my paper. In any interviews I manage to procure, I will certainly include a line of questioning addressing this issue.

For now, though, with no interviews secured, I am continuing to read academic literature on music scenes and venues. I am also using my personal experiences at Williamsburg venues as a reference to compare the current scene to that which is described in Kevin Leslie’s project and the information I have uncovered about Williamsburg music venues in the 1970’s and 80s.

A Link to My Campus Map Diary

Campus Map

A Link to My Personal Map Diary

Time Map

Work Journal 5

I won’t be posting my traditional journal this week, as all of the tasks I completed were done from the comfort of my computer. I did research, wrote an introduction to my final paper, transcribed, indexed, and wrote one of my headers. I also wrote a follow up email to Colin Campbell, requesting any new knowledge that he might have on the subject of the Coffeehouse. Things are coming together nicely, but I have a ton of work to do before handing things in next Wednesday. So it’s time to get cracking!

Journal – 4/27

This week proved to be interesting in the fact that we had an interview with the manager at Chez Trinh. We had been trying to get an interview there for a while but (due to the language barrier) we were referred to speak to him. What we learned, though, was well worth the wait.
Chez Trinh is interesting in that it is not part of the Williamsburg Area Restaurant Association (WARA). As James said, “We’re the kids sitting in the corner.” Despite that, Chez Trinh seems to be a booming success. The restaurant, originally owned by Trinh Murphy (the “Real Estate Queen of Williamsburg”) has had a colorful history with its second and (now) third owners. The restaurant has a VERY strong number of ‘regulars’; James said the restaurant would be nowhere without them.
Interestingly enough, James said that a possible draw to the restaurant is the perception of Vietnamese cuisine being ‘lighter’ than other types of asian cuisine (like Chinese). With an increased focus on healthy meal options (this is a personal ‘feel’), I think that students (who are young and thus majorly involved in ‘what’s hot’) are seeking out food that fits these qualities.
However, a counter to this argument is the incredible number of older residents that are regulars at Chez Trinh. Most of the regulars are from this age group, so there must be something else going on.
Chez Trinh also caters to the Korean Baptist church community – on multiple occasions they have hosted the entire church for lunch. It’s an interesting thought that never occurred to me until the interview – at Peking Mongolian we were told that a lot of church members go to lunch on Sundays at their establishment too. Perhaps there are connections between this group and the student body…

Journal – 4/27

This week was pretty productive on the Swem research side of things. I found some great articles in the Flat Hat about Chowning’s tavern in CW being a popular student hangout in the 1940s, and consequently about the possibility of shutting students out of the establishment due to their drunken, rowdy behavior. Some things never change. I plan to search the yearbooks of this time frame to see if there’s anything there regarding Chowning’s. I stopped by A Chef’s Kitchen last week, but Mr. Gonzales was not in, and I still haven’t heard from him as of yet. I feel like I have plenty of information to write about in terms of my topic, and certainly enough to fill the recommended page requirements. But I don’t feel like the information has much cohesiveness to it. I have bits and pieces of certain areas of interest that would’ve been worthwhile to look into further, but there just wasn’t time. I feel like I’m scraping the surface of a series of topics rather than following any kind of logical research path. I think I’ll come out with something worthwhile in the end; it just won’t be quite what I was expecting to find. But when does the end product ever look exactly how you thought it would when you envisioned it?

Work Journal #5

Thursday: Visit to observe at South of the Border  Friday: Visit to Tu Tienda, Latino Store, located near K-Mart.  Interestingly enough, though I felt  I might be intruding when I entered Tu Tienda (the translation is “Your store” and somehow I knew I wasn’t the “you” to whom the store belonged) I was surprised to find that David Kilgore, a very anglo, European-American, possibly monolingual English speaker was the owner.  This is an interesting dynamic that I hadn’t counted on discovering.  While latinos are capitalizing on foreginness through restaurants, local entrepreneurs are conversely capitalizing on the influx of immigrants.  Notes on The Cultural Politics of Food and Eating  Still working on wrapping up interviews with both owners of Tu Tienda and South of the Border  

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The Williamsburg Documentary Project (WDP) strives to collect and preserve the rich past of Williamsburg, Virginia. By conducting oral history interviews, building physical and digital archives, and creating online exhibits, the WDP interprets Williamsburg’s recent past. The WDP works towards developing a better understanding of Williamsburg by bringing together individuals, local groups, Colonial Williamsburg, and the College of William & Mary.

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