Archive for the 'Journals' Category

Journal April 11,

Prior to this week, I had to advertise for the focus group which was April 9 at 7pm. I was lucky enough to make it into Student Happenings and received an email minutes later from a student who was interested in the project. Then Monday I had an interview with Jose Ribeiro at the James City County Zoning Department with Ally. During this interview, I gained much insight into the zoning of Kingsmill residential area and the resort. In addition to finding out about the zoning, I found out about what happened with the expansion of Kingsmill as well as the boardwalk that was going to be build. The expansion of Kingsmill was deferred since the developers decided to stop the proposal they previously presented. Unfortunately, I did not properly record the interview on one of the devices and the other was set in a mode that is not easy to convert. This was a mishap that really made me upset because I have had two successful interviews without any technical issues. Nevertheless, the interview was very beneficial because I was able to gain more contacts. After the interview, I met with Kate and went over the formal letters and was proud about the last draft. When we finalized the letter, I contacted the departments that I have been associated with and was able to reach different groups. The next morning I woke up to so many text from friends in regards to the project but many of those friends were graduates of the college. One response that I received was from a Williamsburg active resident and educator John Whitley who has worked with the Lemon Project on campus. Not only did was I contacted by Mr. Whitley but also some of my previous professors who have strong opinions on the topic of gated communities. Sadly to say, these professors were unable to attend or stated that they do not associate with anything pertaining to gated communities because it goes against their beliefs.

On April 9, I was nervous the entire day because I have never did anything like this at the college. Kate was helpful the entire way and it was great to have the support of my piers. Before the actual focus group, I had the opportunity to meet with Kate and organize all of the documents and discuss the logistics. Soon after I met with Kate, I spoke to Kari who helped me a lot with reviewing my questions. I was able to add more questions and restructure others.

When it was time for the discussion, I only had Mr. and Mrs. Whitley. I felt very disappointed because I expected a lot more people to come. There were people who helped from the media department who decided to stay as well as Andrea. Even though there were a decent amount of people, I went upstairs and spoke to some friends who found the topic intriguing and they came down some minutes later. Although there were late comers, the people who were there from the beginning contributed a lot to the “icebreaker” question. To my surprise there were no residents of Kingsmill at the focus group which turned out okay. After delving into the second question, the conversation seemed to take on a life of its own. By the end of the discussion other questions presented itself. One of the biggest questions was pertaining to gated communities in other countries. It appears that other countries want/need gated communities for safety reason while the gated communities in America seem to possess other amenities that the “wealthy” seek. Another question was in regards to how long Kingsmill would stay a gated community due to the fact that there appears to be a gated community within the gated community. Xanterra has changed many things in Kingsmill. One of the changes is that residents do not have open access to the amenities like before. Seemingly, in order for the residents to indulge in these amenities they must pay a membership fee. I presented this question to Mr. Whitley. The Whitley’s were not the only people who contributed but also students. They explained what a “safe” community William and Mary is since people are attracted to gated communities because they believe they are safe. Nonetheless, we found that feeling that we are safe can make us more susceptible to other unwanted things.

This week was truly beneficial yet, I need to speak with more current residents or past residents of Kingsmill to understand why they decided to live there. Also, the more I delved into the focus group, the more I relied on my colleagues. Andrea was able to stay for majority of the focus group and contributed to the discussion. I never thought about the fact that there aren’t street lights in Kingsmill or finding out more about the resort. On other hand, I have received assistance and the opinions of my colleagues in regards to restructuring my project which has helped me improve how I approach a specific question or task.

Week of 3/31

So late on my journal, but last week was a little frustrating. I was able to lock in some confirmed interview times early Friday morning via phone tag and frantic emailing (which is why I’m posting now….), but I do have a phone interview to follow up with Karen Watkins from Colonial Gardens tomorrow at 12:30pm. My interview with Craig Reeves on Wednesday was very informative and I received a number of useful documents pertaining to the B&B community gatherings in Williamsburg. Mr. Reeves and his wife, Laura, were very helpful in providing other contacts in this network of businesses and their different perspective on hospitality should provide some really great points for my research. Ms. Watkins was unavailable for an interview at the time of my arrival on site at Colonial Gardens, but I was still able to tour the B&B and talk to her employees about the business at large. I hope to follow up with some points they made during our phone interview tomorrow. Looking forward, I have a preliminary interview scheduled with Steve Zareski on Tuesday at 6pm from the recently closed Boxwood Inn B&B. I received the Boxwood’s name from Mr. and Mrs. Reeves’ and I think their story could provide a new angle on the state of the tourism/hospitality industry in Williamsburg, specifically with the slow decline of B&Bs in recent years. I have high hopes for being able to schedule a formal oral history with Mr. and Mrs. Zareski, so I hope everything will fall into place accordingly. I’m still having trouble with securing a formal oral history interview with the Keanes, but I will keep trying!

April 4, 2014

This week has been draining. I had so many interviews and stuff for the research. After receiving approval for my focus group, I had to create an advertisement. I am not great with making flyers that are enticing so that is somewhat in a stand still until I can find enough time out my day to focus on it. Monday, I noticed that James City County was having a planning commission meeting and one of the topics was the expansion of kingsmill which is a continuation from March’s meeting. This Wednesday meeting was not what I expected because there weren’t any people there except the board members. However, I was able to set up an interview with someone in the zoning department next Monday. Also, Thursday was my first interview and it was with Michael McGurk. It was a wonderful experience because I was able to go into Kingsmill and had interesting insight into the community. Prior to interacting with anyone from Kingsmill, I had assumptions that have since changed. Mr. McGurk spoke about the history of Kingsmill and its current state. The changes in owners of Kingsmill have caused there to be many changes in facilities and community. On the other hand, my interview friday with Mary Schilling was the polar opposite of McGurk. She did not have the same interest in the current events that have taken place between some residents and Xanterra. I found this week to be successful but very exhausting.

4/4 Work Journal

I was not able to be as productive in terms of my research that I would have liked. This week is a testament to the technique of getting things done early and to plan for the unexpected. I now need to kick it into high gear to get everything rolling, especially since I was unable to get a single thing done this week.

Week of March 31

This week was not as exciting as last week and productive in different ways than I had expected. I finally received a phone number for Judge Samuel Powell on Wednesday and since have had strep throat and cannot speak to him on the phone due to a horrible sounding voice. The voice is subsiding and I think I will be able to contact him sometime this weekend, hopefully tomorrow!

I was able to work through the City Planning Office and then the James City County courthouse to get the contact information for retired Judge Powell who spearheaded the Powhatan statue project. I was told by Debbie, the woman who gave me his phone number that he was very happy to talk to me about the project, thus this gives me hope that I will be able to interview him for the project. I hope to establish ties with Judge Powell tomorrow and set up an interview for the next week if possible.

Other than working to get Judge Powell’s phone number I supported Loetta in an interview on Thursday with Michael McGurk about the Kingsmill United group which turned out to be a fascinating interview.

Week Ending April 4, 2014

It is safe to say that this week has not gone exactly as I had planned – but that does not mean that the week was not productive.  Ideally, I wanted to have my oral history interviews complete and ready for transcription by now, but that has not happened.  This is in part because it has been challenging to secure an appropriate candidate, but also because I’ve realized that these things take time.  I think it is important for me to try to cultivate a relationship of some sort before I request a formal interview.  I found it helpful to have an informal meeting (in-person) during which I can outline my project goals and get an understanding of what the candidate can contribute to the project.  In turn, the candidate can have an opportunity to meet me and give thoughtful consideration as to whether or not he/she wants to participate in the project.   On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to meet with a fascinating individual, Bruce Larson, who is a civilian archeologist employed by the Department of Defense (Navy) to oversee all cultural resource identification, preservation and mitigation efforts in the Atlantic region.  (Thank you, Dr. Lelievre, for supporting me during this meeting.)   Mr. Larson has agreed to be interviewed for my project and I am confident that his input will enrich my research, as well as provide valuable information for future WDP researchers.   Additionally, Mr. Larson has indicated a willingness to try to get me access to another site somewhat similar to Magruder, Charles’ Corner.  That effort involves a considerable amount of planning, mostly on his part, for which I am most grateful.   The biggest surprise of the week was an email I received from Bishop William Dawson of Mount Gilead Baptist Church.  Finally, after an entire month of silence, he responded to my request for an opportunity to meet.  Bishop Dawson has agreed to review my research proposal and information about the WDP.  He has tentatively agreed to meet with me the week of April 14th and to (potentially) be interviewed (he will be out of town for the next week beginning tomorrow).   Brian Palmer, my other potential interview candidate, has been out of town this week.  We will touch base about scheduling an interview next week, upon his return.   Beyond efforts to secure oral history interviews, I have worked on my bibliography, to cull out items I will not use and identify the ones that I think will be most  helpful.   Today, I will support Ryan’s interview with Fred Boelt by indexing for him.  I look forward to seeing Mr. Boelt again and hearing more of his stories.  Next week, I will interview Bruce Larson and continue efforts to schedule interviews, develop secondary resources and organize my paper.

3/28 Work Summary

This week could have been a little more productive with regards to the project. There were several other deadlines looming for job applications and papers for other classes, and I ended up not having enough time to spread around equally. This is going to be another challenge moving into the last parts of the semester; finding a job after graduation is paramount, and every class is starting up its own final project also. Time will crunch, and I just need to dedicate a lot of it to this project. Hopefully, since I got a lot of other work done this week, next week will be more productive.

I did get a start on scheduling interviews, though. Fred Boelt responded again to my email, and I will interview him next Thursday at his home. Kari (and several others) were kind enough to offer to index as well. The students I plan on interviewing all had sort of a “hell week” this week, so I will schedule their interviews this coming weekend and hopefully interview them within the next week as well.

I also got some reading done with regards to the Focus Group of 2008-2009. There are massive amounts of material to read through, so getting through it all will take some time, but I learned a lot about its focus and goals. As somewhat implied by the boundaries of their study, the Focus Group was specifically interested in the relations between the College and the city within the broader issue of off-campus housing. This means I’ll have to rely on secondary research more to talk about the three-person rule and zoning, ordinances, etc. more broadly.

Week of 3/24

This week has been productive (scheduling-wise) for more preliminary interviews with B&B owners. I was able to schedule interviews with Craig Reeves from the Williamsburg Manor B&B (tomorrow at 11am) and Karen Watkins from Colonial Gardens B&B (Monday at 1pm). During my interview with Mr. Reeves tomorrow, I hope to continue gaining more insight on the frustration between local government and come in with more of a focus on how he defines “Southern Hospitality.” I might also consider asking him questions regarding guest experiences both positively and negatively (I noticed on Trip Advisor, the comments were varied from super positive to highly negative from recent years) and how the business has adapted or changed in the last few years in comparison to others in the B&B community. With his and Ms. Watkins’s insight, I hope to also find another more “complacent” B&B to speak with or reach out to.

I think I’ve been so caught up in scheduling and speaking to people that I have yet to delve into my scholarly research (secondary sources) as much as I would have liked. I know my shift is still moving more towards the construction of these spaces of “Southern Hospitality” and how that tourist experience contributes to the overall image of Williamsburg, so I plan to do a little more reading and researching next week. That research includes a more in-depth history of B&B negotiations with the local government and other notable tourism-related issues in the past. I also need to follow up with the Keanes on recording their oral history in the coming weeks and get in contact with Robin Carson from the Kingsmill resort for a preliminary interview. Once these preliminary interviews are done, I hope to take more time to research while conducting formal oral history interviews once I’ve decided on my final “candidates” for the WDP archive.


Journal Entry 2

This week has been amazing because everything seems to be falling into place unlike last week. I felt so behind on research and possible interviews. Monday I was able to complete the protocol for the focus group. I really think that the focus group will be possible and successful in getting a diverse group of the community. Also, I was speaking to Dr. Hurte earlier in the week and he helped me get in touch with a few Kingsmill residents. To my surprise I received an email from one of the residents right away and will be interviewing them Monday, March 31. Although we have prepared for interviews, actually setting up the interview myself was frightening because I had to explain my project and answer questions pertaining to the possible “risks” with it. During Monday’s class, Kate mentioned a group called Kingsmill United, which was created by a number of Kingsmill residents and they have a website. I was able to contact them and received an email from one of its members. He provided me with another persons contact information to interview in regards to the organization but I have not received a response. In addition to contacting that organization, I contacted the zoning office of James City County as well as Hallie Olson of the Kingsmill Community Services Association. Unfortunately, I contacted these people/groups earlier in the week and feel as though I will need to do a follow-up email/call quite soon.

I am still looking at some primary and secondary sources. During class, Rose mentioned looking on facebook at certain groups. I never though about using social media to find possible interviews or other information. When I found the Kingsmill Past and Present group on there I began to look through the people as well as the photos. Kingsmill doesn’t appear to be very diverse from what I could see from the people and photos from there annual celebration of Kingsmill. Moreover, the group had documents from James City County posted on the facebook page pertaining to the possible expansion as well as news articles.

3/27 Work Journal Summary

This week has been a little bit frustrating. First, I am having a bit of a hard time getting in contact with some people and places. I am fighting an internal battle of feeling like I am being too persistent and then realize that it is apart of the research and assignment. I am going to have to get on a phone and dedicate a little more time this week to really cementing down potential interviews.

I also reached out to the Williamsburg City Planning Office in regards to the moving of the gift shop to its current location. I have been in contact with Carolyn and we were chatting about records on file at the office. The first record was a permit for destruction that was issued in 1964 and the next one was for 1975 for reroofing. Originally when I saw these date, they did not seem to add up with what I had discovered. After further conversation, I realized that Carolyn was providing me with information of the temple’s current location property and not of its original location. Although I was looking for more information regarding the movement of the structure, this information will be helpful in pursuing my project. She told me that she has records for 1 1978 alteration, a 1989 addition, and a 2007 addition. I am planning on visiting the office to take a look and take pictures of these documents. These will prove helpful when I talk to members of the temple, and figuring out what additions were made and why they were.



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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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