Lab 23

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In this first image I mapped photographs taken from 1946-1948 (which was a very steady two years where images were taken frequently and fairly consistently) and 1950-1952 where there was a lot of variation in the number of photos and a very high spike in 1952. I wanted to see if the location he took these photos in made any difference that contributed to this frequency. Almost all of the images taken between 46-48 were taken in Indiana. The photos taken from 50-52 were taken in a trail down the midwest and into the south, moving southwest. As he moved southward, the number of photos spiked dramatically, and he seemed to travel to a number of different states in 52 where his number of photographs was the highest. This supports a conclusion that when staying in one area his number of photos was more consistent, but when traveling more quickly, the number spiked as he tried to record everything as quickly as possible.

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The second image is a graph that compares the different genres of photos to the places those photos were taken. This allows us to see what type of photos he took in which cities. For example he took exclusively landscape photos in Canon City, Colorado, but took many different types of photos in El Paso, Texas. Not only does this give us an idea of what type of photos he was taking in which cities, but also gives us an idea of what things there are to photograph in those cities. Canon City must have a lot of area to take landscape photos, while El Paso must be a busier city with more things to take photos of.

Project Planning Documents

Title:

The Apple Example: Heirloom Apples and the Problem of Decreasing Biodiversity

Project Owner:

Jane Wagar

Project team:

Project Manager: I will oversee all aspects of the project. Make sure that it functions well and looks appealing to visitors. I will control the information that goes onto the site as well as having final say on all plans for the project.

Computer Science Engineer: In a perfect world I would have someone with a background in coding on my staff. Their responsibilities would include building the actual site so that I wouldn’t have to use a platform like WordPress, which I plan to use for my site.

Designer: Preferably someone with experience in graphic design or someone with experience in digital humanities with a focus in design who would be able to work with the computer science engineer to make the site look incredible.

Researchers: One or two individuals who would be able to help me track down and comb through the information about apples I will need (and possibly other foods as the project expands) as possible and input the information into the site.

Marketing: Someone to promote the site and come up with ways to make the site profitable.

Outreach Coordinator: Someone who could talk to different growers around the country and get in touch with grassroots organizations and farmers who are working to preserve heirloom crops.

Scholarly Significance:

The lack of biodiversity in our food supply is quickly becoming a major issue. There were once thousands of varieties of apples, but today 15 varieties account for 90% of apples produced in the United States (Hensley). Further, it is estimated that 86% of historic varieties are completely extinct (Nuwer). It may not initially be obvious as to why this is such a big problem. First, there is the issue of historic preservation. Once these apples become extinct there is very little hope of ever recovering them. Apple trees cannot simply be grown from seeds, but instead a small part of the tree must be grafted onto a rootstock (Hensley). So, once the last tree of a certain variety dies, there is no hope of recovering that particular type of apple. Conversely, planting an apple seed in the ground will cause a cross breed between that particular variety of apple and whatever pollen is used. Generally this results in crab apples, but it is also a way that new varieties are created. So there may be new varieties out there that are still unknown. By not classifying and preserving these varieties of fruit we are losing out on an important piece of American history.

My personal interest in biodiversity in food began a few years ago when my parents bought some property that has an apple tree on it that grows Transparents. They have a very thin skin and are sweet with a delicate tart flavor if they are picked a little to early. Transparents are very rare and difficult to find mainly because they bruise easily and don’t keep well for very long. Supermarkets keep apples for up to a year in cold storage before putting them on shelves, and so they want heartier varieties. However, they don’t use apples that naturally have the longest storage lives, and instead spray chemicals on them. Perhaps it would be less tragic to me that biodiversity was decreasing if the apples in stores were actually good. It is truly astonishing to me that we so easily give up that diversity for Red Delicious and Granny Smith apples, neither of which, in my opinion, is very good. We give up apples with rich flavor and texture to eat year old apples that are mushy on the inside and have leathery skin on the outside.

However, the problem of decreasing biodiversity in our food supply goes much further than just an issue of historical preservation. It is dangerous to put all of our eggs in one basket so to speak. The Irish Potato Famine happened because farmers were relying on one breed of potato, the Irish Lumper, and when those crops became diseased a million people died as a result (Nuwer). Biodiversity is an absolutely essential part of sustainable agricultural systems. If we rely on 15 varieties of apples, then if just one of those apple varieties experience some catastrophe that drive them into extinction it becomes a huge loss both for growers and consumers. Take for example the current crisis with banana crops. Bananas as we know them may potentially become extinct, something that has already happened once. Bananas used to have more nutrition and last much longer before browning. The bananas we eat today require artificial ripening to be edible (Prisco). That is quite a downgrade. Imagine the issues we could encounter in the next variety of banana the industry decides to embrace. Food isn’t just getting less variable it is getting less nutritious.

This decrease in the nutritional value of fruits has a large impact on human health. Different varieties of the same fruit have different nutrition profiles. One might have more Vitamin C and another might have more Potassium. For example, eating all the same cloned apples, oranges, and bananas all the time, especially if they make up a large part of an individuals fruit consumption, may leave them susceptible to nutrient deficiencies. On the other hand, eating many different types of fruits, as well as different varieties within those types, will offer much better nutrition (FAO). Although it is not the only area of the food system that needs to change, promoting the preservation and growth of these heirloom apple varieties, as well as different varieties of other fruits, vegetables, and even animals is imperative. It not only has important historical significance, but also is also important for agricultural sustainability and in human nutrition.

Project Description:

I would like to use WordPress to host the site because it is a platform that I have used before and am comfortable with. This way I will not have to learn a new platform and how to use the technology I intend on using. This is a rough wireframe for the site:

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I would like to use Timeline JS to create an interactive timeline that shows important events in apple history.

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I would like to create diagrams using RAW in order to chart the decreasing biodiversity in the apple population and possibly track that information against the rise of supermarkets. I’m hoping that one of them will chart apple production by state, as well as the number of apple varieties produced. If I’m able to do this in a relatively short amount of time I would like to add in more varieties of food.

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I would also like the site to include information about the importance of biodiversity in a historical and nutritional context, ways for people to increase biodiversity in their own diets. Plus, I would like to talk about the changes in the way food is processed and brought to us. There is a huge difference between picking an apple off a tree in your yard and driving to the supermarket and buying in apple that has probably traveled thousands of miles and sat in cold storage for a year before it ends up in your crisper. There are many ways to ensure that the food we eat is closer to the food our ancestors ate, and in doing so we are engaging with history. The current agricultural system is not going to make any changes. Monsanto is not going to start promoting the production of heirloom apples or calling for biodiversity. Walmart is not going to go out of its way to find and stock Yellow Transparents. It has to be individuals connecting and building a community that supports sustainable agriculture. It has to start with us calling for better standards, nutrition, and variety in food. That is why I think that projects that bring us back to our historical roots and help us to eat these foods from 100 years ago, in ways we ate them 100 years ago is so important. Not everyone has access to a community farm, but utilizing the internet they may be able to find a way to access and grow these foods and be that change in their own community. Perhaps that is too lofty of a goal for a simple data project, but that is the spirit I am placing into it.

Bulleted list of deliverables and timeline for completion:

  • Collect information about different varieties of apples and the decrease in biodiversity over time. Preferably complete by the end of March. *
  • Do some research on the rise of grocery stores and how this has had an influence on decreasing biodiversity in the food supply through the commercialization of food. Preferably complete by the end of April*
  • Include a section of the website devoted to providing information about historic varieties of apples, the importance of biodiversity from a historic and nutritional perspective, and resources users can use to actively support more diversity in their own diets. Preferably complete by the end of April*
  • Expand the site to include more than just apples, but resources that link people to many different types of heirloom fruits and vegetables. This way, there will be a central location to access seeds and scions. Ongoing.

Launch/production plan:

Ideally, the project will be ready to launch at the end of this semester. My intention is to build the site using WordPress and so it will technically be public at all stages of production. The official launch will be during my class presentation. Since the site will mostly exist as an informational site with only links to a few outside sources, there shouldn’t be too much upkeep required. In this case I will allow the site to continue, but not actively update it. However, if I am not able to finish the project by this point, or it is not thorough enough to actively seek out potential users, then I may take the site offline at the end of the semester. In order to feel comfortable leaving it up I would need it to be very comprehensive, thorough, and informative.

End of life issues:

Once I am finished I doubt that I will personally want to keep up the site. As I stated above it probably won’t require much maintenance, and so if I feel confident about the work I’ve managed to complete by the end of the semester, then I will leave it online to be used as an information source. I will leave my contact information on the site in the event that someone would like to continue the project and take over site maintenance. There is a small grassroots movement to bring heirloom apples back, and so it is possible a grower will be interested, or someone who is passionate about alternative food sources. If the site is not at a point where I feel comfortable with leaving it online, then I will take the site offline.

 

 

Title:

Heirloom Apples and the Problem of Decreasing Biodiversity

Project Owner:

Jane Wagar

Project team:

Project Manager: I will oversee all aspects of the project. Make sure that it functions well and looks appealing to visitors. I will control the information that goes onto the site as well as having final say on all plans for the project.

Computer Science Engineer: In a perfect world I would have someone with a background in coding on my staff. Their responsibilities would include building the actual site so that I wouldn’t have to use a platform like WordPress, which I plan to use for my site.

Designer: Preferably someone with experience in graphic design or someone with experience in digital humanities with a focus in design who would be able to work with the computer science engineer to make the site look incredible.

Researchers: One or two individuals who would be able to help me track down as many different varieties of apples (and possibly other foods as the project expands) as possible and input the information into the site.

Marketing: Someone to promote the site and come up with ways to make the site profitable.

Outreach Coordinator: Someone who could talk to different growers around the country and get in touch with grassroots organizations and farmers who are working to preserve heirloom crops.

Scholarly Significance:

The lack of biodiversity in our food supply is quickly becoming a major issue. There were once thousands of varieties of apples, but today 15 varieties account for 90% of apples produced in the United States (Hensley). Further, it is estimated that 86% of historic varieties are completely extinct (Nuwer). It may not initially be obvious as to why this is such a big problem. First, there is the issue of historic preservation. Once these apples become extinct there is very little hope of ever recovering them. Apple trees cannot simply be grown from seeds, but instead a small part of the tree must be grafted onto a rootstock (Hensley). So, once the last tree of a certain variety dies, there is no hope of recovering that particular type of apple. Conversely, planting an apple seed in the ground will cause a cross breed between that particular variety of apple and whatever pollen is used. Generally this results in crab apples, but it is also a way that new varieties are created. So there may be new varieties out there that are still unknown. By not classifying and preserving these varieties of fruit we are losing out on an important piece of American history.

My personal interest in biodiversity in food began a few years ago when my parents bought some property that has an apple tree on it that grows Transparents. They have a very thin skin and are sweet with a delicate tart flavor if they are picked a little to early. Transparents are very rare and difficult to find mainly because they bruise easily and don’t keep well for very long. Supermarkets keep apples for up to a year in cold storage before putting them on shelves, and so they want heartier varieties. However, they don’t use apples that naturally have the longest storage lives, and instead spray chemicals on them. Perhaps it would be less tragic to me that biodiversity was decreasing if the apples in stores were actually good. It is truly astonishing to me that we so easily give up that diversity for Red Delicious and Granny Smith apples, neither of which, in my opinion, is very good. We give up apples with rich flavor and texture to eat year old apples that are mushy on the inside and have leathery skin on the outside.

However, the problem of decreasing biodiversity in our food supply goes much further than just an issue of historical preservation. It is dangerous to put all of our eggs in one basket so to speak. The Irish Potato Famine happened because farmers were relying on one breed of potato, the Irish Lumper, and when those crops became diseased a million people died as a result (Nuwer). Biodiversity is an absolutely essential part of sustainable agricultural systems. If we rely on 15 varieties of apples, then if just one of those apple varieties experience some catastrophe that drive them into extinction it becomes a huge loss both for growers and consumers. Take for example the current crisis with banana crops. Bananas as we know them may potentially become extinct, something that has already happened once. Bananas used to have more nutrition and last much longer before browning. The bananas we eat today require artificial ripening to be edible (Prisco). That is quite a downgrade. Imagine the issues we could encounter in the next variety of banana the industry decides to embrace. Food isn’t just getting less variable it is getting less nutritious.

This decrease in the nutritional value of fruits has a large impact on human health. Different varieties of the same fruit have different nutrition profiles. One might have more Vitamin C and another might have more Potassium. For example, eating all the same cloned apples, oranges, and bananas all the time, especially if they make up a large part of an individuals fruit consumption, may leave them susceptible to nutrient deficiencies. On the other hand, eating many different types of fruits, as well as different varieties within those types, will offer much better nutrition (FAO). Although it is not the only area of the food system that needs to change, promoting the preservation and growth of these heirloom apple varieties, as well as different varieties of other fruits, vegetables, and even animals is imperative. It not only has important historical significance, but also is also important for agricultural sustainability and in human nutrition.

 

Project Description:

I would like to use WordPress to host the site because it is a platform that I have used before and am comfortable with. This way I will not have to learn a new platform and how to use the technology I intend on using.

There is actually a plugin for WordPress called a wiki plugin that turns the site into a searchable database that is similar to Wikipedia. This is perfect for my project because it would be an easy way to make a database of information about different varieties of apples. Not only would it be simple for me to make, but also it would be comfortable for users who are used to the set up of Wikipedia. It is so much simpler than many academic sites that rely on more complicated methods of creating searchable databases. Because there are so many different varieties of apples this part could be difficult to complete in the time given. I would be interested in potentially making it a crowd source type project and allowing users to edit the site the same way that Wikipedia does. Although I am not sure if this would work given that I don’t have the time to devote to being a moderator.

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To create the map I would like to use Google Fusion Tables for a few different reasons. I have limited experience with Fusion Tables, but I know that it is generally an easy tool to use. Further, I will be able to display the information that I want, and it is easy for other people to edit. They will therefore be able to easily drop a pin on their hometown with a description of the variety of apple tree they have and even include a picture. This will create a community aspect to the site and make it a tool that is not only useful to potential heirloom growers, but to anyone who has an apple tree in their yard or an interest in growing apples.

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In general my intention with this project is to point out the incredible diversity that apples, and perhaps someday other fruits and vegetables, have to offer. I would like to be able to connect heirloom farmers with people who are interested in growing apples. I think adding the ability to upload pictures and locations of certain trees will create a lot more interest in the site. Further, it would be cool to have some way for people to message one another so that they might be able to connect memories of apples they ate as children with people who are able to tell them what those apples are. The current agricultural system is not going to make any changes. Monsanto is not going to start promoting the production of heirloom apples or calling for biodiversity. Walmart is not going to go out of its way to find and stock Yellow Transparents. It has to be individuals connecting and building a community that supports sustainable agriculture. It has to start with us calling for better standards, nutrition, and variety in food. That is why I think that projects that bring us back to our historical roots and help us to eat these foods from 100 years ago, in ways we ate them 100 years ago is so important. Not everyone has access to a community farm, but utilizing the internet they may be able to find a way to access and grow these foods and be that change in their own community. Perhaps that is too lofty of a goal for this project, but that is the spirit I am placing into the project.

Bulleted list of deliverables and timeline for completion:

  • Collect information about varieties of heirloom apples that still exist and where these apples are grown. Preferably complete by the end of March. *
  • Create a site that offers information about the different varieties (what they are used for, what they look like, ect). Preferably complete by the end of March. *
  • Include a map, which includes locations where these varieties can be found. However, make it interactive so that growers are able to add their own trees to the site. Make it so that people who have apple trees in their yards of unspecified varieties can also add their trees along with pictures to the map so that others can possibly identify them. Preferably complete by the end of April. *
  • Expand the site to include more than just apples, but resources that link people to many different types of heirloom fruits and vegetables. This way, there will be a central location to access seeds and scions. Ongoing.

Launch/production plan:

Ideally, the project will be ready to launch at the end of this semester. My intention is to build the site using WordPress and so it will technically be public at all stages of production. The official launch will be during my class presentation. If the site turns out to be a real success I may reach out to some people within the heirloom produce community to see if they are interested in the project. There is a fairly large grassroots movement that might be interested in utilizing those resources. However, I may not be able to finish the project by this point, or it may not quite be thorough enough to actively seek out potential users. In order to feel comfortable doing so I would need a fairly comprehensive list of apple varieties as well as a working map.

End of life issues:

Once I am finished I doubt that I will personally want to keep up the site. However, as I stated above there is a large grassroots organization interested in the preservation of heirloom apples. It is possible that in reaching out to different people in this community I could find someone who would be interested in taking over maintenance on the site. If not, I suppose it will sit on a server somewhere, but I could always include my contact information should someone find it and want to take over maintenance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

Hensley, Tim. “Apples of Your Eye.” Smithsonianmag.com. Smithsonian Institute, Nov. 2002.Web. 10 Feb. 2016.

“Nutrition.” Biodiversity. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2016. Web. 10 Feb. 2016.

Nuwer, Rachel. “The World’s Most Endangered Food.” BBC.com. N.p., 1 Apr. 2014. Web. 10 Feb. 2016.

Prisco, Jacopo. “Why Bananas as We Know Them Might Go Extinct (again) – CNN.com.” CNN. Cable News Network, 8 Jan. 2016. Web. 10 Feb. 2016.

Project Review: Virtual Jamestown

If you’ve ever seen the Disney Pocahontas you probably remember the white men singing “For glory, God, and gold, and The Virginia Company!” This representation of early Jamestown, while generally inaccurate, is the same backdrop Virtual Jamestown is laid against. Jamestown Virginia was founded in 1607 after King James I sent the Virginia Company to form a settlement in the New World. However, they didn’t consider that there was already an existing Powhatan village in the very place they intended to settle. Crandall A. Shifflet, a professor of history at Virginia Polytech Institute and State University first dreamed up Virtual Jamestown in 1996. The site not only explores the lives of early settlers from the Virginia Company, but also the lives of the Powhatan Indians. It is a fascinating look into this fragile time in history when two cultures collided.

Upon first entering the site users are greeted with a home screen that includes a map as well as a short description of the project:

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This style of site design is fairly popular, however, for this site it does cause the first speed bump in user experience. The only way to enter the site is to click the map of Jamestown. Clicking anywhere else on the screen, or hitting keys on the keyboard is not enough to lead users to the main site. Furthermore this image is actually off center toward the upper left hand corner, which unfortunately cases the site to look less professional. Now, this problem is so easily fixable, which is why it is unfortunate that it happens so early in the site design! The design team could remove this home screen, allow any clicking or typing motion to trigger the site, or have this image as a scroll screen.

Once users have entered the actual site they are greeted with this:

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Now, truly this site has a lot to offer and that is obvious right off the bat. The side bar is full of new additions to the site, there is a resources tab that offers a list of different resources to get more information, and information about the site and about the staff are readily available. The homepage is actually a news page, which works for this site because it is still under construction. This is a great way to have the site up and running while adding new materials. All of the new things are listed, and there is information about what is coming to the site next. There is also an envisionings tab so that users can see what the creators intend to add to the site. However, there are some things that could be better. The color scheme is outdated. The site is parchment yellow, which is an obvious choice for a history site. It matches the map in the header of the page, which is a definite bonus. Unfortunately, the grey border around the site does not look good with the parchment yellow and dark crimson color scheme. The site looks dark, which is only a good thing if it also looks sleek or modern, which the site does not. Overall, the site looks like it was done in the late 90’s or early 2000’s. It is understandable that the site is primarily for academic information and is therefore under no obligation to appear modern, design can really impact how people view a site. Users may assume that the site has outdated information or that it wasn’t funded well. Which brings us to another issue: the homepage of the site has a giant section asking for funding. Support should definitely be tucked away somewhere. Perhaps as another tab under the header of the page or on the side bar. No one likes getting hit up for money, and it could definitely turn users off to the site.

Although the site has some obvious pitfalls, there are several things that Virtual Jamestown does very well. First, it presents a lot of information, and a lot of that information is not necessarily easy to access. It gives a great deal of historical information and documentation about the lives of the Native Americans who lived in the surrounding areas (in a much more accurate yet less visually appealing way than Disney). The site includes several documents from both the Virginia Company and the Native Americans. One of the downright coolest parts of site is a 3D model of a Paspahegh Village:

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The page also allows users to choose from a list of information that will give them information about different areas on the map and how they relate to every day life for the Paspahegh people. In the burial section the site lists two bodies recovered in archaeological digs and describes how the bodies were found. There is also a timeline of interaction between the English and the Paspahegh and also information about artifacts that were found at the site. The site does not include any information about how the video was made although they use Vimeo as a platform. If users visit the Vimeo site they will see that the video is still a work in progress. I will be excited to see what they do with it in the future.

Another cool feature of the website are all of the maps. One, made with Flash Maps is a recreation of John Smith’s Voyages:

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There are other maps that were drawn during the actual time period that are made interactive with Zoomable.

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In addition to all of these maps and the 3D model the site also includes first hand accounts, newspaper clippings, census data, hospital records, records from the Virginia Company, and legal information from the time. There is also an archive of historical images related to early Jamestown:

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Finally, there are two virtual panoramas. One is based off of a drawing that John White created of an Algonkian village:

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The other is a virtual recreation of the Jamestown Fort:

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Both of these panoramas are powered by quicktime.

The site offers so many resources and incredible interactive visualizations. My only complaint about the actual interactive tools are that they could perhaps be a bit more fleshed out. Especially the 3D model and the panoramas. All three offer general layouts of the area they are representing for users, but they are very simple and it is difficult to get a sense of what it would have actually looked like. While the larger structures are depicted there isn’t much detail. It would be interesting to have a representation of the inside of some of the buildings in both the English and Native American villages.

Truly the site has so much to offer. It has good, solid information and tools that are already great but have the potential to be really incredible with a few tweaks. Unfortunately the site is in desperate need of a facelift, but fortunately that is an easy thing to fix should the designers be interested. A more modern look would make the site appear more professional, up the traffic the site is receiving, and even potentially bring in more donors so that they can continue the good work.

Lab 7: 3 February 2016

Final Review Brainstorm

My rough for my project review is obviously pretty rough and I want to make some changes to bring it to a final copy. I would like it to be organized. Generally in my rough copies I try to get all of my thoughts down and then I come back and see where I can move things to make it all flow better. I also would like to go a little more in depth with what technologies were used. There are a lot of interactive tools that don’t list a platform explaining where/how they were made. Finally, I would like to talk a little bit more in depth about the subject of the site. I think I was a little light on details of the information and just said ‘it has a lot of good information’.

Final Project Brainstorm

I’m having a hard time deciding what to do for my final project. Having done quite a few digital humanities projects I’m really aware of how much work it is to do and how impossible it is to do anything with too large of a scope. So every idea I come up with automatically seems too big to finish in 3 months. Two of my ideas are to research how the early great american authors knew each other. I could make a map of where they were from, and include information of how they knew each other with photos and letters. Another idea I had stems out of a project I did in AL 340 which was to look at gender on MSU’s campus. We originally intended on looking at the history of majors available to women, but we would have to go to archives and go through boxes and no one wanted to do that. It would be interesting to have a timeline with some supporting documents. I could include the year MSU allowed female students to apply, what majors were open to them during certain years, when the number of female students surpassed male students, and possibly include some of the data I have from the past project to show the spread across majors today. And there are still some major discrepancies in certain departments like business and engineering and also in the arts and humanities which are overwhelmingly female (although if I remember correctly RCAH has a fairly even spread). Honestly I wouldn’t mind working with a group because it really is necessary (no matter how simple the project may seem) to have other people because it is just too much work for one person. Plus, I think that the cultural sensitivity project sounds fascinating and is something that our campus really needs so I was considering asking if I could join that project.