Starting Small

I was inspired to write this post when I sat down on my porch this morning to have coffee.  My intention was to enjoy a leisurely start to a relatively cool but humid Saturday morning here in North Carolina while reading Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Shaping Worlds by adrienne maree brown.  Almost immediately I read the words:

“Small is good, small is all. (The large is a reflection of the small).”

These words reminded me of something Sarah Patterson, co-founder of the project, said on the last day of the HILT workshop I attended titled “Black Public Publics in the Humanities”:

“Challenge the idea that small, partial, or incomplete datasets are insignificant.”

Often the scope of what we want to accomplish – whether in social movement building, our career, or a particular project such as a dissertation, book, or DH project – can be daunting.  It can lead to writer’s block, procrastination, and stall us out.  In historical scholarship or a digital project, we might hold back the archival traces and small glimpses of people’s lives in favor of those people for whom more information is available.   Yet as both these quotes argue, we should value the small, for it is small actions, small pieces, that are the foundation and fabric of something larger.  One has to start small, otherwise how will you have room to build and grow?

I take this as inspiration on many fronts, but today I will enjoy uploading some historical traces to the Omeka site I am developing.  Next time, I’ll muse upon how it applies to career development.

About Heidi Dodson

Heidi Dodson is currently CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow at University at Buffalo.
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