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6.22.03 Burrowing in

I am now burrowed into a new video production. This is a different phase from the beginning, which is more like - what? - using a pick axe to break up the hard surface to make digging my tunnel possible.

When I'm officially burrowed in, I'm usually so obsessed with my thousand little tasks and the panic of losing momentum that I don't write. But, since I'm trying to keep a better tab on myself, I thought I'd give it a go.

My project is another volunteer gig, but it could open other opportunities. The topic is RESPECT.

Some thoughtful people who work with me are trying to reform the organization's approach to changing kids' behaviors (destructive and self-destructive). They discovered the Positive Behavioral Intervention & Support network. The basic idea is to set a few simple expectations, then "catch kids being good."

It's also based on the most current behavior theories: Behavior is learned. Replacement behaviors must be taught. Good behavior should be recognized and reinforced. Getting into a big power struggle over bad behavior probably just reinforces it because the child is getting lots of attention and having warped fun watching adults go ballistic. The idea, as I'm interpreting it, is either to ignore it or to use it as a teaching moment.

It's all based on the premise that adults can keep a grip on their own behavior - hard enough for the average parent, but often impossible for the ill-prepared staff trying to deal with groups of 6 to 16 emotionally disturbed kids.

Anyway, Maria and I volunteered to do some video work to help transfer the knowledge of one group of staff (who've spent the year learning) to another group who are just starting.

The challenge: everyone want a video as opposed to an audio and new federal privacy regulations make it nearly impossible to photograph and publish the faces of children in mental health facilities.

So the visuals are going to have to be artsy motion graphics as opposed to the easy, literal talking head.

But what had me stabbing at the surface for so long was the challenge of boiling down a great 40-minute group interview with staff to 3 minutes of audio. There's really no easy way to do this except to CONCENTRATE -- very hard to do in these multi-tasking, distractable times.

By Friday mid-day (I took Friday off work) I got it boiled down to a good 5 minutes -- an acceptable length, even though it means pulling another 2 minutes of visuals out of thin air.

This breakthrough got me into my groove. I worked 8 hrs on Friday and 9 hrs on Saturday setting up my working audio track and getting it segmented into "chapters" for the visual work. I also scanned a bunch of the kids' self-portraits in hopes that that will give me the faces to make the visuals more than just dancing type.

Well, it's 10:30 AM on a sunny Sunday. Maybe I'll go out for my walk before I disappear down the rabbit hole again.

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