Way back at the end of July, Pittsburgh hosted what is probably my favorite event in this city: Open Streets. It’s a day for the whole community to come together outside to participate in lots of different activities, from bike rides and runs and yoga to games and art markets and food trucks, all taking place over the span of 4 hours in Downtown, the Strip, and Lawrenceville.
One addition to the July Open Streets that really intrigued me was a project I stumbled upon called Still Working. (Here I’m tempted to make a remark about that being the story of my life as a grad student…) But as much as those two words describe the majority of my life, that’s not what this post is about. Instead, it’s about an intriguing and ambitious project that hopes to talk to a variety of people and answer the question of “what [people] do all day and how they feel about what they do all day.”
Before I talk more about Still Working, I have to say that Margaret and Kevin, who have organized it, are two of the kindest people and I would absolutely recommend participating in the project if you have the opportunity! About 95% of the time, I would absolutely refuse to be interviewed- by two strangers- in the middle of Penn Avenue- on a weekend- without any preparation time- but I quickly felt at ease, and rolled with it, and had a great experience!
Here’s how I fit in: during Open Streets, I biked from downtown to the Strip (as I usually do on those days), that time with the intent of biking all the way to 40th Street, except I ran out of time because I overslept by 2 hours. Instead, I ended up in the far side of the Strip District, where a bunch of activities were set up- fitness classes, bubbles, food trucks, and…a small folding table with a box of coffee, some folding chairs, and a haphazard sign advertising “Still Working.” The first time I passed it, it caught my eye but I didn’t stop because the brightly colored water balloon/bubble station up ahead was much more exciting looking! But something nagged me about having passed the Still Working table by, so I turned back around.
What I learned is this: Margaret and Kevin are collecting interviews and photos of people in Pittsburgh with various sorts of jobs, by asking them (or, at least, based on what they asked me) to describe their typical day at work, why they chose that job, what they like and dislike about it, and what they hope to do in the future.
While offhand those seem like rather benign questions, it turns out that they lead to some pretty interesting stories! In my case, I explained the reason I got into doing cancer research (a blog story for another time!), talked about the importance of science communication to the public, and, hopefully, dispelled some myths about doing research with animal models. All in an interview about going to work!
I’m glad I took myself out of my comfort zone to take part in this project. I can’t wait to see what ultimately happens with all the interviews and photos they collect! In the meantime, be sure to follow the Still Working website to learn more about the project, the history behind the decision to start it now, and to learn where Margaret and Kevin will be conducting interviews next!
I was interviewed for Still Working; however, the decision to blog about it and all opinions expressed are my own. Photo credit to Margaret Krauss.