Sap flowing

The week started off great with a lab trip to the sugar shack! It was cold, but we got to enjoy the wonderful product of a peri-urban spring ecosystem service, maple syrup! That same day I read another great post on Nature of Cities talking about the importance of sustainability on the urban rural continuum so it was fitting to be off the island and thinking about service provisioning at the regional scale.
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Like those maple trees, I feel like my sap (let’s say its my creative juices and productivity) is starting to flow a little more freely this week.

IMG_0053I gave a presentation on the interdiciplinary process of creating my dance piece of phosphorus (I also found a art-science performance piece on climate change, flooding, and every-day actions called Holoscenes, and there is a piece in the McGill reporter about my dance piece and how there will be a webisode about it on Tele-Quebec’s La Fabirque Culturelle platform (no date on when it will come online though)). It was my first time formally presenting about the dance process. It went well, but I want to make the presentation tighter and more punchy. I have great visuals so I want the story and narration to match that.

I also did a practice talk for my final seminar presentation that will happen in two weeks (the final seminar talk is a 25 minute presentation in front of the department about your PhD research, so it is in many ways a practice defense talk). I am very lucky to have an engaged lab that gives us all the opportunity to work on presentations. Practice is so key to giving good talks! (I have actually been trying to apply my own advise about drafting and redrafting papers to presentations by reading my presentation speech out loud a lot more to find bugs). My labmates’ feedback was really interesting. I tried building my talk around advise for giving good presentation saying that the ppt should mostly be images and very few words (and those words should be the key message and not “outline” type stuff). Consensus in the lab though was that I needed more text and illustrated system diagrams for it to be easier to follow the story as a whole, while knowing what comprised every chapter. It think I probably took the good presentation advise a little too far, especially that I am a really really fast talker. As such, not having any cues on slides makes it hard for me to take a pause (I just go on and on), and doesn’t give the audience an anchor  to come back to if they misted a bit of what I said. The good news is, I really love making system diagrams. The “bad” news is, I need to practice a lot more to test my new slides and make sure I actually do use tools to slow down. I am going to try and make sure that a completely walk people through my P budgets, conceptual framework, and system diagrams step by step to make me slow down. This means the slides I put up will be a little more complex, but if I can bring the audience with me, by slowly making the story clear, then the presentation as a whole will not seem too complex.

On the writing front, all three manuscripts have made some progress, but in different ways. I shared one with a colleague for a friendly review. I wrote a “first” draft (it is actually probably the 100th draft, but I was going from an outline, not revising text so I will call it a first draft), which I will be going over with a colleague tonight. And last, but not least, I have been working on refining and adding numbers and new data sources to the key table of my third manuscript (including citing an exciting new plan from Montreal (Plan de développement d’un système alimentaire équitable et durable de la collectivité montréalaise) that launched Monday that I think could support better P use and more P recycling in the city). I thought that this table was basically done months ago, but by working on the paper outline, I realized it wasn’t complete (for what I want to do with it now anyways). Always an iterative process (especially when you are working on a manuscript where the very thing you are studying is changing from week to week, and new information comes out)!

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