Julie Fooshee - Tuesday, August 6th, 2019
Google maps has assured me that this drive clocks in around 29 hours but I’m convinced I can outpace the great determiner of the trek. This Sunday, my friend Kristen and I will start a drive from New England that should take about two days to move me to Houston, Texas. Last week I let the Science Festival Alliance member base know via email that I was leaving my post, but this is a way for me to inform all of you that I’ll be transitioning from the role as well. For the past six years I’ve been the Coordinator of the Science Festival Alliance and going forward I’ll be a Science Engagement Specialist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in the ARES division. You can email me if you want to learn more or stay in touch, but I wanted to take a minute to thank everyone for personally enriching my life and my career during my time at the SFA. I was cleaning out my laptop and found what amounts to a dragon’s hoard of photos about my time with the network and I think that’s maybe a better goodbye than a bunch of words are.
I’ve been traveling the world for the past six years learning about all the amazing things that all of you have been doing. Part of my job was to listen, to know, to be a human card catalog and living resource for others, but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it. Along the way I’ve counted all of you among my friends as we’ve stayed up late to catch a show together, gotten manicures, toured one another’s cities, done set up at your event together, stayed up late stuffing programs, done a midnight FedEx run, and so much more. Some of you know me because I’ve been at your festival, some of you know me because I’ve been on your project board, some of you know me because I was at your conference or that I spoke in a meeting you attended, but all of you made an impression on me. I never once thought in this job that I knew everything and every day was a chance to do better. There were times at 5pm on Friday that I was plugging my phone in and ordering take-out so I could get things done and there I was not getting out of the office until 11pm because it mattered that much; someone needed a resource, the website needed to be updated, invoices had to filed, and reflective journals needed to be sent out or collected. Maybe it could’ve waited until Monday but I wanted to do the best because I felt like that’s what everyone I worked with deserved.
To me, the measure of my own success isn’t what I accomplished, it was what everyone around me was doing and achieving: Things like, we have over 60 member festivals in the network now, that Flagstaff Festival of Science is celebrating 30 years and Sitka WhaleFest is celebrating 24 years. I was there the first year that Atlanta Science Festival celebrated and now they’re doing year round city-wide programming that absolutely blows me away. Our conference that used to only be a pre or post meeting add-on became a stand-alone meeting and even underwent a massive re-branding that I got to see. At the end of this year’s meeting I had people DM-ing me on twitter asking how to continue the conversation, ways they were using what they had learned in their own institutions, showing me impact. It isn’t often that you get to lay a foundation and see what gets built on top of it and I have been extremely privileged in that.
Part of what attracted to me the SFA originally was the idea that science festivals and live science events are a way to make science more accessible for everyone and that they lower the barriers of access to science within their communities. At the heart of what we do as practitioners, that’s what I hope you all end up taking away from my time on this project. All of your festivals are unique and should be a product of your community and the needs of your community. No two festivals I have been to are alike, and that has been part of a grand adventure that I hope you continue to pay forward within the network and outside of it.
If you should ever need me, for space related activities (or festival related questions, or scicomm inquiries) you can find me @ocaptmycapt on twitter or via email at email@example.com.