Day Zero

Bought some markers in Moscow and drew a hitchsign: ТВЕРЬ. Tver — hometown of my Colombia-travelmate Olga Polyakova. She’s gathering a small platoon of artists, dancers, researchers, activists, a former political prisoner and exactly one Canadian for a pet project of hers called “10 Days in Tver.” All for the ambiguous purpose of researching, engaging and/or saying something not entirely dumb about her motherland for about a week and a half.

There’s no university sponsoring anything, no thinktank or magazine covering our costs — it’s just us, but non-institutional research is just one of those things for me. For one, it’s great because it legitimizes the curiousity of people who ask questions without holding MAs or PhDs. Not to mention how we’re not going to be constrained by the four concrete walls of academic research or even regular essay writing — interventions can include conversation, all-too-hastily-thrown-together presentations, walks through the city, late night tea sessions, listening to grandparents, joking about politics, eating too much pie and listening to opinions still in the process of forming themselves. That, and it’s a way of being able to bring a broader slice of the population into activities normally conducted only among academic folk.

It’s going to be a busy few days, but I’m really hoping to have time to sit down, process my thoughts and have something useful to contribute. As the only non-native Russian speaker in the group, I’ve got my work cut out for me.

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