Intro, and what we love to hate

So, I’m Amy Storrow. I’m a Foreign Service officer just starting a sabbatical through the generosity of the Una Chapman Cox Foundation. I’ve served in Mexico, Macedonia, Latvia, and in Washington, DC. Mostly I’ve worked on people-to-people diplomacy, such as the Fulbright program. I believe deeply in cultural and educational exchanges and find the work very satisfying. Before I joined the Foreign Service, I was a writer, teacher, and editor for many years. My wardrobe consisted of jeans with holes and jeans without holes.

I applied for the Una Chapman Cox Sabbatical Leave Fellowship to have a chance to step back and do some thinking, to recharge. This is day two, and wow am I thrilled! I plan to study meetings for a year, working mostly from home or perhaps in a co-working space. (The home office cat is indifferent.)

Often when I tell people of this plan, they respond with, “you’re studying meetings voluntarily?” Most people love to hate meetings. Meetings are the common enemy of the workplace, along with Mondays and whoever left that salmon in the refrigerator three weeks ago.

I will observe meetings at State, in the federal government more widely, and in the private sector. I have some coursework on facilitation lined up, and I also plan to study a bit of interior design to think about meeting spaces. I’ll read and write — and write about what I read. Towards the end of my project, I will offer to meet with fifty people at the State Department to listen to how their meetings are going and offer some suggestions. I’ll also write a formal paper and a playful one inspired by Vladimir Propp’s Morphology of The Folktale — a morphology of meetings.

Meanwhile, I’ll be here on Medium to capture my thoughts along the way. Nothing too fancy — little hot pancakes of essays in the moment. I’ll also write up some conversations with notable experts on decision-making, meetings, and workspaces that I’ve got planned.

If you have a suggestion for me, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks so much.

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