- From the Book & New Media Review Editor’s Desk by Jessica Shumake
Georgia College and State University
While attending a Saturday workshop at my university on how communities can build strong and sustainable relationships with universities that serve the public good, I heard a powerful ecological metaphor from a community leader who represents the Collins P. Lee Harrisburg Community Center and Garden. This community leader, from a high-need area in middle Georgia that was devastated economically with the loss of thousands of state jobs, articulated a method for sharing with her neighbors the lost art of growing one’s own food. Community Garden volunteers recently built raised beds for edible plants through a Knight Foundation Grant. The plan of action to share this development with the community included harvesting seedlings, planting them in Dixie cups, and going door to door to give residents a seedling and instructions on how to care for the plant. One resident, who recently contributed her talents to a large mural on the Harrisburg Center’s exterior walls, expressed that she believes inviting residents to cultivate garden plots is an ecological approach to community building.
Janine Morris’s keyword essay on ecology establishes the tone for the reviews in this issue by examining the ecological metaphors that frame community building efforts and literacy work. Morris’ essay further explores rhetorical models and networked views on literacy environments, digital technologies, and educational practices. In his review of After the Public Turn: Composition, Counterpublics, and the Citizen Bricoleur, Jason Luther examines the discursive resources of maker culture and how its DIY ethos can be applied to the composition classroom to offer students opportunities to make cultural interventions from resources that are ready at hand. In Cynthia Delaney’s review of Elaine B. Richardson’s How Education Saved My Life, it becomes apparent that for Richardson individuals are first and foremost individuals-in-communities. Delaney’s review articulates why an asset-based framework is required to gain a deeper understanding of the complex pathways Richardson navigated to earn her doctorate.
Anne-Marie Hall’s review of Del Otro Lado examines how Susan V. Meyers traces the relationship between social networks, migration, literacy, and economic status to investigate how literacy institutions can be deflected and accessed for the ends of self-preservation. Hall’s review foregrounds what Meyers terms the “rhetorical stance” that the rural Mexican community members she spent a year with had toward literacy. Community members were strategic in the ways they put into practice the aspects of [End Page 83] literacy education that worked for them and discarded the rest. Hall articulates that there is an urgent need for educators to become more responsive to students’ emerging, transnational, and diverse literacy practices. Educators’ responsiveness to multiple literacies is especially pressing given that educators themselves create literacy crises when they fail to “understand how the disconnect between the curriculum and the values it imparts do not address the communities’ real needs” or they undervalue the funds of knowledge students contribute to classrooms.
Jessica E. Slentz’s review of New Media Literacies and Participatory Cultures Across Borders articulates that popular culture on a global scale is this cohesive collection’s point of convergence. Slentz recommends the edited collection to community literacy practitioners and theorists as a “comprehensive resource on adolescent literacy practices online” and a nuanced exploration of the ways people co-construct identity and meaning through digital technologies and multimodal literacy practices. Angela Clark-Oates likewise recommends Jill McCracken’s Street Sex Worker’s Discourse: Realizing Material Change through Agential Choice for researchers and practitioners interested in rhetorical agency within communities that are differentially empowered and diminished by normative discourses, ideologies, and cultural practices. [End Page 84]