Wednesday, March 25, 2009

March 25, 2009

I had my rehearsal presentation yesterday. I was SO, so nervous beforehand. When I woke up yesterday morning, it was everything I could do not to absolutely freak out. As the day went on, I convinced myself that it couldn't be that bad -- I'm merely discussing the hard work that I've done over the course of this entire year. After all, this is not just a project for me - I've genuinely enjoyed working on it. Seeing the product is so rewarding, even when it's just printed out and not published. Before my presentation, I wrote down an outline that I wanted to follow to keep me on track if I found myself losing a train of thought. This helped me keep my cool, too. Walking through the entire presentation made me feel worlds more confident and excited about my final presentation. It was great getting genuine feedback from everyone that was there. They seemed impressed; that made me feel great. It's been hard for me to come to terms with the fact that my project isn't necessarily about the product - it's about the journey that I went through and the things that I got from the process. It was difficult yesterday to talk, talk, and talk about the book without having everyone looking through it -- even though I realize that they'd be distracted by the book. Maybe after my final presentation, there can be a ten minute or so period where people can look through the book. Some of the stories and peace commentaries that contributors sent are heart-wrenching; all of them are meaningful.
I found yesterday that at times, I was trying to stick to my outline too much. Rather than say "Now I'll discuss the process..." (even though that kept me on track), I'll just start talking about the process. When I talk about what I learned, it doesn't need to be cut and dry. I have to keep my personality and true feelings on the surface!

Here is how I plan for my presentation to go:

1. Introduction
- It was not easy for me to come to a decision about what I wanted to do. First, I thought about community service. Then I realized that I go to Honduras every summer and that while it's an incredible experience, it isn't something new for my senior exhibit. I decided it'd be a great idea to incorporate my graphic design skills that I've acquired through being an editor of the yearbook -- it's something that I not only enjoy, but am good at. I thought it'd be a great idea to compile all the family, handwritten cookbooks into one graphic masterpiece. I hit the ground running with the idea... but my excitement only lasted about a day or so. I wanted to do something that had a deeper meaning -- and that while a family cookbook would mean something to me, who else would it touch? Not many people. I wasn't "feeling" it as much anymore. I went to dinner the next night with my dad and stepmom (Jody from now on) and discussed my mini-dilemma. Jody got really excited and said she'd been wanting to create a cookbook full of recipes from people around the world, peace advocates around the world. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 and knows amazing people. It clicked. I knew this was right from then on out. We got really excited, took paper out at dinner and sketched ideas for names, possible contributors, and cover ideas.
- From then on out, I had a goal:
- for everyone who opened my cookbook, it would mean something.
- for my project to be more than a deadline looming in the back of my head.
- for this to be a joyous and enriching experience for me, and everyone who reads it.
- to be excited about my project and want to make it the absolute best it can be.
- to show people my age and of all ages that one person can make a difference. that it is the little things we do that will create a change. that we must start somewhere. that tiny footsteps like recycling will eventually provide great leaps.
- to inspire people the way I've been inspired by these amazing people.

I dedicate this book to : "all who work for peace int he belief that some day, all families will live in a peaceful world and be able to share their favorite meals with family fand friends."

2. Process
- First, Jody and I (we) came up with a list of possible contributors. We came up with about 80.
- We then developed an email to send out to all of these possible contributors, explaining who I am, what my project is, and what we are asking of them. We asked for people to send a recipe and "peace commentary."
- Jody sent the email and we waited for a response. They started trickling in around September 2008. As they came in, I created a Word Document for every person, did vague research on them, and formatted their recipe. I decided every recipe would be organized "Ingredients" and then "Method." I saved every word document by last name (Williams, Jody).
- People didn't send recipes all at once; we developed a deadline of January 1st. I got my last recipe in February. Some recipes were really hard to format because they'd be so vague and personal.
- Once I had them all, I started creating pages in Adobe InDesign. Incredibly long process, huge amount of trial & error. Once all pages were created and the book was finished in its entirety, I exported each document in InDesign as a pdf. I uploaded the PDFs to, a self-publishing website. I chose my options -- hard cover, glossy pages, etc. I now wait on its arrival.
- After my presentation, I will likely "re-vamp" the book, re-publish it on Lulu, and then sell it on Jody's website ( We will make it available to everyone who is interested via Lulu & . Many people are interested, and I'd like to give a few copies to the school, too.

3. Design
- Cover:
- We came up with some key ideals of a peaceful world : environmental justice, gender equality, conflict resolution, protection & promotion of human rights, right to shelter, right to food, disarmament, right to basic healthcare, peace education, freedom from want, sustainable development, community service, and stopping violence towards women.
- we thought it'd be awesome to have a huge bowl on the cover with these words flowing out of it --- i.e. a huge mixing bowl of peace. I started designing it, though, and it looked like a cookbook for 3rd-graders. I knew this wouldn't work.
- So, I went to the shelves and shelves of cookbooks that my mom has, looking for inspiration on the cover. I came across the oldie but goodie Joy of Cooking. I loved the way the Gold popped and the word "joy" was dominant. This was my inspiration. As you can see - my book looks nothing like this, but I loved the gold and the dominant word; so i decided gold and dominant PEACE. I decided I wanted a graphically modern look.
- I loved gold. I wanted it to POP. I thought a darker color would be best, but didn't want black. I chose navy.
- I incorporated these two colors - gold and navy - throughout the entire book. As you can see, each page has gold on the outside and navy blue headers.
- Pages:
- It was not easy to come up with a design for these pages. I initially had decided every contributor would have 2 pages. A picture of the contributor would be dominant and on the left page with their name and information about what they do. The facing page would be quote(s) from them and thier recipe. I realized this couldn't and wouldn't work for everyone, though, because some people gave two-line recipes and one-line (or no-line) commentary. Some people didn't have good pictures available.
- So, I compressed most of them into one page. I kept all the pages saved with Last name first, but everyone had one page and the facing page was blank.
- I then compined everyone, alphabetically, and ended up with 60 pages. Some people, like my dad, got two pages because they submitted multiple recipes.
- INCREDIBLY long process!!!!!!!!!
- I chose Garamond because it is simple, easy to read, and it's not Times New Roman.
- I chose Mistral, as you can see on the cover for all the words that would bring a peaceful world. I encorporated this font throughout the book -- the dedication, header for Table of Contents, header for About the Contributor.
- The sizes are relatively uniform throughout but it does slightly depend on the lengthyness of the recipe etc.

4. Table of Contents
- Above the Table of Contents, I wrote "a prelude to my project," where I discussed the importance of this project to me. This is what it reads:

To me, this is more than my senior exhibit. More than a project that I must have completed by a certain date; more than a deadline that is hanging over my head and swiftly approaching, and more than another assignment that brings me stress and frustration. This has been a joyful, fun, and rewarding experience for me. Not only have I seemingly gotten to know sixty amazing people from all over the world, but I’ve gained knowledge on worldly topics, global issues, and most importantly - I’ve become aware and a part of a quest towards something so precious as peace. I am honored to be a part of this cookbook, honored to have compiled and formatted each of these recipes; honored to have researched every person and their unique cause, and honored to now have such an insight to the purpose these amazing people have united. An incredible inspiration is best descriptive of my feelings towards the contributors and I so hope that this book can bring other ordinary people, like me, to realize that small acts can and will make a difference in our world. We must start somewhere. Time is of the essence, my friends.
So please, enjoy this cookbook. Enjoy the recipes. Enjoy the words of wisdom sprinkled throughout. And most importantly, be thankful for each person’s efforts towards a common and beautiful cause. Believe in the strides that we as united individuals have the capability of making.

The Table of Contents is alphabetical by last name of contributor - this shows the importance of the contributors, emphasis on them rather than only thier recipe. It also shows the reader straightfowardly who they can cook with!

4. Application
- I have not done my application yet, but my plan is to make an announcement and send a follow-up email about, broadly, what my project is and what it involves. I will ask who is interested. I will coordinate with a small group of students a trip over to the Middle School where we prepare a recipe as we discuss my project, peace, and specifically the contributor who's recipe we're making. My goal in my application is to show that one person really can make a difference. It is so vital that youth realize that they can make a difference and grow to make a difference. My goal is to have them realize how passionate these people in my cookbook are about what they do, and the importance of this when we grow up.

5. What I got out of this project:
- I learned about managing my time : I learned that if I was going to work on tihs, I needed to set aside huge amounts of time. I further learned (after yearbook) that creating and editing pages is incredibly time consuming.
- Trial & Error: Things are not going to work out first try, but this adds to the glory of the final product. My book looks virtually nothing like what we had invisioned at the start, but yet I am 100% satisfied and extatic about how it turned out.
- Working with people on a deadline: I had to wait for people to send me their recipes -- they are not at my beckon call, nor should they be. These people are busy with their own lives and will not drop everything for my school project. However, I had to set a deadline for them so that I could meet my deadline for the project.
- Graphically, I learned about encorporating a theme throughout an entire book and encorporating colors and fonts throughout without having it be overdone or repetitive. I learned about formatting pages to look similar but not boring.
- I learned about amazing people that devote their life to a common and beautiful cause.
- I learned the importance of being passionate about what you do. If you aren't passionate, where is the glory? Happiness does not come from money - it comes from accomplishment and satisfaction with what you do.
- I have developed a relationship with my step mom that one point, I thought I could never have. It has been such a special experience.
- It has been a great experience for me to work on FA's yearbook at the same time as this cookbook. I've bounced ideas back and forth, used common themes (i.e. the [brackets] and "s p a c i n g " that are in this year's yearbook). Using two different programs (InDesign and yearbookavenue online) is similar to reading two books at a time ... you learn new things and connect the two in all sorts of ways.
- It was also great working this project during the presidential campaign. I was pushed to care, pushed to want to have an influence on the election. This was the first time I've been able to vote, and I love that I had a part in it. These people have such strong minds and opinions, and they inevitably rubbed off on me. This is not to say they developed my opinion for me, but these people are in the middle of so many things -- they see the poverty, they see the hunger, they see the world. How lucky they are.
- Most of all, I have been inspired by my project. I am inspired to be a better person because of these people. I am inspired to be the best I can be, inspired to be happy, inspired to be thankful for what I have. Inspired to make a difference in this world just like these people have. Ispired to write great essays for college, and inspired to express my opinion confidently.
Inspired to believe that the small things I do -- such as being kind, not sweating the small stuff, donating a dollar towards Darfur at the supermarket rather than towards the latest about Britney, recycling ... I am inspired to be aware. Inspired to turn on the news and read the newspaper. We are in a world and time that is in desperate need of people who are aware and care about what is going on.

My mind has been opened, my horizons broadened and enriched. What a gift this project has been during such a key point in my life.


SCMorgan said...

You have already learned so much, Emily. This journey you've been on will stay with you forever. And clearly you've put the pieces together in this outline so others will know what you've accomplished, too. I enjoyed hearing about the process, even though I was pretty up to speed on it! You will be great.

J Clark Evans said...

I'm so proud of the work that you have done. You've said a couple of things here that really stand out for me: "After all, this is not just a project for me - I've genuinely enjoyed working on it." and "This has been a joyful, fun, and rewarding experience for me." I am glad that you got to experience this kind of learning, but not surprised at all that you put so much of yourself into every aspect of this.
Check out this photographer and his work called E. Pluribus Unum who also tries to celebrate the seemingly small efforts at making the world a better place. When you put it all together it really does make a powerful difference. Chris Jordan:

Susanne Nobles said...

Great idea about having time at the end to see the book. You are right -- they'd be distracted if you showed it to them right away [as an English teacher, I know this distraction :)]. And if you could have multiple copies, then more people would really get to see them. Maybe you can have them floating around during the question/answer time? Great stuff here, Emily.