Friday, April 30, 2010

Meet Sarah Leer

Greeting my friends! Today’s blog post comes to you from St. Lucia and features none other than my friend, classmate, and collaborator on this project. Have you met Sarah Leer? If not, then you should! As it just so happens today marks Sarah’s 21st birthday. ; )

Sarah is a Taurus who enjoys long walks on the beach. No literally, she does! In fact here is picture from the other day where we discovered the beach is a mere 10 minutes from our St. Lucia abode.

Here are some other fun facts.
• Favorite color: currently yellow, though she also enjoys a nice good blue
• Favorite food: digestive crackers from England
• Favorite TV shows: Modern Family, Glee, Daily Show
• Favorite day of the week: Thursday
• Favorite quote: “The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” – Jack Kerouac
• Address: hello stalker?!? Creepy! (You have to pay good money for that info. Besides we don’t have a house number here in the Lucia. That doesn’t exist.)

When Sarah is not feverishly working on any number of public service projects – earlier this year she contributed to Newport, Arkansas's Art Center by creating a branding campaign – she spends her time winning bocce games. Read her musings, view her photos and watch her videos at

Happy Birthday, Sarah!!!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Climate Change makes me feel dirty

Upon moving into our humble abode in St. Lucia, Sarah and I discovered a bucket of water in our kitchen. The conversation went something like this…

Me: What’s that bucket of water for?

Sarah: Maybe we’re supposed to drink out of it.

Me: I’m not drinking out of a bucket of water.

Sarah: I don’t know.

Me: What if it’s a Boy Scout type of thing? Like in case there’s a fire we have a bucket of water.

So we discovered what the bucket of water was actually intended for yesterday when we woke up to find out we didn’t have any water. No drop of water to brush my teeth, wash my luxurious mane of brown hair, or drink from. Sadness. So I did use the bucket of water even though I had extremely resisted it the first night. But only to brush my teeth.

When our boss Alleyne (pronounced Aa-lin) picked us up for the conference this morning we told him there was no water in our house. He did have water, and I apologized for any foul odors my person might have made. Alleyne explained to us that the Caribbean just got out of the worst drought it has experienced ever. It was illegal for St. Lucians to even water their plants, and it's common for all areas of St. Lucia to periodically have water outages. When this happens people collect water in buckets and keep it in their kitchen.

During the workshop we learned a few interesting things about how climate change is affecting the Caribbean. In some places there is less rainfall, while in other places there is more rainfall. When a climate is accustomed to a certain amount of rainfall, changing this can cause drastic results. The Caribbean has experienced an increase in hotter days and hotter nights. What this allows for are more mosquitoes to be around. And since there are more mosquitoes, there are more cases of dengue and yellow fever. Crazy!

My Island – My Community is fortunate enough to have a resident climate change expert with us during the conference. Dale Rankine explained to us that right now the globe is experiencing a 2 degree Celsius increase in temperature. Because of this we see rainfall weather patterns change and mosquitoes crop up. However, if we see a 5 degree Celsius increase in temperature the sea levels will change and the Caribbean islands will be entirely under water!

Fortunately St. Lucia has received rainfall recently. Sarah even captured a video. Point your browser over to to check out this glorious amount of rainfall. Thank you mother earth for showering us with your lovely elixir of awesomeness!

So yeah… climate change makes me feel dirty. Literally and metaphorically. Luckily today we woke up with water and I only feel dirty in the metaphoric sense.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010 it Who Let the Dogs Out?

During the conference we were asked to do an exercise where we partnered with someone we didn't know. One person was asked to drum out a beat of a song they were thinking in their head, but no other humming or singing was allowed. The other person had to guess what the song was.

This was a great lesson in communication. Often we are so clear on what's in our own head but we have a difficult time conveying this outside of our own realm. Here's a video of the exercise with me and my partner, Tyrone. Can you guess the song?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

This blog is brought to you by the letters E and E.

My International Public Service Project (IPSP) kicked off with a conference yesterday! Eleven countries have gathered for the next two weeks in St. Lucia to talk about methodologies and best practices of entertainment education along with writing the radio scripts which will be aired over the next three years! This is an exciting time for the Caribbean, guys.

So what is entertainment education? Well, I’m glad you asked. In a nutshell entertainment education (EE) is anything that uses media to entertain as well as educate its audience on any number of social issues. It’s commonly seen in television and radio; think PBS. Sesame Street has done a great job of teaching children their numbers and letters for decades. But EE can do so much more than teach children language and mathematical skills. EE reaches into communities to make an entire population aware and curious about the state of affairs around them. Thus, EE makes a cultural impact for the listeners and viewers who consume it.

My project over the summer will be working with PCI-Media Impact as they collaborate with countries in the Caribbean to create and implement an EE radio program on climate change. During the conference, Media Impact Program Director Sean Southey gave a great overview of defining EE for the conference participants.
Highlights of the lecture were:
• An effective EE piece should be 80% entertainment and 20% education
• Knowledge + attitudes alone does not equal behavior change
• The goal of EE is to move a person from self efficacy to collective efficacy
• A narrative does a much better job at addressing complex social issues than billboards, PSA’s, and posters

While I was listening to the lecture on EE I began thinking about what EE pieces in my own life have made an impact on me. As a person who literally grew up on three great fundamental sectors of media: radio, television, and film – I had a lot to draw on from my memory bank.

Whether it was Beverly Hills 90210, reruns of the Mary Tyler Moore show or Full House -- each of the shows I watched in my formative years helped shape the behaviors and attitudes I had growing up. And if you have any great EE stories, please send them on in. I'd love to hear them.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Walkabout to St. Lucia

Have you ever gone on a walkabout? Do you even know what a walkabout is? Well my trusty interweb friend tells me it’s a typical rite of passage for aboriginal Australian men. For some it’s the passage from adolescence to manhood. For others it’s a spiritual journey. For John Locke on Lost it was a desired journey that was unfortunately denied because of his handicap.

But for me – my walkabout today was a nice trip down memory lane over these past 8 months since joining the Clinton School of Public Service. My walkabout… or flyabout… started in the Little Rock airport. I freaking love that airport! It might be outdated and a little weird looking, but hey it’s got free interwebs and it’s easy to maneuver through. (Added bonus is that they named one of their parking lots Peanut Lot!)

This leg of the trip was reminiscent of my journey from Austin to Little Rock almost a year ago. So much unknown, yet so much excitement ahead.

Then my walkabout took me to the Chicago O’Hare airport. Though initially I was confused as all getout, their layout makes no rhyme or reason to me, not to mention it’s as big as the Costco store in Idiocracy (Welcome to Costo. I love you!)... I was finally able to find my way to the next gate. As I was walking through there I was reminded of the end of my first semester at the Clinton School and when Little Debbie Snack (awesome trusted friend and classmate) and I journeyed by car up to the beloved city of Chicago just to see Andrew Bird play a few tunes in a church. It was awesome! We laughed. We froze. We ate pizza. We looked for hot chocolate everywhere. So in honor of that roadtrip, I took this picture for Little Debbie.

On my walkabout through Chicago O’Hare I was also reminded about the great Abe Lincoln and all he did as a public servant.

Then I moved on to the Miami airport. Or as I like to say it: Moons over My Hammy!!! Since I was literally in Miami just a week ago for CGI U I could not help but think of the entire road trip a few of my classmates and I had. We made hummus sandwiches in the van. Took Cosmo quizzes. And of course laid out our CGI U plans for the next year. I have to say it was an awesome experience of traveling 40 hours roundtrip together with some great friends.

And then I was in the air and how quickly the pace of life has slowed down. Customs and cultures are different… and here I am St. Lucia!!!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Outgrowing my studio apartment

So it appears I have outgrown my lovely studio apartment in the Quapaw District in Little Rock. Evidence below for those of you who don't believe me. I've just moved the last of my things before my trek across the U.S. tomorrow for St. Lucia.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Countdown has Begun

Welcome Back!!! Only 10 more assignments, 7 days, and 1 apartment move until SUMMER OF ST. LUCIA 2010. So to gear myself up for the big trip I've gathered some videos that are either about islands or remind me of islands.

First there's Weezer's Island in the Sun

And who could forget Kermit the Frog's version of Lime in the Coconut

Of course when I get there I hope I get the chance to ride a boat with T-Pain

And no island trip is complete without a little Beach Boys...

What are some of your favorite island songs?


I was lucky enough to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) over this past weekend in Miami. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the conference, CGI U invites students from universities across the world to make a commitment to a community in the spirit of creating social change. Certain projects are accepted and then these students are allowed to attend the conference where they network with other students, attend workshops, and hear words of advice from leading public servants.

The trip to Miami from Little Rock where the Clinton School of Public Service is located was a journey in itself! But luckily the soccer mom rental van my friends and I rented was fun and Sarah, Erin, Becca and Julie were great to travel across the US with.

My particular commitment was made with classmate, friend, and roommate Julie Meyer. We have committed to conduct a feasibility assessment which is looking into creating a coffee shop in downtown Little Rock. The goal of our coffee shop is twofold. We hope to contribute to the revitalization of downtown Little Rock whereby we have not only a place to buy coffee and tea, but a community space where neighbors, friends, and visitors alike can all hang out and converse with each other. Also, we plan on focusing on under-served youth in Little Rock who have told us informally that they don’t have anything to do here. We plan on employing these youth and also setting up mentorships with adult leaders in the community. A community that bridges adults and youth is a community that is healthier, happier and wiser. For it is the youth that will be our leaders and our elders who often have advice which is helpful.

Speaking of advice . . . President Clinton who presided over the events concluded the Saturday events with some words of wisdom. He said, “It should be a goal in any project to work yourself out of a job.” This was a good reminder as it reinforced many of the ideas the Clinton School of Public Service teaches us. Projects should be both sustainable and fit the needs of the community (rather than the organization). As I like to say it, Clinton’s words were worth the price of admission. It reminded all of us that our commitments and wherever we go in life . . . we are all intricately connected and that our work is bigger than our egos and ourselves.

To check out any of the speakers and events from CGI U, point your browser over to

The Pilot Blog

Pilots. I always enjoy watching the pilot episode of any new TV series. I get to meet new characters (hopefully ones that I like) and visit new places and lands. Of the pilot episodes that I’ve watched there are a few that stick out in my memory.

I remember the first time watching Dawson’s Creek. Little did I know it at the time but I would form a beautiful and unhealthy relationship with Joey Potter, Dawson Leery, and Pacey Witter. I was in my sophomore year of high school in a little town in East Texas and my high school best friend and I started watching DC together. We were immediately divided into two camps. She was totally into Dawson, the blonde, only child, emotional teenager that he is. On the other hand, I was rooting for Pacey, the handsomely cute, funny underachieving guy who sported a Julius Caesar haircut. I don’t want to spoil the show for you . . . but I’m pleased with how it all turned out.

Another particularly great pilot episode was the hilarious, clever first episode of Arrested Development. The Bluth family’s unbelievable trials and tribulations continue to entertain audiences years after the show ended. What’s up with the movie not being made? This particular pilot episode is one of my favorites which is weird to say actually, because pilots are usually so steeped in setting up the characters and world that they are often pretty boring. But right from the start we got to see Gob’s magician antics (or hidden secrets I guess), Lucille’s snarky comments to her daughter (The shirt looks better on him) and see the romantic tension between Maeby and George Michael. Awesome. All I’m saying is… there is money in the banana stand.

Last but definitely not least to highlight in over two decades of my history watching television is the very memorable pilot episode of Lost. This is important to note for several reasons. First, I began watching this series on a bet that I couldn’t finish seasons 1 – 5 by the time season 6 started last February. I owned that bet by the way! Two, I am completely and utterly addicted to this show and you should know this because if you are to walk with me on this web-log journey then you will read references to it often. I apologize in advance. And of course the episode was amazing and wonderful. One of the most expensive pilots in the history of ABC (somewhere between $10 and $14 million), the story of Lost begins when a “pilot” crashes a plane on a mysterious island in the middle of nowhere. We meet Jack... or rather his eyeball.... and then see him spring into action as he steps up and saves people from the wreckage. Hurley who assists Jack in all his needs for the rescue. Kate who helps Jack stitch up his wounds. The child Walt and his dog. And a slew of other characters who are both loveable and hateable faced with situations that make a viewer think existential things about life. Words cannot adequately describe the pilot episode or the show itself. I am consistently blown away and amazed by the show and what its creators cook up. If you haven’t seen it, go and watch it right now! No seriously… I’ll be waiting for you right here. It only takes 42 minutes and you’ll thank me afterwards. Trust me. The island isn’t done with you.

So I say all of this because in some small way I enjoy reading blogs like I enjoy watching TV. It’s fun, it’s episodic and when done right weaves a narrative together full of stories, people, locations and dreams. All too often though, pilots are very boring. Yawn . . .

As I don’t necessarily want to bore you, but tell you what’s going on. I will succinctly say my name is Judy Watts and I am a student at the Clinton School of Public Service. For the next 10 weeks I’ll be doing a service project with PCI—Media Impact to consult them on a radio show about Climate Change in St. Lucia.

Now that that’s out of the way… I promise you that I’m going to bring fun characters, stories and more action packed fun than any blog you’ve ever read before. And if I don’t… well then I’ll buy you an ice cream, because I always make good on my promises. I always win bets too. (Ok… well not always, but I like to think I do.)

So thanks for stopping by and reading! And please tune in for the next blog entry of No Woman is an Island, coming to a computer near you this summer. Dun dun dun.