Intern Spotlights: Week 2, Wrap-Up

Where are they now?

We are so proud of our past and present staff here at Superstition Review, and we’ve decided to celebrate the accomplishments of our past interns throughout the month of April. Each day, we will feature an intern on social media and share what they’re up to now. Then, at the end of each week, we will share a wrap-up post of all our featured interns from that week. So, without further ado…

1. Elijah Tubbs: Poetry Editor, Issue 16 (Fall 2015) and Issue 17 (Spring 2016)

April 9: Twitter and Facebook announcements, find Elijah on LinkedIn

Elijah TubbsMore details: Eli shares, “After editing poetry for SR issues 16 & 17 and graduating from ASU I went on to my current job as an on-line content coordinator for BPG Technologies/Designs. Sister companies that specializes in Fiber Optics, telecommunication, GIS mapping, construction and design. Being able to write in some facet as a career path is wonderful and SR gave me some really essential skill sets for that. More importantly, Trish and SR showed me how to run a literary magazine well and now with my girlfriend, we too run a literary magazine: ELKE “a little journal”.”

2. Erin Regan: Student Editor-in-Chief, Issue 13 (Spring 2014)

April 10: Twitter and Facebook announcements, find Erin on LinkedIn

Erin ReganMore details: Erin is currently a Digital Production Specialist at Make-A-Wish America, a nonprofit that serves children with critical illnesses. She shares, “Since serving as the student editor-in-chief of Superstition Review in 2014 and graduating from ASU, I’ve been managing the email marketing program and supporting other digital campaigns at Make-A-Wish. Every day I’m doing something a little different – whether it’s planning content for an upcoming campaign, writing copy, or designing an email – which gives me so many opportunities to use the skills I gained in school and at Superstition Review. Plus, I’m learning a lot about the nonprofit world and direct response marketing! It’s exciting being able to apply my experience in school and from internships to serve a unique mission.”

3. Cara Pencak: Advertising Coordinator, Issue 15 (Spring 2015)

April 11: Twitter and Facebook announcements, find Cara on LinkedIn

Cara PencakMore details: Cara is currently the editorial assistant at Phoenix New Times. She shares, “I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed writing until I started at ASU. My academic advisor had mentioned the internship with Superstition Review and I’m so glad I took the opportunity! The work I did with the magazine gave me a chance to explore what it takes to put together a publication—the ins and outs, so to speak. In my current role as the editorial assistant at Phoenix New Times, I find myself applying that knowledge daily and I’m really enjoying it! I’m also interested in medicine, which led me to pursue a career in speech-language pathology. I’m excited to start as a grad student this fall at U of A!”

4. Jessica Fletcher: Fiction Editor, Issue 16 (Fall 2015) and Student Editor-in-Chief, Issue 17 (Spring 2016)

April 12: Twitter and Facebook announcements, find Jessica on LinkedIn

Jessica FletcherMore details: Jessica is currently a Counseling Graduate Student and Director of Events in ASU’s Graduate Professional Student Association. She shares, “I am currently studying in the Master of Counseling program at ASU. In addition, I serve as Director of Events in the Graduate Professional Student Association. Using the nifty skills I learned in s[r] roles (SEC, fiction editor, and blogger), I plan social events for graduate students as well as lead advocacy projects for state prisons. Even though I am working in mental health, I continue to use literature and art to reach others. I am volunteering in Florence State Prison as a creative writing teacher and I am also a fiction editor for Iron City Magazine, which is a print and online journal devoted entirely to writing and art from the prison world. The best part — I get to use all my experience to make a difference in the community and touch the lives of others.”

5. Michael Wise: Content Coordinator, Issue 14 (Fall 2014) and Social Networker, Issue 15 (Spring 2015)

April 13: Twitter and Facebook announcements, find Michael on LinkedIn

Michael WiseMore details: Michael Wise is a testing technician in the enrollment services at Chandler-Gilbert Community College. He shares, “I used to be one of the content coordinators for Superstition Review, and it was such a fun and invaluable experience! The work I did there helped me get through my BA of English at ASU and to land a job at Chandler-Gilbert Community College. My job is pretty straight-forward, I am the person who students dread seeing because I’m the one who hands out their midterms and finals. I decided to try and soften my image a bit and not be solely associated with stressful exams by becoming more engaged on campus. I am a club advisor for the Male Empowerment Network (M.E.N.) where I work with male minority students to help them complete their degrees and/or transfer onto a university. As the adviser I have utilized my work experience and writing background to hold scholarship writing and resume building workshops. I am also a member of CGCC’s Creative Writing & Arts Council where we are working to build a larger and stronger community of artists and writers on campus. As for my writing, I have been working on a few short stories to get accepted into a creative writing MFA program and for eventual publication.”

6. Megan Kizer: Social Networker, Issue 14 (Fall 2014)

April 14: Twitter and Facebook announcements, find Megan on LinkedIn

Megan KizerMore details: Megan currently works at a global integrated marketing agency called PMX Agency as their very first in-house SEO Content Writer. She shares, “This essentially means that I have the fun opportunity to write page optimization copy, net-new copy, blog posts, and eBooks for leading clients across several industries. Along with actively contributing to my own company’s blog, I’m also beginning to take on more of an editorial role as our team expands. Overall, my job is to tell the client’s story in a way their customers will understand and appreciate, whether that means cranking out retail-specific verbiage, explaining the careful behind-the-scenes details of a national cleaning company, or even helping adults find a college program that they’re passionate about. I love that I get to wear a different hat every day and practice my writing skills in vastly diverse fields. My absolute favorite part of my job is to go onto a major client’s website or blog and think, ‘Hey! I wrote that!’ I also love that I’m able to communicate with coworkers across the nation to implement new ideas and processes that will help move our company forward. We’re all about improving ourselves, our teams, and our company, and it’s truly an incredible experience to feel that support in my career. I’m so grateful to sit across such intelligent people and learn about everything it takes to build a brand and keep it growing, from content to social media to email marketing, and everything in between!”

7. Amanda Strusienski: Social Networker, Issue 11 (Spring 2013)

April 15: Twitter and Facebook announcements, find Amanda on LinkedIn

Amanda StrusienskiMore details: Amanda is currently a Curriculum Coordinator for University of Phoenix. She shares, “Since graduating from ASU in 2013 with my BA in English I have found my passion in education. My first career job was a school librarian where I instructed grades K-6th. That was an amazing experience where I had the opportunity to impact student lives, and hopefully give them a deeper understanding of literature. Presently, I am entering my third year with the University of Phoenix as a Curriculum Coordinator for the College of Education. I like to say my job is 2% administration and 98% all other duties as assigned. I get the opportunity to research, support, design, and revise college courses and programs for adult learners. It is a challenging and rewarding position.  I love knowing that I’m part of a process that helps adult learners find new careers or seek advancement in their field. I am also two classes away from completing my masters in Adult Education and Training. My hope is to move into a career as an instructional designer for higher education programs or work as a facilitator for adult education (maybe even both).”

Thank you so much to these interns for their service with us; you are all doing such amazing things, and we’re so proud!

Guest Post, Erin Regan: Edgar Cardenas Interview: One Hundred Little Dramas

Edgar CardenasInterview Editor Erin Regan recently had the opportunity to interview Edgar Cardenas, a photographer and Ph.D. candidate in the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University who integrates art and science in his work. His photography, taken from a collection titled “One Hundred Little Dramas,” which explores his own backyard as a natural place, was published in the 12th issue of Superstition Review.

Erin Regan: On your website you included a statement about the project that’s peppered with quotes by Aldo Leopold. What has your relationship with Leopold’s work been like?

Edgar Cardenas: I grew up close to Madison, Wisconsin but I didn’t know who Leopold was until I started my Ph.D. in Sustainability. I started, like most do, with Sand County Almanac which struck home. I related to his musings of being out in the woods and close to farm life.

In Sand County Almanac, Leopold makes clear his intent to integrate aesthetics, ethics, and ecology; I had and continue to have similar sentiments regarding the integration of art and sustainability science. I think he was using the terminology of ecology but his interest was the overall health of the community, which included humans. Many would identify his sentiment with a “strong sustainability,” one focused on ecological integrity that places humans in the system, not above it.

This initial introduction to his work led me to read more of his essays and biographies as well. He was a pragmatist, his attempt to unite aesthetics, ethics, and ecology were based on an understanding that holism is the way forward. He pushed against the reductionist methods of understanding the world and realized they were insufficient for understanding, not only the ecological system but our place in that system. He also pushed against preservationist or conservationist ideologies, there was nature to be found just as easily in the city as there was in the wilderness, it was a matter of looking curiously at the world and understanding how things connected to each other.

His essays weren’t the impetus for beginning the backyard project but they definitely kept me company as the project unfolded. They became ways of understanding and exploring the backyard. I would, often times, say to myself, “If Leopold was in my backyard what would he say? What questions would he ask? What would excite him? What might confuse him?” Sometimes I would make changes to the backyard or begin to get a little controlling about how I wanted things. Playing out his presence in the space helped reset my intentions and I could go back to openly observing and discovering. This openness to discovery was critical because the backyard is a small space, I worked on it for 3+ years, so you have to find new ways to look at it continuously. Leopold was one of the influences in exploring and eventually framing what the edited work would look like.

ER: I love how your work reclaims backyards as wild spaces. Would you describe the process of discovering your own backyard as a wild place?

EC: As my artist statement mentions, my backyard was a very undesirable space. Growing up in the midwest and then moving to the northeast, I was unfamiliar with the desert’s ecological pulses. The backyard looked dead when I left for a 10-day project in the Czech Republic. It rained practically the entire time I was away, so I returned to a very different, and green, backyard. The realization that the desert was alive, just waiting for water, started me photographing. I wanted the starting point to also have an ecological connection.

I was also grappling with what sustainability meant at the time. We often think about sustainability in a large and abstracted human-environment interaction manner and in a simple, “we should recycle and compost” manner. I was interested in the inbetween space, what “personal sustainability” looked like and what it meant to be engaged in it, not just studying it; the backyard felt like a good start.

I was also interested in what someone with very little money could do; most of our current sustainability solutions seem to require significant capital investment. I collected wood that was thrown out to build my planter boxes. I also collected food waste from the School of Sustainability and sustainability students to keep my compost going. Tree services would drop off chipped wood in the frontyard and I would take it to the back one wheelbarrow at a time. I would dig up seedlings in the frontyard and replant them in the back. I collected seeds from several places for planting in the backyard as well. My intention was not to restore the backyard to some previous desert site but be ecologically minded in its design. Humans and animals engineer the environment regularly so I was aware that I wasn’t returning it to a former “wild space.” I was becoming mindful of how I would use the space. That meant compost for nutrient-cycling, planter boxes for food, as well as drought-tolerant trees and plants that provided food, shelter, and a habitat for the small critters that shared the space with us. I wanted to bring the biological diversity up to a maintainable level, which also meant being mindful of the water usage, and nutrients. By the end, I was supplementing the plants exclusively off the compost I was making.

That process really got the “discovering” going; I learned a great deal about my relationship to the space as I worked in it and changed it. The process really became a ritual of stepping out into the backyard with the camera and looking, exploring, and engaging. The most important realization, to me, was that personal experience connects you to the land. I was learning to see ecological principles at play, but I was also growing to care about the ecological health of the space, from the compost, to the insects, to the lizards, to the birds; they mattered to me.

ER: Animals and insects are very much present but sometimes hidden in your photos, which seems to mirror our relationship with animals. What was it like searching for those creatures in your yard? Did invisible things become visible to you in the process?

EC: I think the natural assumption for most people is that not much is going on in the backyard. I was fascinated by the fact that the more time I spent in the space the more I saw; it wasn’t just things, it was processes as well. I knew when the house sparrows were mating and when to be looking out for fallen nestlings; we took several to a bird rescue. I knew where lizards were laying eggs in the yard and would be conscious to stay clear of the space so that I didn’t step on their eggs.

My “seeing” developed, I learned what to look for. Often times I was on my hands and knees looking or standing in my plants. I would go out at different times of day, so much happens just before the sun rises, so often times I would be outside waiting in the dark so as not to miss anything. To me the whole thing is resonant in the quote by Proust, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” I had to learn to see in new ways. That has transferred to how I see the desert when I go out too.

ER: In addition to being a photographer, you are earning your PhD in sustainability. Would you explain how these pursuits intersect in your life and work?

EC: I find that the separating of the arts and sciences has done both of them a disservice. They are both fantastic and divergent ways of knowing the world. When I began the program my intention was to find ways to unite the two. I wanted to bridge the knowledge that is acquired in the sciences with the humanistic interrogations the arts bring to the dilemmas sustainability discourse is engaged in. In many ways, I’m picking up Leopold’s challenge to integrate ecology, ethics, and aesthetics for a holism that is necessary in sustainability. That holism needs rigor though. Herbert Simon states, “If we are to learn our social science from novelists, then the novelists have to get it right. The scientific content must be valid.” We are now in a space where, not only does the science need to be valid, the art must be salient as well. I take both endeavours seriously. For me, art and science are a discourse; my scientific learning helps push my art forward, usually by introducing new questions that I have to grapple with. Then I will make art and that process helps me reflect on the scientific questions I’m asking and how I feel about those questions. I can’t see myself doing one without the other; it would stunt my intellectual growth and creativity.

ER: Since completing “One Hundred Little Dramas,” what does your personal brand of sustainability look like?

EC: It has further grounded me in some of the ideas I had regarding sustainability. I find ecological literacy to be a critical component of understanding how we are in the world. I often felt that I had to somehow prove that art belonged in sustainability discourse. I think I’m beyond having to prove it. Now I am working towards what to interrogate with this way of knowing; it’s so powerful and underutilized right now.  One of the big pushes for the project was exploring what an “ethic” looked like. This isn’t about judging people and classifying their actions as sustainable or unsustainable, but of understanding how an ethic develops. Leopold’s work resonates in a significant way for me. Through an ecological and aesthetic development of the backyard project I simultaneously began to understand how and why I cared about a space like the backyard. We go out to the wilderness to see nature and vistas, but the most intimate natural experience I found was the one in my backyard.

The most significant change however was understanding the importance of empathy. We speak a lot about human/environment interactions in sustainability but not about human/environment relationships. I think our relationship, how we care about the world is critical. I also feel we shy away from this idea because it sounds so unscientific and subjective; it’s hard to scale up empathy in a systematically controlled fashion. Nonetheless, if we are to be sustainable we actually have to care about a place. We need to have an intimate relationship with that place, get to know it like you would a friend. That means you can visit it regularly, see it change, know its hidden secrets. You can’t do this with vacation places but backyards are wonderful for this; you take care of them and they take care of you. There was a sense of loss when I moved. I think that’s a very powerful motivator for being more sustainable, having an emotional connection to a natural place.