Finding community within the Technique

I have learned several things at the Technique. Working at the South’s Liveliest College Newspaper has taught me about inverted pyramids, how to contend with an email account that can get over a hundred emails a day and a nice little blurb for my resume. Those things are all swell, but it also gave me something more important that I had lost as a liberal arts graduate living on my own for the first time in my life: a sense of community. By community, I mean a sense of duty, belonging and significance. And those things have either helped me stay sane or go crazy enough to keep going.

The first time I felt a sense of community was in high school, when I was a member of a ballet company. I loved the experience so much that I started out as a dance major in college. I later walked away from it for two reasons. First, I got good enough at dance to realize I was not good enough to ‘make it’ as a dancer. Secondly, and more importantly, I had lost the incredible sense of inclusion I had with my company back home. For years, that dance studio had been my home, and my fellow dancers were my family. It was what drove my dancing. I got my sense of community back when I switched to English and met other aspiring, equally word-nutty writers. I lost it again in a profound way when I left my university, my wife, my friends and my home state when I came to Tech. I finally found that again at the paper.

I am not a group project apologist. When a class gives me the option to work alone, I usually take it. When I’m forced into a project, I usually respond by trying to play the cynic, the skeptic or the smartass. Even in the project studios I have sought out, I prefer to complete tasks by myself, and as a group leader I often have trouble delegating. I have been the guy who slows everybody else down. I have also been the guy who does all the work. And I have been the guy who could not care less about the assigned project, in the unsympathetic ‘company’ of other students who just want to turn something in, get a passing grade, and move on with their lives.

That last one is by far the worst, and working at the Technique has been the polar opposite. It has reminded me that collaboration can be inspiring, validating and fun. The editorial board might complain about the sleepless nights, occasional tedium of consensus meetings, and surprisingly difficult task of coming up with Hot or Nots, but the truth is, we all want to be here. We are proud of our paper, and we want you to be proud of it to, by association or participation. This is coming across as self-congratulatory, but I am hoping others will come out to our meetings on Tuesday because I honestly believe you will be pleasantly surprised by the experience. If you haven’t come to our meetings so far, you probably have your reasons. When I started as a contributing writer I didn’t expect to write every week. When I became a staff writer I didn’t expect to be an assistant editor. You can see where this is going.

My social life consists of the writers’ meetings on Tuesday nights and deadlines on Wednesdays. That may sound sad or pathetic, but really it is just weird, and that weirdness has made for some of the best memories I have had at Tech. It’s like living in a genuinely funny sitcom with scary-smart people. No, not like Big Bang Theory. I specified a funny sitcom for a reason. Think Community with Tech students.

Vijai is Jeff, our not-actually-reluctant leader. Alex—energetic, sport-savvy, and goofy—is our Troy. Chris—warm, hug-happy and oddly motherly at times—is Shirley, minus the semi-fanatic religiosity (and being a middle-aged black woman). Kamna is definitely Annie, the friendly cute one who squeaks as she is constantly picked on. While I wish I could declare myself our Abed, Avanti and Gaines lay stronger claims to the title with their frequent and often bizarre pop references. As the token old guy, I am probably the Pierce of the editorial board.

This metaphor misses a lot of people, though, and it sells short the ones I have singled-out. Really, it was just an excuse to poke more fun at them. What I want to get across is that we are a zany, diverse group that gets into genuine hijinks on a weekly basis. Save for the occasional party, the closest Tech comes to hijinks on are some scratched out or stolen T’s, and frankly, that depresses me. Our tagline probably sounds silly. It initially struck me as quaint, in the anachronistic, simple-minded sense of the word. But we really are lively, and it really is awesome.