Latest Article: ChildObesity180 recieves $7 million grant

Here’s my latest piece of writing for the Daily, about the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy! Enjoy! And put that cookie down.

Friedman School gets grant for obesity study

By Brionna Jimerson

Published: Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 05:02

The Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy has publicly launched ChildObesity180 after receiving a $6.9 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

With the receipt of a $6.9 million grant, the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy has publicly launched ChildObesity180, a multi−sector organization aimed at supporting research on and the implementation of childhood obesity prevention strategies.

The grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, an entity dedicated to financing health improvement−based initiatives, marks the public phase of the organization, which was initially conceived in 2009.

As discussed in University President Anthony Monaco’s recent email to the Tufts community, ChildObesity180 — hosted through the John Hancock Research Center on Physical Activity, Nutrition and Obesity Prevention — strives to reverse childhood obesity trends that spawned an epidemic that has tripled in size in the last 30 years.

It aims to achieve this goal through an approach that involves consulting with leaders in the fields of government, media, policy and community−based services.

ChildObesity180 co−Director Miriam Nelson explained the different phases of the initiative.

“We’ve tested the hypothesis that we could get the highest−level leadership of multiple sectors to come together and develop a plan,” Nelson said. “We did, and they remained engaged. The second activity is putting together a priority−setting framework, to drill down and decide what would be the most helpful strategies and initiatives. The third is developing those plans to take on a national level and get the funding to start implementing.”

The grant has moved the initiative forward into the public sphere.

“We were in what I’d call a three−year quiet phase as we were developing the idea, the concept and initial funding,” Nelson said.

Over the past three years, ChildObesity180 has developed partnerships with several organizations, including the Girl Scouts of the USA and the National 4−H Council, both of which have high−level representation, according to Nelson.

The project has also gathered leaders from the academic, government, food industry and private sectors, all committed to addressing and preventing childhood obesity. These include Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, President and CEO of National Public Radio Gary Knell and retired President and CEO of Kellogg Company A.D. David Mackay.

Nelson is also a professor at the Friedman School and the director and founder of the John Hancock Research Center. Vice Chair of the Board of the Trustees Peter Dolan (A ’78) and Friedman School Associate Professor Christina Economos join Nelson at the helm of ChildObesity180.

Economos led the acclaimed Shape Up Somerville initiative that served as a model for First Lady Michelle Obama’s nationwide childhood obesity prevention program. She is the vice−chair and director of the new program.

The three individuals started discussing the best way to tackle childhood obesity when Dolan, now serving as chair of the organization, approached Nelson about the subject.

“Peter came to me three years ago and said that he was so distraught with the childhood obesity epidemic that he wanted to see what kind of role he could play in making a difference,” Nelson said. “We helped him understand the whole epidemic and causes and solutions, and he was a very quick study. He is committed to this as a citizen. This is what he wants to do.”

She added that Dolan is not paid for his involvement with ChildObesity180.

“It’s a great testament that as a trustee he’s so committed to our work,” Nelson said.

After conducting research, Nelson said they agreed that the best solution was to develop a multi−sector leadership group to consider initiatives that would produce the highest impact on the reversal of childhood obesity trends.

ChildObesity180 on Tuesday is planning to launch its second initiative, “After School Acceleration Project,” according to Nelson.

Sandra Bolton, a Somerville resident and grandmother of a Girl Scout struggling with obesity, heard about ChildObesity180 and is encouraged by Girl Scouts of the USA’s participation in its “Healthy Kids Out of School” initiative.

The initiative focuses on extracurricular programs, encouraging the implementation of sustainable nutrition and physical activity principles.

“Hopefully there will be some ground−level implementation soon, but it’s worthwhile to know that the organization my daughter is a part of truly stands behind their commitment to community improvement,” Bolton told the Daily.

Brandon Ransom, who is studying food policy and applied nutrition at the Friedman School, is Economos’ mentee and works closely with her. He noted that a key goal of the organization is to work locally to develop a national model similar to Shape Up Somerville’s evolution.

“The work of ChildObesity180 is to make programs at a grassroots level that incorporate healthy living styles and nutrition; essentially, they’re trying to make it something that can be implemented nationwide,” he said.

With regard to the realities of child obesity, Nelson insists that there has been an improvement in the trends.

“There are many people working on this issue across the country,” she said. “I feel this [organization] will be a major player in this. Our primary goal is to use the latest research and evidence to inform work we do and prevent young children from becoming obese.” Both Nelson and Ransom emphasized that the program aims to prevent obesity, not treat it.

“At the Friedman School, the goal is eventually to focus on dealing with diseases before they occur,” Ransom said. “It’s more expensive to go to the hospital in an ambulance than it is to have a check−up.”

Latest Aticle: MBTA proposes cuts to faes and service

I wrote an article about the MBTA’s proposed cuts to fares and service. Kind of a big deal, especially when you attend college in a MAJOR COLLEGE CITY.

MBTA proposes service cuts, fare increases

By Brionna Jimerson

Published: Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, February 1, 2012 15:02

The 96 Bus, which runs between Davis and Medford Squares, may be on the chopping block.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) last month proposed a mix of fare increases and service reductions in an effort to close a projected $161 million fiscal year 2013 budget deficit.

Officials outlined two scenarios both involving fare increases and service reductions to varying degrees. This could include the discontinuation of the 96 bus route from Davis to Harvard Square that serves Tufts along Boston and College Avenues.

The first proposal would entail a Charlie Card fare increase from $1.25 to $1.75 for a bus ride and from $1.70 to $2.40 for the subway, according to an impact analysis released by the MBTA. In addition to this 43 percent fare increase, the proposal would also eliminate 60 bus routes that do not meet the MBTA’s cost per passenger standards.

The second option would raise fares by 35 percent but involve more service reductions, including the elimination of over 200 bus routes. The 96 bus route, in addition to the 80 and 90 buses which service the area surrounding the Tufts campus, would be among those cut routes.

Both options would eliminate all ferry routes and end commuter rail service after 10 p.m.

Despite these proposed changes, the MBTA will go ahead with its plans to extend the Green Line, including a proposed station near Tufts, according to Jonathan Davis, interim general manager of the MBTA. Davis emphasized on Wednesday at a public meeting in Salem that theses proposed changes are a “one-year solution.”

The meeting was one of a series that the MBTA has organized in the Boston area to seek feedback on the proposals in an effort to be more transparent. These meetings have drawn large and vocal crowds, with the former reaching an attendance of over 200 individuals.

A public meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Feb. 28 in the Somerville High School auditorium.

“They have already held a few meetings that have drawn large crowds,” Director of Community Relations Barbara Rubel told the Daily in an email. “Everyone is pleading with the T to keep their routes. Many people in Medford are very concerned about this.”

In a release issued by the MBTA, Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey expressed his belief that this collaborative process will produce a beneficial outcome.

“I am confident [that] with the public’s involvement in this process we can review the study, propose recommendations and together generate new revenue to continue the progress the MBTA has made in serving its customers,” Davey said in the statement.

Thomas Goodall, Medford resident and 96 bus driver, expressed his concern about the fact that the MBTA was willing to inconvenience commuters to save its budget.

“I pick up people daily who, if it weren’t for the 96 bus, would have no access to public transportation and then can’t get to work,” Goodall said. “I don’t even want to think about what would happen to my job, but I’ll have to consider that now.”

The service discontinuations could affect students, as well as faculty and staff, who commute from home.

Immacula Desroses, a Dining Services employee in Hodgdon Good-to-Go, occasionally takes the 96 bus to work and said that the service disruption would be an inconvenience.

“The 94 goes to Davis, but what of the people who need to go between? For other people, it’s not convenient for them,” she said, referencing other faculty and staff who regularly use the bus as an alternative to car transportation. “For me, like you, if you come from Davis to here, it’s fine on the 94, but other people are going further or to Harvard Square.”

Patricia Smith, a Tufts faculty member who takes the 96 bus, said that the route’s discontinuation would pose difficulties for surrounding communities.

“The 96 is a more streamlined version of the Davis Square T-stop, I think,” Smith said. “It serves the communities that enter Davis Square, Harvard Square and Kendall/MIT. It seems the MBTA is shooting itself in the foot with this potential fare increase and service reductions.”

Smith noted that the proposed cuts would greatly limit her daughter’s — a Brandeis student — access to Boston by eliminating several bus routes that traverse the Brandeis campus.

“I think MBTA officials underestimate the overall connectedness of the city and the dependence on public transit,” Smith said. “People choose where to live based on bus stops and T stops and, whichever way they slice it, there will be frustration on both sides.”

Purging for Spring 2012: don’t watch. It’ll just hurt more.

Spring cleaning, indeed. In the photo above, you’ll see copies of the Tufts Daily, all with articles I’ve written. They’ve amassed since my freshman fall, to over 200 copies of newspapers. 225 to be exact. You’re only seeing a portion of the mayhem. By the end of my purge, I was mid-calf-deep in papers (all recycled, of course. -_-) I typically save three copies of each Daily newspaper where one of my articles is featured (writers are so selfish, I know). In the beginning, I’d grab a STACK (and I mean STACK) of articles, and sign my signature on each copy before neatly packing them away in cardboard boxes. Yes, I’m becing completely serious. Somewhere along the way, the initial shock and Kool-Aid smile at seeing my name in print wore off, and I settled on saving digital PDF’s and links to all my pieces. I still grab at least 2 copies of each paper, for posterity, and also in the off-chance that one day the entire Tufts Daily archives of PDFs and copies of the paper are wiped from the face of the earth, and no one will ever believe I got my start at a college newspaper. Because, you know, it could happen.

Anyway, with the new semester, a new job, and the same ol’ dumpy room, I decided to do some spring cleaning! Papers from my Spanish 1 class, worksheets from Biological Anthropology, all of it went. I salvaged any papers (longer than 3 pages), all copies of tests, and my notebooks, though. I’m not ready to part with those.

Packrats of the world unite.

Latest article: Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Season Finale review

Every once in a while, my trashTV habit results in a show review for the Tufts Daily. By “trash TV”, I mean every episode of every season (except Miami–seriously, Bravo, WTH was THAT?) of any “Housewives” series Bravo throws at my face  offers up to me. Last time, it was the Atlanta Housewives. Up next: the 90210 ladies!

‘Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ concludes with all-too-real tragedy, leaving viewers wanting more  | 3 out of 5 stars

By Brionna Jimerson

Published: Sunday, January 29, 2012

Updated: Sunday, January 29, 2012 22:01

Every so often, a reality show reminds us that we’re all human regardless of the amount of plastic or toxins we have shoved into our bodies. This season of Bravo’s “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”, try as it may to wrap itself up neatly, still stung with very real tragedy, including a cast mate’s husband’s death and a drug and alcohol problem revisited.

Though it was a season finale, the looming sense of finality for the women seemed misplaced and pregnant with uncertainty, as Bravo is currently considering replacing several Housewife cast members.

Cast member Russell Armstrong’s August 2011 suicide took a backseat to the final episode, which chronicled the wedding of Lisa Vanderpump’s only daughter, Pandora, in the Vanderpump backyard.

But we’re not talking your typical backyard wedding with a barbecue pit, picnic tables and charmingly quaint mason jars full of lemonade — oh, no. Kevin “Chi-chi-chi” Lee, a seasoned Beverly Hills event planner, most likely took theVanderpumps to the cleaners to arrange an all-you-can-pink event complete with a massive tent on the tennis court and enough flowers tucked in nooks and crannies to incite a bee orgy. Hopefully they gave out Allegra in the guest gift bags.

The event has been in the making since early in the season, occupying much of Lisa’s plotline along with the opening of her latest restaurant venture, SUR Lounge.

Throughout the episode, Lisa buzzed around her massive mansion, commanding contractors and decorators and fretting obsessively.

All of the Housewives were reportedly invited to the Vanderpump wedding, but onetime friends of the housewives, Dana Wilkey and Brandi Glanville (not official Housewives, more hangers-on than anything else) were missing from the final episode, as were Taylor Armstrong and Kim Richards, the sister of cast member Kyle Richards.

For the past few episodes, since Kim began dragging her boyfriend Ken around, the cameras have hinted at a drug dependency issue with Kim, chronicling her increasingly tense relationship with Kyle and noting her slurred speech and questionably intense regimen of antidepressants and anxiety pills.

Glanville called Kim out in an episode for her disheveled appearance and strange behavior, labeling her a “druggie,” and eliciting strong reactions from Kyle in Kim’s defense. In December, Kim confirmed our suspicions by checking into a drug rehabilitation clinic and promptly dumping the sleazy Ken, whom she claimed had been emotionally and verbally abusive toward her.

And then there’s Kyle. The season finale didn’t see much of this Richards sister, for better or worse. Throughout the season, Kyle has found herself “in the middle of the drama” on countless occasions, all the while declaring to the world how much she “hates drama and confusion.” Maybe a change in social circle is in order?

Camille Grammer, freshly divorced and still in the thick of custody and financial battles with her (Hollywood and Broadway star) ex-husband, Kelsey Grammer, was painted by the show as decidedly silent on most issues, and appeared to be “along for the ride.”

It wasn’t until Taylor Armstrong denied the abuses of her husband (after telling each of the cast mates, on separate occasions, of the desperation of her situation) that Camille sprang to life.

Promptly thereafter, Russell reportedly threatened Camille via email with a lawsuit for speaking against him, and potentially endangering him. Cue Camille climbing back into her well-decorated shell. Camille successfully sidestepped much of the season’s drama by smiling sweetly with a closed mouth.

Camille’s number-one on the show, cast member Adrienne Maloof, of the Maloof Family fortune (including some random, shabby hotel in Las Vegas called The Palms — ever heard of it?), inserted her raspy-voiced self into countless conversations and confrontations at the end of the season, many of them having little or nothing to do with her. In the season finale, she danced the night away at Pandora’s wedding.

After nearly an hour spent accounting the celebration, the hustle and bustle died down. Bravo messily tried to wrap up the episode with what felt more like a series finale than a season finale: a girls’ day brunch featuring all of the housewives (sans Kim) as they delicately addressed the topics of Taylor’s husband’s recent suicide and Kim’s substance abuse.

Taylor had been absent from both the Vanderpump wedding and other group outings, and for good reason: the death of her husband rendered her a single parent to their young daughter.

After a season spent dissecting her crumbling relationship with her husband, Taylor announced she was leaving him shortly before his suicide.

For the first time ever, this  reality show felt “real” — Well, as real is it could possibly get— and you could see the heartbreak behind Taylor’s eyes.

However, with only three minutes of introspection at the end of the episode allotted for this interaction, it seems the episode would have been better served by being titled “The Real Wedding of a Beverly Hills Restauranteur’s Daughter.”

Live-blogging State of the Union Address

My first public foray into understanding national politics/ becoming more “politically aware”, for my own understanding and education. Let’s go. I’m prepping to watch The State of the Union with Tufts IPC (a group from Tisch Scholars/ Tisch College of Active Citizenship), and, with any luck, I won’t be that girl who doesn’t know the names of the cabinet members…because, y’know, that’d be a crime.

No, not that State of the Union...sheesh.

Pre-Speech Mingling:

8:55 pm: Mingling with old friends and new, discussing what would happen if the SOTU became a “Trapped in the Closet”-esque music video. We’re all in support.

9:05 pm: Expectations: a few blanket statements, some abstract….oh! OHSHIT! It’s STARTING!

9:10 pm: The pres is most DEFINITELY getting some tonight. Just so you know.

9:15: Ah, the G.I. Bill. Lovely. Too bad countless American heroes of color were excluded from reaping its benefits. #awshucks.

9:17: I wonder how awkward it is for Biden to appear enthused and engaged by the back of President Obama’s head. Just curious.

9:18: “In the last 25 months, businesses have created more than 3 million jobs.”  Standing-ovation worthy? Yes. Needs a standing ovation? No.

9:22: If I’d played the HuffPo drinking game, I think I’d be a smiiiiiiiiiiiiiiidge tipsy. Already.

9:24: Fact. John Kerry looks like…well…you see what he looks like. Speculation from IPC attendees:

  • He went to Detroit, with President Obama’s blessings. Then Toledo. Then Chicago. And just stood there, taking hits.

9:29: Sounds like President Obama has his academic and economic ducks in a row, especially regarding Community Colleges. “Time to turn our unemployment system into a re-employment system that puts people to work.”

9:33: …Student loans double in July?!?!?

9:42: The Twitter feed is blowing up and imploding on itself like a dying star of quips and soundbites. Fascinating! So far, I’m appreciating President Obama’s very realistic and natural way of speaking. It’s as though he understands the train of thought of his viewers, critics, and voters.

9:45: …”keeps her from selling her products all over the world.” “Her”. Appreciating the female pronoun drop!

9:56: Do we think Pres. Obama will mention Occupy/ OWS?

9:57: “If you’re earning a million dollars a year, you shouldn’t get special tax cuts and subsidies.” Whelp, there go my plans to marry up.

9:57: “98% of Americans make less than $200,000″…soooooooooooooclose. SOclose.

So....are we occupying, or....?

10:00: Somewhere in Washington, there’s’ a smart-ass intern prepping and researching for all these bills that are going to come across Pres. Obama’s desk tomorrow. Hump-day blues comin’ his way!

10:07: Let the church of D.C. power-players stand up, kneel, sit down, stand up, kneel, sit down, stand up, kneel, sit down. Clap in peace.

10:16 pm: ….and cut. I’ll update later tomorrow with my thoughts, once I process this event. For now, silence and contemplation. And some left-over pizza. Republican rebuttle?

Cruising the Political Ebb and Flow: Update

Since the beginning of the month, and with the onset of the presidential election perfectly solidified (for better or for worse), I vowed to become more politically aware and informed.

It’s an ordeal.

Go ahead. Google “2012 election”. And sift through the crap. Don’t wade too deep, you’ll find yourself entrenched. Promise. Wikipedia has been something of a God-send, and I’ve fact-checked/ double checked most of its claims.

I’ve told a select few with clear heads about my endeavor. Since going away to college, I’ve noticed my laxity in dissecting national news–I’m more concerned with state and local matters. Anyway, it’s been difficult. I think I picked the wrong week to try to follow politics, there’s been so much fluctuation and movement surrounding Presidential 2012.

I’ll keep updates on this journey coming along! Sorry for my absence, I’m still trying to figure out what is “journal-worthy” and what is “blog-worthy”. Work with me, people!



Allergic to Politics? Time to Stop Sipping on the Bicameral Syrup

Take the Red Pill. WARNING: nausea should be expected.

My internet homepage is The New York Times. In these wee hours, after checking my semester grades online (hint: winning), I clicked on the homepage link. I’ll be honest, I don’t usually read  the homepage unless I’m looking for something in particular, or have time like that–I look at the largest images, read its caption, and click off into the dark abyss of the interwebs (oh, hey there,

Tonight, well, this morning’s headline reads “Romney Wins Iowa Caucus by 8 Votes“.

FACT: I knew the Iowa Caucus was happening.

FACT: I can name all the GOP candidates, and I have a basic understanding of their political and social positions, etc.

FACT: I’m not very “political”, with respect to of parties,leaders, etc. on a national level. I prefer local political leaders to CNN-type talking heads.

FACT: This has to change. At 21 years of age, as an American Studies student, a writer and a participant in the political system, my self-induced naivety is officially no longer acceptable. I need to be informed, and carefully consume political media and messages, instead of regurgitating whatever the hot politcal columnist of the day has wittingly pieced together, with two parts snarkiness and one part informed and objective input.

Moral of the story: I’m in. Whose got next?!? Any more red pills left?!?

One of these is NOT NyQuil.

An Obligatory New Years Eve post.

2011 snuck up on us, just to slip by, there’s no denying it. But  for some reason, the new year didn’t seem to bring the revelry and cheer it usually denotes. It was my first New Year’s Eve as a “full fledged adult”–I turned 21 the day after Christmas–and I buried my 2012 woes in a mix of Malibu coconut rum (um…adult candy in a bottle) mixed with pineapple juice, and promptly fell asleep around 1:00 AM. Good times.

Happy birthday, 2012.

Anyway, I decided to forego traditional New Year’s Resolutions–much of what I would resolve to do, I’m presently working on (finding an internship, saving money, learning to manage my time better, becoming more prepared and a more confident speaker, etc). I spent the holiday in Oklahoma City with family, not in NYC watching the ball drop (all the way from the UWS. I think my view would have been blocked).

Most things are looking up for 2012.


  • Get published in The Boston Phoenix, and branch out my on-campus writing from only The Daily to other outlets–the Tufts Observer, The Traveler. Never hurts to branch out and gain practice writing long-form features!
  • AWESOME. BOMB. INTERNSHIP. Most likely in New York City. I’ll be in France until late-June, so I’m praying for a *paid* position that allows me to start then.
  • As a full editor at The Daily, I’ll be doing a lot of “hand-holding” with my assigned writers. I can’t wait to lead them on their first interviews, etc, and watch them take the reigns for themselves! Looking forward to being a proud journalist mama!

Let’s see what happens.


Give Credit Where Credit is Due: Brionna Does Finances. Hard.

UPDATE: 12/30/11: …I just closed out a chat window with an INCREDIBLY aggressive, yet well-informed bank chat assistant. I was thisclose to applying for a credit card I had NO intention of researching/ using, and in a fit of clarity (okay, self-induced panic), I X’d out of the chat, and exhaled.

Over-dramatic? Yes. Necessary? Methinks so.


For about a year now, I have been contemplating opening a credit card, establishing credit, etc. Then I always remember, I’m a full-time student with (only) $3,000 in student loans, no long-term employment, and I do psych studies on and off campus to make extra cash. Credit just isn’t in my near future. Or perhaps it is. So, this year’s end finds me scouring the internet for “Credit 101” books, articles, and glossaries, trying to educate myself on the in’s and out’s of credit cards and financial responsibility. My God. I understand. It’s tantalizing. Free money. Freee moooney…”you’re telling me I can buy AAAANNythiIiing?? *fall and drool*” And that’s where the trouble comes. It all seems so swell and fancy-free, until that APR becomes more than some double-digit percentage tacked on to an advertisement, and it’s real, it wants to be collected, and it WILL NOT BE IGNOOOOOOOOOORED.

That awkward moment when Glen Close, a la Fatal Attraction, is your debt collector. Answer on the first ring, k?

Anyway, I’m trying to understand my options, how to go about being a careful steward of money, and remember that all that glitters is not gold.

...y'hear that, Louboutin??

Pricele$$ Advice, courtesy of my research:

  •  “Your source of income can be a part-time job making just $300 a week, but the credit card company has to decide that your income is enough for the credit limit you’re given.” –
  • “If you’ve been responsible with a checking or savings account, you can try applying for a credit card at your bank.” –
  • Start out slowly. Make small charges on your credit card and pay the balance in full each month. The goal isn’t to use your credit card to buy things you don’t have the cash for, but to begin building a good credit history.

Anyone have any advice? Cautionary tales? I’ll keep ya’ll updated on this journey.

Workin’ hard for no money,


Christmas Morning Live-blogging.

8:24 am: Woke up about 10 minutes ago after much prodding, made my way downstairs to the Charlie Brown theme song. Good Morning, Jesus!

8:30 am: First gift of the season: a copy of Essence Magazine, Decor magazine, and Small Room Decorating. Winning. Leah “Santa” Keith-Clause knows me well.

8:31 am: KAHLUA CANDY!!!!!!!!!!!111 #alcoholischocolatey.

8:35 am: So funny. A mylar blanket. I always go on about how cold I am in their PA house, I suppose this is a way for the family to collectively gift me an excuse to never say I’m cold again. Thanks, Cohen fam. Thanks a lot.

8:38 am: Well, someone just got an iPad. And someone else just watched the quick demise of her relationship. I lost to a piece of Apple propaganda.

8:40 am: With at least 3 books/ mags about guns, it’s official, I’m a free agent. The boyfriend has no reason to leave the bathroom ever again. It’s been real.

9:00 am: Pièce de résistance: a burnt orange Coach bag, and a J Crew blazer= Wonderful. Exquisite. Classy, like the soon-to-be 21 year-old I am.

9:30 am: Breakfast of salmon and bagels, and the obligatory morning Cracked with A.C.

Christmas Eve News Programming: O’ Come, All Ye Slow Pitches…

I’m sitting in nowhere-ville, PA (Bucks County, actually), with my boyfriend and his family, enjoying a picturesque Christmas scene: a hearty fire 3 feet to my right, a gravity-defying Christmas tree with too many ornaments to count and lights that blink to Kanye West’s “Golddigger” at my left (I’m making up one of those descriptions. Maybe.), with the white noise of NBC’s Christmas Eve evening news broadcast, something saccharine about a family that creates its own costumes for annual holiday snaps, and the NORAD Santa tracking.

...and Siberia is like "whaaaah?"

The BF’s parents, both ex-news anchors and reporters in Dallas and the Southeast, muse about the “Christmas Eve shift” in the newsroom, and how the shittiest holiday stories we see every year always seem to make it to air, on a sweet baby-Jesus-laced slow pitch. As a sometime-journalist and critic of all things in black, white, and technicolor, I can’t decide how I fare on this topic–to pity the news producers and the less-than-hard hitting reporting on the eve of the birth of Jesus Christ, or to admonish them for “making” news instead of “finding” it. I feel that nights like Christmas eve are made for interns.

Yep. one of those nights.

Tomorrow I will be live-blogging my first Christmas away from my warm Midwestern confines–it seems like the best way to capture such a moment, agreed?  🙂 You decide whether or not I’m joking.

My Favorite New York Observer writings: judge gently.

Wow, I interned at The Observer a little over 4 months ago. Time flies. I remember my first day, I showed up in jeans and converse (my superior told me such a dress code was more than appropriate) and a nice top with a cheap blazer over it. Somewhere between my first day and my third week, I got the “swing of things” re the dress code. If only I’d caught on to the writing style that quickly!

First day assignment: “Vera Wang is using non-union workers. Here’s a phone number, an email address. Go.” About 2 hours later, I’d churned out my first blog post/ piece of writing, and I was hooked from there.

Link to my Observer page

My favorite articles!!

Brionna J: Research and Final Project thus far.

My final project in this class, as it exists now, is incredibly different from my originally planned trajectory. When we began, I had wedding fever. I still have wedding fever. And I wanted to burn from the inside out, in a blaze of cheap lace and fondant. Ok, that was dramatic and uninspired. Back to the point.


After talking with Amanda and classmates about my plans to have a “wedding-a-thon”, during which time I would plan several key elements of an ideal wedding day, all culminating in me “waiting for my groom” by the Charles river, I understood that such a plan is limited, and one dimension of a more complicated task I want to unpack: plans, aspiration, and a “fear of missing out”.


The next idea: creating a gallery of sorts, and displaying my own art, changing the pieces as individuals that fit different “demographics” come and go. In the final project, I will incorporate this gallery-esque quality in the presentation of the final project in class.


Last: interactions, or “touching the matrix” as I like to call it: not jus t ‘calling out’ our flaws, but direct action against them/ interacting with them, and forcing others to do the same. The majority of my project presentation will focus on how I planned interactions and interventions, and what happens afterward. They vary in range of “abstract” to “actual direct action”, from funny signs and posters and handbills that break up the monotony of our M-F 9-5 lives, to instances that send tremors to the core of the academic institution. You’ll see.


After much reconfiguring, I will still incorporate the wedding aspect, as a “mini-exhibit”, a study in art as process (planning as the art), through photographs. The development of my project has survived many phases of configuring and reconfiguring, only to settle uneasily on me, forcing myself to interact with a system, a network of strangers, in the name of interaction. Does that make sense?


To research my interactions and interventions, I have interviewed campus leaders, dancers, performers, and individuals who work for “grassroots organizations” and lobby in Davis Square for donations and education. These surveys and accounts of their lived experiences has been a credit to my understanding  these players in their individual spheres, and “doing them justice” through my planned interactions.


I’m excited to see what comes of it all!



    1. Adam Cohen “Living With Epilepsy” Research Fund for Young Adults
    2. Africana Studies Now
    3. Ask Me
    4. Save-a-Hipster Initiative
    5. Caution




    1. Guns for Toys for Kids for Guns
    2. Men-only and Women-only water fountains
    3. Men only and Women only restrooms (Tisch reading room restrooms are unisex)


Brionna J: Kugel-inspired canvas project

I wasn’t in class on the Tuesday when the artist Steffen Kugel skype’d into class, but, through my classmates, I believe I was able to capture the essence of his lecture and the goals of tracing the trajectory of our art process through creating and re-creating a piece.

The exercise was especially useful to me, as I have a habit of “growing attached” to a piece of art, or being afraid to change or reconstruct its elements. I’ve included photos that highlight the progression of the art, and little snippets about the development below.

Brionna J.: MFA Trip!

Photos from MFA trip

It inspired one of my proposals for final project, the creation of a social climate-controlled art gallery/ museum, where the exhibits/ permanent collection showing varies based on the demographics (gender, sexual orientation, class, etc.) of the viewer/ patron. Just an idea.

Inspring/ interesting art at MFA, in Linde Wing

Brionna J.: My Responses to Lily’s Questions

I thought my answers were really telling of my interests, so I decided to post my rationale on this blog. More for myself, to flesh it all out and get out of my own head, than for the class. Either way. This is an extension of my research file, so THERE! I know everyone likes pictures, so I’ve included pictures, just cuz.

  1.  List of things you dislike but do anyway
    1.   homework
    2. trying to “fix” Tufts
    3. giving money
    4. saving money
    5. sharing
    6. being empathetic
Summer in New York. Just cuz.

Routine habits you do but don’t know why you continue 

  1. Thinking about my future/ marriage
  2. being mean/ judgmental and superior moral attitude
  3. saying “I’m sorry” all the time, unnecessarily/ as a reflex
  4. spending a lot of money
  5. manipulation others emotionally
  6. sassyness
  7. eating copious amounts of food
  8. giving money
Who doesn’t want to be a member of the Cosby family??
Favorite Films and Books
  1. Mildred Pierce (1940s), film about striving, emotional manipulation, family struggle
  2. Armageddon, film about disaster, inspiration, responsibility, conferred dominance
  3. 500 Days of Summer, film about selfishness, domesticity, youth, privilege, fear
  4. All About Eve (1950s), film about striving, personal fulfillment, recognition
  5. The Holy Bible, book about…EVERYTHING! Love, fear, grace, reassurance, struggle
  6. Too Big to Fail, book about responsibility (or lack thereof), diffusion of responsibility
  7. Madame Bovary, book about striving, family relations, self fufillment, social norms, gender roles
pivotal scene from All About Eve
<–Clip from Mildred Pierce
500 Days of Summer; from Postsecret
Problems you see in the world around you
  1. incredibly disturbing levels of apathy/ diffusion of responsibility
  2. misguided and misdirected momentum
  3. general discontent and listlessness…
  4. too much money, not enough problems
This man knows what I'm talkin' about...
  • disconent
  • domesticity/ domestic spaces
  • striving/ aspiration
  • family struggle
  • dispellign rights and privileges
  • institutions of power (careers, home, family, etc)
  • over-stimulation
  • being
  • class jumping
  • emotioanl manipulation
  • make-your-own-life (a la Lorianne Simmons)

Brionna J.: Reflections on Pyramid Experiment

So, constructing the pyramid ignited in me a new appreciation and interest in controlled spaces and atmospheres.

At my high school, none of the windows opened/ we had air pumping throughout the building. I remember thinking that was rediculous–what happens if/ when a chemical spill in the chemistry lab circulates its fumes through the ducts?

Controlled spaces fascinate me. They remind me of heuristics:

” experience-based techniques for problem solving, learning, and discovery. Heuristic methods are used to speed up the process of finding a satisfactory solution, where an exhaustive search is impractical. Examples of this method include using a “rule of thumb”, educated guess, an intuitive judgment, or common sense.”

Think about it: what are the heuristics of an art gallery? You walk in, remain silent, perhaps tilt your head, stand pensively in front of a piece, and casually but noncomittally walk on to puruse the next piece. Why don’t we touch? Why is our first institnct to stand back? Why do we tell children not to touch?

The heuristics of our pyramids were fascinating to watch. People would come in, and wait expectantly, knowing that “something” was supposed to happen, that there was assuredly a task or experience awaiting them. I kind of wanted to remain silent during my audio experiment, and have the participants listen to the world around them, instead of my prerecorded and planned-out experience. I knew what I wanted them to feel, the same way a museum knows what it wants its patrons to see.

The experiment opened up the human senses as a potential mode of artistic exploration. Feeling, after all, is how we often know we are “alive”–it’s an affirmation of our personhood. We walk to class, so we know we are capable of independent movement. We prick our fingers, and thus remind ourselves of the percinian corpuscles and mechanoreceptors below our skin’s surface. We create art–houses, wood carvings, dinners–to remind ourselves that we are still capable of creation.

…right? no?

Brionna J.:Idle Hands Make for…AWESOME BUBBLE PYRAMIDS!

Here are (more) photos from the inflatable pyramid project.

While building the project, I was surprised at how accomplished I felt while taping, cutting, and fixing the structure together. It’s not every day that I do truly manual labor. There’s nothing like the feeling of seeing your own creations to fruition.

I was assigned the sense of sound for my atmosphere, so I created a mix track of audio clips from films (the main song from “Up”), audio clips of familar TV shows (The Hills, The Tudors), Youtube videos, and songs from 500 Days of Summer, all intertwined and playing at varying speeds and volumes. I told the participants to hone in on one particular sound/ sequence, and try to focus on it. I think they appreciated the challenge!

Brionna J.: Being Art as Process: Photos from last week with Sarah

Some shots of us being ‘art as process’, in my opinion. Sarah came and spoke with us on her work, and the sometimes delightful futility of being an artist. I realized that I sometimes hold prejudices against professional artists, and consider some of them to be wasteful, self-centered showcases of themselves. Not true. The same way that some may feel called to be a preacher, a doctor, or college admissions adviser, others are called to be artists, and live their craft.

Push gently, please
To the the...pillars?

I wonder what it feels like, to be so connected with your craft, so inescapably intimate. Office workers can punch out at 5pm, leave their briefcase in the car, and assume a life of leisure and casual perusal. Teachers can push aside mounds of papers, and play sodoku. But what release is their for the artist? What relief for those whose very bodies are testiments of their craft?

Take the stairs!

Am I strong enough to be an artist?

Enough of me. PHOTOS!

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