Patiently waiting...and waiting...and waiting for responses.

Patiently waiting … and waiting … and waiting for responses. Photo taken by Mariah Barksdale.

There is definitely freedom that comes with letting go of something that just isn’t quite working. In the Reese News Lab, this has become a familiar feeling.

Last week, my teammates, Mariah Barksdale and Whitney Harris, and I decided to start from scratch. I was glad to see us get over a few days of confusion and questions like, “Where do we go from here?” and “What has our idea actually turned into?” When we asked ourselves what our idea had turned into, and we didn’t have an answer, it was time to move on.

Our idea had changed to a point of confusion, and I think we were all ready to see what other projects we could pursue. Luckily, we had another idea to fall back on, and due to it being a little late into the semester, we really had to hit the ground running with it. This past week, we have been doing just that.

How so?

Google Docs. Excessively long emails. ColLABorative lunches at Tru — yes, this is a thing and yes, we gave it an absurd name, and yes, I 100 percent recommend it. Knowing you may be taking time from a busy person’s schedule, even in a week, you could have a whole new idea. Not getting email responses from government officials. Not getting an email response from your own father — I know you are reading this, Dad. It is time to respond.

We have sent emails to government officials such as county commissioners, county managers and mayors, and now we are just waiting for feedback. We have also been talking to professors, and they have been helpful to the point that our idea has already evolved in just a week’s time.

I love when someone tells us they do not like something about our idea, or give us a way to expand on it. If this happens, embrace it. Professors are not afraid to criticize or offer suggestions. Three students cannot come up with the perfect idea — that’s what feedback is for. Hearing from our target audience and other experts about how government officials can best stay in touch with their constituents is the feedback that is most helpful.Our brainstorming has been productive as well — our empathy maps are overflowing with things a government officials thinks, hears, does and says. When I saw how full our empathy map for this idea was compared to the empathy map we made for our last idea, I knew we had made the right choice.

The difference between our old project and our new one is not only the amount of positive, understandable and productive feedback, but the optimism of the group. I was pretty scared of the thought of an idea failing, especially since we only have a semester, but our eagerness to go in a new direction was an indication that we made the right choice. I must say, something you once doubted could be the light at the end of a curvy and dimly-lit tunnel. I say that because a few weeks ago, when we had initially discussed this new idea, I was a skeptic. I think it’s okay to be skeptic, but I’m certainly glad to see this actually working.

And I’m more than pumped to see the entirety of the feedback.

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