This week I explored why fishing as an outdoor recreational sport is such a popular sport for not only men but families, and how it relates to or impacts Weldon (See post: Why Weldon Rockfish Capital of the World is a Fantastic Idea).
The week before I studied why women were more sustainable minded about our environment, than men. No matter what the subject is that I'm researching. I have discovered that the most effective method is to observe people in their environment where they feel most comfortable, whether it be in the privacy of their homes or outdoors raking leaves in their yards or Mayor Meacham welcoming residents at a town hall meeting. Unlike those who won't budge from their seats and despite those who are just following protocol.
There aren't many political figures who are willing to dress down to meet the needs of others consistently.
The Truth Dresses Down in many Ways
|Mayor Cleaning Up Downtown|
Whether she's wearing dusty backyard ragtag clothing that most women would not dare let themselves be caught seen in public, Meacham never beats around the bush to get the job done. She told me on several occasions that "I'm a last minute person, the world as we know it is changing, and if we don't change with it. We will be left behind. So, we use what we have, and we learn as we go" referring to teamwork of all the town commissioners and employees.
Also, self management requires an honest respect for others that makes sure that others feel comfortable at special town events, and more importantly the mayor makes it a point to have a equitable representation of community. She requested that I (a new resident) sit in for this picture as her pride and joy "Rocky" the Rockfish bearing NC State Symbol and symbolizing "dignity" was unveiled.
So, I’ve come to understand when a women has a low esteem she'll place the most extravagant perfumes in front of the less expensive ones. And overweight women on Facebook are more likely to put up pictures showing less of their body than women who exercise regularly.
We all take on many roles in our lives. For example, we behave differently with a friend's parents than we do with a friend.
However, when psychology and ethnography partner in gaining knowledge pertaining to human behavior. And as we learn to peel back the many human layers, I've come to see how even the smallest and most subtle signals and gestures can transform a personality. It seems that just carrying a clipboard has the power to make someone feel more important according to many studies on human behavior.
So being willing to be caught off guard without makeup or wearing our backyard ragtag clothing in public might help individuals to be more open and honest. This was indeed, my revelation after reflecting on Mayor Meachams' consistent behavior at special events, our fishing trip down the Roanoke River and her open and honest interaction with Randy Mills our guide and me.
Withstanding the confines of a gender dominated political environment which I must add, recent news reports and research studies show that women are still under constant attack by the more conservative political party. But, as I've stated before, Mayor Meacham's possesses the tenacity of a mama bear protecting her cubs, referring to Weldon's residents.
In her early election days, publicly she stated "I'm not intimidated by men" in reference to a news reporters' questions about running and winning the election against the former mayor who held his position for approximately 40 years. We discussed these things during our fishing trip.
As an ethnographer, I can only collect, document and evaluate information from what I observe of an individual and what they say, and do in reference to their understanding of reality, not mine. Ethnography uncovers not only what they say or do but why they do it.
We must look closely at the context surrounding the topic, paying close attention to human behavior from many angles by uncovering those opportunities that may otherwise be overlooked. For instance, a women who speaks highly of her husband and dad. Or a women who can stand among a room full of male dominant mayors, listen out of respect, and then jump in to share her opinion with dignity and grace.
Just returning home with a bunch of videos or photos about how a fishing trip is done in a particular culture is not ethnography. Good ethnography is a rigorous analysis and the ability to work collaboratively with local members of a community and businesses to create new ways of solving (some call problems) but I call challenges and opportunities to change from the "Status Quo" or this is the way that we have always done things here.
It is that very type of thinking and behavior that the outdated male dominated politicians role modeled for centuries. It's time for a change. Mayor Julia Meacham has the know how to Dress Down to the truth by being open and honest.