We premiered Field Notes as a monthly newsletter nearly a year ago, as a way for us to share news (“notes”) from our world of children’s care (“the field”) with you. The name itself is straightforward, as is the content we share with you: Lameck wrote a new poem. Grace found immense joy in learning to cook. Kids in Honduras participate in a Bible program and play games. But what does “field notes” actually mean?
Field notes are considered critical to understanding phenomena in the field. They’re meant to “give meaning to and aid in understanding” the phenomena encountered.
But what “field” are we observing? And what is the phenomenon we’re seeking to understand?
We wrote on mundane miracles in last month’s newsletter and considered whether all the little pieces of life — the laundry, homework, family dinner — are more profoundly important than we could imagine. And if that is true, how even more true it is for people in places where those “little” things are not even guaranteed.
We like to think of a phenomenon as something that is sensational, rare or extraordinary. We’ll sit in an opera house and say the lead character sang “phenomenally well” (unless you hate opera).
But a phenomenon is simply this: an observable fact or event.
A piece of sandwich bread for breakfast. Being confused in math class. Taking cover under a shallow awning in a rainstorm. Don’t miss this. These devastatingly trivial events are not so. By the very definition — in all its sterile glory — these, too, are phenomena.
Field Notes is our monthly attempt at assessing the world around us and sharing whatever may be helpful and hopeful. It is good to step back and gain perspective in the work, especially when the work is so close to other people, and often is people. Not in an “us versus them” kind of way — but in the delicate kind of way in which we’re all connected. That’s the purpose of Field Notes – to connect us…and to jot it all down.
Written by Sarah Pryor, Creative Content Coordinator