CCCC is in its seventh decade as an organization. Through its history, its members quite literally built a scholarly discipline, professionalized the teaching of writing, and fought to ensure access and justice for students.
Today, CCCC members continue to expand and deepen understandings of rhetoric and writing; transform literacy teaching and learning and foster the conditions in which it occurs; and engage rhetoric and writing for a range of purposes, including advocacy, both inside and outside of the academy.
However, as a mature organization, we struggle with identity and the messiness and dissonance inherent in democratic endeavors, and we face an increasingly challenging, even hostile, external environment for the work we do. Our ability to sustain ourselves, both individually and collectively, requires purposeful cultivation, and that concept, cultivate, is the centerpiece of CCCC 2017. To cultivate is to enrich, nurture, enable, foster, and grow, all activities that this year’s convention is designed to facilitate.
A generative and re-generative concept, the theme cultivate is appropriate both to the productive region surrounding the CCCC 2017 convention site—Portland, Oregon—and to the actions necessary to develop the current and future generations of teachers, scholars, and leaders.
Late NCTE Executive Director Kent Williamson recognized that our organization—and its membership—must conscientiously create the conditions that ensure long-term vitality. He envisioned capacity building and collaboration as the way forward: mindfully developing and empowering members, who can use their capacity to act on behalf of themselves, their colleagues, and their students and, collectively, the organization and the profession at large. By cultivating member capacity, members can create change. It is labor-intensive yet rewarding work, enabling members and the organization to grow and flourish organically, from the inside out.
My goal for CCCC 2017 is to use the Convention as a space to cultivate members and member capacity for action. To achieve this involves re-envisioning the first “C” in CCCC, Conference, as more than an association of professionals, but a “meeting of minds,” and it involves engaging as a “conference,” as the etymology of conference suggests, coming together to discuss and work on shared interests and issues.
To that end, I would like to build upon the transformative work of my immediate predecessors to encourage innovative and interactive session proposals, to create space within the program for the less structured, grassroots exchanges among members, and to plan a convention that utilizes our time together to the fullest, from Wednesday’s pre-convention workshops through Saturday’s closing events.
While CCCC 2017 will maintain the traditional aspects of our Annual Convention—showcasing members’ scholarly and professional work, participating in meetings (SIGs, caucuses, and governance activities), networking and socializing—it will also include spaces that invite member engagement in capacity building, including the continuation of the Action Hub and “Dialog” sessions to promote organizational transparency, innovations of Chair Joyce Locke Carter.
Additionally, the 2017 Convention will feature two new highly interactive sessions that draw upon member expertise and interests: a series of “Cultivate” sessions, which are designed to build member capacity in particular ways, whether cultivating new voices in scholarship, preparing future faculty or future organizational leaders, developing our public voice, or sustaining ourselves as professionals; and a series of “Think Tank” sessions, which provide space during the Convention for members to work together on various professional and organizational issues and, later, share their work and offer recommendation or action items in a closing plenary. For these new “featured” sessions, which are not part of the regular peer review process, a later call for topics and potential facilitators will be issued in summer to invite member input and participation.
With you, I hope to make the Annual Convention more than an event; I would like it to become a space for conversation and activity which continue throughout the year.
The convention theme, then, is intended to be action- oriented. “Cultivate” should describe the overall convention experience, rather than prescribe the acceptable (and accepted) themes of proposals. I want “Cultivating Capacity, Creating Change” to promote the notion—and facilitate the activity—of a “Conference,” not to direct the members’ scholarly work, although sharing ideas and examples of intellectual and professional “cultivation” is welcome.
As we look ahead to our next gathering in Portland, Oregon, I invite us to consider how we can use our time together to cultivate ourselves, one another, CCCC, and the field.
- How do we cultivate new voices in the field and in the organization?
- How do we create broader understanding and appreciation of our disciplinary landscape?
- How do we develop future writing teachers, scholars, and leaders?
- How do we sustain and enrich our members in their varied interests throughout their careers?
- How do we, individually and collectively, cultivate our public voice?
- How do we build our capacity to take actions on issues important to our members?
- How do we conscientiously create the conditions for learning and for change?
- How can we build and maintain relationships, connections, and alliances?
- How can we foster openness, transparency, and consciousness in our membership and the organization at large?
What better place than Portland, the city that embodies the notion of environmental sustainability, to work together to find answers about how to sustain ourselves?
Situated at the confluence of two rivers, surrounded by the forested Cascade mountain range, at the top of the fertile Willamette Valley, Portland is a place of productivity and possibility. The Willamette Valley’s fertility is the result of both its geologic history—volcanic activity and Ice Age floods—and modern cultivation practices. Similarly, CCCC’s capacity for growth and change is built on the work of our predecessors and our own continual, mindful cultivation. I encourage us to use our time together, March 15–18, 2017, to tend to our Conference, so we continue to grow and thrive.
Yakima Valley Community College
2017 Program Chair