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SWE Staff Finds Silver Lining While Sheltering In Place Pt. 6

Read our last part of our series featuring teams from the SWE HQ staff.
Swe Staff Finds Silver Linings While Sheltering In Place Pt. 1

Our Publications, Research and Archives team is last up highlighting what they are doing while sheltering and how they are working together while being physically apart.

Publications, Research and Archives Team on What They Are Doing During Sheltering In Place:


Anne Perusek // Director, Editorial and Publications

Swe Staff Finds Silver Lining While Sheltering In Place Pt. 6

Hello from Cleveland Heights! My workspace alternates between the dining room table and the adjacent sunroom. Both rooms have beautiful windows, and I am surrounded by plants and natural light, which I love. In normal times, I share the SWE editorial office with Carol. For us, working from home during the pandemic has not been a big adjustment in terms of relating to the rest of headquarters staff — virtual meetings and communications have been the norm anyway. The same is true of our relationships with the magazine writers and art director. But I do miss the ease of collaborating with Carol in person, weighing the merits of different headlines and word choices, and examining layouts and magazine pages together.

We just finished the spring issue of SWE Magazine and are preparing for our virtual meeting with the editorial board. At the same time that we are outlining plans for the fall issue, I am working with Troy on the material to celebrate SWE’s 70th anniversary, including an upcoming podcast, and more.

My husband is a high school teacher, so working from home has been a much bigger adjustment for him. The question we continually ask ourselves is how to create the most value and meaning from the situation at hand. It is so important to remain hopeful and positive. Be well!

Carol Polakowski // Senior Editor, SWE Magazine

Swe Staff Finds Silver Lining While Sheltering In Place Pt. 6

Greetings from the eastern suburbs of Cleveland! Here I am in our sunroom, one of several workspaces I’ve claimed throughout the house. Another month and the view out the windows will look much more inviting as the trees fill out, my perennials begin to bloom, and we replace the garden lights throughout the yard.

With so much work to do, I’m fortunate to have an office assistant — my handsome Maine Coon cat, Simon! There are no words to describe just how “helpful” he’s been, but I’m sure you can imagine. I might have to call the temp agency and complain. My plan was to share a photo of Simon doing his thing and “helping” me work, but, in remaining faithful to his feline oath, of COURSE, today was the day he lost all interest in my laptop and keyboard. When I picked him up to get a pic anyway, he made it clear he didn’t want any part of a photo op (sorry, Simon)!

The month of April was devoted almost exclusively to working with Anne on the spring issue of the magazine. I’m always impressed and proud of the content in the magazine, but with this issue, as I read each article once more during the final proofing stage, I found myself getting a bit emotional. With so much fear and negativity in the world, even in “normal” times, I stopped and really thought about all the good these remarkable women have done and continue to do. Their contributions are real and meaningful. And not just because it’s their jobs. Reading their stories and their own words, it’s clear each is dedicated to easing the suffering of people all over the world, in all walks of life, in both obvious and not-so-obvious ways. It was heartening to stop for a moment and reflect on it all.

On another note, being home during the pandemic has made me appreciate my neighborhood even more than usual. At almost any time of day, I look out the window and see people of all ages walking, running, or bicycling past. People wave and speak, whether you pass them on the sidewalk (keeping a safe distance, of course) or see them on the other side of the street — strangers and familiar faces alike. There’s a special camaraderie as we all navigate this “new normal” together. And, finally, I’m back to walking/running, which makes me VERY happy – AND keeps me from spending my spare time baking all sorts of chocolate goodies! OK, there are still a “few” goodies. : )

Please stay safe, stay well, and be hopeful!

Troy Eller English // Chief Archivist

Swe Staff Finds Silver Lining While Sheltering In Place Pt. 6

I have been sheltering in place for 45 days thus far. I know this because each day when I turn on my computer, it chides me for how long it has been since I last backed up my computer to the external hard drive sitting on my desk at work. This gives me no end of anxiety. Work for me is—or was—at the Reuther Library at Wayne State University in Detroit, where SWE’s archives are housed. It might seem unlikely that an archivist could keep busy at home when the hundreds of boxes of paper and photographs she cares for are not allowed to leave the library. However, I have stayed remarkably busy these past 45 days editing a backlog of oral history transcripts; tweeting SWE history; preparing for the next SWE Stories: Tales from the Archives podcast; planning future magazine content and archives programming; and answering reference requests from SWE staff and members, textbook publishers, and even a high school student writing a report on SWE. Between the archival records I had previously scanned, SWE’s post-2000 electronic records, my past research, and my general knowledge of SWE history, there’s actually quite a lot that I can answer.  So keep those questions coming! (But, if you find yourself boredom-cleaning your files at home, please don’t send me your old SWE stuff just yet—there’s no one in the building to accept the shipment.)

My coworkers at the moment are my husband (an engineer) and my nearly 5-year-old. She is very, very excited to have both of us at home and doesn’t quite yet understand that mom and dad can’t play all day. We tag-team childcare based on our respective deadlines and conference call schedules, and I have taken more than one call while sitting on my daughter’s slide in the backyard. Depending on my daughter’s whims, my other workspaces have included the couch, the dining table, the back porch, the front porch, my daughter’s bed, and the floor. There are stuffed animals, magnetic tiles, activity books, or puzzle pieces surrounding me. I’m thankful that she’s young enough that I don’t have to do e-learning with her. Our internet bandwidth couldn’t withstand it.

I miss having normal conversations with my SWE coworkers and making plans for the future that don’t have giant question marks on them. I miss my coworkers at the Reuther, although we have managed to re-create our eclectic and entertaining banter in conference call happy hours. I miss my office plants, which at this point have surely gone to the great planter in the sky. I miss the beet salad and pickled red onion rings at the pub across the street. I miss having meetings that didn’t begin or end with an accounting of who has family or acquaintances with COVID, and which stores are most likely to have flour or toilet paper in stock. Although I love her, I miss working without a child climbing on me during calls. I miss my boxes of SWE history.

But every day I try to look for the silver linings. My immediate and extended family are safe. I have more time to chat with my daughter about life, teach her about static electricity by sticking balloons to the wall, and talk about biology while encouraging the yeast in our sourdough starter to grow. I’ve been more diligent about keeping in touch with family and friends near and far, and we plan to continue our virtual meet-ups in the future. And, with all this time at home, I’ve made a marked improvement in bonding with the two skittish rescue cats I adopted the day after returning from WE19.

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