Will H. Moore had a kind of personality that is best described by the phrase: "down for whatever". For those that don't know, this is defined brilliantly by the "urban dictionary" below:
down for whatever
Ready and willing to participate in most any activity. If said by your homie it implies that he is ready to have a good time in any situation.
That was how Will and I interacted with one another. Sometimes, Will would set it off and I would be like "Let's do it!". Sometimes, I would set it off and Will would be like "how do we start?" Some of these efforts never got off the ground, but they were still fascinating to imagine. Some were partially successful and incredible to try. Some failed miserably but were fun to attempt. Some were more successful than we could have possibly imagined and these were just heavenly or the urban/funkier version of that (Mo' Betta Hevnly).
In my new series, I am going to explore Will, Willness (or, Mooreing) and my interaction with him. These adventures are useful to put out there because it is soothing to remember them now and because they not only tell us something about the type of human that he is but also the type of humans, situations and social science that he helped create - these were connected in his mind. Most of these are not on either of our vitaes - we just did them in an effort to start something, try something, create some resource for ourselves and others.
At its core, the adventures represent some bizarre mashup that is part buddy film, part travel story, part Mindwalk and part bromance set over 25 years. To help me tell these stories, I will use film, music, literature and perhaps a drawing or painting or two.
"Rather than again talk about what is wrong for the umpteenth time, why don't we try to figure out a way to fix what's broken?" Will said. Now, to be clear, the problem was not the MWPSA. We felt it was all conferences.
"To the bar brother Will.... To the bar" I added and off we went. There we sat for the next several hours in what was one of Will's mammoth sessions accompanied by wings and an occasional beverage.
I no longer have the napkins that I wrote down what we came up with that night but the list is below saved on my blackboard where I transcribed them later, under the title "Da Plan".
First, we concluded that many individuals went to conferences in order to interact with one another but we speculated that they were hindered by initial starting points (i.e., their institutional affiliations) as well as awkwardness/shyness. There had to be some way around this. Second, we thought that political science was limited by its exclusive attention to only political science. We thought that there needed to be some way that political scientists could meet non political scientists in a non-threatening, social setting from which other interactions could flow.
The answer was simple: let's have dinner (said with the energy of those old movies where they said "let's put on a show" which was !!! We figured that we would take advantage of having so many people in one place and put together dinners with folks that we thought should know one another as well as toss in some people from the host city that they definitely did not know but should (mostly from sociology but occasionally from economics or psychology). The invite looked like the following:
Christian Davenport/Will Moore and I (varying by the sender) would like to invite you to the Conflict Consortium's MPSA round of "Dinners of Contention, Coercion and Community" (hereafter Triple C or 3C). The Conflict Consortium endeavors to periodically bring together small groups of scholars in creative as well as interesting ways. We do so for the purposes of solidifying relationships in the field of subnational conflict. In addition to the gatherings we plan to hold at various conferences, the Triple C will be developing a list of best practices as well as most commonly utilized variables to assist in field development and to provide instructions for others in the fields of political science and sociology who wish to understand, use and create their own databases. This will fundamentally improve the current research in this area, lead to greater accumulation of findings in the future and provide guidance to those in as well as considering this area of research. The Consortium will also attempt to provide the framework within which data projects as well as scholars could be better coordinated with one another and courses taught on the subject at diverse venues around the globe.
You are invited to Consortium House (address and directions below) for the evening of
Whoever had the connection or was up sent the email.
We didn't just want to bring together political scientists who studied conflict/violence that did not know one another as well as other disciplines but we also wanted to make sure that we had representation of different ranks as well as genders. Early on we had to give up on racial/ethnic diversity because the numbers simply did not exist - a problem that persists to this day but that my project with Kathy Powers called "Pathways" was trying to fix.
As for the dinners, they were fabulous. They always started with some awkwardness. We went around and everyone introduced themselves. We ordered and then kind of laid out what we were trying to do. Things just kind of went from there. Some were clearly more successful than others. Some times we did not have enough diversity in terms of disciplines, ranks or genders but mostly we were able to pull it off. Dinner was always on us.
We are having aTriple C House at [insert meeting here]. What the heck is it? Instead of staying at the conference hotel CD/WM and I want to start renting a houses at the APSA, ISA and MPSA meetings and gather there somewhere between half a dozen to a dozen conflict researchers. The goal is to create informal opportunities to interact, and we plan to extend invitations with a junior (PhD student and faculty) skew, and generate interactions that aren't already baked in via Peace Science, etc. But the first task is to get this idea off of the ground.
You already know about the Triple C dinners. The folks living in the house will host these events (I plan to have one Fri and one Sat night at MPSA): we will invite others to come. And, of course, the dinner invitation will include hanging out afterward for drinks. Indeed, I plan to encourage the crew in the house to extend invitations to folks to drop by for a drink after dinner to whomever they wish.
What kind of a house are we talking about? A nice one! Here are the leading options for MPSA (assuming I can persuade critical mass). If you are game and have a preference, feel free to register said preference.
4 bedrooms: http://www.vrbo.com/311953
4 bedrooms: http://www.vrbo.com/153843
6 bedrooms: http://www.vrbo.com/373719
10 bedrooms: http://www.vrbo.com/59725
Food and drinks can be procured at Costco, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, or what have you. I will take the lead in addressing that.
So, what do you think? Are you game?
Will H. Moore
Again, the idea was great but the execution was a bit draining. Finding houses was not easy. Inviting people and trying to manage the appropriate balance of ranks, genders and disciplines became overly complex. Herding cats frequently came to mind as an image. The experience suggested to us that we were on to something however and folks seemed to be uniformly excited about the opportunity to meet others, share their work and trying to figure out how to create something that they wanted to participate in.
It was time to ramp it up.