By Tyler Dunahee
It’s an interesting phenomenon, as the semester rolls on and the weeks fly by, my interest in the graduate design studio starts to fall as I look forward to jumping into my thesis project at the beginning of the spring semester. Staying focused on the task at hand can be hard to do at times, but not doing so can be dangerous as well. It’s an easy thing to do and can be done for a number of reasons. For example, many great sports teams have lost to lesser teams, many times because their next game was against a rival or another great team.
Anyway, preliminary thesis work progresses, posters to drum up interest in each of our topics, asking faculty members and professionals in our particular field of study to help further our learning and depth/quality of our thesis. For those of you who are not aware, I’m doing a revitalization project for my hometown of Centralia, Illinois (located about an hour north of Carbondale). Centralia is a pretty good representation of the typical southern Illinois town, close-knit, fairly sizable, surrounded by farmland on the cities outlying areas. In recent years, Centralia has been on a pretty steady decline, rising unemployment rates, declining population, and more and more vacancies in the downtown area.
When I decided that I wanted to a revitalization project for Centralia, I decided to share my project and gather ideas by posting in two Facebook groups, “Save Centralia” and “You Know You’re From Centralia When….”. These two groups have 2,591 and 3,825 members respectively, so I felt it was a good way to get my project out there as well as an open forum to gather ideas. What I gained was much more than I could have ever imagined. Three people, in particular, made an extra effort to offer their expertise, advice, and help. The first to reach out was a woman who serves on three boards for the City of Centralia, the Centralia Tourism Committee, Housing Task Force, and the Centralia Image Committee. Second, a small business owner who operates in the downtown area reached out, providing me with even more history of the immediate area as well as his vision of what the area could become. And last, a gentleman whose past titles include City Planning and Development Director for the City of Centralia as well as holding the same position in Carbondale over the course of 38 years in the two cities. He actually agreed to be on my thesis committee, and his insight in city planning and development as well as his knowledge of the city of Centralia will be instrumental in development of a great thesis.
My recommendation to those of you that are going to pursue a March, choose a thesis topic that you’re passionate about. You’re going to be working on it for nearly a year, do not choose something that you’re going to get burnt out on halfway through. It’ll spell disaster for thesis. Pick something early that you’re passionate about and keep yourself plugging along on it.