Get to know team member, Jason Bell in #sr4Questions.
1. What brought you to sr4?
My small business, Start Interaction, started providing sr4 with design and web development support. Over the years my involvement with sr4 projects and clients began to demand the majority of my time and so I worked with Chris to become a full-time member of the team. The dedication of the team, office culture, and project outlook all meshed well with what I was looking for in the next chapter of my career.
2. How do you contribute at sr4?
My primary work is in planning and executing websites that support the community and culture shift work that we do. This means on any given day I am coding a site, dealing with infrastructure needs, learning about a new effort, or even managing internal technology changes. So I wear many hats, but I think my real expertise is understanding cultural intersections and devising communication pathways through, around, or past obstacles to deliver something new and different.
3. Discuss a time when you had to experience something new and different.
One of my favorite new and different experiences that challenged my social, cultural, and dietary customs has to be the first meal I had living with a family in occupied Palestine. A fellow student and I were placed together in a home with a family that had lived in the United States for a few years before returning to their homeland. Our first evening in a small village outside of Ramallah, the family took us to a celebratory meal with their extended family.
In our honor they served mansaf—a traditional Arabic dish of meat cooked in fermented dried yogurt and served on a large platter of rice. On the menu that night was a choice goat that had been raised in the village. As a recently failed vegetarian I was ready to tackle new culinary delights, but goat was new to me. Beyond the novel delicacies, I was also unprepared for the social custom of meals where the men eat together and the remainder goes back to the kitchen for the women and children. While different, I wasn’t wholly unprepared for the cultural separation of the sexes.
While quickly suppressing my cultural discomfort and preparing myself for a first taste of goat meat, we took our seats—on the floor—and promptly strange men with gap toothed smiles started tossing choice bits of meat in my general direction. This custom required intervention by my homestay father to explain that chunks of meat were flying my direction as a sign of respect and welcome. So in my little Arabic I muttered a thousand thanks in between absorbing a new culture in the best way—with food! I always remember this moment and reflect on how immersion in something new and different forces us to rise and meet challenges rapidly, learning and growing in the moment.
4. What do you do for fun?
I’d like to say that I still pick up my guitar to create a wall of noise, but these days fun is mostly kicking a soccer ball or hitting baseballs with my son. I also enjoy a good long bike ride and have recently completed a labor of love restoring a small cottage built in the 1930s.