Sunday, June 17, 2012

Two Jobs and a Day Off

MY supervisor in the Media Archive is leaving Friday, five days after I arrive. One of those days is my arrival, one is her departure, and one is Stop Day. That leaves only two days for training.

The Archivist takes me to the physical storage site for the Audio Archive. It's in a sort of balcony area above the gymnasium; the building, known as the "VC" or Village Center, is unheated in winter, and we approach across a daunting sheet of ice in a poorly drained entryway. The archive is two lengthy rows of stacked cardboard boxes, carefully labeled with batch numbers, filled with cassettes of lectures from the past several decades. There are also some CDs and some reel-to-reel recordings, but those have already been digitized. My project is cassettes from 1976.

We lug a couple of boxes up to the Media Archive office, a small room at one end of the attic of the building known as the Hotel. With electricity limited in winter months, this may be the only room in the entire village that is allowed to run a space heater. The Archivist shows me how to sort out the contents of the boxes for processing; her detailed systems are designed to provide consistency no matter how many people are working on the project at once. She dreams of pushing it forward quickly by taking on three or four full-time volunteers at once. But there are always more urgent matters demanding staff time, and due to housing limitations, the Media Archive project is always put on hold for the summer. At this rate, with one assistant working on it half-time spring through fall, plus the Archivist's work when she's in the village periodically, it will take years. So, don't worry about finishing a certain amount, I'm told. Just do as much as you can.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

New Vocabulary

Hol·den Vil·lage n.
1. a Lutheran retreat center located high in the Cascade range of central Washington, on the site of a former mining town. Established 1957. Isolated by steep mountains from automobile traffic, television, radio, and cell phone contact. Staffed year-round, with a summer population of several hundred and a winter population of about 50.
2. A community of people in transition.

In my first week at Holden Village, I learn a lot of new words. Many of these are snow-related:  Roofalanche.  Postholing.  Hoarfrost.

A roofalanche is a small avalanche off the roof of a building. All the structures here have steep roofs, to more easily shed the heavy layers of snow that accumulate on them every year.  "The word may sound funny," director Steph Carpenter warns us, "but it's no joke."  Roofalanches are typically sudden and involve massive quantities of snow and ice.  Paths carved and stomped in the snow guide us carefully around "roofalanche zones."

Monday, June 4, 2012

Finally, We Get to Holden Village

READER, I am no longer at Holden. I left a month ago today. I declared an intention to write about it while I was there, but there were, as I've mentioned, Distractions. And then I hoped to have ample time to catch up after leaving, but that hasn't really worked out as I intended either. And meanwhile building up, day after day, has been the accumulated weight of words unwritten, of space between today and the last time I posted, which makes it harder and harder to get back in the groove.  Blogger's block, if you will.

But I still really want to tell you about February and March and April, the three months I spent at Holden. So, for those who are still reading: this is how it began.