Thursday, September 24, 2015

Archivist Janet Berggren's page, ADVENTURES IN THE ARCHIVES,
became my favorite page in the Island Observer.

Washington Island -

I attended a meeting of the Washington Island Archives last Tuesday afternoon (which by coincidence also happened to be my birthday).

Everything went smoothly and routinely initially, my first meeting as committee chair since Eric Greenfeldt resigned as our long-term chairman in May, due to personal obligations that take him away from the Island. (Eric stayed on as a committee member, however.)

But, as Janet Berggren concluded her Archivist's report, she looked quietly first at the table top, then at the ceiling lights, and drew a deep breath before announcing that she would retire at year's end.  

This was quite a shocker to those around the table, let me say!  (I have to admit it was "right up there" with the time I was elected American Legion Post Commander when attending my second meeting in 1975 (the other four or five men in attendance already had their turn and were waiting for new blood)... or the time I consented to take the role of Church Council President, only to have the minister resign a few months later, followed by the church furnace giving up a few months after that.   Unforgettable times, all.)  

We'll miss Janet when she leaves in late December.  She said she's looking "to carve out some 'retirement' time.  One can never stop learning, and I've learned that when it comes to Island history, the road is a seemingly endless path leading from one treasure to another."  I can't help but agree with her inclinations, and wish her nothing but the best.

Janet has great skills, including the talent to put together an outstanding, polished Archives page in the Observer, drawing us in with her humor and light mystery.  She'll be with us a few more months, and during that time we hope to select her replacement, someone who can benefit by working alongside Janet before she goes skiing, or whatever she has in mind!

On another note, the Island Archives lost a friend and a great volunteer in David Raup this summer, a man with tremendous career accomplishments in paleontology, yet someone most of us hardly knew because he was quiet and unassuming.  He kept the Archives computers humming by updating software and looking for suitable machines that still ran on his favored XP software.   Janet's remarks, delivered at Dave's Memorial Gathering on Saturday, Sep. 19, titled "Remembering Dave Raup," will be published in the next Island Observer issue.

Never static

Organizations are dynamic, always changing, and the Island Archives is no different.  It would be a mistake to believe Island events and committees run on auto pilot, seldom deviating from course, with little effort expended to keep the ship moving forward.

Established routines, understood job descriptions, and a history built around successful events helps, but in the end it is the plain, hard work of many members and participants that makes a success of Island events.   These highlights make a significant contribution to our "tourism summer":   the Birding Festival; Paddlefest; the Lions Club Fly-In Fishboil, and the Fair;  the Women's Club International Food Festival; Art In The Park at the ANC;   Scandinavian Dance Festival;  the Music Festival;  the Rec Run and Walk;  the American Legion Memorial Day Program and Fish Boils;  Death's Door BBQ;  the Friends of Rock Island picnic;  and the recently held Literary Festival.  I know I've forgotten many others, for which I apologize.

These are but the tip of the iceberg.  Lots of work goes into putting on these events, and I believe each one of those named above is sponsored by a non-profit organization and staffed by volunteers.  The cumulative effect is an Island that bustles with energy, ideas, creativity and promise.  It's captivating and contagious, and not just for first time visitors.   Residents often make up the bulk of the patronage at these events, both pitching in to help and enjoying the activity.

There's good reason we choose living here, beyond the beauty and awe of this natural world.   The closeness of a working community is a strong part of that reason.  There's nothing better than to be invested in your community, knowing that your work, using your hands and head, contributes to the overall economic and social well-being of the Island.

-  Dick Purinton    

No comments: