2/22/2016

From Minecraft to microfiche

For much of the last year, I've spent my free time playing Minecraft. I bought the game for my kids but found myself completely lost in the world. I've spent countless hours playing the game,  learning how to survive and build structures and explore a virtual world. 

But now, I've grown bored with it. Which means I have free time left over. That's meant I've been going to the Jefferson Madison Regional Library's reference section in the central branch to go back in time to update cvillepedia. 

It's a good trade of time, I'd say. I'm still spending as much in front of a computer but the virtual world I'm helping to recreate tells the story of Charlottesville and Albemarle County through historic articles from the Daily Progress

My main mission this year is to help understand the events of 1960 better. That's the year of the first major annexation of county lands by the city.  There was also an election and a referendum on public housing. The latter led to the urban renewal at Vinegar Hill, an event that left a big hole in the community and continues to lead to distrust as Charlottesville is in a new era of growth. 

I wasn't around back then. I'm around now and I hope to use some of my time to connect the pieces in a digital environment. I want the future to have a chance to see the stories of the past to understand how decisions were made then. There are tough ones to make in the future. 

I'm spending a lot of time on this. I'm drawn to it and want to make this my main hobby this year. Of course it's so related to my work, but my life is now about telling the stories of how this community gets planned. I have a front row seat to see whether whether and how Charlottesville becomes a slightly bigger city. 

So it's important to go back and see what happened in the past at a very different time that still seems familiar as I go through it. I'm reading about election announcements by candidates, retirements by Councilors, and getting a sense for who made the decisions back then 56 years ago. 

I'm also building out stubs for the people who were elected before then. People like Strother R. Hamm who lived from 1890 to 1970 and was mayor at one point. He owned a furniture store. That's important. It's important for me to know these things. 

I don't know what  happens next. I want to know what happened before. I've always been pulled back to the past. I've made my living reliving meetings so that I can write about them, constructing things that happened into narratives for others to read. 

I'm appreciating the chance to go a bit further back. I've also been spending time in 1998 and 1999. A researched in England wanted help finding information about a murder trial. That's not my thing but I have a ton of scans if anyone's interested in helping out. 

There are so many stories we have to tell. I hope that I can help others use tell them. 




2/12/2016

Five weeks until the Ten-Miler

I've done it again.

Completely forgot to start training for the Charlottesville Ten-Miler. I had been hoping I would have done so, but work has gotten in the way. 

At least, that's the story I'm going to tell myself. The reality might be different, and the future certainly needs to be.

I got an email this morning telling me that the race is 85 percent full and I should purchase my space now. 

I'm beginning to wonder if I should do it. Realistically I'm not going to suddenly flip a switch and become the person who takes time to run again. At some point I lost interest. 

But now it's five weeks away. And I'm going to have to make a decision.