Although the suggestion of heading down to the The Liberal Cup after last night’s second team meeting in Hallowell was only half-serious, it would have been a fitting way to toast the work that the team has done thus far. (Not to mention quenching one’s thirst!) Having earlier played around with the thematic phrase “solid foundations, lasting legacies” to describe its MCHP work, the Hallowell team last night adopted a formal vision statement. What’s the team’s goal for this year? “To inquire [about], connect, collaborate [on], build, and communicate the stories that make Hallowell’s culture what it is today.”
Don’t you love those verbs? All strong and active, they resonate with the various activities of the MCHP in significant ways. But the end of the statement is as important as–if not more so–than the beginning. While history is a record of human activity in the past, it often fails to engage people if the record leaves out the impact on our contemporary lives. The Hallowell team’s vision statement clearly acknowledges this connection. Of the many topics they are considering focusing on–manufacturing and industry, medicine, historical homes, various disasters–all will be examined with an eye on the present as much as the past.
Later in the meeting, though, we spent a good deal of time with both eyes squarely trained on the past. Thanks to team leader Bob McIntire, the group collectively oohed and aahed over a slideshow of 50 or so previously scanned photographs and other historical items of relevance to the planned topics for the MCHP. Panoramic views of the cityscape along the river. “Oint-ease” medicine labels. Regal-looking Granite Works sculptures. Dr. Hubbard’s surgical instruments and circulation chart. All pretty cool stuff. If pictures are worth 1,000 words, Hallowell’s only problem will come during the editing-down stage!
Seriously, though, there’s so much great history in Hallowell–a little city that was big, big, BIG on innovation–that team members feel like parents choosing which of their children to feature and which to stick in the background. There’s no shortage of general history for the narrative and a veritable landslide of fine details for the exhibits. Team member Gerry Mahoney gleefully told me about a treasure-trove unearthed in the library basement from 1826–all the original writings, bound neatly in small boxes, from a group of Hallowell teens (though already apprenticed out and earning their keep) who held their own salon/debating society weekly for four years. Essays, poems, plays, arguments–all dutifully recorded expressions of the world as they saw it.
Team members will show-and-tell more about their plans at the community conversation event on September 28 at City Hall Auditorium, starting at 6:30 PM. After a general introduction to the project, the MMN demo by MHS staff, and an open conversation about community resources, team members plan to staff interactive learning stations where attendees can speak one-on-one with team members about specific parts of the project. For a community that’s long been interested in its heritage, it’s sure to be a good time.