Groundbreaking still-life with golden shovels and hard hats, SDSMT, April 2009
Sometime this spring, sooner than we thought a year ago, we will cut ribbons and ceremonially open the doors to our new paleontology repository building. This is a development 30 years in the making. If you're wondering why my posts lately are so spotty, well, it's a lot of work getting half a million items ready for the big move. It doesn't make for exciting writing, describing the myriad tasks required to get 125 years of collections and records in shape for 21st-century use. ("Dear Blogosphere: Wow! Another 200 data entries today!" That would not exactly bring you back to read anything else, would it?) The result, though, will be splendid. This may be the most important thing I have ever been asked to do, professionally, and it's humbling.
And if you're wondering why I think this is so important, please read my friend Chris Norris's blog today at http://paleocoll.blogspot.com/2010/02/cut-to-bone.html. It's hard to remember, in difficult times, how much we depend on saving the past and present for the future. That's what this work, and this blog, are all about--the threads, tracks and traces of the past that we hold in our hands today and pass on to the next generations, as they were passed on to us.
We are facing difficult times on all fronts, and sometimes sheer survival is hard enough--but I hope we can keep our grip on these fragile threads of memory and legacy. The smallest things, like old recipes, or tiny fossils, or brittle love notes from another century, connect us to past lives and past worlds in so many ways. We are processes rather than points in time.