In April 2010, the College launched a plan for an Eco-Village, a plan that would replace the W&M Lodges with sustainable, eco-friendly housing by 2015. The Lodges, currently serving as student housing and a coffee shop near the Sadler Center, were built in the 1940s.
Although much attention for this project is being placed on the future, our project looks into the past to document – before they are torn down – the existing Lodges and the experiences of the people who lived in them.
We hope to approach this project in an interdisciplinary way. We want to look at the relationship between the architecture and ideas of community; the importance of place; how history, memory, and culture intersect; how the Lodges represent a living/learning environment located within broader social contexts and trends. Since we are still brainstorming, we would like input from you, the blog readers.
Technology becomes important to help us collect information (e.g., audio podcasts) and to archive the research that students compile, how to best tell the story of the Lodges with the information that is collected and make it available to the general public.
Kelly Joyce, Monica Griffin, and Sharon Zuber worked on the Mercury Global Inquiry Group and experienced the synergy of people from history, sociology, art, biology, computer science, and the humanities sharing ideas. They bring to this project an interest in communities and how they define their identity through time and in response to events around them. Also, they are all interested in how people in academia can communicate their research more widely.
Students Katie Snyder, a junior in Marketing and Finance and a 2011-2012 EcoAmbassador Grant intern, Wonjin Choo, a junior Accounting major who has lived in Paris, Seoul, Oregon, and Virginia, and Barbara Pearsall, and Art and Art History major, round out the core committee for this project. Katie and Wonjin have begun research as an independent study with Dean Joyce. They are learning about sociological research methods. Katie has already discovered that her research has made her feel more a part of the W&M community, especially since she was a transfer student. Wonjin is “excited to work on a project that aims towards sustainability. This project not only brings physical changes to the campus, but it also changes the life style that prospective students/ new members of our WM community will experience.” Barbara, who joined the project in the summer of 2012, is interested in “all things interdisciplinary.” Her senior honors thesis, “Object and Environment” fits perfectly with the Lodges Project/EcoVillage. She is actively interviewing people about their memories of these special places.
We are excited about the faculty-student research opportunities this project brings as well as its contribution to the College as a way to preserve history and connect with alums. We also hope to connect with incoming students through Prof. Griffin’s course on Community Engagement as well as create research opportunities for future students. Once we gather information, with the help of IT and the Media Center, we plan to make available photos, floorplans, virtual tours, links to Special Collections to Board of Visitor minutes, FLAT HAT articles, and archived photos.
Through this blog, we hope that readers will send us ideas, contact information of people interested in the project as well as people who lived in the Lodges and are willing to share memories. We are open to any creative ways to begin to tell the story of the Lodges!
[Photos: University Archives Photograph Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library]