January 16, 2004 Features & Images » Feature Story

Trashing the past 

Who we are and where we came from is a story articulated by the Whistler Museum but shaped by the community

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In a way, this partnership begins with the community holding onto items of value to Whistler’s story. Stephen Henderson says: "All sorts of items, from photos, articles, any documentation on decisions made that effect Whistler, are part of that story. We want to urge people not to trash the past. Not to clear out their backrooms, or their cardboard boxes full of minutes, files and papers. Our biggest challenge here at the museum is that we don’t have the space to actually receive these items now. We need a new facility, so we can house and properly take care of these items. In the meantime, we need everybody’s help in the community to capture this information, these stories, and hold onto them for safekeeping, before they’re lost ."

Over a decade ago, John Edgar Wideman wrote an article in Discover magazine about revisiting the community museum in his childhood town. "Culture" he wrote, "is not a mindless accumulation of some laundry list of objects or people or styles somebody else has intimidated us into accepting. Culture is a way of locating yourself in the world, a world that doesn't make much sense without a conscious, active, continuous process of orientation, learning, accommodation."

As a society, if we disregard history, we allow ourselves to become culturally savage. We lose perspective. Lose sense of our place in the world. We lose the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us . And there’s no better place for us to start shoring up this human pyramid than in our own backyard.

"Just as recycling our waste is second nature to people," explains Henderson, "we need people to think about keeping artifacts and documentation and writing down their memories and stories as a matter of habit. We need Whistler to help us recycle the present into history."

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