The ICA Global Archives is a robust, volunteer-driven project working to connect ICA’s past with future generations by transforming more than 60 years of documentation of ICA programs, projects, methods and training into a website that will be accessible to anyone in the world.
For years, the archival work was inextricably linked to the premises of ICA GreenRise, which house a significant part of ICA’s collected works. Each spring and fall, ICA colleagues would travel from around the United States and beyond to attend week-long working meetings known as Sojourns.
The most recent Sojourn, which ran from November 14 through 18, 2019, broke from that tradition. “We experimented with a ‘virtual’ Sojourn of hubs using Google Hangouts,” the organizing team said in the Sojourn Report. “It is more difficult, [more] expensive, and less environmentally friendly to travel to Chicago and we can engage more people through the virtual work. We are discussing the implications of this for future Sojourns in the coming year.”
In another significant change, participants in the Sojourn rebranded the project—which had been formally known as the ICA Global Archives—as the ICA Social Research Center.
However, the November gathering was not a total departure from previous Sojourns. Beyond the working aspect, many colleagues enjoy the opportunity to come together and revisit old connections or forge new ones. Jeanette Stanfield and Virginia Kanyogony visited from ICA Canada. Lucas Bensley, a Loyola University Chicago student who interned with the project last summer, returned to work with colleagues. Archives assistant Mark Poshepny, who has been involved since an internship in 2017, trained participants in digitizing documents. Technology of Participation (ToP) facilitator and creative sector consultant Angela Spinazze led a workshop on mapping potential audiences against the various archives collections.
Visitors to ICA GreenRise also had the chance to experience recent improvements to the physical spaces in and around the archives. Karen Snyder, who helps to organize the project year-round, created a symbolic global “tour” comprised of artifacts collected from several of the countries where ICA colleagues participated in Human Development Projects in the 1970s. She also led an effort to display paintings from the Pilgrimage collection donated by colleague and artist Lidona Wagner.
The major milestone, however, was certainly the organization that Karen, Mark, and others were able to bring to the basement archive, which hosts more than 100 filing cabinets stuffed with documents. ICA board and staff members took a tour of the basement, which is now tidy and easy to navigate with the help of a comprehensive filing system.