Over the past 50 years, from the Fifth City community development project in 1963 to the fifth year anniversary of Chicago Sustainability Leaders Network in 2018, ICA has developed a wealth of programs, projects, methods, training materials, and more. Over the course of one week each spring and fall, colleagues from across that history gather at the GreenRise to work on a thriving Global Archives project that aims to organize and translate an estimated four million documents into a comprehensive story.
One of the biggest challenges is the sheer volume of content to be moved from paper to pages online. It’s no wonder that Archives Advisory Committee member Doug Druckenmiller refers to the project as “climbing Mt. Everest”—at the summit is a Global Archives website that has been years in the making. During the Spring 2019 Sojourn, which convened from April 15th through 19th, Doug led daily training sessions on WordPress, the platform that will manage content on the upcoming website, to show participants how to create and edit pages. This simple function will allow numerous users to collaborate digitally, accelerating the development of the website beyond the Sojourn week.
Previous Sojourns have laid much of the groundwork for what will appear on those web pages. Every piece of documentation known to the Archives team will find a home among one of the nine collections: Human Development, Social Change, Awakenment Forums, Imaginal Education, Facilitation Methods, Collaborative Networking, Institute History, Interior Life, and Spirit Movement. A three by three chart of the nine collections now serves as something of a symbol to guide to work moving forward. Tellingly, the image hangs on the door to the Archives office.
For a project defined by looking at the past, the Global Archives is remarkably forward-thinking. Karen Snyder, a colleague who is deeply engaged in the project, explains: “We’re recreating our 50 year history by bringing it up to the present moment.” In fact, much of the discussion of how to shape the story revolves around translating the language into something not only accessible, but actively useful for current and future generations.
Some of those applications were discussed as part of the Sojourn’s morning collegium series. Oliveann Slotta shared how Accelerate Climate Action Network uses strategies from ICA’s Town Meeting ‘76 project to facilitate climate action forums in neighborhoods across Denver. Robertson Work discussed how his book, A Compassionate Civilization, depicts what he calls a “movement of movements”, an interconnected wave of social change efforts addressing environmental sustainability, gender equality, socio-economic justice, cultural tolerance, participatory governance, and nonviolence. Herman Greene of the Center for Ecozoic Studies drew a direct connection between what he learned through ICA and the writing of cultural historian Thomas Berry.
These strategies articulated by our colleagues mirror our current programs in how they apply time-tested ICA methods to the environmental challenges of the 21st century. The Global Archives is all about enriching the present with the hard-earned wisdom of the past 50 years.