Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Some ideas from the NEARA conference

I wanted to revisit the picture of Linda McElroy who is both a long time member of the NEARA board but also the main force behind the Acton Land Stewards program, where she has done some exceptionally good things for rock piles and conservation land in general. Her current initiative is the "Trail Through Time" program, discussed at their new website
Here Linda is showing a portion of the interpretive signs that will be spotted along a trail that includes colonial stonework as well as rock piles:Go check it out. Acton, because of Linda's work, is at the forefront of both preserving and giving public interpretation to rock piles. Definately a "friend of the court".

Some other topics that caught my attention include
  • The state coordinators' reports. Vermont, and especially Nova Scotia, reported numerous new "cairn fields" and growing excitement about them at the local level. Terry Deveau from Nova Scotia mentioned: Clam Point, Oak Park. Other places are upbeat!
  • Norman's observation of soil deposited on some old cairns on top of Glastonbury Mountain in VT as compared with soil deposited on foundation stones of an adjacent fire tower whose age is known. This made it as clear as day that the old cairns were already old when the tower was built and, since the summit was pretty much inaccessible to white men before that, giving a reasonably good demonstration that the piles had to be old, and had to have pre-dated European presence. No farmers are implicated in the building of cairns on top of an in-accessible mountain top.
  • Peter Annick's [shown to the left of Norman in the earlier picture] articulation of the concept (he was describing pictographs from Brazil) of a physical representation of a myth, done so as to open a connection to the spirit of the ancestors. That is a fairly good way to describe some of these rock piles sites, especially the ones with effigies. It is not a new idea, since Black Elk talks about it, but it is good to be reminded of it occasionally.
  • Someone walked off with the notebook I was taking notes in. I suspect Fred Martin did it by mistake and, if so, maybe he will spot the Stow Grid which I mapped poorly on a couple of pages of that same notebook. That is the original and only hard copy - good thing I blogged it long since.
New faces at NEARA: There were very very few young people and only a couple of new 40 year olds present. There were a couple of talks about rock piles (Norman's and Fred Meli's discussion of Nipsachuck) a NEARA member's slide show and several talks that I missed, arriving mid morning. Bravo to the people who pull this together year after year.

I was also going to write about the Fred Meli presentation. He informs me by email that he got in a lot of trouble for having talked publicly as he did. I am of two minds about this: whether to report what I heard (about which there are numerous un-answered questions) or to just let it go. For now we'll let it go.

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