Notes from the Island
December 1999


I hope that those of you who participated in the Workfest are proud of yourselves... because certainly I am. There were 75 of you signed in, and Phyl and I both reflected afterwards that it seemed that there were just as many folks attending who have guest cards as there were Members. There were also two volunteer families present who have applications pending but who are not even on the waiting list yet. However, a notable thought is that I do not think there were any waiting list people here except those who have guest cards. And this is a shame, because again this year there seemed to be more fun than work, despite the fact that so much got done. The Clubhouse got as good cleaning, which is good because it was not touched during the spring Workfest. Ann Waidmann and Sherry Pettie were the team leaders. David Winer and his team cleaned the Club canoes and painted the outside hulls of the plastic canoes with an acrylic coating. Gerry Barton and his helpers constructed two new picnic tables. Tryon Wells and his group buried the new electric cable on the towpath and installed wiring conduit where it comes out of the ground. Roger Herst brought his electric powered blower and took care of the leaves near the house. Many people brought rakes and during the day various teams seemed to coalesce here then there until the Island was done. Mark Brenneman and Joe Cecil were not only the first two to arrive (only ten people showed up before 10 AM), but together took responsibility for getting the swimming float un-tethered and in to shore where it could be pulled up with the help of Jim Drew, Chris White, Garret and Dan Rasmussen, et.al. Mark was also instrumental in repairing the hole that has appeared near the steps on the towpath landing. Several days before John Matthews and son John had installed the new insulated window in the small room off the deck, which is being insulated to provide a warm library and hangout for the winter substitute caretakers. Bill Banta and his team ripped the lockers out of that room and the unsightly cabinet off the wall. David Holdridge and Tove Elfstrom repaired the Caretaker's screen door, and Tove stayed late to replace and redo some of the planking that leads to the steps to the deck. Trip Reid and his team planted the five large new trees, and you are all challenged to find where they are. Trip also had several teams out wrapping certain Island trees with wire to protect them from beaver depredation. John Membrino was given a special secret assignment and suffered a nail puncture in his foot for the cause. And of course, George and Marcia Loeb performed their logistical miracle again, and aided by several pots of luck, sat everyone down for that sort of communal dinner one only sees in the movies these days.

Limited space in the dispatches means not everyone will get mentioned, as they should. And yet, it seemed like one of those rare events where participation is its own reward. Think about it... many people who did not necessarily know one another came together in various small teams during the day to undertake a series of various tasks that singly were not very glamorous but together were crucial to making the Island ship shape for the winter. Most of these teams were collaborative efforts where no one was the actual boss but where the better idea imposed its own authority to get the job done. Yet I dare say that when most people left the Island that day they left with that warm glow that comes only from a feeling of accomplishment... and where can you get that and what price can you put on it? Actually, in Prague we had good friends that ran an international management consulting company that charged corporate executives a fortune to do much the same as we did at the Workfest just so that they could experience that feeling of accomplishment. And you got it for free !

-- Doc Taliaferro, Sycamore Island Caretaker