on being ‘a tracker on the paper trail’…

Aug 26, 2015 | 1 comment

File Drawers

File Drawers

As I age and I begin to have trouble accessing information on my personal ‘memory chip’, I am increasingly thankful that I have kept “documentation” of important decisions and transactions. And, specifically, I’m glad that I keep “hard copies” of meeting agendas and minutes, of correspondence by both snail-mail and email and other items that may not even seem important at the time.

It is comforting to know that even though email messages get erased and (worse!) hard drives fail, there is a more permanent record of the past than my own recollections. Saving hard copies, of course, is not a habit by design; it is genetic. More than a hundred boxes of correspondence and other paper goods – “The Espy Archive” – at the Washington State Historical Society Research Center give testimony to that inherited condition.

An Ever-Growing "To Be Sorted" Pile

An Ever-Growing “To Be Sorted” Pile

The difficulty in dealing with such a trait, of course, is what to do with the “stuff” that accumulates. File folders, file cabinets, paper piles waiting to be organized are the story of my life. It’s one thing to save everything; it’s quite another to find space for it to say nothing of organizing and keeping things up to date. And then there is the matter of exactly how to sort and catalog and index.

Diane Buttrell talks about taking a trip with the Oysterville Science Academy Fourth Graders this summer. They were working on this very problem of sorting and organizing. They went to Jack’s Country Store in Ocean Park and looked the store over. When asked how they would arrange things for easy access by workers and customers, their answer was simple: “by color.” I love that! Would that the world was so simple!

Cuzzin Ralph and Sydney Working on WRE File, 2008

Sydney and Cuzzin Ralph Working on WRE File, 2008

Right up there with the problem of how/where to store ‘stuff’ is the even greater difficulty of trying to access a specific bit of information later. Sometimes, years later. I spend half my life, or so it seems, being a tracker on the paper trail of my own making. Still… when push comes to shove (and it seems to with most things), having hard physical evidence of ‘what he said’ or ‘what she said’ nothing beats having it “in writing.” Or so I believe.

1 Comment

  1. Diane Buttrell

    Thanks, Sydney, for the mention. We meet with “staff” this evening to evaluate, perhaps project, the academy experience.

    Reply

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