November 20, 2015

Hand Turkeys Run Free!

It's been a year since the last Hand Turkey Gallery.  We wondered, "Could the hand turkey artists' new work possibly live up to their 2014 masterpieces?"  We waited with bated breath, watching, worrying, as the artists labored over their new hand turkeys.  With furrowed brows and mouths full of candy, they worked tirelessly, using markers, colored pencils, and crayons to bring their designs to life - only the very best materials for these talented artists.

In preparation for the event, interns worked day and night to publicize the big day.
Flyer, made by Rose M.
Chalk Turkeys, made by Rose M. & Friends.
Then, the artists arrived....

Some lost their minds as they toiled over their turkeys...

The results?  A feast for the eyes.  A panoply of turkeys.  A marvel of masterpieces.  "Yes," we said to ourselves, "the hand turkey artists have done it again!"

Visit the Gallery (aka library) in person to see even more masterpieces!


November 12, 2015

The Biv-liography

By Bethany Taylor, Library Assistant

There are experiences so intense that they seem to rebel against all efforts to put into words. Bivouac certainly seems to be in the running for that honor.

For better or worse, it is extremely hard to put down in black and white letters, organized in familiar patterns and linear, grammatically approved sentences what it means to encounter the chaotic rainbow roller-coaster of emotion that is living outside of normal with other people. Words are—often—insufficient.

When I was in middle and high school, I spent a lot of time watching Star Trek, the Next Generation. While much of my Trekki-ness has worn off with the years, there is one episode that I think of frequently when trying to communicate the bits of life that feel both inexplicable and vitally important to share. Basically, two warring groups of aliens—one of which I remember looking like Space-Pig-Vikings—sat down with the best negotiator-translator in all the galaxies to work towards peace on their planet. 

Unfortunately, this master negotiator had suffered some terrible accident and had lost some crucial part of his talents. This meant that the Pig-Vikings and their foes were going to have to do more of the work themselves, and the trouble was that the Piggies communicated exclusively in an emotional metaphorical language based on the epics of their history and the other group had no understanding of the Piggy epics and so the groups had to learn each other’s stories, histories, and find a common language to make peace.

Star Trek is quiet hokey at times, but unfortunately, the overly earnest nature of common sense does tend to stick.

Searching for the time and patience and stories to translate the unspeakable feels familiar in trying to unpack and share the highs and lows of Biv. I’ve had multiple people say that they don’t have the words to describe or explain what they think of Biv, yet. It’s just too…and they we all trail off, searching for words.

When I think of the annual odyssey of ninth-graders streaming off the bus and trying to explain Biv to their families, to their friends, I like to imagine what stories come out first and how, even in telling about this or that funny or terrifying or beautiful or miserable part, the storyteller feels like something isn’t being quite communicated, that whoever they are talking to will never fully get it.
But, while you wait for your own words to come, sometimes you can find a story somewhere that evokes exactly what you are trying to communicate.

Hence the Biv-liography presently on display in the library. I firmly believe that Bivouac is one of the most impressive things that BBN offers its students, both in terms of a personal experience of being pushed to discover capabilities and talents far beyond the ordinary and as a way to bind and glue this community together. Regardless of how you found Biv—beautiful, miserable, or otherwise—it is impressive to understand what you are capable of surviving. You may have loved it, you may have hated it, but you survived and even thrived. That alone takes a more impressive stock of grit and character than many people are ever in a situation to discover they possess. There is a cohesion of knowing that everyone in this building can—in a pinch—wield an ax, start a fire, and have the empathetic maturity to get along in close quarters with varied personalities. But, even among ourselves—the only people on earth who might truly understand the stories we each try to tell about our time in the woods—our own words can falter.

And so we have the books and stories that evoke our own memories, in the hope of sharing what is both so personal and universal to this utterly unique experience.