Managing the not-so-virtual assents of HCLE
I must be crazy to be doing this but after more than 10 years at the Sobrato Center for Nonprofits in Milpitas, CA, LO*OP Center, Inc. is moving again. Most of the physical stuff we have is the HCLE collection of papers, books, magazines, computers, toys, software and memorabilia.
I had hoped to sort through these material belongings in the Milpitas office (see the lower end of the arrow on the map below), scan everything there and ship the physical items off to waiting museums, libraries and universities anxious to conserve these historical artifacts. Curating the resulting digital surrogates would be a piece of cake, right? It isn’t happening that way. This is about the 8th time I moved a lot of the stuff, ironically, some of it from my former home in Sebastopol, a few towns south of my present Sonoma County location. That was 1979.
LO*OP Center started as a storefront computer center in 1975 in Cotati (next to Rohnert Park on the map). When I closed the shop I moved what we had to my barn in Sebastopol and I went to Silicon Valley (actually Palo Alto) to consult. A few years later Bob Albrecht (a key Ed. Tech. Pioneer) rented the Sebastopol house and added parts of what used to be Peoples’ Computer Center to the barn storage. After that, ComputerTown USA! (which was located in Menlo Park, one town north of Palo Alto) folded and I salvaged more stuff for the collection . Meanwhile I continued to amass leavings from my consulting work and other Ed Tech Pioneers started handing me the contents of their offices, attics and garages. When Bob left the Sebastopol house so my sons could move in they wanted the barn cleared out and the collection went into public storage — in Menlo Park near the old Peoples’ Computer Center. In 2001 office space in Palo Alto was cheaper than public storage and I wanted to have a place for people to congregate and help build the museum, so another move ensued. When sharing space with my for-profit business didn’t work out we moved to Milpitas. Then, a couple of years ago, I moved myself back to Sonoma County – Guerneville this time. It took me 2.5 hours to drive to the office. Needless to say, I did most of my work at home.
Last week several volunteers, a few hired hands and I packed 100 boxes of papers, books and magazines, loaded them into a U-Haul Truck and drove them the 150 miles to their new home – LO*OP Cottage next to my house in Guerneville. I have mixed feelings about this decision. Although my commute is now minimal it’s much harder to enlist volunteers here in the country. Although I have neighbors who used to work at IBM and Apple, they are retired and pursuing art, music and theater rather than high-tech nostalgia. We have many passionate, local educators but they, too, are more interested in looking forward than back. I’m focusing on recruiting high-school students and online volunteers to help plow through the mountains of work ahead.
The good news is that this is an exquisite place to be. Light pollution is so minor that you can see the whole Milky Way on clear nights. The redwoods beckon, the Russian River keeps flowing and the Pacific Ocean, 15 miles down the road, is magnificent in all its moods. Ah well, I have to go inside now and sort a few more papers!