This past few days have been a whirlwind. A lot has been packed into each day since I last wrote an entry on Monday. Tuesday Dr. Guha Shankar arrived from the American Folklife Centre and we’ve had very dense classes on everything from recording equipment to metadata. As previously mentioned the classes take place in the chapel and there we’ve had a number of discussions on ethnography and ethics. Tuesday’s class was very hands on – we each brought our recording equipment to class and Dr. Shankar discussed the different settings, how the equipment works and where to place the equipment in order to create the highest quality recording. Then we each did a practice interview in different locations throughout the building (or in our case on the porch). We also discussed project planning such as focusing the topic, deciding boundaries (geographic, time period, etc), locating personnel or equipment, deciding on a final product and determining how the material will be documented and preserved (this should be particularly useful for those hoping to go into public folklore). After a day of practical class work and a discussion on field notes we ate a hurried supper and rushed to bingo.
Bingo was an interesting experience in and of itself. There were roughly 40 people at bingo which took place at the Knights of Columbus which is conveniently located right next to the convent. We walked to bingo and picked up hard cards, paper cards and a dabber. Sharna, Saeede and I sat at a table with some women from Bay Bulls who had gone to school in Witless Bay. The women were quite helpful with our bingo questions and explained that the building used to be part of the school and that there was an older two storey school in front of the current building. Another man who was selling tickets and exchanging bingo cards explained that there was a hallway from the school to the convent and that he had helped his father who was a handyman with work in the convent. It was a long but fun night of bingo and it was nice to get out into the community – although unfortunately it was a rather difficult place to strike up a conversation.
Wednesday’s classes included a morning class with an introduction to metadata₁ from Dr. Shankar and Lisa Wilson from the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador. After lunch we took a quick break and went to look inside the church and priest’s house. It was a nice way to break up the classes and an interesting look at how religious shifts were reflected in changes of the church. In the afternoon we discussed file management, naming, storage, etc. Just after our classes in the convent and before we cooked supper Sharna and I took to the woods to pick some blueberries. We stumbled upon a patch of chanterelle mushrooms and filled our bags. This was quite the experience as neither of us had ever foraged for mushrooms before. We used several mushrooms in the taco casserole which we made for supper last night.
Today we discussed the need to get out into the community and meet people and it was an appropriate discussion to have as this afternoon was spent photographing Shelia Ryan’s house, barn, shed, root cellar and Joey Yard’s outbuildings including sheds and stores. In order to prepare for our outing we discussed some photography basics with Dr. Shankar and photographer Brian Ricks. After our introduction to photography basics we were thrust into the field and told to take pictures, practice changing the settings and choose our best three pictures. I’m about to head back to the convent (from the elementary school – where they are kind enough to let us use the wifi) for a quick supper and afterwards we’ll each present our pictures. It should be interesting as I am completely new to photography and was a little overwhelmed the first hour. Below are the images I chose for this evenings presentation.
1 – Metadata is essentially data about data. But in the case of our material it is information such as who is interviewing whom, what the date was, etc and who took this picture, what is the picture of, etc.