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Interaction provides learning experiences

Interaction provides learning experiences
Interaction provides learning experiences
Corydon's new Bicentennial Park allows a youngster to interact with water in front of tiles made by some of the county's fourth-grade students. Photo by Lori Welch
Judy O'Bannon
Judy O’Bannon

Plasterers are still chipping away at deteriorating spots in my 1927 Spanish eclectic home. It is hot, and I am sure they are more than weary with it all. Some of my friends have witnessed this project while scratching their heads in disbelief. ‘Why fix this old place up once again?’ they ask.
It was built at the time movie studios in Hollywood were first promoting their movie stars who lived in such southwestern homes. Through the years, the families that lived here have used the home for various things: a law office, an interior decorating shop, kids’ play rooms and even a greenhouse. Every day I am thankful that I get to dwell in such an interesting space and see such beauty. This is, indeed, interactive history at its best.
Walking within walls of 1927 while wearing 2017 clothing and doing what modern women now do, I feel the richness of this place. It is wonderful and speaks to me of the intriguing dynamics of life in an evolving society.
At our Corydon farm, our home is an old log cabin built in 1830 and an 1866 barn that served its neighborhood after the Civil War. Life in those early years of our country was a lot different than in the roaring ’20s or in 2017. When it is quiet in that old barn, I can feel the mood and activities of those pioneer farmers. The spring out back lets me understand the basic importance of water to the settlement of any place. Big poplar logs that form the buildings’ walls bring me right into the eternal link between man and nature. Yes, indeed, this is interactive history at its best.
As we revitalize our Southern Indiana communities, we have an opportunity to grant the privilege of experiencing our unique heritage to all who live here or come to visit. Just as buildings served real needs and wants in the past, so they must interact with and serve the community now. People no longer want to visit museums where only looking is allowed and no touching is permitted. In today’s impersonal changing world directed by technology, people want to feel a connection to the world around them. They want the buildings, activities and services to relate to their understandings and needs.
How does one gain the experience of being a real part of the world around them? By joining in the atmosphere and mission of the place.
Recently, an 1840 piano was given to the Historical Society of Harrison County. It doesn’t work now and, in the years past, it might have been placed in a corner of the Posey House and looked quaint and nice. Not good enough for today’s visitors. It must be made to play again in order that folks can join together as our forefathers once did and sing, tap their toes, dance or listen to the tunes that can filter even out into the streets.
During the recent Art at the Old Capitol festival, we experienced what the creative arts add to our lives as we joined 22 artists working in and around the commercial area of Corydon. We were brought right into the processes of making something new and innovative.
This past weekend, I hope you stopped by the Corydon Capital Day festival and the Battle of Corydon re-enactment and activities. Kids discovered the fun of simple games with other children. At the Harrison County Public Library, they were provided the joy of crafting objects with their own hands. Even the costumes one could don at the old-time photo booth gave folks the feel of what happened in all those years before they were born.
When we step back in time like this, we not only understand we all share basic human traits, but we realize too what a wonderful world we live in today. The volunteer organizers of these events worked hard to provide experiences that allowed us all to feel a part of the creation of our community.
Catherine Turcotte, executive director of Main Street Corydon, said, ‘Most of the accomplishments are done by community volunteers of all ages. Last year, 143 volunteers contributed a total of 3,784 hours. A few months ago, we had 20 volunteers show up on a rainy Saturday to transform the landscaping along Capitol Avenue and Walnut Street. By noon, the sun was out and the new landscaping looked beautiful. But, that day was about so much more than that; it was about the memories that we all made by working together in the rain and mud. It was not just a day of work; it was a day of encouragement and laughter and coming together because we all care.’
If you run into Dan Sieg, you might ask him how he likes living in the old house on the Corydon town square that housed the late Fred Griffin, the long-serving county historian. Dan steps out his front door and finds himself immediately immersed in the life on the Old State Capitol grounds. He lives with the history of by-gone days and has raised children who work and travel the world of today. He has experienced emerging opportunities of a technological life mixed with the rich heritage of the past. He tells me he feels enlivened and empowered by being involved in such a diverse mix.
Try it, this getting involved. You might like it.