Hugh Huntington, Board Chair
Over the last year the Meher Archive Collective (MAC) has seen a lot of action and had a whole load of fun!
We began stripping out the old Red Oak School building in late 2018. With the help of many volunteers and skilled professionals, demolition continued throughout 2019. A number of walls were removed, flooring was pulled up, and both large bathrooms were gutted and now await new plumbing. Plans for rewiring the building have been drawn up and the heating and air conditioning systems are set to be installed this year. Peter Nordeen did a fabulous job of leading a skilled crew and dedicated volunteers in the total replacement of the roof surfaces on the classroom wing of the building.
MAC received various archive materials from seven donors during the year, which brings our overall total to twenty collections. Last year’s donations included libraries, films and artifacts. Later in the newsletter you’ll be hearing from Eruch Adams with an update from The Archive Department.
Meanwhile, I am delighted to report that donations received in 2019 for the building came to over $186,000 which includes a total of $33,000 raised through our year-end matching grant.
In addition, I’m excited to welcome Tracey Lilly as our business adviser. Details of what Tracey brings to MAC are outlined below.
On behalf of the MAC board, I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to all who have poured their time, treasures, love and support into this extraordinary endeavor - The Meher Archive Collective!
ANNOUNCEMENT: MAC has a Business Advisor.
MAC has been gifted with a grant earmarked for professional business services in support of the organization. As such, Tracey Lilly has been hired as a business advisor on a temporary basis. As the organization continues to expand into its vision, we find ourselves in need of guidance – and that’s where Tracey comes in. Over the next several months she will be supporting the MAC team as we expand sustainably and improve upon our operations accordingly.
Under Tracey’s coaching we have embarked upon the following: growing the MAC Board; implementing a Fundraising Plan; defining Operational Process and HR Guidelines; and establishing a Volunteer Program. In addition, Tracey will oversee the recruitment and organization of volunteers, beginning now.
Prior to our meeting Tracey, she was not familiar with either Meher Baba or the Baba community. We see this as an advantage - Tracey's focus is on MAC, the organization; as a result we are all benefiting from being professionally guided to do our best. This, as we know, is the path to happiness, and ultimately to Baba!
Meher Archive Audio Library
Did you know that MAC has a growing library of audio tape recordings? Recently we received large collections of tapes and we anticipate more to come. A short while ago, MAC was given digital copies of the Andy Muir audio collection. This extensive array of material includes a number of speakers across many years; fortunately for us, the time-consuming work of digitizing the collection was already completed.
About a year and a half ago, I began the Meher Archive Audio Library Podcast as a way of sharing these treasures in a limited, curated way. This is not yet the complete, searchable library - that will be created over time. However, using a podcast format, we feature one recording at a time that you can listen to from Apple iTunes Podcasts or on our website. If, like me, you may find yourself listening to more and more audio content in the form of podcasts and audio books. The opportunities are endless - while driving, doing chores around the house, and even shopping at the grocery store. If you subscribe to our podcast, each new recording of one of the Mandali telling a Baba story will automatically download to your smart device and you can listen to it at your leisure. And, even better, the podcast will save your place if you only have a limited amount of time to listen.
Our most recent episode is a clear recording from the Andy Muir collection. Recorded in 1972, we hear Mehera Irani telling us all about how she met Baba and Upasni Maharaj, along with several other stories. Past episodes include Eruch Jessawala, Adi K Irani, Jal and Behram, and a couple of classics from Filis Frederick.
Subscribe to the Meher Archive Collective Podcast:
or visit our podcast page to listen from your computer: http://www.meherarchive.org/podcast
The Mandali in India, 1970-71
In October 1970, Clive Adams traveled to India for his first trip after attending the 1969 Darshan. He stayed for many months, into 1971, and took numerous wonderful photos. Here are just a few of the photos he donated to MAC that we scanned for a talk he gave about the early days in Meherabad and Meherazad. The larger slide show was recently presented in Myrtle Beach and Asheville.
Goher, Arnavaz and Mehera in Baba's Samadhi.
Pendu at Meherazad
Mehera and Meheru.
Mani and Mansari.
Photos courtesy of Clive Adams
All About Volunteering
A lively meeting was held at Jeanne Felknor’s home on January 17th attended by around 20 seasoned and potential volunteers. Short presentations were given by Board members, in addition Eruch talked about volunteering with archiving, for example scanning or transcribing audio tapes.
Thank you to our wonderful hostess Jeanne, who provided an abundance of pizza, snacks and drinks!
If you're interested in volunteering for MAC, there is something for everyone; many tasks require no previous experience, where necessary however, we will provide training.
Below, you will see the breakdown of various volunteer opportunities.
Unless otherwise stated, please contact our Volunteer Services Committee Chair, Renee Bussanich, for further details: ReneeBussan1894@gmail.com / 828.989.3351
Office duties as needed, database entry, addressing and mailing letters (2-3 hours bi-monthly)
Assisting at MAC events, community activities and fundraisers (project based)
Assisting with recruitment, training and engagement of interns and volunteers
Communications & Marketing:
Assisting with Facebook, blog, website and bi-monthly newsletter (project based)
Contact: Diane Tower-Jones / DianeTowerJones@gmail.com / 828.290.6975
Please contact Eruch Adams for further details: email@example.com / 828.301.2791
Location: 15 Golf Street, Asheville NC 28801
Audio - digitizing audio cassettes onto a computer. This will be a growing need; at the moment we are in the early stages of organizing.
Rehousing Documents - handling physical letters, photos and objects, cleaning and sorting.
Scanning - scan the rehoused documents and photographs using scanner and computer.
Transcribing - read documents (e.g. handwritten letters from Mehera) or listen to audio
tapes and digitally transcribe what is said in a clear format that will be easy to search and share. (Can possibly be done from home.)
Red Oak School, Construction and Remodeling
Project Manager: Ken Blackman firstname.lastname@example.org / 520.907.8056
Volunteer Lead: Jeanne Felknor Jeanne.Felknor@gmail.com / 773.329.7400
Location: 53 Red Oak School Road, Weaverville NC 28787
Construction Zone Tasks: cleaning and organizing; hauling furniture and debris; organizing tools & materials
Ongoing Work January-April: carpentry; flooring; landscaping; masonry; painting;
Skilled Trades: electrician, plumber, welder
We would like to extend our gratitude and appreciation to Rita Barnes! Our Rita has shown up every Wednesday since volunteer days began in late 2017, tirelessly working on archive activities under the guidance and training of Elaine Cox.
Rita is a long-time follower of Meher Baba having discovered him in the 1970’s in LA . She is also an artist who has always enjoyed working with her hands, in particular through painting, drawing and calligraphy. Among her outstanding work, Rita beautifully incorporates Baba’s name into exquisitely intricate pieces of art and design.
Who Am I? #2
ink on paper 2006
Rita was introduced to the fascinating world of handwriting and it’s analysis many years ago. She has been especially interested in the written documents being archived by MAC, in particular letters to and from the Mandali, and from Baba. She has loved learning about the process of archiving, not least the finding and housing of pieces in our various collections. Rita has said that it often feels like being part of an archeological dig through time capsules full of surprising treasures. One particularly intriguing discovery was a collection by and about Gabriel Pascal in the form of letters and news clippings in which his love and exuberance for Baba were revealed. Alongside his devotion to Baba, Pascal was connected to the film industry in LA in the 30’s and beyond.*
Rita describes the process of working with these materials as a wonderful opportunity to spend time in a quiet and slow-paced environment in a world where most work is typically pressured and fast-paced. She loves taking the time to focus on getting things done just right for Baba. Thank you Rita!
* If you would like to find out more about Gabriel Pascal, his life, his career and his love for Baba, please follow these links:
Are You Taking Care of Your Baba Treasures?
A wonderful meeting was held at Hugh Huntington’s home on Sunday, January 12th. Everyone was invited to bring something to share in the form of a special Baba treasure and its story. About 25 people attended, many of whom were old-time Baba Lovers.
When I began looking for something to share, I went straight to a big wooden box living at the top of a closet. It had not been opened for years and I was amazed at how much I have collected since the early 70’s. At least 100 letters, telegrams and notes; scarves; and numerous other items. To my surprise nothing was properly preserved and there were no stories written down to go with all these precious items. I had no idea that I was “guilty” of not taking care to rehouse and protect my precious Baba treasures. Imagine my further surprise when, at the meeting, several people said the same thing! A valuable lesson for all of us.
Please write down all pertinent information regarding your treasures and make sure all letters and paper artifacts are housed properly in a mylar sleeve. You may want to keep these items for your heirs or donate them to an archive - either way, they need to be protected.
A number of people were moved to tears during this most heartfelt meeting, and there was much gratitude for the opportunity to remember Baba through sharing our treasures.
Announcement: Our Board Chair is Taking a Sabbatical.
For health reasons Hugh Huntington is taking a 90-day sabbatical from his role as chair of the Meher Archive Collective. Hugh is delighted that Ken Blackman has agreed to be the interim chair; he is also fully supportive of Ken as he steps into this role, and is confident in his leadership skills.
Hugh is grateful for his ongoing relationship with MAC, and will continue his unwavering support of the organization and its mission from behind the scenes. In addition, Hugh would like to thank the Board for their support and encouragement at this time.
A Message from Ken Blackman, Interim Board Chair
In support of Hugh Huntington, I am honored to be able to step into the role of interim chair of the Meher Archive Collective.
Having been on the board since its inception, I have been involved in every aspect of the functioning of the organization. More recently my primary role has been that of Project Manager, overseeing the renovation of the Red Oak School building.
I look forward to working creatively and productively with the MAC team; together we will continue our mission of collecting, preserving and sharing Meher Baba’s Divine legacy with integrity, love and transparency for the benefit of humanity.
Save the Date - MAC Open House - Tea & Tours
Saturday, April 18, 2020 from 2:00-4:00pm
Meher Archive Collective, 53 Red Oak School Road, Weaverville
News, blogs, and updates on interesting archival finds and events.