Monday, April 30, 2012

FPIPN 2012

I have a ton to write about!
I’ve got to catch up this journal, because I have a feeling this summer is going to be full of Living History-type happenings. In fact, every weekend for the past month has been full of LH and that is not going to slow down any time soon. So here goes.

Almost a month ago now Stephen and I presented at a conference for Living History peeps called by everyone the “FPIPN (pronounced pippin.) Retreat”

The Basics:
- FPIPN stands for First Person Interpreters Professional Network.
- FPIPN is a sub-group of ALHFAM (Association of Living History, Farm and Agriculture Museums) specifically for museum folks who do this crazy thing we do.
- The conference was in Dover, Delaware, hosted by their lovely state history people with sessions held in amazing local historical buildings and museums.
- Attendees came from all over the US, but mostly from the east coast, most were professionals working at museums, everyone was incredibly friendly.
- The sessions were partly educational (teaching people how we do what we do) and partly study based (folks who are in post grad programs presenting papers.)
- This was the second retreat that Stephen and I had attended, the first being two years ago in Mystic, CT (listen to our podcast about that retreat.)

Stephen and I were presenting on two topics: “presenting religion from the first person perspective” and “Endowments, or bringing your audience into the story”. Since Stephen was starting a new job and I was starting a temp job we did not have a lot of time to prepare. But we’ve been presenting stuff like this at Reenactorfest and through the podcast for years, so we know how to put together an outline, how to share focus, and how to talk on just about any topic to fill a half-hour time slot. We even put together some simple power-point slides of our outline to keep us on topic and on schedule. People asked good questions and we got great feedback, so I think our presentations were a success.

We also did a really quick five-minute presentation of Gustav and Hanne Reischach. It was really bizarre, because we were not really in character, it was more like putting on the clothing and pretending to be in character. Stephen did Gustav’s talk to new recruits, and I (as Hanne) interrupted him to tell the women in the audience what their roles will be. It was bizarre because in a normal situation, Gustav and Hanne hardly ever interact during the day, they have different spheres of influence. Hanne would also never interrupt Gustav. But the audience laughed, and I hope they learned something. We got a lovely card from the organizer thanking us for all our participation.

Some of the most memorable parts of the weekend were the amazing buildings that we got to hang out in all weekend. Delaware really has a great state history organization and Dover is an incredibly beautiful town. Stephen and I both now want to go back. Getting to hang out with people who do what we do, love what we love, and share so many experiences is so rare for me and is always a wonderful experience. We had dinner in a hangar on Dover Airforce Base that has is now a museum. It was strange being dressed in 16th Century and looking at all those planes, but it was also really fun to play in the air control tower, and to take photos of George Washington on Airforce One.

I believe in Fate, and I was receiving some pretty strong signals while at the FPIPN retreat. Two of the people we hung out with had just completed Master’s degrees, one had done an online program. Two attendees came from the New York Tenement museum. I chatted with them a little at the end and told them that I was jealous that they got to portray Jewish history, which is something I’d always wanted to do. They said that I should come to work at the Tenement Museum, to which I replied that I lived in New Hampshire. Both then spoke up and said two things: Strawbery Banke Museum and Mrs. Shapiro. I used to work at SBM, and in fact have written about Mrs. Shapiro on this very blog.

On the way down to the retreat Stephen and I were both wondering if all the preparations, stress and travel would be worth it for this one weekend. On the way home I definitely felt it was well worth it.

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