Thursday, September 9, 2010

Putting a handy 'spin' on it.


Jacky, the young bilingual park employee assigned to our DSWAC walling demonstration near Ottawa last weekend, was excited to gain any more information we could tell him about the historic walls in Kingsmere Park and about the merits of dry stone walls in general. He came dressed in authentic period farmer clothes, complete with pitch fork and straw hat. After he was thoroughly briefed, he set about his task with great gusto.

He managed to get everyone's attention by greeting each person who came by saying "Hello, Bonjour" and then saying "Would you like to learn about what we are doing here?" It wasnt long before he had a continuous crowd of people standing around. He described in great detail and at great lengths what dry stone walling was and why it was so exciting to see it still being done in the park. He did a great job and sounded genuinly enthusastic .

That Sunday unlike the day before, we had a non-stop flow of specataors stopping to watch what we were doing. Jacky answered all their questions fluently in French and in English. It was stirring, even for those of us who were working on the wall, to hear about what it was we were doing. The talk got more embelished each time he gave it.

We have learned a valuable lesson. In future we will need to have at least one full time interpretor at any public dry stone walling demonstration we put on, or perhaps, we could find someone to cover what we were doing who was even more like a proffessional sports commentator. This person would not only be knowledgable about stonework but be equipped with a microphone as well, like an announcer at a demolition derby or a horse race . This person could shout and give play-by-play running commentary on how spectacularly the stones were being placed in the wall, how awkward the stones were and how strong and talented the men were who were 'participating' in this popular outdoor event.

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