Canyon Voices: Past And Present

August 04, 2016 Posted by: George H. Jacobi

Wearing turn of the 19th Century clothing, 7 members of the Echoes From the Canyon living history production are posing in front of an adobe wall. A large wooden wagon wheel is in the center of the photo.

"It makes the experience more profound when we challenge people's perception of the canyon". Interpretive Specialist Rader Lane (historical figure Joseph Christmas Ives) talks about the well-received play "Echoes From The Canyon", which he and others put on last week at the McKee Amphitheater. Running for 6 nights, the theatrical production included video and sound to back up the cast of live actors. Park Research Librarian Ted McClure (John Verkamp) –"It engages people for longer and in different ways. It's a valuable thing to make happen." Indeed, when visitors are done looking off the edge, it's good that many appreciate more meaningful pursuits than eating and shopping.

The 100 year history of Grand Canyon is rich with wild characters. This week included Mary Colter, Blanche Kolb, and John Hance coming to life in individual performances, and many more in 3 nights of "Echoes". Not only were they portrayed joyfully and skillfully, but this effort was evidence that a current group of dedicated and energetic characters has taken their place.

A large contingent of Rangers from Interpretation and Creative Media has put on this performance for 5 years, pushing the envelope on their talents as teachers and expositors. It's not part of the job. All the work on "Echoes" is voluntary, above and beyond the call of duty, and on a warm evening in the outdoor venue, it yielded a delightful result.

These people deal with issues of all kinds in their occupational life - low staffing, low budget, accidents of all kinds, terribly slow bandwidth, electrical outages from lightning, and much more. One assumes most could find more lucrative jobs somewhere else. Yet they continually strive to make their Interpretation work better by constant learning, taking courses, attending seminars, digging through the Research Library. That includes the seasonals and volunteers here for part-time jobs out of sheer love of the place.

Rader Lane - "Super fun. It gives you the jitters;it's not the regular stuff that we do every day." He suggested that it kindles even more enthusiasm and collaboration within the group;I have to say that a great reservoir of those attributes must already exist to pull this off. Where does that come from? Some of it comes from within. Some of it must come from the energy they get from being here working for the present - and the future - of Grand Canyon National Park.

This year a rock played a central role, being handed across the stage from actor to actor through time, becoming a metaphor for the meaningfulness of both the resource and the job of caring for it.

This place appears to be in good hands. As an outsider who loves the National Park system, I couldn't be more respectful. The staff's commitment to the Canyon looks as solid as a rock.

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This blog is meant to encourage awareness and thoughtfulness about the Grand Canyon, one of our most precious resources. It is not merely a story of what happens or has happened here, not a cookbook for what you should make of it yourself, but more an example of the many-faceted inspiration the Canyon nurtures in an artist, perhaps in you. Indeed, inspiration may be the Canyon's greatest resource. These words are sincere, my own take on this world, deliberately non-academic and directed toward users of social media. In no way does it represent the policies or opinions of the National Park Service, although it is done under the auspices of that entity, but is offered in gratitude, with my respect and admiration for these soldiers of conservation. George H. Jacobi 2016 

Last updated: August 4, 2016

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