By Shayna Han
At this year’s ReUnion, the Union community will seal a time capsule and place it in the glass enclosure under the Wold staircase. The project is the result of three years’ work by English professor Anastasia Pease and her team.
In 2009, Pease was teaching a Sophomore Research Seminar course on time and dendrochronology when the idea of a time capsule emerged.
“I’m fascinated with time,” Pease said. “It’s a boundless topic.”
She put together a team to research, design and execute the idea. Professor Cherrice Traver of electrical and computer engineering, Professor Fernando Orellana of visual arts, archivist Ellen Fladger, Professor Doug Klein of economics and Union students all contributed.
Research had to be done regarding many details of time capsules, both in general and specific to Union. Had Union ever had a time capsule before? How will the time capsule and its contents last? What objects would be put into the capsule? Where would the capsule be placed? What would the design be, and what would it be made of?
As the Wold Center was being constructed, the time capsule team claimed what Pease terms the “crypt”—the small, glassed-in enclosure under the stairs nearby Starbucks—as the completed time capsule’s holding place. The Symbolism Committee of the Wold Center approved the time capsule idea, calling it a “humanistic exercise.”
According to Fladger, Union has never had a documented time capsule.
The time capsule’s dimensions will be 17 inches by 17 inches by 29 inches. It will have two chambers, one that will be opened in 50 years (2062), the other in 100 years (2112).
The 2062 chamber will hold selected artwork from Orellana’s digital arts classes and letters written by current seniors to their future selves. The 2112 chamber will hold scrapbooks and information about Union’s clubs, academics, activities and organizations —mementos that reflect life at Union today.
Orellana talked about the questions of our own morality that came up in conjunction with the time capsule, particularly with regard to the 100-year compartment.
“For a little while, you’re going to come back to life,” Orellana said. “The mementos will be read by ‘students your age.’” In the “moment [you] come back,” he said, “what do you say to them?”
Questioning our own morality in context with the time capsule, Orellana explains, controls “the way we see what’s important and what we pass on.”