Back to the Work: Marie Alfred

It can feel so good to be ambitious. Three months ago I was sure I was going to write a blog post every week about all the progress we were making on this project -- because indeed, every week we were progressing. 

But alas! Living life and also writing about life is harder than you think. And so, this love overdue blog post details a very important aspect of the work we've been doing on Back to the Work

Should be dated, early December 2017 ish.

Meet Marie

Back to the Work, our project with Lippitt House Museum, aims to reveal the human fingerprints that cover our world, specifically because of work concerning construction, manufacturing, and maintenance. We are also connecting the past to the present by revealing history to be the accumulation of practices that have brought us here, rather than a tidy timeline of isolated events. In order to do all that, we're both researching who labored in the house at the time of its construction in 1865, and interviewing the people who labor in Lippitt House today. 

The woman who cleans Lippitt House Museum is Marie Alfred. She runs her own cleaning business, as well as a dog walking business called Dog Troopers -- which she says you can always remember if you're a Star Wars fan. She's only been cleaning the Museum for about a year. Before that, the small staff took care of the cleaning themselves. When the current director, Carrie, took over she reorganized things a bit and created a staff position who would be in charge of events. Once Lippitt House Museum started hosting events, the clean-up became too much for the staff and there was enough extra income to necessitate hiring Marie and her team. 



Marie has gotten a reputation for cleaning historic homes specifically. Like Dave Painter, she is self-taught, very passionate and incredibly knowledgable. In our hour-long chat about her work and the house I learned more about what it takes to clean a historic home than I thought possible (Biggest personal take-away: stop using Murphy's Oil). She is ambitious, industrious, and kind, and talked about how she's in the process right now of expanding both of her businesses and hiring more people. In listening back to our conversation, I was hit with the way she described the sensitivity needed in a house like Lippitt; that in older homes you have to take greater care. I'm sure that all of the people she hires next will be trained to be great caretakers of great spaces.

Marie was also gracious enough to agree to lend her voice and perspective to the project, which we'll edit together into something you can hear when you come. Marie isn't someone who craves the spotlight, and so we are extra honored to have her take part, and are sure you're going to learn a lot by listening to her talk about her life and her work. 

Before We Begin: In the Space!


Today is the big day. We've officially started moving into the AS220 Black Box and building our room within the room for Before We Begin. Jed found a rock on the beach last week that is our guiding force for the visual aspects of the room:

There are a lot of reasons why this rock is a powerful symbol for what we're building. It's simple and grey. It's round and ovally. But it also is deceptive. There is a strange tork to it -- a kind of divet if you look close. It has these vague lines and circles. It has a great weight. It kind of makes you feel calm and also in love with how nature makes such perfect objects.

We had a mid-day trip to an unnamed hardware store where we bought all the wood that could possibly be available to two people not building a home, and then brought it back to the space. Here's Jed in shopping mode:


While there we got to ask ourselves, "What kind of wood paneling should we get?" Thank goodness for that rock. It might sound nuts but it guided us toward the exact right wood siding.

And more and more more!