Although the exact year is difficult to pin down, sometime in the early 1980s the need for a stone wall between the College Chapel and DeVries Gymnasium became a priority at Warren Wilson. The problem was that the wall as envisioned would be a few feet high and many feet long, thus requiring long hours of labor by a lot of people. The solution? Schedule a campus Work Day!
Thus Work Day at Warren Wilson was born, and it has been going strong ever since. Dean of Work Ian Robertson does recall one year in which heavy rains canceled plans for widespread planting on campus. But aside from that one blip, Work Day has proceeded unabated – rain or shine – as a reliable Warren Wilson rite of spring each April.
In recent years Work Day has cast a considerably wider net across the 1,130-acre Warren Wilson campus, but the 2011 edition on April 6 may have been wider than ever. Work projects were undertaken from the western edge of campus (with the usual Warren Wilson Cemetery cleanup led by alumni relations director Rodney Lytle) to the eastern corner, where weeding and mulching was done at the native grass nursery near the Cherokee Archaeology Site.
For students, Work Day offers a nice midweek break from the usual class schedule during a very busy time of the year. Yes, there is work – or off-campus service – to be done on their regular work crews in the morning. But the afternoon brings an opportunity to work outside, a welcome assignment especially when the weather is ideal as it was again this year. And there’s even a picnic with live music as a reward at day’s end.
One highly used area on the core campus receiving much attention this year was Sage Circle, where a Sage Café overhang, seating area and general beautification were among the projects. Workers there said they had a great sense of pride in what was accomplished at Sage and elsewhere on Work Day.
“I’m proud of what we’ve achieved today in the space, and it makes me proud to say I work here at Sage,” Megan Gordon ’13 said. Added fellow Sage worker Hannah McMerriman ’14, “Work Day really helps to bring work crews together and to improve the look and feel of the campus. We achieved a lot today.”
Easily the noisiest site this year – at least for a while – could be heard between the Log Cabin and Laursen Building, where sidewalk demolition was one of the 20+ Work Day projects. There the jarring song of the jackhammer could be heard on the brilliantly sunny afternoon, leaving plenty of rubble to be hauled off by helping hands. Construction on a new walkway was scheduled to begin soon after Work Day.
Kristen McQuade ’14, one of the 10 or so students working on the sidewalk, said Work Day “is important because it just shows how much this community relies on each other to work together in harmony, as well as to keep this campus beautiful.”
By its very nature Work Day always poses some logistical challenges, including providing an adequate supply of tools and gloves, as well as transportation to farflung project sites. And common to all project sites are thirsty and hungry workers, who keep Work Day organizers on the go with water and fruit deliveries. But somehow it all gets done with typically few snafus along the way.
And what about that stone wall project in the early ’80s, directed in large part by Tim Gott ’87 and completed with the help of many students? “It’s still standing,” Dean Robertson notes, “and that’s a tribute to their hands.” No doubt the same will be said in the future about Work Day 2011.