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The Old Urbanism (1.3)


Some of us are smart. Others have to be satisfied being clever. Saying I’m in the latter category isn’t false modesty; for better (and sometimes for worse), it’s just the way things are.

I am smart enough, however, to know my limitations; to realize—sometimes with humility, often with embarrassment—that there are some things I can do and many others that I should relegate to folks blessed with talents, abilities, inclinations and insights I can only admire. And so it is in Agincourt.

The story of any community is written by its members—all its members. Similarly, one person might hope to write that story, but it’s very likely to be two-dimensional at best. The Agincourt story ran that risk, until that first seminar, when a couple dozen students strode boldly into the quagmire of inventing history; the three- and even four-dimensional relationship between narrative and material culture. As a confirmed, card-carrying geek, sport may be the topic most alien to me. So I breathed a heavy sigh of relief when someone, literally, stepped up to the plate.


David asked very early whether Agincourt had a professional sports team. I told him that one had been discussed in only general terms—The Archers, a Double-A club in the Missouri River watershed cluster of Iowa teams—and that I welcomed his offer to flesh out that theme. The team name has changed and its story enriched with characters I’d actually pay to watch. First comes the team; then follows the gangly wooden bleachers and clubhouse straight out of the WPA. But here’s the twist: David’s team is about to be painted in encaustic.

Joyce, an NDSU graduate working in Baltimore, had shown one of her paintings at the Student Union gallery a year or so ago, something so well crafted in a difficult medium (encaustic), that I asked her to do something for Agincourt. Not wanting to call the shots, but simply to be the widwife in her choice, I gave Joyce carte blanche and she came back with an unexpected proposition: a dynamic moment as one of Agincourt’s baseball players glides safely, if uncomfortably, across home plate. It now remains only for David and Joyce to coordinate their efforts and for the rest of us to await the result with a lump in our throat.


Excuse me if I get verklemt.

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