The Importance of Sharing Alan Chadwick’s Archival Records
Why have Craig Siska and Steve Crimi ignored this basic responsibility?
Contrary to Alan Chadwick’s wishes, most of the recordings of his lectures have not been released freely to the public, but are being held captive in North Carolina by Craig Siska and Steve Crimi.
As noted in the inaugural documents of the Alan Chadwick Society in 1980, Chadwick wanted his lectures to be easily accessible to anyone who was interested. Unfortunately that has not happened, because Siska and Crimi, who obtained the bulk of these items by pledging to make them available, have not honored that trust, instead they have been hoarding most of the material while refusing to share it with the rest of the world.
Craig Siska acquired the large majority of original lecture tapes by promising the owners of these items that everything would be made freely accessible to the public within a reasonable time frame. However, it has now been over thirty years, and very little has been shared.
Certainly thirty years is not a “reasonable time frame.”
Siska’s stated reason for the delay is that it takes lots of time to edit the sound quality of the tapes before they can be released. But certainly not thirty years. Surely some work has been done in the meantime, which should have been released by now.
Given the fact that the few things Siska and Crimi have produced so far are in the form of books and CD’s, which are only offered for sale, it is likely they hope to profit financially from Chadwick’s legacy and are therefore sitting on all the lectures until they can be suitably packaged and monetized.
When confronted by these observations, they claim, “It’s all being done for a good cause” and “any money raised goes to support the Chadwick archives.”
So long as the majority of the Chadwick archives are locked up in isolated custody, they remain nothing more than a private enterprise operated by Siska and Crimi for their own benefit. There is no indication that their so-called “Alan Chadwick Archive” has officially registered as a nonprofit organization or a tax-exempt charity. If that were the case, then all financial records would be open to the public.
It is highly ironic that Alan Chadwick, a person who most personified the “economy of gift,” as Paul Lee so aptly expressed it, should have his life’s work converted into merchandise sold for profit. Chadwick, who would never charge money for the premier flowers cut from his gardens, would be greatly displeased at Siska and Crimi for selling what he originally gave out freely to all who were interested.
Making the case that money is necessary to support archival work is not unreasonable for unique or specialized projects, but it must not be used as an excuse for withholding everything from access by others. Those individuals who are ready and able to work on these materials voluntarily, and to post them on the internet without charge, need to be given full and equal access.
It is altogether regrettable that the world has been deprived of Alan Chadwick’s insights for over thirty years. Chadwick was an enormous force for change in agricultural practices world-wide. Near the end of his life, when he could no longer teach by example, he saw that his recorded lectures might still be an avenue for continuing his mission of promoting the ecological techniques that he advocated. That positive influence has been held back too long by the inaction and lack of sharing by Siska and Crimi as self-appointed exclusionary keepers of Alan Chadwick’s long-imprisoned archival materials.
When pressed, Siska’s reply is generally the same, along the lines of: “Everything will be ready and fully accessible by next spring, or next fall, or just one more year.” But such claims are no longer credible. They have been repeated too often and for so long now that it is evident that they are hollow. Also on distinct occasions, Siska has promised donors of original lecture tapes and other items that he would return the materials, or copies of the materials, but has not followed through. These facts all indicate that a change is sorely overdue and must be insisted upon by those of us who care about Alan Chadwick’s legacy.
What can we, as concerned members of the Chadwick community, do about this situation? Below are a few suggestions.
- Anyone who has entrusted materials to Siska and Crimi should request that their items be returned. If the materials are not forthcoming, let us know and we will make note of each failure to comply, while keeping the community informed of possible recourses. If the materials are faithfully returned as requested, contact us for suggestions about how to properly store, copy or publish them.
- If you volunteered to transcribe lectures for the so-called “Alan Chadwick Archive,” send us copies of your text files for immediate and unrestricted publication on Alan-Chadwick.org. You are the creator of the transcriptions and therefore have the right to publish them wherever you like.
- If you entrusted materials to Siska and Crimi, but kept originals or copies in your own files and would like to make them available to the public, send us copies of that material and we will add it to the free content on this website. Note: since we are not collectors of original Chadwick materials, we prefer to work with copies only.
- If you have original tapes, documents or other items related to Alan Chadwick’s life and work, and would like to see them protected and housed in a reputable facility for posterity, contact us for suggestions about alternative options other than the untrustworthy arrangement set up by Siska and Crimi, operating as the so-called “Alan Chadwick Archive.”
- Send us any other thoughts you may have about this untenable situation whereby Siska and Crimi have been obstructing Alan Chadwick’s legacy. We will keep the community informed about progress made toward resolving the problem.
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In the interest of finding a cooperative solution to these concerns, we recently sent a letter to Craig Siska and Steve Crimi, requesting a loosening up of their exclusionary practices and suggesting a more open approach to sharing the recordings of Chadwick’s lectures. We were hoping for some kind of reply within a week or two, but have not received any communication as of this time. The following is a copy of that letter, which was cc’d to Paul Lee and Virginia Baker as trusted intermediaries:
To: Craig Siska and Steve Crimi
From: Greg Haynes and Peter Jorris
Date: July 21, 2015
Re: Letter requesting open sharing of items entrusted to the “Alan Chadwick Archive”
Dear Craig and Steve,
Many people have entrusted you with permissions, original documents, tapes, photographs and personal memorials based on your commitments to make these materials fully available to the Chadwick community at large within a reasonable timeframe. But it is now more than thirty years since you began making such promises, and very little has been forthcoming.
There are now many other people who would like to share in the access to these source materials but cannot do so, because you have held them back from public view. That is very much contrary to the spirit of the archive project as it was set up back in 1980 with the aim to have a repository that would “be an inventory of Alan Chadwick’s work and teachings; of people and institutions in the Chadwick network; and of articles, books, films, etc. related to it.” And, most importantly, all this “acquired material” was intended to be “combined in such a way that it is easily accessible to anyone interested.”
While we appreciate your efforts to consolidate records and carry forward the archive project, the time has come when all the original formats and source materials need to be made fully available to the rest of us, so that everything can be posted on the internet where it will be readily accessible to all. To do otherwise contradicts the original vision as well as representations you personally have made on different occasions to the effect that everything will be freely accessible without charges or restrictions.
A reference to the above concerns was raised three years ago in conjunction with a review of your publication of Performance in the Garden that was posted on the website Alan-Chadwick.org. You requested us to remove the mention of those concerns from the site because you were then on the verge of making everything publically available and just needed a little more time. However, despite your assertion, nothing has changed in the meantime.
Up to now, we have refrained from questioning your methods or intentions, but the point has been reached when these concerns cannot be ignored any longer. Thirty years is much too long to be sitting on the Chadwick tapes and documents, while withholding them from the rest of us. Now is the time to start freely sharing all these items, as stated in the original Chadwick Society purpose and make them “easily assessable” to everyone who is interested. Keep in mind that all of us are getting old, and some have already departed this life.
In the spirit of sharing, the following steps need to be taken in order to properly honor the wishes of Alan Chadwick and R. Baker Roshi as expressed in that inaugural memo and to reassure all of us that you are indeed acting in good faith:
- On June 9, 2015, Virginia Baker, a major donor of materials to your archive project, contacted you, requesting that you send us copies of all materials in your possession that are ready for publication, and you agreed to do this. So far we have not received anything. Please follow through on this specific commitment you have made.
- Without any unnecessary delay please also send us (and any other authorized members of the Chadwick community who may request them) copies of every original taped lecture by Alan Chadwick in your possession. These should be uncompressed digital copies wherever possible. We are happy to cover the cost of any postage or any memory device necessary to transfer these materials.
- Rather than soliciting original resources from people who still possess them, please collect copies of those items instead, leaving the original documents and recordings in the hands of those who can share them with others as well.
Hopefully you will look upon these requests from the standpoint of what is best for the Chadwick community as a whole and then let us know within a week or two if you concur with this more inclusive approach to the archives. These changes will not hinder your own use of the material, but will open the door for others to study and work with Alan Chadwick’s legacy too. If you see your way clear to accept these requests, it will greatly restore everyone’s faith in your good will and intentions. We believe it is the best way to proceed at this late point in time.
Thank you for your consideration.
Greg Haynes and Peter Jorris
cc. Paul Lee, Virginia Baker