By Sarah Scruggs (left)
Why HistoriCorps? Why not? There is no reason that I shouldn’t or couldn’t do what is asked of me in my time as a volunteer on a HistoriCorps crew; I know how to use tools, I love history and working to preserve an inclusive narrative, I love travelling to new and amazing places and getting my hands dirty doing meaningful work. Check, check, check. But then I show up and I remember why trying new things is tough sometimes. Most of the people I encounter in this field–a field I earned my undergraduate degree in–are of a certain demographic with which I find few commonalities: older, white, male, hetero. It takes a whole other level of mental and emotional preparation when you’re young, black, a woman, queer, and alone. To say the least, people are usually surprised that I’m there voluntarily, whether their surprise is ambivalent, pleasant, or not. I’ll be honest, for my first week with HistoriCorps at Malakoff Diggins State Park, I was ready to leave shortly after I arrived. I didn’t even know what to expect from the people I would be working with but, that won’t do it, chief.
But still, I stayed.
My (unexpected?) enthusiasm, the potential to learn with and from those around me, making a difference in history, and the amazing work site kept me around and coming back for more. As soon as I returned from my first week with HistoriCorps, I signed up for my second project for the 2018 season. Nearly everything prior to this sentence would suggest that I would have been compelled to do the opposite. However, I was able to join the final project for the 2018 season in Shasta Trinity National Forest working on Hirz Mountain (shout out forever to Charlotte & Spencer). It was a smaller-than-normal crew and we faced a few setbacks and quite a bit of problem solving, but we kept working hard through the frustration and struggles. I, too, plan to keep working, to show up for those that think or have been told that they can’t, to add a voice to the conversation and the crew, to learn from those I meet and hope that I can also teach people something new.
So, why HistoriCorps? Because I can–and there might be someone else like me who needs to know they can too.