Finally venturing into the research portion of this assignment, I decided to do some fumbling around the Guilford archives. Now I personally feel like research in general is one of my weakest suits. I get so easily distracted and frustrated by not finding exactly what I want to find, I’ll just move swiftly past things that might actually be beneficial to my research. Plus, I have a lot of trouble leaving behind my preconceived notions and allowing the work to just speak for itself. For this project, I didn’t have any idea what I was really looking for. I wanted to know what the Meadows were before they were the Meadows, sure. But I also was looking for some historical context. What I did find was this map from 1917 that showed all the segmentation of the campus, labeling broad areas as “Orchard” or “Woods” or “Quad.” The Meadows was roughly in “Woods,” perhaps spilling over slightly into “Orchard” but it was hard to tell exactly. I took that information to mean that before being grass fields dotted with various pine trees, the Meadows were simply more trees?
The disc golf course that now occupies the Meadows was built in 2012, a few years after the cross country course was added to the landscape in 2009. And some of my sources tell me that the Meadows, more or less the way they are now, have been here at least since the 70s. Around the same time that the disc golf course was built, Guilford College administrators actually decided to sell a 2-acre portion of the land to a medical company. I’m pretty certain this is now Eagle Health, a facility that gives mostly free care to Guilford students. In a 2012 Guilfordian article, faculty secretary and former Greensboro zoning commission member, Janet Wright was quoted saying, “This could be a domino effect. I don’t want to see us slowly taking offers and saying we need the money and selling off parts of our land.” This is a legitimate fear, and the fact that the land ended up being sold regardless is very telling of the financial crisis facing the college and the value placed on our natural spaces over other parts of campus. Even now, we see parts of the woods being demolished for new development. This is normalized now, to see us quickly jumping to sacrifice woodlands and other natural places being sacrificed for the sake of Guilford paying off debt.
The farm, which was rebuilt in 2011, also ate up some of the land that was once part of the Meadows. The farm is certainly a necessary part of the college too. It offers students an opportunity to work in agriculture, which is extremely rare amongst our generation, and to participate in some of the food justice work that revolves around our farm. At the same time, the farm is a huge selling point for students coming to Guilford. The marketing team knows what sort of demographics it will attract and, as students at this school, we can identify what sorts of tactics were effective in getting us to come here. I know that the farm was a selling point for me. I wonder if a little extra Meadows might have had the same impact?