Shunryu Suzuki Legacy Project
To Preserve and Deliver
Supporters and Advisors - past present and future
Email sent August 2008 Explaining the SSLP Archive Subscription
This missive briefly describes the Shunryu Suzuki Legacy Project, SSLP, introduces the idea of a digital subscription to the materials in the archives of Suzuki Roshi, and appeals for a donation to support this project in its formative stage.
The SSLP is the name of the ongoing work to preserve and make available the recorded and remembered teaching of Suzuki Roshi. The SSLP is a name Lew Richmond had first used for the work some of us have been involved with over the years. He also raised funds that gave a big boost to this archiving and historical activity in the spring. A committee that has been recently guiding the SSLP is composed of Lew, Ed Sattizahn, Steve Stucky, former head of the SFZC archives Michael Wenger, and me. Steve has been energetically focusing on promoting this work since he first became abbot – and like the rest of us and many others, from long before that as well.
A few months ago I made two reports to the committee - a fairly long one on the state of the Shunryu Suzuki media archive (audio, transcripts, film, photos) with a brief summary up front and a quickly done report on the oral and written history which we’re not focusing on at this time. We agreed to come up with a proposal to the board of the SFZC. I did the drafts with ongoing feedback from members of the committee, Steve Tipton, John Tarrant, and Prof. John Nelson of USF. Then Lew and Ed worked on it and Steve Stucky polished it off and submitted it to the board on behalf of the abbots. It was short and accepted.
You can read these reports and proposals and this letter and
some other fascinating papers at the following link:
This proposal called for the SFZC to allocate funds to
continue the momentum of recent activity, to establish a place for all
archives in the City Center, and to hire a half time archivist. It provides
me with a stipend to be a consultant on this archiving while focusing on the
preservation and development of Suzuki Roshi’s phenomenal (in both senses)
legacy - what we can see, read, and listen to. I report to Steve Stucky and
Valorie Beer, his assistant at Green Gulch. She and I are in daily contact.
Of the immediate tasks that are being tackled, the one I write you about today is the idea of archival subscription, the goal of which is to promptly give fairly complete access to Suzuki Roshi’s lectures and whole archive to a limited group consisting mainly of teachers in Suzuki
Roshi’s lineage – for them and for members of their groups, scholars, and other serious students. Since this is an ongoing project, we are talking about it in terms of a subscription to a living, growing archive.
What I’m working on now is getting the whole audio archive, all of Suzuki Roshi's lecture tapes that we have, digitally copied on to CD and then all on to one external hard drive (HD) at the quality level of the standard audio CD - 16bit 41.1K, not compressed like MP3s. They are being copied from the master cassette copies off the master reel to reel tapes that Mark Watts copied off the originals. This is not the best we can do but is the best we can afford to do right now – copy the audio archive as it is at this quality – not slowing things down to do anything other than get it preserved at a working level first – preserved and shared. Some of these lectures will be of very poor quality and a few will be inaudible. Most are understandable. There will be included a list of favorites which you can add to.
Also included on this HD will be the transcript archive in whatever state it's in when the audio copying is completed and ready to go. The transcript archive will be expanded from its present state - I know of at least fifty lectures that will be included which aren’t in the present collection. In addition to the existing MS Word version of the transcripts, a text version of all the lectures including all of them in one file, excellent for searching, and a PDF version are in the works. Some edited versions including a number of existing light edits of the verbatim transcripts are ready to be included. There’s also an index to the lectures, a data base and other materials. I don't know if there will be any photos or film ready to go on it at that time but we should be able to include something in those areas before long. I’ll also be working on a guide to the material which will be updated as the material expands and is updated. As with the audio, much work remains to be done with the transcripts – including locating lectures not presently in the archive.
An external hard disc with stand-alone case and USB2 connection would be good for PCs and Macs, and will likely be 500 or 750 gigabytes and would be guaranteed - maybe for five years by which time it might be replaced. This HD is like a mother ship from which individual materials can be produced as needed – CDs and DVDs for listening or watching, hard copies printed for classes, libraries, or individual study. It can also of course be directly accessed. This subscription archive should be interactive and encourage others to work on and help develop the Suzuki archive. The subscribers would be able to make contributions to it in various ways about which we’ll be communicating.
To assure long term survival, there will also be other digital and analogue copies of the archive such as CDs and DVDs with new work proposed to capture higher quality audio from the original tapes. A few sets of gold CDs would be good. CDs and DVDs are more stable for archiving but the HDs will be a flexible, writable, changeable medium as well as a way to preserve through redundancy. We will keep abreast of new developments in the field.
The SFZC is planning to create a 4th practice
center on the Internet. The work we do now, based on the raw material, can
help to collect and make available the efforts of the past as well as to
create more developed and accessible content. A blog for exchanging ideas on
these archives has been suggested by a number of people.
There is a meeting scheduled for September to talk about the details of this project. There will be restrictions on the use of the material of course as there is with any copyrighted material. A more official fundraising letter will go out at some point to a wider audience, but in the meantime the preparatory work is ongoing. I am suggesting that it go to the subscribers regardless of ability to pay while at the same time asking for donations before the specifics are determined so that it can be prepared and implemented as soon as possible. I’m planning on having a few HDs ready with the first material loaded in September and from that point copies will be easy to make and send out.
I see the first step as at least a $10,000 project – getting the digital copying done and preparing this first stage of the subscription archive and related ongoing archival activities. I have been suggesting a $1000 contribution to the SSLP if possible or whatever the group can afford. But anything that could be spared will help to defray current ongoing costs. I'll contact individuals to try to cover whatever costs the groups can't. I’m working on a proposal to the National Endowment for the Humanities that’s due this month which seeks funds which could help with some of the more costly plans.
I don’t want to divert any funds that would otherwise go to the SFZC to help them through this time of reduced income because of the fire. Right now I’m personally covering the digital copying and some other expenses till donations arrive. The SFZC board accepted the SSLP proposal with the understanding that I’d be covering the costs of it through fundraising. I’m especially interested in bringing in at least enough to cover my ongoing stipend so this work is costing the SFZC nothing.
Checks should be made out to the San Francisco Zen Center with a note that it’s for the SSLP and – if you wish - that says this donation is to be used for your subscription to the archive. Mail it to: Abbot’s Assistant, Green Gulch Farm, 1601 Shoreline Hgwy., Muir Beach, CA 94965
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