What is Mnemic Train? It’s a company I formed while purchasing the Esparto train station property earlier this year.
‘Mnemic’ is the adjective for ‘mneme’, and a ‘mneme’, in turn, is a memory trace. Really, it’s the specific material form that a memory takes when we remember something. Memories can take form in images or stories, or indeed in any number of ways, and they often arise when we revisit an old haunt, hear a familiar song, smell a long forgotten smell, etc.
Mnemes, or memory traces – which is what I’m calling these sensory things that we remember – often come in the form of a ‘train’. In other words, they combine together in a sequence or a group (which is part of why they so naturally get told as stories). So a “mnemic train” is a series or arrangement of memory materials.
I chose this name because I suspect the Esparto train station to be a vehicle for a vast range of memories – of many of the people who live or have lived in its vicinity. [Special thanks, by the way, to Rick Robertson, and to his mother, who provided the scan of old Esparto photos from which I took the image above.] I want to hear (or see?) as many of these memories as possible. Ideally, I want to incorporate them somehow in the way that I/we think about what’s possible in the station’s future.
Who am I? My name is Maria McVarish and so far I’m the sole proprietor of Mnemic Train, LLC and the train station property. I grew up in Davis, California and have lived in the Bay Area since attending college and graduate school at UC Berkeley. I’m an architect, artist and writer and I teach interdisciplinary design and theory at California College of the Arts in San Francisco. You can find more information about me and my work there.
What am I going to do with the Esparto train station? Well, I’m not sure yet. Since acquiring it last May, I’ve spent most of my time and resources cleaning up the toxic soil there and documenting the existing structural conditions in preparation for some basic repair and stabilization work that I hope to get underway late next spring. I won’t be making any decisions about the longer term future of the station until I get to know more people from the Esparto area and listen to what they (you?) would like to see happen in this building and on its land. If you have ideas or resources for me to consider, please post a comment here. Please also consider attending the next Esparto Citizens Advisory Committee meeting on Monday, 10/18/11, where I will be on hand to field questions and discuss the station’s future (see my post on this below).