The best thing about the AIS reunion was the chance to reconnect with former coworkers. Just catching up with each other's news would have been great fun all by itself!
But in addition, we set up some exhibits, games, and activities to trigger memories of mapping days gone by.
One display consisted of three timeline boards. They each contained images and phrases to remind us of the projects, social events, and technology of a particular era in AIS's history. We encouraged people to add their memories to the boards.
In case you missed them, or want to see them again, here are photo galleries of each board - little pieces at a time, so you can see them clearly. And feel free to add your comments and memories to this post!
We have the Crestline Years (1976-1985)...
... We have the early Redlands Years (1985-1999) ...
... and we have the recent years (2000-2016).
We also had two "In Memory Of" displays, for Walter Nunes and Celeste Richard.
Now, on to less poignant displays and activities!
We challenged our former coworkers with two guessing games: "How Many Registration Pins in the Jar," and "How Many Polygons on the Map."
When Eric Charlton was announced as the winner of the Registration Pins game, he said, "But I never win anything." Then we figured out the winner of the Map Polygons game - and it was Eric Charlton again!
Prizes were given to those who traveled the farthest to attend the reunion: John McKay and his wife Linda came all the way from Maryland; Sue Ross Rohde came from Salem OR (we were a stop on her way to the Esri User Conference in San Diego); Marlene and Malcolm Meyers were down from Klamath Falls, OR; Kelly and Brenda Bringhurst drove out from St. George, UT; and Lisa and Eric McCready were visiting us from Truckee, CA.
For a display called "Where in the World Have We Been?", reunion-goers were encouraged to place stickers on a world map to show their travel destinations. At the end, several continents and islands ended up sporting the little monkey-face stickers.
We had also set up a "Toss the Blue Bunny" game, where guests could test their skill using barbeque tongs to toss the infamous Blue Bunny and other small stuffed animals into a long, narrow Kodak box. Not many people tried the game, but several of them did get a kick out of seeing the old pregnancy-chance-enhancer once again!
The slideshow of old photos of reunion-goers and others was a big hit. As you may know, these photos (and photos taken at reunion) are available for download via Dropbox. If you'd like either or both sets of photos, please let us know!
We couldn't let the first-ever reunion of AIS employees go by without attempting a group photo. Several ideas on how and where to create the image were considered; in the end, we had employees go out to the patio and group themselves by the decade in which they were hired, starting with the 1970s on the left-hand side. It worked out that way - sort of!
One touching aspect of the reunion was that many employees wanted to express their appreciation to Eric and Toshie Harnden for providing employment (for many of us, our first jobs) in the GIS field, in a relaxed, collaborative work environment. To demonstrate that appreciation, we had constructed a poster collage of four photos representing places AIS has mapped - Alaska; Yosemite/National Parks; Channel Islands/coastal environments; and the Mojave Desert. Employees signed the margins with their thoughts and wishes for Eric and Toshie, who were then presented with the final result.
After that, the amazing cake baked by Ingrid Johnson was served, and the party kept going, even past the official end time. It was a fantastic reunion from start to finish!