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[As per the title, this was a discussion document, which I drew up at the request of PETT Trustees to imagine the relationship between the old Archive and Study Centre and the new, with proposals on the process of bridging from the old to the new: a bridging archivist, bridging events, bridging projects. The first section, given here, focuses on the nature of the Archive and Study Centre]

 

Part 1. What is different about the Planned Environment Therapy Trust Archive and Study Centre, and, through the Transition, what are we trying to achieve?

 

Over the past thirty years the Planned Environment Therapy Trust has created and developed an approach to the history and heritage of the field which has won two national awards. It's an approach which draws both from the academic world - and from the types of archives which have grown up to service academic researchers and government departments -; and from the discoveries and innovation that come from working closely over time with therapeutic communities, their leaders and organisations, and the people who have been in and have been affected by them.

 

  • This means that the Archive and Study Centre is both a Specialist Repository, in the conventional terms which professional archivists anywhere can understand; and it is a Community Archive, an exemplar of a model which is still being developed, and which – though now formally accepted by the Archives Profession - is still not well understood by archive professionals who have been trained and who work in the conventional sector. This has implications in terms of appointing future staff.

 

  • It is also a charity archive, which again sets it apart from other archive sectors. Although all archives aspire to the same standards and principles, and have overlapping purposes, the priorities, remit and nature of a charity archive are not the same as a local government archive, a university archive, or a business archive.

 

At the same time - while it has features in common with a variety of other archives and sectors -, the Planned Environment Therapy Trust Archive and Study Centre is unique in being an academically-oriented archive which is simultaneously a Community of Communities Archive – one which expresses and serves the field from which it has come, and which actively and intentionally serves a supporting and therapeutic purpose in relation to that field, and to the people and to the places whose archives it holds. By nature and approach it is syncretic: It brings together - for educational, research, support and therapeutic purposes - approaches, practices, people and orientations that are more generally kept apart, and not just in the archives world. All of this makes it unique.

 

This has not happened by accident. When they set it up, the Trustees mandated the Archive and Study Centre to be an activist and engaged enterprise, professional in approach, therapeutically-informed, and actively working to explore and realise the aims and objectives of the Trust.

 

When looking ahead to the place of what is now the Archive and Study Centre in the new organisation of the Mulberry Bush Organisation, the challenge is

  1. To survive the Transition and period of storage intact, and preferably still growing;
  2. To honour and maintain the original Vision of the Planned Environment Therapy Trust;
  3. To ensure that the communities and relationships which the Archive and Study Centre has fostered and brought together, and the unique set of tools and approaches which it has developed and embodied over the past 30 years, are secured and successfully transposed into the new situation.

The ultimate goal is to ensure that the unique approach to the history and heritage of the field developed and embodied in the Archive and Study Centre over the past 30 years is given new life, with new resources, in new and deeper relationships in the Mulberry Bush Organisation, so that innovation in and with the Mulberry Bush Organisation can continue, and the work and Vision can continue to expand and to flourish.