Carola Davis and Irwin Keller
And All the Ships at Sea: Point Reyes and the Culture of Radio
~Co-presented with the Bolinas Museum~
Point Reyes National Seashore is home to a significant Marconi wireless radio station built in the early 20th Century; Commonweal is based on the transmitting station grounds in an Art Deco structure, built by Marconi’s successor company, RCA. The surviving buildings and antenna fields are now on the National Register of Historic Places. Here, as was Marconi’s dream, the first transoceanic signal, from Bolinas to Hawaii, was achieved in 1914. The history of worldwide wireless radio transmission is more than technological: it launched an age of wireless communication which is still evolving. It contains its own language (Morse code), culture (among radio operators, and as lifelines to ship crews), and overarching sense of purpose.
Join us for a conversation with Carola DeRooy Davis, retired archivist and curator of the Pt. Reyes National Seashore Museum and Archives. Carola and Irwin will discuss the history of the Marconi/RCA stations and their cultural reverberations (including their impact in the development of the town of Bolinas). We will also hear about the tremendous efforts made to ensure preservation of this site, which threw a lifeline to ships at sea and land stations around the world for 84 years.
Carola was the collections manager for the Point Reyes National Seashore archives for 18 years. She curated and cultivated research and exhibits of the park’s collections until she retired in 2018. The profession blends Carola’s passions for connecting people to historic resources and evidence of stories of the past. At UC Berkeley, she landed her first dream job as an Archivist at the coveted Bancroft Library, while completing M.A. degree in Library & Information Science. Carola spent 16 years assisting the Maritime Radio Historical Society, a non-profit park partner, who restored the wireless stations to living history sites. In 2014, she coordinated a year-long series of events and exhibits celebrating the 100th anniversary of the radio stations, including an exhibit she curated at the Bolinas Museum. Carola co-authored Point Reyes Peninsula: Olema, Point Reyes Station, and Inverness, part of the Images of America: California Series. She currently resides in resides in the New Hampshire lakes region with her husband and is learning to snowshoe.
Irwin has been the spiritual leader of Congregation Ner Shalom in Sonoma County, California, since 2008. His past work included LGBT advocacy, HIV legal services, and 21 years as a singing drag queen with The Kinsey Sicks, America’s Favorite Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet. Irwin’s sermons and essays on Torah, mysticism, God, politics, disillusionment, and hope can be found on his blog, Itzik’s Well, found at irwinkeller.com. Irwin is a steward and faculty member of Commonweal’s Taproot Gathering.