Black Bears and Brown Boxes, or Fall Storage

The topic of storage when discussed in New Hampshire, landed quickly upon acorns and chipmunks: specifically, how you find acorns in funny places. In Montana, where we organized a family wedding brunch earlier this months, it was apples and black bears. The bears are actually quite timid, says my uncle the cattle rancher, and they’d much rather be up in the mountains keeping to themselves. They come down to human-tended apple trees in order to fatten up for the winter, and in doing so thrill the daylights out of many a dude ranch visitor or Yellowstone tourist.

Here in Boston, buttoning up our storage means reviewing paper files, digital folders, photos, and well-labeled boxes. Like many businesses, we are reducing, but not eliminating, our holdings of paper files this fall, having recently increased our use of cloud-based storage services. One signs up for a one-hour technical workshop with the starry-eyed hopes of organizing a lifetime of family photos. Alongside all storage successes, we inevitably reconsider the business, identifying opportunities and pruning out old categories. There follows better organization of the mind.

We fully intend to have a library someday for the company. It can’t be where we work or live now, so we have started boxing up books by categories that correspond to our areas of expertise. The brown boxes full of books are “interleaved” or “void-filled” with newsprint (technical terms courtesy of the Uline catalog) for safekeeping in case it takes awhile to get the right space.

Why save hardcover and paperback books at all? Do they have a place anymore in our precious real estate, whether homes or offices, urban, suburban, or rural? The best answer comes from Harvard Librarian John Overholt via Twitter: “The highest purpose of the library is to serve as the armory of the truth, to defend it against lies that serve the powerful.”

In business, of course, we want to be powerful at times, but in the course of our negotiations, we must be above all fair and truthful. Planning a library is imagining being able to pluck just the right book off the shelf in the home office library and answer any question at all! This fall, orderly brown boxes are comfort enough, and putting them away opens the door to planning for what’s next in life and in business.

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