MICROBUDS is a website about Micronesia, put together by Peace Corps Volunteers who served there. It grew out of a response to a posting on the Peace Corps Online website that read: “MICRO 7: Yap and especially Outer Island Volunteers, would like to rekindle contacts from the past and see who knows who. Drop a line if you want to be in touch.”
What started as a general inclination to find out more about those of us who were still around (and didn’t mind if others knew it) and what we were doing (ditto the not minding) gradually grew into a more specific desire to create a place where we could share photographs and memories of our time on Yap and its Outer Islands in the late 1960s. But, at the same time, we didn’t want to limit the site to that particular part of Micronesia, or the Micro 7 years (1968-1970), or even the Peace Corps itself, although Peace Corps service at that time and in that place is the common thread that binds many of us together, however tenuously.
Which is a roundabout way of saying that MICROBUDS welcomes contributions from all friends of the people and islands of Micronesia—hence, as they say, the name.
The site currently has two main areas you can view and contribute to: a Viewpoint area, for memory and opinion pieces; and a Gallery area, where you’ll find some of the best—and to be completely honest, some of the less than best—Micronesia photographs on this or the other side of the International Dateline. Occasionally we got lucky when we snapped the shutter. But most of us were just amateur photographers (although there are definite exceptions to that statement, as you'll see), trying to take pictures in a strange new world of incredible beauty. We wanted to capture that beauty as best we could, even if we didn't always do it justice. A third area, the Forum, which, over the five or so years it was available online, accquired an incredible amount of information and opinion about Micronesia and the Peace Corps from members around the world, has been closed for several months now because of the increasingly skilled efforts of automated spam hackers to attempt posts on the Forum that have nothing to do with the purpose of this website.
We continue to welcome contributions to the Viewpoint and Gallery.
About the Gallery, just a few words:
First, the collection depends entirely on individual submissions, and those submissions have been substantial. We started with fewer than 200 photos; currently, there are well over 4,000.
Second, the most recent additions to the Gallery are photos of Ulithi and Yap by Tim Bell (Micro 7); Lamotrek and Yap by Carl Gaiser (Micro 7); Yap and Ifalik by Susan Taylor Wehren (Micro 7); Yap and the Outer Islands by Gary Smith (Micro 5); and Yap, Ulithi, and Fais by James Martin (Micro 75). These join photos provided by the Traditional Navigation Society of Yap; a large collection of photos of Chuuk, Pohnpei, and the Marianas taken by Barry Connell, Principal of Truk High School from 1970 to 1974, and provided here by his daughter Erin; photos of Falalop, Woleai, by Ari Yoder (Micro 58); another large collection of images of Chuuk and its Outer Islands (including Lukunor, Ettal, Moch, Kuttu, Tamatam, Puluwat, Pulusuk, and Piserach) and other islands in Micronesia from Vinnie Linares (Micro 7); photographs of Pohnpei and Chuuk from Cecilia Martin (Micro 71); amazingly beautiful images of the people of Tamatam and other Western Islands of Chuuk, as well as Satawal in Yap State, from John Kaufman (also Micro 7); and great shots of Yap and many of its Outer Islands from Scott Leis (Micro 72). Other collections come from Charles Touhey (Chuuk, 1968-1969), Lynnette Seward (Pohnpei, 1969-1971), and Maura Fulton (Woleai, 1995-1997). These are in addition to photographs of the 2004 and 2005 Woleai Culture Days by Sophiano Limol and Tim Rock (professional photographers both, who have very kindly allowed us to show their work here); Mike Lemont's terrific Micro 5 photographs of Woleai, Ulithi, and Yap; Minema Kirk's great Micro 70 photographs of Yap; Art Hegewald’s Micro 7 photos of Ifalik, in a class by themselves; and images of Yap and Palau from Frank Glass (Micro 7 as well). There are also a few pictures of the former Escondido, CA, "naturalist" camp that served as the staging area for Micro 7 PCVs; Mike McDevitt's rare 1979-81 photos of Satawal; and additional galleries of photos of Yap and other islands by Diane Hall (Micro 60, Palau), Suzanne Acord (Micro 65, Yap), Garrett Johnson (Micro 71, Fadarai, Ulithi), and Barry Basel, who was at the Coast Guard Loran Station on Yap from 1975 to 1977 and has been back to the island many times since then. There's even a gallery devoted to flying in Micronesia, mostly the planes of Air Micronesia. The collection concludes with a large number of older, pre-Peace Corps Micronesia photographs and drawings, and a literal overview of Micronesia, photographs culled from the website of the Image Science and Analysis Laboratory at the NASA-Johnson Space Center. We call it "The Big Picture."
Third, our earliest Micronesia slides are over forty years old now. Time has not been kind to the film. Neither were heat, humidity, and fungus at the time it was actually in our cameras. On the other hand, the recent photos look really great. It's got to be those digital cameras.
Fourth, about the older photographs: yes, we’ve done some digital editing in a small-scale, non-professional kind of way. But not a lot. We think that images that have deteriorated over time have their own appeal and their own stories to tell. They serve as a kind of metaphor, reminding us that memories inevitably blur and fade and nothing stays the same forever. We kind of like that about our older Micronesia photographs. Hopefully, you will too.
Fifth, if you have photographs you’d like to share with others on the site, there's a posting on the Forum that tells you how to do that.
A final word:
Obviously ours isn’t the only Micronesia site on the web, so in our Links section we’ve listed a few others we know of that will take you to places west of Hawaii, east of the Philippines, and a few degrees north of the Equator. If there are other web places you think we should add, just let us know.
Welcome to Microbuds, and thanks for stopping by.