The Carl Online


The Strength of Generosity: An Interview with Julia Uleberg by carlmagazine
October 29, 2010, 9:42 pm
Filed under: Campus, Feature | Tags: , ,

By Yuvika Diwan

Comfy couches. Haunting smells of freshly baked cookies. Tinkling music in the background. And now, crunchy carpets. As I stepped into Dacie Moses House, one sunny afternoon, I was greeted by a confused dog who came out of the kitchen to the living room, now decked up with a lavish blue carpeted floor. I walked to the kitchen, and as I had expected, there were cookies waiting for suddenly-hungry-stomachs, and I grabbed one (while thinking if I should grab another, and moving away before I could), and walked down from the kitchen into the little garden at the back of the house. There I met Julia, the coordinator of Dacie Moses House, cutting vegetables on the hammock, and then moving blocks of firewood, leftover from a bonfire that was used in one of the Sunday brunches.

Julia first came to the House, 22 years ago, many years after Dacie’s death. What brought her to live in this 100 year old house within the boundaries of a student campus? She was attracted to the ‘community idea’ of living in Dacies, and how a history had to be preserved within its confines. Dacie, when she was alive, was an ordinary resident in Northfield, who opened her house for students, feeding them with the best that her cooking skills could create. After her retirement, she is believed to have used her pension money to maintain the same relationship with students as long as she could. In return, students volunteered to run her errands, paid her grocery bills, and later when she was unable to bake on her own, baked for her and other students, continuing this tradition. And this tradition amazingly continues to exist. Julia calls it ‘the spirit and strength of generosity’ that Dacie has left behind. According to Julia, with Dacie’s death the ownership of the house passed on into the hands of students. Student ownership is now kept alive by her and the student workers and through continuously organized events in the house. It is an open house, which means any student can come in and make use of its services. This is one aspect that particularly appeals to me about coming and hanging out in Dacies. Even as I looked all around me, while talking to Julia, I noticed a left over cup of water, a forgotten baseball glove, an opened sheet of music and cushions that looked sat down on. The house is happily lived in by so many people, and when they walk out from the front door, they leave some imprints behind. This is a house bundled with layers of memories. Nothing lasts forever, and the house has become more and more fragile with the amount of traffic and usage that it undergoes every term. There have been many occasions when the existence of the house has been threatened by people who feel that it could be much better used. But the student energy has brought life and energy to this house and so it has stayed. There is still a lot of concern for it, not just among the alumni, but also current Carleton students, who never knew Dacie in person. Referring to the replacement of 20 year old carpets, she says,’We are just dressin’ the old gal.’

Before I left Julia and Dacies, I reminded myself to grab another cookie.

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