Monday, November 14, 2011

Village 2011 Is Underway

Before I show you the beginnings of Village 2011, I have a question: Did Portland's experiment with the majority win rank voting system work? For the first time, and appropriately for the city's first mayor in some 80 odd years, all fifteen candidates on the ballot were ranked in the order of preference by voters. It was, we were told, an attempt to be sure the mayor would be elected by more than 50% of the voters.

It took 13 rounds of counting the rankings before Michael Brennan was named Mayor. Voters had numbered the candidates according to preference on one ballot last Tuesday. Then, the lowest vote getter in each round was eliminated until one candidate emerged with more than 50% of the votes.

Brennan was the leader after round one, but with far less than the magic 50% number. So counting continued into the next day. He finally won the day. BUT, did he? I believe I heard a news story on WCSH 6-TV News that after final inspection, some ballots were eliminated and Brennan's actual final total was less than 50%.

If my hearing was accurate, how did all the added expense to the voting system get justified when the leader after the normal count was declared the winner by less than the promised 50%? I'm not a Portland resident, but if this ranked voting becomes widespread, I could be later. Just wondering.

Now, the Village.  We erect a display of Department 56 collectible village pieces, combining structures and accessories from the company's Victorian Village and Dickens Village series.  Each year, we begin the construction process on Nov. 11th with the aim of lighting the village on Thanksgiving Day or, at the very least, the weekend following Thanksgiving Day.  The village represents our celebration of the Christmas Season.  We usually take it down and pack it away a couple of weeks after the New Year.

We began on schedule last Friday.  Here's are some samples of the construction program through last Sunday.

The first step is to put together our base tables.  This is one of three which we build for three of the several sections of the Village.  This piece will hold a section between our sofa and a wall.  The pieces on it are generally shops, but a house or two also probably will dot its landscape.  We also reassemble base tables for a section behind the sofa and the front window.  The third one is the largest section against a rail separator between the living room and the front door.

The above base was completed and placed in its spot behind the couch.  A little hard to see here, but at the far end the base widens to fill in the space between the front wall and the round sofa connector where its two sides meet.

A plywood tabletop is then placed on the base and it is covered with some hard Styrofoam.  You'll see some foam layers here which we use to create some depth to the display.  The those things that look like holes are holes.  We run the varous structure lights through them to the structures.  It is, of course, those structure lights which makes our presentation a lighted display, or as Department 56 calls it, a lit village.

Structures are added.  Here they're just randomly placed so we'll get an idea of relationships.  The next function is to place them where they'll work together to make a section of the Village.  I'll have them arranged Wednesday so you can see a more organized look.

If you saw our Village last year, you may remember there was a mountain in the corner of the room.  Because of the news stories lately, for this year at least, we eliminated the mountain and have inserted our Department 56 version of the famed Kensington Palace.  This is just the building itself.  Later we'll add its accompanying accessories, including the Royal Guard. This is on that widened section I mentioned earlier.

That's just a brief look at the construction progress.  We are, however, well on schedule to complete the Village on time Thanksgiving Day, and perhaps even next weekend.  I'll have more on the Village Wednesday


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