About Robin L. Chandler

My great passions are for archives, art, communities, cycling, the environment, history, music, philosophy, reading and how these aspects of my life mutually inform. My blog, Alive in the Sea of Information: Hard Travelin’  will reveal my love for the vernacular landscape, my hopes for man and woman kind to live sustainably with the earth, my desires for the freedom of expression for all peoples, and my attempts to strike a balance between my analog roots and my digital existence.

In “Gary Snyder and the Renewal of Oral Culture,” an essay published in A Sense of the Whole: Reading Gary Snyder’s Mountains and Rivers Without End, David Abram writes “when the aboriginal man goes walkabout, traveling along his ancestral songline, he chants the verses originally sung by his dreaming ancestor, singing the land into view as he walks through it. And in this manner, he renews not only his own life, but the very life of the land itself.” Each place has it’s story, a story of the land and the creatures native to that place and time, and those stories must be described and shared to be remembered, to remain alive.  As I walk and bike short distances or travel far from home, I discover stories in the landscape and I stop and capture the moment through photography, sketching, or painting.

Alive in the Sea of Information, the title of my blog is drawn from Gary Snyder’s poem “Walking the New York Bedrock” published in the his epic Mountains and Rivers Without End.  Lines from Mr. Snyder’s poem resonate with me, as I seek stories in the landscapes through which my life passes.

Was there a witness when the old lady


Sold the last bits of Washington Heights, 1701

Deep down the grates hear the watercourse

Rivers that never give up

Trill under the roadbed, over the bedrock.

A bird angles off a brownstone

Couloir that looks like a route.

And the poem’s final stanza:

As the fine dusk gleam

Lights a whole glass side

Of some forty stories


Soft liquid silver


Beautiful buildings we float in, we feed in


Foam, steel, gray


Alive     in the Sea of Information.


Reviewing Mountains and Rivers Without End, in the Oyster Boy Review (an independent literary magazine published by volunteer effort in San Francisco), Thomas Rain Crowe wrote “the poems read as if he wished the language would flow off the end of his pen as does paint from a brush.” Inspirational to me, as this blog will document a painter’s encounters with words.

The blog’s subtitle, Hard Travellin’ comes from the song of the same name written by Woody Guthrie in 1940; a timeline of his life puts the song in context. Mr. Guthrie’s work has always inspired me as he sought to bring compassion and justice to the land and the peoples of the United States through his music. Lines from Mr. Guthrie’s “poem” include:

I’ve been walking that Lincoln highway, I thought you knowed

I’ve been hittin’ that 66, way down the road

Heavy load and a worried mind, lookin’ for a woman that’s hard to find,

I’ve been hittin’ some hard travelin,’ lord.

I’ve been havin’ some hard travelin,’ I thought you knowed

I’ve been havin’ some hard travelin,’ way down the road

I’ve been havin’ some hard travelin,’ hard ramblin’ hard gamblin’

I’ve been havin’ some hard travelin,’ lord.

11 thoughts on “About Robin L. Chandler”

  1. Many thanks, Robin, for this beautiful glimpse into both Northern and Southern California, views of authors whose work I now must read, and the delights of both your own musings and your translations of what you see into watercolors. I hope someday that I can go with you to your Tomales Bay as I am sure you know special spots and ways of looking at them that would be new to me even though I live nearby. Right now, I am savoring the shapes of the hills you painted and the connection between those and the structures of trees. Rather like looking with xray eyes to what lies beneath even though we are really looking at the surface. A rare treat, indeed! I’m bookmarking the site as we speak. Many thanks, again.

  2. Hi Robin – I am so delighted to have found your weblog! I remember seeing your head bobbing up and down over the dunes at one of our stops and I thought you might be sketching – these watercolors are indeed lovely and I am looking forward to spending more time here exploring all your posts. And I do hope to see you again – maybe on another walk? All my best, Deepika (ps. in case you are wondering how I found you…I have a photography blog and just finished a post on Sandy and Gary’s Baywalks, and thought I should do a search to see what was out there…so glad that I did!)

  3. Sorry, a comrade in libraries. What do you do?

    (I’ve transitioned from libraries to electronic records management. A huge hunk of my job is on business analysis and client needs + performance metrics which latter has nothing to do with information but more related…to approval for installation of utility lines.)

    1. Hi Jean! Thanks for your posts. I am an AUL at UC Santa Cruz overseeing IT, Tech Services, Special Collections & Archives and Digital Initiatives, but a lot of my career has been spent on building digital collections and websites. I like your blog very much. It is incredible to find someone who cycles, paints and has connections to the library and archives world.

      1. Hey cool. We should see one day about virtually gathering a bunch of cyclist-librarians and artist-bloggers…that would be cool. 😀

        I only keep in contact with 2 librarian-friends that I’ve known since university (over 30 years ago). Since my job is not in libraries, I just skim along the Internet to know bits about libraries. My previous job was document manager for a large construction engineering project. I’ve blogged about it (you’ll see in the front page list). Rest of career in special libraries (engineering, law, firefighting, etc.)

        You write thoughtfully whereas I’m probably less serious and deep on my blog.

        I noticed that you watercolour paint? Now that is one medium where I’m fumblefingers. Gimme acrylic or oil any day.

  4. Hi Jean, I like that idea a lot — virtually getting together some combination of cyclist-information professionals (broaden it out a bit maybe?) and artist-bloggers. Maybe we could do it as a google video chat with some tweets out to find others — start a conversation and get others engaged? I originally started my blog as a place to put the watercolors I do when I’m out in the world. But then this funny thing happened I started writing — so it became something where I wrote about what I’m thinking, reading, experiencing as well as painting. Guess my silliness and everyday stuff is on facebook. Yeah, and I do watercolors – they are so transportable and fun. Been wanting to do oils my whole life — but just haven’t had the time and place to do it right. Someday. You take care!

  5. Sorry, Robin for being a slow slug to respond. I’m not on Facebook (my family, friends are content with email, etc.) and haven’t set up my own twitter personal page. Would need to ratchet up my twitter knowledge since all I ever did for my partner’s 2 business blogs was tweet out new postings. (thirdwavecyclingblog.wordpress.com and for Velo-city 2010 cycling conference blog which latter is now closed.)

    Now I feel like I’ve committed a sinful, career-limiting manoeuvre in the information profession: what not have twitter, FB??? But hey, my job focus has morphed into other areas, etc. Right now my webcam has some technical issues where it’s one way, not 2 way. But there might another way..

    Have you heard of the unconference, http://www.cyclingforlibraries.org/ which is a paid ride of cycling librarians on a bike trip? Too bad, they won’t be planning a ride around the SLA 2014 site in Vancouver BC. I can try establishing contact..through

    Have you thought of creating and adding a contact page on your blog so that people can occasionally email through a blog page form to you? It prevents you from advertising your email address on the Internet?

    PM me via my contact page on blog for us to chat up.

    1. Hey Jean! No worries regards response time. We’ve got busy lives, work, people, etc. You just mentioned some great stuff that I’ll dig into. Work is heating a little bit this week that will keep me from following up your good ideas. I’ll be in touch. You take care.

  6. As a suggestion if we want to pursue this somehow, is to make the social network discussion where libray information management matters are secondary, not primary to what we share amongst one another.

    Hope you’re having a great Christmas/holidays! We’re resting well: snowshoeing in the mountains.

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