Community Roots

Ingrid Gulden: Community Roots, Driftwood Daycare

“I remember that we would walk to the main campus sometimes. But we tended to, of course, try to walk on the curb. I remember walking on that and trying to march: 'March! 2…3…4…' I mean, for some reason that was just like, endlessly interesting to do! Like we felt like we were really accomplishing something [laughs].”

Former child attendee of Driftwood in the '70s

Ingrid Gulden (Driftwood Archive image)


Ingrid Gulden: I remember that we would walk to the main campus sometimes. But we tended to, of course, try to walk on the curb. I remember walking on that and trying to march: “March! 2…3…4…” I mean, for some reason that was just like, endlessly interesting to do! Like we felt like we were really accomplishing something [laughs].

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Aidyn Dervaes: Welcome to Community Roots, a community oral history project based in Olympia, Washington about how people come together to make change and create new possibilities for themselves and their neighbors. I’m Aidyn Dervaes.

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Today’s story is part of our series about Driftwood Day Care. Driftwood opened to serve Evergreen parents in 1971, many of whom were mothers who were returning to school after having children. It was located in a small farmhouse on Driftwood Road until the mid-‘80s when it closed and reopened as Evergreen Children’s Center in its current location on campus.

Fifty years after Driftwood opened its doors, I stumbled upon a few boxes at the Campus Children’s Center, where I began working in 2018. The boxes, marked “shred,” contained photographs, newspaper clippings, postcards, and letters that began to reveal the history of the Center. I was inspired by the thoughtfulness of the teachers of the past who had compiled the collection and wanted to find a way to celebrate it before the items were tossed. I embarked on a project that would become intertwined with Community Roots.

I am thankful to have had the opportunity to speak to many people who lived through these times, including Ingrid Gulden, who we hear from today, and who attended Driftwood in the early ‘70s when she was three and four years old. Here’s Ingrid.

Ingrid: My family moved to Olympia because of Evergreen. My dad was a professor there. He started teaching there in the fall of 1972. My mom hadn't finished her bachelor's degree at that time, so she was going back to school. I think I was there in the fall. I'm pretty sure I remember brandishing some Big Leaf Maple leaves.

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In some ways it was kind of neat to go to school in a house. Kind of weird. It had a kitchen, an open area, and then a little hall with some bedrooms and bathroom off of it. One of the bedrooms we called the “Pillow Room.” And it was just so many pillows, and I believe there was something we could climb up and jump off of.

Aidyn: A unique element of Driftwood, and later the Children’s Center, was its student-led staff. Driftwood was a place where students could work and also earn credit through independent contracts and internships. I met Ingrid through Keith Eisner, another person who I interviewed for this project. He was a student worker who later became the Assistant Director of Driftwood.

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Ingrid: The students who I remember fairly clearly were Keith and Ernie. I think it was partly because they were boys. I think that for whatever reasons, maybe part of it was just my own place on the gender spectrum or my sense of how girls and women weren't that respected. I think that I felt more comfortable with them because they were boys. They really earned a place in my heart by making us waffles on Thursdays. I felt like they liked us. And that there were two of them, and one of them was named Ernie, there was a Burt and Ernie association, which is of course, very positive. [laughs] I can't say that I have any differentiated memories about who did what like they were sort of a unit for me.

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There was a little shed. It was our little woodshop. I was interested in tools. My dad was building a house for us. I remember going out to use that space, and there was another kid in there, a boy, and he told me I couldn't be in there because it was a girl. I went to either Keith or Ernie. I was really upset, and they were just totally my champion. They went in there and I don't know what they said, but the upshot of it was that that kid left and I got to have the space to myself. [laughs]

So that was nice. It felt really good to be championed like that.

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Aidyn: Driftwood cared for the children of Evergreen through a play-based and nature-oriented curriculum focusing on the child’s needs, rather than their academic academic growth. The center concentrated on intuitive care, guided play, and encouraged exploration. It embraced the unstructured rhythm as well as some experimental practices that trickled over from the main campus. 

Ingrid: I just had another memory. It was at a beach and it was making sand candles. So what we would do is as a kid, we would scoop out some sand off the beach. Make a well in the sand of the beach and then we could put things in it. Line it with shells. Of course, we wanted to use things that probably weren't appropriate, like seaweed leaves and stuff, and I think they're pretty tolerant of like, "Sure, let's see what happens!" And then a grown-up would come with hot wax and fill the well you had made and put some wick strings in it. Your job was probably like, hold the stick that has the wick on there and don't move while it cools. You just like, “Am I doing it right? Is it gonna work?" And then once it cooled, you dig it out and it's beautiful. So the bottom of it has shells on it and sand that’s stuck to it permanently, and you wipe it off and you take it home and it's your awesome creation! I mean, talk about ‘70s – DIY, nature, beachy – period ‘70s activity.

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I maintained – always had some sort of connection with Evergreen. I did end up finishing my degree there too. I had left high school when I was 15 to do my own thing, so then a lot of my friends were Evergreen students. There's a perceived feeling of clout with having a history. I feel like it's common in conversations: "Oh, when did you come here?" I was just like, "No one can trump Driftwood Day Care!" It was like the ace up my sleeve, you know? So I think that I was kind of proud. It was a peaceful place because it did feel safe.

Meg Rosenberg: Community Roots is produced by Window Seat Media. This story was a collaboration between Ingrid Gulden and Aidyn Dervaes. Aidyn is one of our Community Roots cohort members. She brought this story idea to us, interviewed Ingrid, and produced music for this series. Rowen Ling helped to edit this story. Elaine Vradenburgh did the audio editing for this story. Funding for this series was provided by the Thurston County Heritage Grant program, the Marie Lamfrom Foundation, ArtsFund, the Community Foundation of South Puget Sound, and from community support from people like you. To learn more about Window Seat Media, hear more stories, or make a donation to support this series, visit

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