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  • Ken Ilgunas

The 1,000-Year Plan

Around 825 AD, at a monastery in modern-day Germany, one or two monks (thought to be Reginbert, the librarian, and Walafrid, his pupil ) drew up a plan for a 40-building monastery on five stitched-together sheets of sheep skin. It's the only surviving "blueprint" from the early Middle Ages, and, ever since it was discovered, it's been a precious artifact to historians. The monastery, though, was never built. The plan was folded up and the backside was used for a biography of St. Martin. For centuries, the plan sat in the library of St. Gall.

Fast-forward to the 2010s: German businessman Bert Geurten has the crazy idea of finally realizing the plan, almost 1,200 years later. He inspires a group of craftspeople in southwest Germany, who have been working on the monastery for the last seven years.

I wonder what Reginbert and Walafrid would say if we could tell them about the fate of their plan? Were they dissatisfied that the monastery was never initiated in their lifetimes? Would they be tickled to learn that it's taken us over 1,000 years to get started? Would it matter to them?

For anyone who's writing/creating/building, here's my takeaway from the story... We ought not be overly concerned with how many likes we get and how many books we sell. Focus on what you produce; fret not on how others consume. Create and leave the rest to fate. A rejected manuscript, a spurned poem, a forgotten composition could take years to find its audience. It might take millennia to come to fruition.

Campus Galli in 2010s, courtesy of


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