Gifts Galore

Black Friday: something you may avoid or something you may adore. Shopping online is certainly a hassle free way to shop today. If you’re doing such, I suggest supporting the Cornell Preservation Studies Student Organization.   Check out their shop on CafePress, where you can find the slogan “Preservationists Make it Last Longer” accompanied by a house illustration.  Proceeds will support the CPSSO’s work weekend in the spring.  From Anne Turcotte, a preservation student at Cornell and a fellow UMW graduate, shared this link and the following information:

The house in the illustration is “Big Vic,” a plan popularized by George F. Barber, who operated an architecture firm which sold mail-order house plans out of DeKalb, Illinois in the late 19th century. Built versions of Big Vic can be found all across the country. The illustration and the phrase were developed by alumni of the Cornell Historic Preservation Planning program.

The mousepad version of Preservationists Make it Last Longer, from CPSSO on CafePress

The mousepad version of Preservationists Make it Last Longer, from CPSSO on CafePress

Thanks, Anne!

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! Whatever your family traditions may be, I hope you have a great time being in the places that you love with the people you love. It’s a recipe for memories and family stories. My day involves running a 5K with one of my sisters and then watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade with my entire family while we cook and bake. At noon we listen to Alice’s Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie. It’s a good 18 minute talking blues song on the radio, half song, half storytelling, and we have been listening to it for years. It is based on a true story and then became a movie. If you’re in the Long Island area, tune into WBAB 102.3* or WRCN 103.9 to hear it at noon and then at 6 p.m. Read the lyrics here or listen to it here on YouTube. You can buy the mp3 here. It’s definitely worth your time.

And here are some Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade photographs, courtesy of Elyse.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Macy's Turkey

Happy Thanksgiving from the Macy's turkey

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons

 

*An update (12/1/2008): WBAB did not play Alice’s Restaurant this year. Distraught when my family did not hear, even by 1pm, I emailed and called the radio station to request the song. All I received in response was that a “corporate decision” was made and they would not be playing the song this year.  I was not given any further information.

The Big Duck

Home on Long Island and to celebrate, I’m sharing one of my favorite pieces of roadside architecture: The Big Duck. The site has information about the Long Island duck farms, but scroll down to see the story of the actual big duck in Flanders. The duck has been in several locations on Long Island including Sears Bellows State Park in Hampton Bays, Riverhead, and Flanders. In May 2007, the duck finally returned home to Flanders – see this New York Times blog post.

I remember The Big Duck throughout much of my life. When I was a kid my parents bought me an American flag kite from the duck, which I kept for years. I’ve seen it in Hampton Bays and in Flanders, most recently a few years ago.

Kaitlin at the Big Duck, summer 2005

Kaitlin at the Big Duck, summer 2005

Even Long Island has its good points, I suppose. Who couldn’t love some roadside architecture in duck form?  It’s possibly the reason that we have pet ducks at my parents’ house (that and the movie Fly Away Home.) Happy travels!

p.s. Happy Birthday to my sister, Erin, who sometimes reads Preservation in Pink.

Conflicting Landscapes

Home is home, it’s irreplaceable and at least for me, it gives me that familiar feeling of knowing everything around me. Moving someplace new and trying to call that place home has been hard for me. I still don’t call my current town “home” even though I’ve lived here for over two years. Part of this may be because I’m moving again next year. So, I reluctantly call Long Island “home” because that is where my family lives, where I went to high school, where I know all of the streets and my old running routes.

There is a big difference between home on Long Island and my temporary home in North Carolina. I love driving home to Long Island because it means a road trip (read: 600 miles, 11 hours) and I have my favorite landmarks along the way, including the Verrazano Bridge from Staten Island to Long Island. But as we approach closer and closer to home, including the last five minutes, I can only think about how ugly the scenery is: strip malls, new construction, and unattractive existing buildings. (This isn’t the case for all of Long Island; I just grew up in an unattractive town.) I love to be home, but only because it’s home. I wouldn’t choose to go there otherwise. Yet, driving home to North Carolina, everything just gets prettier as we travel further south. Driving into town with all of the pine trees and the winding roads, it’s impossible to think anything other than how beautiful it is around here: cute houses, long leaf pine trees, that Carolina blue sky, and sunshine.

Occasionally I catch glimpses here in North Carolina that will remind me of the good parts of Long Island, like driving up a hill on my way home from work where the elevation over the trees looks like a certain familiar road on Long Island. And when I’m home on Long Island, I’d much rather be here in North Carolina when I have to run errands or formulate a long running route because it’s just easier here. As different as these two places are, they do seem to reflect each other from time to time. That aspect is comforting sometimes, revealing that no matter where you live, it can become home eventually and the unfamiliar will become familiar to you.

My reactions continue to surprise me on every trip. I don’t want to leave my family and my old friends to return 600 miles away, but I don’t want to stay on Long Island. If only my family would move with me, then I wouldn’t have this problem. I think that choosing a place to live is sometimes a compromise. North Carolina is not perfect for me, but the less populated areas and the beautiful landscapes sort of make up for those 600 miles. I hope that someday I can find a beautiful place that I want to call home.

Does anyone have conflicting feelings of home?

Break Out those Recorders

As historians, archaeologists, and historic preservationists, we spend much of our time researching the lives of others, people we never knew, and people to whom we do not have a connection.  We learn these family histories so well that we know the birthdays, occupations, and interests of our research subjects.  Yet, as you sit around your Thanksgiving table each year with your siblings, cousins, parents, grandparents, and other family members, do you ever consider documenting your own family history? Do you ask questions of your family like you would in your research?

If only the people that we are researching had recorded their family histories, then our research would be much easier. Whether it’s a family tree or a detailed family history, keeping all of the information in one place is a priceless family heirloom.  Even if your relatives have not fought in wars, saved the world, or traveled extensively, it is still important to learn your family history.

Of course, I’m guilty of the same thing. Oral history is my job. I talk to people about their lives and research their family history quite often. But by the time I get home from work, I’m tired of doing research. I listen to family stories and talk to my relatives, but I haven’t recorded these stories yet, whether with an audio recorder or on paper. It’s something I need to do. I own a handheld audio recorder, so this is not my impeder.

Some of your family members may find it strange that you would take the time to record them, or they might be uncomfortable. My advice is to talk about it first, give them time to think, and express how important it is for family history and how much you would enjoy the opportunity.  And if you’re not inclined to do audio recording, taking the time to write what you have heard is the next best thing.  After all, photographs can only tell so much about people. We need the back stories to the situations and the people.

Just think about it. Everyone has a story to tell. You can collect stories bit by bit, just be sure to label (date, name) whatever is that you have (audio, text).  Start small. Write down what you know about your family. How did your parents meet? How did your grandparents meet? Those are easy questions that most people are willing to answer. As you do this more frequently you can get into the more open-ended questions.

You don’t have to be a professional. You don’t even have to be a historian. You just have to ask and listen. And someday remember to share these stories with your family, whether in a book, a word file, a blog, or something else.  Your family with thank you.

Christmas Shopping Consideration #4

A series of posts considering the options for Christmas shopping (online, retail, local, eccentric) and the impacts of our decisions (financially, socially, preservation-esque). This is post 4 of  4. See considerations #1, #2, #3.

Consideration 4: Gifts for the Historic Preservationist in your life*

For people on your list who are preservationists (or those you may want to sway towards preservation), there are a few ways to approach gift giving this holiday season. 1) You can search for gifts that exclaim “I love historic preservation!” in one form or another. 2) You can go the alternate gift-giving route such as giving to charity or giving the person a membership to an organization. 3) You can appeal to whatever weakness he or she has, such a love for retro. 4) You can adopt a flamingo.

“I love Historic Preservation!”

Having had searched for similar themes in the past, I know that it’s not as hard as you’d expect to find preservation related gifts. If you check out the CafePress shop, Place in Time, you can find apparel, notebooks, note cards, mugs, bumper stickers, and more with inspiring quotes, witty sayings, etc., including the classically dorky “Isn’t it Ionic?” Come on, preservationists, you know you laughed at that one. Place in Time also has a page for links where you can find additional gifts relating to art, architecture, anti-sprawl, etc. You can also find the infamous “Preservationists make it last longer” quote on the Cornell Preservation Studies Students Organization CafePress shop. Check it out – it’s for a good cause and the statement is forever entertaining, whether on a mug, magnet, shirt, tote bag, etc.

Of course, there is the academic approach like buying those books we tend to drool over. The epitome of preservation books is Thomas Jester’s Twentieth Century Building Materials, which is now out of print and around $100. The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s site, Preservation Books, had a pdf catalog of recent releases. If you are a member of the Trust you receive a 10% discount (25% if you are a Forum member). The University of Tennessee Press has a good selection of folklore and vernacular architecture books, sometimes on sale.

And you should always check your local historical society or preservation organization, because they likely have a store, possibly online, such as Preservation North Carolina. PNC sells books and one of the greatest bumper stickers ever, “Historic Preservation is the Ultimate Recycling.”

How about “I love archaeology”? – ever think of an archaeology themed rubik cube? Thumbprint.org definitely appeals to the archaeology folks.

Alternate Route

Actually, a combination of the routes, check out the t-shirt page of Vintage Roadside. If you buy one t-shirt ($20) you receive a year’s membership to the National Trust for Historic Preservation (a $20 value). (Only valid for new members, bummer.) The t-shirts have fun retro road stops.

Some organizations that your preservationist might like include the National Trust, the Society for Roadside Archeology, the Vernacular Architecture Forum, the American Association of Museums, the Oral History Association, the Society for American Archeology, the World Monuments Fund…the list never ends. Also don’t forget regional organizations like the Southeast Chapter for Architectural Historians. You can always try searching the state or region with the particular subject (historic preservation, archaeology, etc.)

If you’re on, say, a larger budget than I am, you can consider a weekend getaway to one of the Historic Hotels of America for your parents or your significant other (and you). Sometimes we come to the realization that we just have too much stuff and we don’t need anything else. This is when the non-material gifts are most appreciated.

If you choose to donate money to a charity and want to be sure that your money is going to where you want it to go, read about it on Charity Navigator. There are many organizations that will gratefully accept money for rebuilding after a natural disaster or preserving buildings or documents and all of their needs.

Weaknesses

Not exactly related, but it captures some preservation minded spirit, check out Retro Planet for wonderful home décor items themed on the 1950s. Of course, you can probably search for any decade or era that you’d like. We all have our fetishes.

Adopt a Flamingo

It’s been mentioned on Preservation in Pink before, but adopting a flamingo would be completely relevant around here.

Final Thoughts

If you’re in gift giving mode, the most important part is finding a gift that someone will love. Just remember that if you don’t agree with shopping at a particular store, then you don’t have to just because that person loves it. You always have other options. I will try to stick to my beliefs about shopping, the economy, preservation, and all of the related ideas, and I hope you will, too. This post here hopefully provides fun solutions and alternative ideas. Collectively, I hope that these posts have at least reminded you to consider that historic preservation is a way of life, and it can affect all aspects of your life.

*Note, to those who love me, this is not a list that should be taken as a hint. Although, Mom, adopting a flamingo would be cool. I’m just saying, it could be our real-live mascot.

Email, et al.

For those of you who are signed up for email subscriptions: Feedburner has been acting up lately. Monday and Tuesday the posts were sent as soon as I posted them. Wednesday, nothing. I changed the delivery time from 7-9am to 9-11am, even though that first one ended up in your inbox around 6pm.  As a recent trend, I’ve been posting every Monday-Friday, usually in the early mornings, if you’re curious.  But, do not fret, Feedburner will resume working again, I’m sure.

If you read a lot of blogs and websites with RSS feed, considering using Google Reader, which allows you to have all of the new posts in one place.

And a big thank you to all for reading Preservation in Pink.

Reminder: Articles due in a week, give or take a few days!

Christmas Shopping Consideration #3

 A series of posts considering the options for Christmas shopping (online, retail, local, eccentric) and the impacts of our decisions (financially, socially, preservation-esque). This is post 3 of  4. See considerations #1, #2, #4.

Consideration 3: The Case of Online Shopping

There’s avoiding big box retailers, shopping at locally owned businesses, and the consideration of online shopping. Is this preservation friendly? It depends on how you look at it. Again, I claim no economic expertise, so please correct me where needed.

Last Saturday, I was enjoying a leisurely morning with coffee, sun shining in my windows, and some online shopping.  For whatever reason, I can stand online shopping for Christmas anytime in November, but I can’t stand Christmas actually existing in the world before Thanksgiving.  My mom happened to call as I’m doing some online shopping to talk to me about her online shopping.  We have both increased our online shopping in the past two years or so.

I find it to be a pleasant experience. Generally, I can find anything I want on the internet, google something to find a discount code, comparison shop at the same time, and I avoid the annoyances of in store shopping like long lines, the way too early Christmas music playing, wondering if I’ll find a better deal in the next store, driving in traffic, spending extra money on gas, etc. And I can do all of this from the comfort of my couch with coffee, without the worry of spilling my coffee because I’m holding too many things. 

Personal benefits aside, what can online shopping do for preservation?

In considering the environment, it obviously saves gas. Your package will still have to be shipped to you, but it will be shipped in bulk with other items. That delivery truck is going to be out on the roads anyway, but your car not on the roads is helping the environment.   

Consumers are able to purchase products from anywhere in the world, such as small, locally owned businesses. That extra revenue can certainly benefit Main Street America.  Perhaps the small businesses in small towns will have less risk of going out of business.   Or, it could help stores in your own town. For example, every store in my town closes at 5pm, which is when I get home from work. I do not have time to get to the store. Most are only open on Saturdays, which doesn’t always mesh with my schedule. Some of the stores have online stores, which allows me to shop at the store without conforming to their short hours.

But, is online shopping really beneficial to historic preservation?

Where are people shopping online? If it’s still the big box retail stores, is that helping any? It might be, because that could mean less of a need for a physical store. Maybe that gives those acres of trees or that historic street a greater chance of surviving the concrete buildings and parking lot threats.

Could increased online shopping lead to fewer packaging materials and plastic bags and paper products? An article by Koosha Hashemi from ezinearticles discusses this idea. 

With general commerce in mind, online shopping’s effect of decreased foot traffic runs the risk of drawing business away from eateries because people aren’t out, about, and hungry. And it takes away from the possibility of “community” because everyone stays at home. 

There isn’t an easy answer.  Each case can have benefits and drawbacks for historic preservation.  I think online shopping can go a long way in helping small businesses reach out to a greater customer base. What we lack for online shopping now is a database of local businesses. It currently takes a few internet searches to find what you need. 

For now, the best thing to do is weigh your options, consider what factors are the most important to you, and stick to what you believe is the best for historic preservation and you combined.

______

Next in the series: gift ideas

Blogged.com

A bit of housekeeping, if you will. If you scroll down the page, you’ll see a new widget on the bottom of the sidebar. It’s from Blogged.com, which has the catch phrase “find better blogs.”  From the About Us page, Blogged.com says:

Blogged.com is about discovering what the best bloggers are blogging about right now, and about finding the blogs that will interest you the most. Blogged is updated throughout the day to bring you the latest and most interesting posts from our index of more than one million blogs.

Blogged.com is a place for both readers and bloggers.

The blogs in our database are reviewed, rated, and categorized by editors, so you won’t experience the frustration of filtering through blogs that are spam, outdated, or irrelevant. You’ll be able to find quality blogs that you would be unlikely to have found through a traditional blog search. We also offer time-based searching, bookmarking, sharing, and feedback functions. Anyone can review and rate a blog and help it rise in the rankings.

For readers we provide tools to read the latest postings on topics that interest them, to discover and explore new blogs, and to communicate with blog authors.

From the FAQ page

On what do you base these ratings?

Editor reviews are based on the following criteria: Frequency of Updates, Relevance of Content, Site Design, and Writing Style. Blogs are compared to other blogs within the same category. Blogs that have not been reviewed by an editor will receive a “first impression score” by our system, which evaluates similar criteria. Ratings are not meant to endorse, promote or advertise a blog. They are an unbiased critique by editors. Currently, we may only provide editorial reviews for English language blogs.

Who are these editors?

Our editors have a strong domain knowledge in various subjects and review blogs within their area of expertise. Editors then evaluate the blog and rank it against its peers.

(quotations belong to Blogged.com)

Here is Preservation in Pink’s listing on Blogged.com, which you will see received an 8.2 out of 10 from the editors there. Thank you Blogged.com!

  Preservation in Pink at Blogged

If you readers would like to review Preservation in Pink, please click on the listing above and the review button is on the right hand side of the page.  Or click the widget above. It just requires a few comments and a numerical rating. To write a review you need to register, but that’s it. It’s free and just one email. You can submit any blog that you have, as well. You do not have to have a blog to be a part of Blogged.com

Let’s work up to excellent!  And if you don’t think it’s excellent, please offer suggestions on how to get there. Thanks!

Confessions

Inspired by an idea from Missy, in this next issue of Preservation in Pink, there will be a confessions column.  What are the anti-preservation habits that you have? What do you talk about, but just can’t seem to do yourself? 

Please send an email to preservationinpink@gmail.com with your confession. Whether it’s shopping or eating at chain stores or not agreeing with a certain preservation theory or wanting to live in new house…anything goes.

I’m not sure of the exact format yet, so for now please do not leave comments – just send an email.  No articles required, just a few words about your anti-preservation habits.

Thanks!