Project 365

Have you heard of Project 365? It seems to have various permutations around the internet but on that site, the story begins with a guy named Taylor McKnight who started taking one photograph per day on January 1, 2004. The purpose is multifold: 1) by always using your camera, you will become a better photographer, 2) you will have a year long photo album of your life, 3) you will be able to recall exact days and moments that you have may have forgotten otherwise.

It’s an interesting twist on recording memories and active preservation, huh? I thought so anyway. We all know that life is made up of many little moments, things that we wish we could remember but somehow they get lost along the way. Think of it this way: if we are actively recording our lives and what is significant to that particular year, then won’t we have a more complete story to tell at the end of the year?  Many of us chronicle our lives in written words, whether by a diary, a blog, letters, etc. But what about photographs? Do we try to document with just photographs? And one specific photograph each day will have more of an impact than albums of hundreds of digital photographs for certain occasions. Captions are allowed and encouraged.

I had heard about Project 365 many times before, but wanted to wait until a new year began to start (unlike other resolutions I make).  So I began my own Project 365 for 2009, knowing that this will be a year of change and many locations and exciting adventures. I still record most of my life in words, but photographs seem like fun, too. And yes, I’m keeping another blog for it. If you’re interested in the link, I’ll send it to you.  And if you decided to start Project 365, let me know! I’d like to see. It doesn’t have to start on January 1, so you can still begin.  Happy photographing and documenting!

Family Photographs

It’s my last day at home in New York and we’re consumed by chores such as packing, cleaning, and finding the new cat to bring him to the vet.  But another important task is moving the old family photographs from the garage into the house. Photographs have come up on Preservation in Pink from time to time.  This latest batch is from my grandparents’ apartment who have boxes and boxes of ca. 1940 photographs.  They are labeled thanks to my grandmother.

When my mom and aunt cleaned out my grandparents’ apartment after their father died in June 2007, they had to have the important items shipped up here to New York.  This now means that cardboard boxes in our garage are full of photographs and other family mementos and heirlooms. Lacking a climate controlled archive and just space, storing these photographs is a problem.  Our first step is to get them out of the garage and out of the cardboard boxes. For now, until we can come up with a better solution, we are transferring them to the ever popular plastic storage bins.

Plastic storage bins? That’s all I can think of for now. Do you have better suggestions? The next time I am home it will be my mission to get some acid free boxes.  At least they will not be in the garage or the attic or the direct sunlight. These are irreplaceable photographs. I should make digitizing them a project as well. But first – out of the cardboard. Second, acid free boxes. Third, labels on the boxes (with acid free ink).  Fourth, digitizing. Fifth, a summary of the photographs or something like that.  Seems like I suddenly have another job the next time I come home!  It is a project that will be a gift to future generations of my family, so I’m proud to sort through these photographs and properly store them.

What do you do with your family photographs? Do you have any suggestions for me as I embark on my personal preservation project?

2008 Reflections & 2009 Resolutions, Preservation Style

Happy New Year preservationists! I wish everyone the healthiest, happiest, and most successful 2009. At the end of the year, it’s customary to evaluate the previous 12 months and consider our successes and failures and what could be better for the next year.

As a young preservationist I consider 2008 a good year for preservation. From learning what my friends and colleagues are doing and meeting new people who are active in the preservation field, it is amazing to hear how widespread the field is. I am most inspired by this broad spectrum of preservation jobs. It is refreshing and encouraging to know that people outside of the academic world fully understand and employ historic preservation. And maybe I have paid more addition to the reaches of preservation than I have in previous years, but it seems as though more and more people are becoming familiar with and less afraid of the term “historic preservation.” It reaches sustainability and archaeology and urban planning to our methods of research, documentation, and conservation.

Reflecting on 2008, I consider it a good year for my own efforts of historic preservation. This year I have paid more attention to preservation in every day life and what I can do to ultimately support the field. I do my best to practice what I recommend to others, whether it is such things as walking rather than driving, avoiding chain stores, taking the train, labeling my photographs with acid free markers, etc. However, I would like to improve on other things such as visiting historic sites and reading more preservation related material just for fun. Both of these are minimal lists, but a starting point. What do you consider your successes and failures in preservation for 2008? With our individual evaluations, perhaps we can apply them to the field and see how we collectively need to improve and which of our efforts have proved effective.

I don’t like to make New Year’s resolutions; I’d rather turn over a new leaf whenever the time calls. However, as an overall practice, it seems beneficial to outline plans for 2009. And our field-wide preservation goals need to start from our personal goals. Aside from the obvious of getting accepted into graduate school and doing well, I have other preservation goals. I would like to develop my own explanation for people who ask me about historic preservation, without any previous knowledge. I would like to have simple, engaging explanations for kids (like the track team I coach) who ask me what my job is about. I think that, while the field is growing in leaps and bounds, it is because people are drawn to through another field. In order for us to broaden our audience and participants, we need to engage people who have never before considered historic preservation. However, my problem is still having a sufficient explanation.

For my own education, I have a few shelves of books that I need to read before graduate school and also for my general preservation benefit. I’m looking forward to another year of preservation conversations amongst friends and colleagues, old, new, and those I’ve yet to meet. Preservation in Pink will continue enthusiastically, of course, newsletter and blog. Everyone is always encouraged to contribute in any way he/she can. Preservation in Pink will evolve with the contributors and audience, so send in suggestions.

As 2009 begins, I hope that everyone continues to believe in and support the mission of historic preservation, in all of its facets. It never ceases to be the field that can save the world, and I know many of you share the same sentiments.