Friday Links

Fun travel related Friday links for all:

A nice overview of Route 66 history and present study, as seen on Preservation Nation. Speaking of studying Route 66, can you say dream job? How can I get in on this?

A beautiful mansion outside Philadelphia in desperate need of some love and a new life: Lynnewood Hall in Elkins Park, PA. (Thanks to Jen G for this one.)

You are allowed to take pictures in public places. Architectural surveyors, rest easy and read on (though it gets somewhat complicated). (Thanks to Maria for this one.)

The 50 greatest attractions of Roadside America. However, a few of us have already had a discussion and find many to be missing: The Corn Palace, the Big Duck… what else? Add it! (Thanks to Maria for sending the entertainment.)

Have a great weekend everyone!

Help the Preservation Fund!

Just in case you do not receive emails from the National Trust, here is the latest newsworthy email:

How do you take action? Click here to get to the super-easy form. All you have to do is fill in your name and address and it will be sent to the appropriate representative. For more information on the CLEAR Act, click here. And here is a summary of the discussion draft. Of course, there are many sides to an issue — who has an opinion? This may help preservation, but will it hurt something else? I’d be interested to hear what everyone thinks. Thanks!

Summer Newsletter Update

Regretfully, I think I have to announce that there will not be a summer newsletter this year, due to lack of actual contributions. Generally, we have at least 12 articles, but this time there were only about 2. It seems like an extremely busy summer for everyone, which I completely understand. If there is interest, the summer issue can be pushed to the fall season, but otherwise the next issue will be winter. If you prefer a guest blog post, please let me know.

In the meantime, I will be spending time giving the website a well deserved, overdue spruce. Suggestions are welcome.

Preservation Photos #42

Preservation pop quiz: Who wants to take a guess as to what happened to this brick wall? (The brick dates to ca. early 1800s, but is a veneer to a ca. 1785 wood frame beneath it.) Click for a larger image.

The Next Generation of Heritage Professionals

Who Will Advocate for Next Generation of Heritage Professionals? A Cautionary Tale for University Preservation Programs.

This is an important issue, addressed by Jeff Guin of Voices of the Past and Northwestern State University of Louisiana, on the Voices of the Past blog. Click to read the well-written, composed, and emotional full post by Jeff. I’ll share pieces of it here. The story begins like this:

Losing a historic structure is a sad thing. Losing generations of folks to expertly protect cultural heritage is much, much worse.

This past week, Louisiana’s Board of Supervisors for higher education rubber-stamped a proposal from Northwestern State University of Louisiana to eliminate the university’s bachelor’s and master’s degrees in heritage resources just as these groundbreaking interdisciplinary programs were hitting their strides. The Master of Arts in Heritage Resources (MAHR) was on track to triple its number of graduates in the next year.

In the article, Jeff explains how the program is self-sustaining and low-cost, and how the program has grown in size and popularity over the past few years, mostly due the tireless efforts of the faculty. The mission of the MAHR program is:

To provide students with opportunities to become highly motivated, knowledgeable, and skillful professionals who, by working with federal and state agencies, historic preservation groups, and property owners as well as others, are able to develop integrated preservation strategies to protect and manage the total range of the country’s heritage.

This program was supported by the community and the students and professionals in the preservation field. Yet, the University chose to cut the MAHR program before others that are not as financially beneficial to the school (see Jeff’s article). Now the faculty and the students are left without a home in the university and the outstanding work of the program is hanging in limbo.  While Jeff obviously has close connections with the MAHR program, his concern reaches far beyond Northwestern State University:

But the fact is that if this could happen to a high-quality, nationally respected and emerging program here, it could indeed happen anywhere. As governments hint at dramatically reducing deficits over the next several years, it’s clear the necessary cuts will be trickling down to the rest of the nation–just as they did in Louisiana–with potentially disastrous consequences for heritage preservation education.

And what a scary thought that is. As we can see from the budget cuts and closing of state parks, heritage is often one of the first resources to suffer. Maybe that’s because the value of heritage can be intangible and remains very subjective in some circles, unlike the importance of medicine and the broad appeal of a business degree. If something like the cuts at Northwestern State can happen anywhere, then I can’t say that there is a solution right now. But it shows the importance of supporting your local heritage programs and the work that we, as a connected field, have before us.

To Jeff: thank you for sharing this important issue with all of us. To those in the MAHR program at Northwestern State: thank you for the work you accomplished.

Friday Links

In the spirit of a Happy Friday and in promoting connectivity to the rest of the preservation world, here are some fun related links I’ve stumbled upon across the web:

Feel like proclaiming your love of preservation and historic sites on a map! If you love maps, this is perfect for you.  Visit the National Trust’s website to add your name to a list of supporters who want to put history back on the map. Click here.

You’ve heard of Americorps – well how about HistoriCorps? From the website: HistoriCorps is an initiative of Colorado Preservation, Inc. to engage volunteers in historic preservation projects. Volunteers and students work with trades specialists including: logworkers, masons, window restorers, roofers, and solar energy technicians to preserve historic resources on and near public lands. PreserveNet had some internships posted from HistoriCorps a few months back, but you can always volunteer. Working preservation vacation anyone?

Wondering what kids are learning about historic preservation in elementary school? Well, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency has a website dedicated to preservation education for elementary school students called Architeacher.

Most of us say how far reaching preservation can be; now there is a website called HISTPRES: Unique Jobs in Historic Preservation that is showing everyone just how true that is. It is updated often with all sorts of job, all that can be tied into preservation.

Have you heard that remains of an 18th century ship have been found at the World Trade Center? Yes, for real!  What was it doing there? In the 18th and 19th century, wood cribbing was used to extend shorelines, according to the article.

Flamingos, we may have been outdone at weddings: talk about a wedding featuring flamingos. Click and scroll down to about midway through the post at Green Wedding Shoes. You cannot miss the flamingos. This couple’s reasoning: their Florida ties. Regardless, what an awesome idea.

Happy Friday!

(Readers, do you like sharing links? Should I continue to do this weekly, biweekly? Let me know. I’ll do my best to seek out exciting sites and stories worth mentioning.)

Preservation Photos #41

Taken on Route 66 in August 2006. I post this picture because it’s one of those that I forgot to label and can no longer remember where it was or anything else about the surroundings (I think it started to rain so I stopped taking pictures). According to the order of my pictures we had passed through Carthage, MO and then Avilla, Halltown, and after that I can’t decipher. Any Route 66 buffs have an idea? Thanks!

The Core of Preservation

What do you think is at the core of preservation? Do you think of houses, architectures, places, or something else? In my response post last week, I quoted Emily Koller from her blog post, which said that, “Historic preservation at its core is about possessing the emotional capacity to care about a place. Young people, as a whole, are not interested in preservation because we are mostly numb to the places in which we live.”  In the comments section, “kvl” mentioned that the idea of the core of preservation seemed interesting from an anthropological point of view. (Feel free to elaborate!)

I would say I agree with the first part of Koller’s statement — possessing the emotional capacity to care about a place. But, as I stated already, I certainly do not agree with the latter half of her statement, which is why I ask you, readers, how you define or identify the core of preservation.

Aside from caring about a loving a place, I see the core of preservation as quality of life (something else that I’ve often mentioned). A preservationist must understand that every place has a story and it is important to someone, even if the preservationist does not have an attachment to it. As preservationists we are working to give everyone the opportunity to honor their history and memories, while incorporating it into their daily lives with the end result of improving quality of life. Thus, the core of historic preservation for me reaches far beyond my own connections or lack thereof to a place.

Of course, you don’t have to agree with me or anyone else, but I’m interested in how preservationists identify their work — what drives you? You don’t have to define the entire field and its mission, but what makes up your preservation soul? Please share, I’m very interested!

For Maria

Maria, we all had a lovely time at your wedding! Here are some fun playground pictures with some of my favorite people. Yay flamingos! Sadly, it was not a historic playground. However, it did have a merry-go-round and playground equipment that was fit for grown-up kids!

Come everyone, get on the merry-go-round!

Spinning a bit faster! Thanks, Shane -- though Missy looks nervous.

Who doesn't love swings?

And something was funny.

Thanks to Vinny for all of the wonderful candid shots! Girls, please share your playground photos, too!

A Response to “How to Turn Young Adults Into Preservationists”

On July 1, 2010, for the PreservationNation blog , Emily Koller wrote, “The kids are all right… but they’re not becoming preservationists” and that a goal of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, under the new leadership of Wayne Donaldson (California SHPO), is to attract young people to preservation.

Immediately, I was insulted by this opening paragraph. Young people aren’t becoming preservationists? Seriously? In my recent years of experience, historic preservation in schools was growing and preservation was reaching many more people than ever before, especially as the definition and applications of historic preservation grow. Had anyone talked to the many undergraduates and graduate students studying historic preservation? Still, I continued to read to see if the statements would be justified. It did not get any better:

Koller stated, “Historic preservation at its core is about possessing the emotional capacity to care about a place. Young people, as a whole, are not interested in preservation because we are mostly numb to the places in which we live.”

I’d bet that most people I know would be appalled to be categorized as a young person who does not have the emotional capacity to care about a place. Maybe people aren’t permanently attached to their current location, but not caring about a place until we settle down in the suburbs? That’s quite the statement. I gather that Koller is referring to people who did not start as preservationists professionally or avocationally, but then find out later in life that they love their simple ranch house and all places relating to their childhood. However, the author is unclear. Is she talking about preservationists who are young people or the general population of young people? It’s much too generalized.

Perhaps this article is qualifying preservationists by the member age brackets in the National Trust and other organizations; in that case, sure, the 25-35 bracket is probably less than the others. But, we might also be the age group with the smallest income, the largest academic loans, and those trying to figure out which organizations we truly want to join. We cannot afford to join every society or non-profit group and we often cannot afford to attend the conferences due to time and financial restraints. While I love the National Trust, as a student I always found it focused on the more experienced professionals rather than the young professionals and students. My feelings have shifted a bit since the conferences I attended in 2004 and 2005, but of course, I am older now. College students, how do you feel?

Regardless of the obscured point of the article, I find it misinformed. Perhaps the recent graduates are not infiltrating the preservation job market right now, but the preservation job market isn’t exactly abundant in this current economy. The young people, the young preservationists I know, are some of the most passionate preservationists. We have yet to be jaded as some may be with decades of experience. We have a broadened definition of historic preservation and are working to integrate preservation with other fields. Young Preservation groups can be found in most large cities (Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Charleston). Our networks may not be the older networks, but we have our own and we’re trying to mingle with everyone. But as the older age brackets probably know, it’s always more fun and easiest to work with people you already know (hence, the separation of generations).

So, “How to Turn Young Adults Into Preservationists?”  The young adults are already preservationists. Of course, the field will always welcome additional preservationists. But, turning them? That sounds forced and that’s not how it goes. The better approach is finding the preservationists and allowing people to realize how preservation is already relevant to their lives. I hope that the public opinion is not the same as Koller’s blog post. Yes, it is always important to reach every age group and to keep everyone involved, harnessing the inner preservationists of those who have it. And finding the right way to connect is a necessity, which may be through mid-century architecture. But, the overall negative implications of the blog post are insulting and misinformed.

I know that I do not speak alone when I say that I became a preservationist on purpose, not by accident. I was a preservationist before I knew I was a preservationist. Historic preservation is in my soul and my being. While not everyone who works in the field has the same feelings; I’ve never had the feeling that we are losing preservationists as time progresses. Historic preservation is growing in reach and in public interest; even if it’s sometimes disguised in new terms.  Preservation will always be an uphill battle, but there are many people who willingly sign up for the challenge.