Christmas Shopping

Happy December! Merry Christmas preparations: tree choosing, house decorating, snowflake wishing, cookie baking, present buying, family & friends – what could be better? It’s the best time of the year!

Around the internet you’re sure to see gift guides for all, suggestions for shopping, tips for finding the best deals or coming up with creative gifts. What may be the best tip: shopping locally, of course! By shopping local you can find those creative, unique gifts for all, have a good time, enjoy the local events, support your local economy: the benefits are endless.

Back in 2008, probably before many of you readers were following Preservation in Pink, I wrote a series of Christmas shopping posts called “Christmas Shopping Considerations,” discussing the options for Christmas shopping (online, retail, local, eccentric) and the impacts of our decisions (financially, socially, preservation-esque).

Christmas Shopping Consideration #1: Avoid Big Box Retailers

Christmas Shopping Consideration #2: Can You Shop Locally?

Christmas Shopping Consideration #3: The Case of Online Shopping?

Christmas Shopping Consideration #4: Gifts for the Historic Preservationist in Your Life

Need another couple of good links to get you started on #4?

5 Christmas Gifts for Heritage Lovers

Holiday Gift Guide  (from the National Trust)

Let’s Talk Twitter

 Do you “tweet” or have a twitter account? Do you know what a Twitter account is? If you are my parents, you might not, so in brief: Twitter is another social media platform in which you can post messages of 140 characters on your twitter homepage. Anyone (unless you choose privacy) can read your page of “tweets.” You can follow what other users are “tweeting” about and reply to them, form groups or list and share anything: news articles, thoughts, clever one-liners, photographs, questions and more. So, it’s kind of like Facebook except shorter, or an online text message. (Actually, all of these can be linked nowadays.) People use Twitter for a variety of reasons, from personal to another way to entertain blog readers to networking to actual conversations.

 Why do I want to talk about Twitter? In all honesty, I’m undecided on how useful I find it – for me. I’m curious to hear why people love it so much and how it has benefited them, personally or professionally. Yes, Preservation in Pink has a Twitter account (@presinpink). I jumped on the bandwagon, which is one of the few times in life I caved to peer pressure. When a new post is published, WordPress automatically informs Twitter and a tweet with the name of the post and the link is shared on the @presinpink home page. In that manner it serves as another means of publication for blog posts. Once in a while I’ll share a news article or “retweet” an interesting link for someone else, but then I feel too addicted to the internet in a media platform that I don’t love. When that happens I tend to ignore Twitter and let WordPress do the work for me (thank you WordPress!)

Originally, when I first learned of Twitter years ago, it seemed like another “look at me!” platform, which it probably was at the time. Now it has evolved to be almost as popular as Facebook. It is a way for people and businesses to get their news out and form connections. There are entire conversations on Twitter, too.

Ever since hearing about Twitter chats, I’ve been decidedly more undecided about Twitter. The National Trust has been hosting monthly Twitter chats for a few months now and they sound like a great time. Kayla at Adventures in Heritage is one of the moderators and she explains how to Twitter and summarizes the chats along with a few others.

Remember when instant messenger (IM & AOL) was huge? (That’d be in the late 1990s/early 2000s.) In middle school and early high school days, it was so exciting to “talk” with friends in a chat room rather than having individual conversations. Snooping sisters couldn’t hear the conversations about boys and school. We could have multiple conversations at once. I loved it.

Are these Twitter chats similar? They seem to be, though I can’t get into Twitter conversations. Part of me finds it incredibly confusing. Part of me is against shortening words into code enough to fit within 140 characters. Annoying so, there are very few words which I’ll abbreviate or translate into text slang when text messaging. Thus, Twitter fuels my pet peeve of poor use of the English language.

However, perhaps the benefit of Twitter is keeping us verbose internet savvy preservationists brief. Get to the point, craft your 140 characters and move on. Share a link. Spread good news.

Is Twitter another must have for professional networking? Or is it a feel-good social platform? Is it actually useful for encouraging preservation? Or is it a case of a bunch of keyboard preservationists tweeting? I’d say both are the extreme. I mean, hey, any form of preservation chatter is good, right? Indeed.

I’m not trying to bash Twitter or those who use it. Whatever you find useful in this digital age is obviously a good thing. The power of education and conversation! But, I would like to hear from others on the advantages and disadvantages, or when you use Twitter or when you don’t. Do you have Twitter boundaries? Is there such a thing as keeping up with too many internet social platforms? Please, share!

My work schedule doesn’t allow me to be available at 4pm EST for these chats so I have missed out on them so far (but there’s always hope, right?). And now that I’ve openly questioned Twitter in public, it’s probably a good time to try it out to the full extent. To those who have asked, I will give a Twitter chat a try, I promise.

Useful iPhone Apps for the Preservationist

This post was written prior to the news of Steve Jobs’ death on October 5, 2011; it seems eerily timely. The world will miss the man who played a role in changing the world. It seems only fitting to tie this statement from Apple to this post. Click the box below to head over to Apple.

For the longest time I was opposed to smart phones. Sure, they’re cool; but I already had an unhealthy obsession with email. Did I need to fuel that addiction? No. Smart phones quickly advanced and then the iPhone came on the scene, with improvements to follow. I knew a bunch of people with Blackberries, but they never seemed to work properly. I always figured that if you were going to get a smart phone, the iPhone was the way to go.

Back in April, Vinny and I cracked and we entered into the world of iPhones. Awesome. Sure, it reinforces my email addiction, but I decided that I would do my best to use the full potential of my iPhone. The wonders that it could do for blogging, photos-on-the-go, directions on the go, and much more. I’ll admit it – I love it. But I maintain that it is a luxury item, it is something I could live without. I like to remember that distinction. If you are wondering, my iPhone has a pink and black case; must include some PiP reference in all digital objects I own.

I’ve been working on compiling a list of iPhone apps that are useful for the historic preservationist. i don’t know of too many, so I’ll share my short list and hopefully you can add to it. Now that the unbelievably advanced iPhone 4S is out, my iPhone 3GS probably seems lame to iPhone addicts, but I’m still happy with it. Let’s start with my favorite app:

1. Field Notes LT (free version): I found this one by searching for notes and GPS. I needed to be able to photograph a structure, take the coordinates and add notes to create one single file. Field Notes LT will do just that, and then you can email your note as a .kmz or zip file. The .kmz files can be opened in Google Earth, for example. It has been incredibly useful (more on that another time).

2. Compass: The compass comes on the iPhone utilities already, so I didn’t find it. Regardless, it is incredibly easy to use. While I was a Girl Scout, cardinal directions on the fly aren’t my forte. This compass is easy to use and helpful for site descriptions.

3. Sherwin Williams Color Snap: Take a picture (or choose one on your phone already), zoom in to the color that you want and it will match that color to a Sherwin Williams paint color, providing the name and product number. Fun! Other paint companies should get on this. I haven’t used it for anything other than just playing around. Has anyone used it professionally?

4. WordPress: Of course this one is useful to me! I have written many posts from my iPhone. It is a bit more tedious, and until recently you couldn’t add in links or special fonts, but the most recent update is amazing. The app allows me to approve comments on the go, check stats, add photos and write posts. And publishing from the iPhone still alerts Twitter and Facebook that a new post is up. I love how they can all be integrated.

5. iHandy Level: That’s right, your phone can be a level. I’m not sure what carpenters think of it, but it’s good enough for hanging pictures and other minor household tasks.

6. Miscellaneous city guides, museum and road trip iPhone apps, though I haven’t tried any yet. I have only used free apps so far. If you’re taking a trip, you should check out available apps before heading out.  Google iPhone app and road trip or New York City or trip planner – there are many.

7. NCPTT app for assessments. I am anxiously awaiting the release of this one.

If you know of helpful smartphone or iPhone app for historic preservationists on the go, let me know. I’ll add it to the list! Or if you have advice for general iPhone usefulness, I’m happy to hear it.

February Thaw Notes

I hope it’s sunny where you are today; what’s more beautiful than a sunny Friday? It’s rainy and cloudy in the Lake Champlain Valley, but it’s going to be over 50 degrees — that’s practically the middle of spring. Spring fever, anyone? Old Man Winter will be back tomorrow, however.  Whatever your Friday looks like, I hope you’re happy, loving your job or your studies, and appreciating the historic and modern environments in which we all live.

A question for all readers:

Are you a member of a preservation organization? How about a young preservationists group? A school sponsored preservation club? I’m interested to know the range of groups and their missions, however small or larger. If you could leave a comment below or email me at preservationinpink@gmail.com, with information about your group, I’d appreciate it. Thank you!

And an important note from the news: our time for preservation advocacy and activism is becoming more important than ever. If you’ve read Preservation Nation lately, you’ve seen that President Barack Obama has proposed cutting critical preservation funding in his budget. A snippet from the article by Margaret Foster:

Yesterday, President Obama sent his 2012 budget proposal to Capitol Hill, delivering a painful blow to preservationists: Two federal grant programs, Save America’s Treasures and Preserve America, were eliminated, slashing the Historic Preservation Fund by 23 percent. Other sources for historic preservation were also cut severely. Funding for National Heritage Areas was reduced by half. And the National Park Service’s construction budget, the account that funds maintenance on historic structures, took a 35 percent hit.

National Trust President Stephanie Meeks was “profoundly disappointed by the cuts in historic preservation funding,” she said in a statement yesterday. “By choosing to eliminate this critical [Save America’s Treasures] program, the Administration is abandoning the federal government’s primary role as stewards of our history. Viewed as a piece of the overall budget, this program is obviously miniscule. … Without adequate funding, we will lose many of the important places that help us understand who we are as a nation.”

Chin up, preservationists — we’re used to uphill battles.  Follow the issue of preservation funding at Preservation Nation.

And a random note: are you a Twitter user? For me, it’s all Preservation in Pink blog posts that are sent to twitter, and not much else from here, but sometimes Twitter is a good way to catch preservation news that I’ve missed across the blogosphere and other places. Should PiP be following you? Let me know!

Have a great weekend.

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.

An Interview with Preservation in Pink

I am accustomed to conducting an interview, not to being the interviewee, but I am thrilled and honored to be featured at Voices of the Past for an interview about Preservation in Pink, its mission, and historic preservation. Of course, there is some talk about flamingos.

Here is the headline from the Voices of the Past homepage right now:

Audio Podcast: Kaitlin O’Shea on collaboration, platforms, and the role of historic preservation in the blogosphere

Neat, huh? I’m psyched. Click here to listen to the podcast or to read the transcript (photographs included, too!)

Spend some time browsing through the website and you’ll find it to be more than just an occasional resource. Voices of the Past is joining the forces of heritage and social media by bringing important heritage news, issues, events, and faces  to the new online heritage community via modern internet based media tools (blogging, twitter, Facebook, rss feeds to the online heritage community. Topics range from historic preservation, archaeology, conservation, genealogy, how-to’s and social media techniques, ethics, news, and profiles… all without a political agenda. It is a community defined by users, but done so in an extraordinary way. You can find podcasts, news programs, blogs, peers, videos, tips, and much more on the website. Jeff Guin, the creator, works tirelessly with people like Bethany Frank, a journalism student, to develop what they have called a new type of journalism. Thank you to Voices of the Past for including me in such a great community!

Oh, about the photograph featured above? It’s about time I shared it here. What could be better than a giant flamingo? My disclaimer is that it does not belong to me, but Fred the Flamingo does indeed belong to a flamingo girl. (What else did you expect?)

2009 Reflections & 2010 Resolutions, Preservation Style

Happy New Year! May you and yours find health, happiness, and success in this new year. How was your 2009? Upon the conclusion of 2008 I looked back at my own preservation efforts throughout the year and looked ahead to 2009 with new goals and resolutions. Mostly I hoped to develop a better definition/explanation of historic preservation that I could easily share with people, something more cohesive and fluent than I previously used, which was always longer and more winding than necessary. I hoped to read important, landmark preservation books that sat on my bookshelves.

How did that go? Well, I have an explanation of historic preservation that suits me and my views on the field. Depending on our particular preservation professions, passions, and preferences, we may all have variations, but I will share mine:

Historic preservation can mean different things to different people. Collectively historic preservation is looking towards the future with respect for the past. It’s understanding communities, ways of life, the built environment, and heritage values in the sense that we need to remember the past in order to create a brighter future. And methods for doing that are the facets of historic preservation: architectural history, historical research, community and preservation planning, oral history & folklore, museum studies, economic revitalization, archaeology… the list goes on. Historic preservation provides the ability to shape and direct a world in which people are proud of where they live and who they are, even though that definition may be different for everyone. And when people have pride in their home, they are happier, and every action matters more and that is how we create a better world. That is how historic preservation can save the world. Granted, that’s simplified, but I will always believe in it.

I think in its basic understanding, this explanation will always be the core of what I love about historic preservation and what keeps me going, why I study the subject and think about it constantly and why it is never a chore; it’s my life. I truly believe in it and its great practices and continued unharnessed potential. I am happy to have finally developed this definition for myself (after being asked many, many times). What do you think?

As for books I have read, there are always more to read, but this year I particularly enjoyed How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built by Stewart Brand and A Richer Heritage edited by Robert E. Stipe. I look forward to a lifetime education fulfilled by the ever-increasing number of books available to read.

So, how was 2009? Unfortunately, the year ended on a sad note for many people with the demolition of the Lake Champlain Bridge in New York and Vermont. For all of the preservation success stories, this most recent preservation tragedy remains fresh in my mind. The upside is thinking that the story of the Lake Champlain Bridge can serve as a lesson and a reminder to all of us about just how fragile our built environment is and how we need to be proactive in identifying historic resources and educating in a cross-disciplinary manner.

In 2010 and this new decade, we are sure to see historic preservation grow and touch the lives and environment of many. That may sound obvious, but I mention it because historic preservation is certainly not a dying field; we are forever gaining momentum, knowledge, cooperation, and useful technology. Historic preservation continues to succeed because of its applicability from sociology to economics to science. All preservationists should be proud of the field.

More specifically, regarding a resolution for 2010, I could of course talk about education goals, but that’s a given considering that I am currently in graduate school. So, moving beyond academia: there are so many subjects that interest me (likewise many people find this) yet I know only snippets about, thus limiting my understanding and conversation on the topic. For example, I love the National Parks, and I am familiar with some, but really I cannot claim to know very much about them. Tonight I watched part of  the PBS series The National Parks: America’s Best Idea with my family and found it fascinating. (I am likely behind the times in watching these; blame grad school.) The amount of information is immense and as one narrator said, the stories of the parks are more than just parks and conservation, they are about the people who became enamored with these places so much that they did everything they could to preserve them. It made me think of preservationists, since we often find ourselves in love with places and stories, which then fuels our missions. And I thought of how the National Parks are such an important part of the historic preservation field (history, stories, buildings, landscape, interpretation, culture, etc.) and how I wished more people had a yearning to travel to the National Parks. These are places that are best understood and respected when seen by individual eyes. Otherwise, they may seem irrelevant.

I talk about the National Parks to say that I want to know more about them and to learn more about the overall story of the parks and the connections to the field of historic preservation. As Theodore Roosevelt said of the National Parks, “Leave it as it is. The ages have been at work on it and man can only mar it.”  What a beautiful thought and what a thought-provoking statement.

So, whether you love the National Parks or your local history or that historic era, if you find yourself fascinated by something and you are known to say, “Oh I love [insert subject here]” but you only know tidbits, challenge yourself to go a step further and educate yourself. In turn you will likely be deepening your passion, your education, and the education of others. Historic preservation succeeds when everyday people like us understand the history and significance of a place or an event and teach others what we know. Without a community of education, informal or formal, and care, we will lose momentum. Luckily, preservationists and preservation friends will always persevere.

Cheers to a productive, proud 2010!

Internet + Heritage Values

If you have a few minutes sometime soon take this quiz about using the internet to share heritage values. It comes from Voices of the Past, which is a netcast, podcast and accompanying website is to help inspire the advancement of heritage values in our society using today’s online communications tools known as social media.

I’ll be talking more about Voices of the Past soon, but for now they asked for help with the survey. Check out the website, take the quiz – quickly – before it ends!

Preservation Photos #10

Given the fate* of the Lake Champlain Bridge and the amount of my life that is has consumed lately, it seems fitting to share another photograph. My photographs cannot do it justice, however. Check the Center for Digital Initiatives at the University of Vermont for beautiful, historic photographs by Louis McAllister. The Special Collections Library at UVM has a wonderful postcard collection with many Lake Champlain Bridge views.

* from the NYSDOT website: NYSDOT is expecting Federal Highway Administration approval for the bridge demolition by Monday 12/7. NYSDOT’s prime contractor will be receiving bids from subcontractors for the controlled demolition of most bridge sections on Monday 12/7 and select subcontractors on Wednesday 12/9. Crews will start preparing the bridge for demolition as soon as next week.

Weird Buildings

Part roadside architecture, part crazy architect, part classic American culture… whatever it is, weird buildings are always entertaining and often a welcome site (assuming they have not replaced a demolished historic structure). This Kansas City Public Library parking garage just might be my favorite.

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Creative Commons: David King, Flickr, click for source.

I searched for strange buildings around the internet and found a few entertaining sites that just might make you want to take a road trip.

Weirdest Buildings in the US

Weird Architecture – Strange & Unique Buildings in the USA

Unusual Architecture

50 Strange Buildings of the World

And then sites start to repeat each other.

What do you think of unique architecture? Does it detract from the existing environment? When does it have a place? And will these be considered historic landmarks?