One Girl Scout + One Rosenwald School = Inspiring Youth in Preservation {Guest Post by Julia Bache}

While attending the National Trust Conference in Indianapolis, I had the pleasure to meet Julia Bache, a high school student who recently completed a successful National Register nomination as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award, and presented at the conference. She is delightful and quite impressive! At Julia’s age, I had not heard of historic preservation and here she is already writing National Register nominations. It’s so encouraging to hear high school students are interested in the field. I asked Julia if she’d be willing to share her story with Preservation in Pink readers. Below is her guest post. (Of course, I recommended the University of Mary Washington’s Historic Preservation program to them).

—————– 

By Julia Bache

I was so excited to meet Kaitlin at the National Trust Conference in Indianapolis a few weeks ago! I have enjoyed following her posts here on Preservation in Pink and am honored to share my preservation efforts with you!

Julia Bache and Kaitlin O'Shea in Indianapolis, pictured at a display in the conference expo hall.

Julia Bache and Kaitlin O’Shea in Indianapolis, pictured at a display in the conference expo hall.

At the conference, I spoke about the Rosenwald Schools and about how to engage youth in historic preservation. I also learned from other speakers and met many inspirational preservationists. Kaitlin and the other professionals showed me that historic preservation is something that we can always take part in, putting out talents and passion to work!

Julia presenting at the National Trust for Historic Preservation conference in  Indianapolis, 2013.

Julia presenting at the National Trust for Historic Preservation conference in Indianapolis, 2013.

As a sophomore in high school, I was ready to begin my Girl Scout Gold Award Project. Scanning the web for possible projects, I found a nomination form for a Rosenwald School that had just been listed on the National Register. Reading this form, I knew that I wanted to help preserve these endangered sites for my Gold Award project.

Buck Creek School, the subject of Julia's NR nomination.

Buck Creek School, the subject of Julia’s NR nomination.

 I decided to nominate a Rosenwald School in my area, the Buck Creek School. I began diving into the remarkable history of the Rosenwald Schools. I read about the builders of these schools, Julius Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington, and how they teamed up with so many communities to provide children with better education.

Julia conducting an oral history interview for historical research.

Julia conducting an oral history interview for historical research.

 I was amazed to find that over 5,000 Rosenwald Schools were built in 15 southern states, serving about one-third of the African American students in the south. They set new standards for African American education by providing nicer facilities, dedicated teachers, and a longer school term. I found it incredible that Rosenwald and Washington were able to break the racial barrier during the Jim Crow era to start this program and improve the education for so many children.

After writing the NR form, I presented the nomination to the Kentucky Historic Preservation Review Board. In March 2013, the Buck Creek School was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places!

Julia's presentation at the Kentucky Historic Preservation Review Board.

Julia’s presentation at the Kentucky Historic Preservation Review Board.

I wanted to do more to educate the public about the need to preserve the Rosenwald Schools. As the second phase of my Gold Award Project, I created a traveling museum exhibition to share the Rosenwald Schools’ history. My traveling exhibition has been displayed in museums, historical societies, and public libraries across the state and will continue to tour into my senior year.

Julia in front of her Rosenwald School exhibition.

Julia in front of her Rosenwald School exhibition.

My project has taught me that people from varied backgrounds can come together through a common love of history and make a difference by preserving it for the future.

———-

Thank you, Julia. You are an inspiration; I hope there are many students like you. Readers, are you a youth in preservation with a  story to share (or do you know any)? I’d love to hear about your passion and projects. 

PresConf Recap: Education Sessions

Gather thousands of preservationists together and there is a lot to talk about, which is more than buildings. Sessions discussed historic sites, publicity, economic revitalization, energy efficiency, social media, the 50 year “rule”, diversity, new ideas for building uses, community advocacy, bridge rehabilitation, federal laws (NEPA & NHPA), and much more. While it’s great to have so many choices for which sessions to attend, my complaint is that there are too many options. Having to choose from one of five or more at one time makes me feel like I’m missing out on important education opportunities. Of course that tends to sound like a “first world problem” but I’m letting you know how busy a National Trust conference can be.

Each session is worthy of discussion, but for this overview I’ll note some of my biggest takeaways (ideas and/or food for thought) and go into greater detail in subsequent posts. You can also find recaps from the Preservation Leadership Forum blog for the whole conference and daily recaps.

Held in the Madame Walker Theater.

Held in the Madame Walker Theater.

Conversation Starter: Diversity in Preservation: Rethinking Standards and Practices

A conversation starter worked like this: a panel provided the background information and set the stage for discussion on the topic. Audience members wrote questions on index cards and the moderator selected questions for the panel to answer. This panel discussed how preservation is building focused; preservationists speak the language of buildings. Yet, how does that impact important places that do not have significant buildings anymore (perhaps they are lost or have lost historic integrity)? Is there a way to make ordinary buildings significant? It’s the discussion of authenticity v. integrity. How much of a role does association play? Is the National Register effective in preserving our significant places? Where are we moving in the future? Are we changing standards or practices, both or none?

As you can surmise, this was a great panel for getting your preservation theory & practices brain working overtime. Rather than being told what to think, the audience participated in the conversation, making the session feel like a good class in school when we’d all sit around and talk theory.

New Media, New Audiences: Case Studies in Social Media

The much anticipated social media panel (one of the panels) with Kayla, Dana, Michelle, and Meagan. Each of us discussed how we use social for preservation work, individually and for our organizations and advocacy. Following the brief presentations, the audience divided into groups of five. We answered questions about social media, helped people work through their challenges and consider what might work for their needs. Each group was different, and all sounded like they went over well. At the end of the group breakout session, everyone wrote their lessons learned on 8×11 analog Twitter cards to tape on the wall sharing what they learned or another thought from the session.

Why is social media at a preservation conference? Simply stated, social media is not only for our personal lives. It can help our organizations be included in conversations throughout communities and across the country. It builds relationships and increases networks in a more genuine way than some might expect from social media. (After all, we preservationists love authenticity, so we’re going to be ourselves, right?) Our goal was to show that social media (whether blogging, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) can help to share powerful messages and create support for preservation causes. And it’s not just for the younger generations, nor do you have to use all of the social media avenues. It’s also fun. In other words, go ahead, jump on the preservation + social media bandwagon. You’ll be glad you did.

Our analog Twitter wall!

Our analog Twitter wall!

Seaside as A Historic District: Evaluating the Significance of New Urbanism Developments

Another one of my favorite sessions, hearkening to the day of Mary Washington where we were fascinated by New Urbanism developments (because some, quite frankly, were creepy, whereas others seemed like good places to live. Though we were unable to decide if preservationists could live in new developments, however well designed, because of all of the historic homes and communities out there). This session presented examples of planned communities throughout American history (think Radburn, NJ, all the Levittowns, the Greenbelt communities) and then discussed new communities (new urbanism) such as Seaside, FL and Reston, VA. What is the correlation between new urbanism and historic preservation? Are these new communities too Disney-like or gentrified? And the discussion led back to our favorite terms of significance and authenticity. The best thought to share: New urbanism is learning to build new cities in the fashion of successful old cities (i.e. old urbanism?), which have survived because of historic preservation. Perhaps the two fields: historic preservation and urban planning have more in common than previously thought.

Spans to Somewhere: Creative Outcomes for Large Transportation Projects in Historic Settings

A big transportation project is near and dear to my heart due to my days with the Lake Champlain Bridge. Unfortunately many of our larger historic bridges are at risk for demolition because they no longer meet the service levels or have suffered deterioration. This session discussed the Milton-Madison Bridge as well as the Louisville, KY bridge projects and how the communities worked to mitigate the loss of their bridge. While the regulatory world (Section 106 & Section 4(f)) isn’t often discussed in National Trust sessions, it is important to remember that the laws do play a role in everyone’s lives. And community input is an important part of these regulations. Citizens (stakeholders) can help to direct the outcome of a project, when working with the decision makers. The outcome can include rehabilitation, or it can include mitigation (a unique bridge design, historic research or documentation, interpretive panels, preservation planning, etc.)

****

Those are just a few of the sessions and a few thoughts – hopefully some to get your preservation brain intrigued. If you attended the conference, what were some of your favorite sessions?

PresConf Recap: Welcome to the Big Show, Preservationists! (Or, the Opening Plenary)

As mentioned, the preservation conference can feel like a whirlwind, in a good way. There are many field sessions and events to choose from, in addition to the education sessions. Even if you’re indecisive, you’ll likely to end up in a good place. Some events, however, are not to be missed.

The Opening Plenary is the official opening for conference attendees (though meetings and field sessions do occur prior), wherein the President of the NTHP, conference chairs, et. al, and the guest speaker welcomes everyone and gives opening remarks. This year’s opening plenary was held in the Hilbert Circle Theater in Columbus Circle in Indianapolis on Wednesday October 30.

Hilbert Circle Theater

Hilbert Circle Theater

Time for Three (self proclaimed world’s first classically trained garage band) began the plenary with a captivating performance. The group is in residence with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and has won and Indiana Innovation Award. With two violins and a double bass, this was one of my favorite live performances.

Stephanie Meeks, NTHP President, spoke about historic house museums and how our go-to system just isn’t working. Saving buildings by converting them into house museum is seldom the best use, unless you are Mount Vernon or Monticello. That model, which was once our way we knew how to save a building (think Ann Pamela Cunningham and the Mount Vernon Ladies Association) needs to be reprogrammed. Meeks based her talk on discussion from the book New Solutions for House Museums by Donna Ann Harris. (Read her entire speech here.) Meeks suggests that it’s time to reconsider how our buildings operate; in other words, bring noncommercial (i.e. museum or nonprofit) and retail side by side. Give the building life all of the time. Recharge it! We’re rethinking historic sites. The National Trust is leading by example – moving out of its current home (Dupont City HQ) to the historic Watergate building. While a difficult decision, it was the right move for the building and for the NTHP, and the building is sold with preservation easements. Agreements like this can help interested buyers and sellers to protect historic buildings while giving them the proper use.

Another view in the theatre.

Another view in the theatre.

Another highlight of the plenary was the guest speaker Henry Glassie, Professor Emeritus of Folklore at Indiana University. If you are a Mary Washington Historic Preservation graduate like me, it was a flashback to Professor Gary Stanton’s lectures about vernacular architecture. Glassie gave a lighthearted, but well informed overview of Indiana architectural history; he is a wonderful speaker. Did you know that the I-house was named so because architectural historian Fred Niffen found this style in Indiana and Illinois? All these years, I had no idea. Glassie also offered that the mobile home and the log cabin have similarities including geographic distribution in that they are both shelter of the working poor. A thoroughly enjoyable evening!

Following the opening plenary, everyone headed to the opening reception at the Athenaeum Building in Indy, built in 1890 for the culture of the community. The reception spanned multiple floors including The Rathskeller (the city’s oldest restaurant, estab. 1894) which is in the basement. Attendees mingled, talked preservation, made introductions, and enjoyed some food and drink. The event was also a host for the #BuiltHeritage Tweet-up. Finally, an opportunity to meet my preservation social media friends (wherein I hugged everyone)!

Windows above our tweetup.

Windows above our tweetup.

By the end of the night, I had scribbled notes in my #presconf notebook already filled with quotes from Meeks and Glassie; I met (sort of new) friends; experienced just a few of Indy’s beautiful historic sites, and felt that sense of preservation happiness being among “my people.” Overall, what a great evening and a fantastic way to kick off the conference.

PresConf Recap: People of Preservation

Sessions, site seeing, photographing buildings, fun events, educational and inspiring speakers – the NTHP and Indianapolis put together a fabulous experience for the 2000+ preservationists and friends

October 30 – November 2, 2013. There’s much to say and much to share, and PiP will cover the conference in segments: people, sessions, events, buildings, and travel. First up: PEOPLE.

Historic preservation is place. It is buildings. But most of all, it is people. Preservation wouldn’t be anywhere without its people. Attending the National Trust for Historic Preservation conference in Indianapolis, IN this past week provided the strongest examples of just how important people are to preservation. It is inspiring to meet preservationists who have such diverse jobs and niches, yet who are all working to further the preservation cause.

New Media, New Audiences panel:

New Media, New Audiences panel: Dana Saylor, Julia Rocchi, Kaitlin O’Shea, Kayla Jonas Galvin, Michelle Kimball, Meagan Baco. More about this social media session to come, but these inspiring women standing with me are just some of the people to which I’m referring.

I’m grateful to live in and participate in the social media sector of preservation. After years of knowing fellow preservationists through blogs, Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, finally I had the chance to meet so many passionate people. If you’re one of the social media crew: I probably hugged you – that’s how happy I was to meet you. How interesting it is to have this network across the country (and the world, in some cases), to build these relationships and to know what each other is working on in the field (and some outside of work) even before we meet. We are non-profit employees, government employees, self-employed individuals, writers, artists, photographers, and advocates with projects ranging from one building to an entire city to the entire field of preservation. What an honor to meet everyone. Some of the social media crew includes:

Beyond the social media crowd and network, it’s wonderful to know accomplished preservationists, students, and locals. The Preservation Conference is the place where you can talk to any preservationist; you already have the common ground of preservation, so just strike up a conversation. I was lucky to speak with Stephanie Meeks, President of the NTHP; Vince Michael of the NTHP and the blog Time Tells. I met a 16 year student who has already written a National Register nomination for a Rosenwald School (and it’s been accepted). And this is just the beginning. Everyone is sincerely excited for the field, for each other, and it’s a motivating, inspiring experience. Mix everyone together and you’ll be on a preservation high! The annual preservation conference is one of the best ways to be reinvigorated and inspired. I look forward to future conversations and conferences.

Indy Bound!

Heading towards Indy for the National Trust for Historic Preservation conference. Follow along over the next few days on instagram and twitter. Find me and say hi if you’re there. I’d love to meet you!

20131030-125410.jpg

20131030-125429.jpg

20131030-125447.jpg

20131030-125507.jpg

#Presconf Excitement!

Who is going to the National Trust for Historic Preservation conference in Indianapolis next week? There are so many sessions to attend, but if you get the chance to attend the session, “New Media, New Audiences: Case Studies in Social Media,” I’d love to meet you. I’m in conference preparation mode, so I thought I’d share a few links, hints, exciting events. Find the full program here.

(1) SOCIAL MEDIA! Need news and happenings or have a question for other conference attendees? Search and use #presconf on Twitter or @PresNationLive and someone will answer you, I’m sure. Wednesday night before the opening reception is the Tweet-up (7:15) and I’m looking forward to meeting all of the social media folks in “real life” as opposed to the Twitter/Instagram/blog world. (See below from @PresNationLive).

Tweetup @ #PresConf

The annual Tweetup at the National Preservation Conference will take place after the opening plenary at the Athenaeum (site of the opening reception), upstairs by the maroon banquette at 7:15 p.m. Take the elevator to get to the second floor.

(2) SPEAKERS! The Opening Plenary speaker is Henry Glassie. For anyone who studied vernacular architecture at Mary Washington, you are probably as excited as I am. The man is a vernacular scholar legend! I need to find a book for him to autograph! Prof. Stanton at Mary Washington would be proud. Check out the speaker bios.

(3) EVENTS! The Thursday night candlelight tour. This is always a conference favorite: beautiful homes, an evening walk, gazing at architecture. How many times have you wanted to go in a house as you walked by?! Well, on this tour you can! There’s also a silent film night with Indiana Landmarks and a social media cast party for the speakers. So much on one night! Browse the program, there’s no shortage of fun things to do and interesting people to meet.

(4) INDY! Some Indianapolis exploring. Following Tiffany (Historic Indianapolis) and Raina for so long, Indy looks like it’s going to be awesome. They are full of good Indy photos, idea, and tips. And many businesses are offering discounts for conference attendees. Print the list for reference and just show them your badge! Download the free Indy app to help guide you around the city. Do you live in Indy? What’s your recommended site, food stop, coffee shop, city adventure, etc?

I still have to plan out my schedule to be certain that I don’t miss a thing on my list. Lots to do before conference time! I’m sure there will be more to share before I head to the Midwest. Wish you could join, but are unable to this year? Check out this post from the Preservation Leadership Forum to see all of your options to follow along.