Author Archive

Lobby Day 2009: Bringing It Home

Posted on: March 19th, 2009 by Guest Writer

 

A week and some change after returning from Preservation Lobby Day in D.C., the buzz of Capitol Hill continues to reverberate in the offices of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. Being a part of the collective effort to educate legislators and to advocate for historic resources in our nation’s capital was not only a rewarding experience, but a gratifying shot in the arm that others, elsewhere, share our vision and recognize the good work we all do.

But when the feel-good adrenalin dissipates, there is always the realization that D.C. is simply the first act in a preservation drama that unfolds annually - the need for more funding, better policies and increased attention on historic resources. The follow-up, then, is key for our future success. Fortunately, in Washington State (as is the case in all states), we have wonderful examples of how historic preservation is making a difference in our quality of life, in our environment and in the bottom-line for our budgets.

In pitching our case on Capitol Hill, the Washington Trust and our lobbying delegation provided legislators with specific examples from each of our congressional districts - preservation projects that are either currently underway or that have been recently completed. I look forward to inviting those same legislators and their in-district staffers to witness first hand the effects of preservation. Whether it’s donning a hard hat and touring a construction zone, spending a night in an old warehouse-turned-historic hotel, or sipping coffee in a café housed in a building that once served as a neighborhood drugstore (if caffeine is the twenty-first century cure-all, then Seattle is certainly the snake oil capital of the nation!), Washington’s legislators have ample opportunities to see preservation in action.

And so do yours.

With our recent visit to D.C. still fresh in the minds of our legislators and the debates over the FY10 federal budget beginning to swirl in the winds, the time is ripe for following-up at home. I remember how at one particular in-district meeting conducted last year, I was thrilled to point out to the legislator that the very building we were sitting in was a contributing structure within a National Register Historic District that had been rehabilitated using both state and federal incentive programs.

Now that is bringing preservation home.

- Chris Moore

Way Outside the Beltwayer Chris Moore is the field director for the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. Visit our Lobby Day 2009 website on PreservationNation.org to learn more about his recent trip to Capitol Hill.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

From the Shadows to the Spotlight: Memoirs of a Lobby Day First-Timer

Posted on: March 18th, 2009 by Guest Writer

 

It’s a little-known fact that I’ve aspired to attend Preservation Lobby Day for at least five years now, and I must say that my first experience did not disappoint - both on a personal and a professional level. And while traveling to our nation’s capital is no small feat financially (especially for an upstart non-profit program director), I’m grateful for the generous support I received from two private donors (thanks, mom!) and from the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation (thanks, Trust!). I couldn’t have stormed the Hill without them.

After deciding that it made economic sense (somewhere) to make Lobby Day a priority, I registered and began to carefully plan my attack: stay in the background, listen a lot and learn from our state’s seasoned preservation heroes. After all, I was a first-timer, and plenty of Lobby Day vets from whom I could glean invaluable insights were attending. Know your role, I always say.

However, as is usually the case whenever I determine to stay comfortably in the background, things took a decided turn towards the spotlight about a week prior to my departure, and it all started with an e-mail from Jennifer Meisner, the executive director of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. I remember opening it and staring incredulously at the late-breaking announcement for a few moments: “The National Trust for Historic Preservation has selected the Washington State Delegation - traditionally one of Lobby Day’s largest - as a feature for its website, PreservationNation.org!” Evidently, Team Way Outside the Beltwayers (as we were now called) would be blogged, YouTube-ed and Flickr-ed during our trip to D.C. To make things even better, I was asked to supply a headshot (do what?!?) and to fill out a brief personal questionnaire because, of course, the National Trust wanted to “build interest among the preservation movement by introducing each individual team member.”

As my plan of attack shattered before my eyes, I wasn’t sure whether to laugh hysterically or to gasp in shock. In order to play it safe (since that was working oh so well), I did both. Breathing deeply, I filled out my profile (cleverly, I hoped, since an entire movement would be reading) and sent in a “headshot” hoping that no one would notice the “Life is Good” logo on my t-shirt. Very professional.

Next thing I knew, there was another ding from my inbox from Jennifer, this time with a color-coded spreadsheet (I can still see it) attached that listed all twelve of our meetings on the Hill. Impressive, I thought. “Oh, look…there’s my name.” “Oh, look…I’m part of the first meeting of the day, and it’s with a staffer for Representative Larsen from my home district.” “Oh look…it says ‘lead’ next to my name in big, bold letters.” It was right then and there that I realized that I was now officially zero for two on the whole staying-in-the-shadows thing; I would be holding the reigns during my first-ever meeting on Capitol Hill.

Suffice it to say that the world kept revolving during Lobby Day, despite the blinding glare of the national spotlight and the jostling of the paparazzi. In fact, the pace of the day was such that it felt like the world sped up considerably. I enjoyed every minute of the action, with the possible exception of a few very long minutes spent in the stifling Longworth cafeteria, during which I felt like a freedom fry under a heat lamp. Still, it was worth it. I felt that, no matter the outcome, our team was taking action and trying to make a difference.

Although I have now returned to the somewhat less frenetic pace of the other Washington, I continue to learn from my Lobby Day experiences, and I’m very much looking forward to some follow-up action in the form of in-district meetings. If you’re getting into the spirit of things and planning to do some local lobbying yourself (please do!), consider these tips from a first-timer before you book your first visit:

  • Always be early (you know how the old saying goes).
  • Always be flexible (yes, one of our scheduled meetings occurred in the hallway).
  • And always be thankful (an all-around good policy to have in life).
  • Do your homework. Know what projects are occurring in your city/state/district, and how the person you’re meeting with is – or should be – connected to them.
  • Don’t just make the case; have a specific “ask” in mind.
  • Enjoy the fact that you’ve accepted your responsibility to engage in the democratic process, and then do it again, and again, and…
  • Don’t be afraid to be in the spotlight because it’s good for the movement.
  • Save some energy to celebrate with your team afterwards.

If Preservation Lobby Day 2009 was any indication, our movement is growing, it’s active and it’s enthusiastic. I can’t wait to do my part again next year. I think I’ll just stay in the shadows, though…

- Mary Rossi

Way Outside the Beltwayer Marry Rossi is a cultural resource planner for Applied Preservation Technologies. Visit our Lobby Day 2009 website on PreservationNation.org to learn more about her recent trip to Capitol Hill (and her subsequent lobbying 101 crash course).

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

 

:  Mr. Robertson, son of a teacher at Mary Ray School, works hard to clean up the building. (Credit: Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation)

: Mr. Robertson, son of a teacher at Mary Ray School, works hard to clean up the building. (Credit: Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation)

The Mary Ray Memorial School, one of The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2009 Places in Peril, was the site of a community workday this past Saturday, March 14th. The Georgia Trust has been engaging this year’s Places in Peril with spotlight events. “Each spotlight event has been different, as the needs of each endangered property have been different,” said Georgia Trust President, Mark C. McDonald.

The Mary Ray Memorial School has been the hub of the Raymond Community for a century now and although it had fallen into disrepair in the late 1980’s there is a strong grassroots group working on the building’s comeback. Deeded to the trustees of the people of the town of Raymond in the early part of the 20th Century the Mary Ray School was used as a School until the late 1940’s thereafter becoming a community center.

The workday began with volunteers arriving and being greeted with Paula Stanford’s homemade sausage and biscuits. After a few moments of conversation and organizing of ladders and tools the volunteers were gathered together by Allen Robertson, President of the Mary Ray Schoolhouse organization. Allen greeted everyone and discussed the projects that would occur throughout the day emphasizing that the point of the day’s activity was not only to work but also to have fellowship and enjoy the day. Mark C. McDonald thereafter announced The Georgia Trust would be awarding a matching grant to the Mary Ray Memorial School as part of its Partners in the Field Program for the amount of $10,000 for the restoration and stabilization of the building. In announcing the grant, Mark said” The volunteers of the Mary Ray School embody the very spirit of preservation and it is an honor for The Georgia Trust to be working with this group.”

Volunteers, ranging in age from 90 to 7, accomplished a lot in just one day. A bathroom addition was removed and recycled. The porch was painted and large sections of recycled trim pieces were scraped and prepped for future installation. A large section of flooring was replaced as well as a section of beaded ceiling. Debris was removed from the pockets behind wainscoting and other areas in the interior. Volunteer Cindy Eidson said, “The whole experience was wonderful and I really feel as if I have a vested interest with the building now.”

-- Jordan H. Poole

Jordan H. Poole is the Field Services Manager for the The Georgia Trust.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

Teaching Preservation (& Diversity)

Posted on: March 12th, 2009 by Guest Writer

 

Something

Notes from the Teacher's Desk

As an educator, you can’t make important classroom decisions in a vacuum.

In Research History, I always try to interject a healthy dose of diversity into my curriculum, but not just because of the rich and invaluable context it adds to my lesson plans. You see, the State of Ohio has the following stats to report when it comes to the demographic make-up of my rural school district:

.7% Hispanic, 1% Asian/Pacific Islander, 2.8% Black/Non-Hispanic, 3.6% Multi-Racial and 91.9% Caucasian/Non-Hispanic.

Because diversity doesn’t necessarily jump out at us from the window of our classroom, I feel like integrating it into our projects is something that I simply must do whenever possible.

That’s why I make the choices that I do. It’s also why I think now – as we leave Black History Month, enter Women’s History Month, and prepare for the many others in line on the calendar – is the perfect time to reflect on the “how” factor.

Something

A field photo from one of my previous classes.

Since I started my class in 1998, my students and I have work on several hands-on projects (you know that’s my thing) that not only teach important history lessons, but carry equally important messages about people and the human experience. For example, I invite you all to explore the lesson plans that I developed for my most recent partnership with the History Channel and their Take a Vet to School Day program. While the idea is to tell the stories of our country’s African-American soldiers, the lesson can and should be used as a model to tell the stories of women service members and their peers from different ethnic backgrounds.

Over the years, former Research History students have also developed an Emancipation Day website (my students researched and asked the State of Ohio to designate September 22 as our official Emancipation Day), conducted an archeological project at the Gist Settlement, created an online catalogue of the burials of African-American soldiers throughout our state, and learned (and then conveyed in their own words) inspiring stories about the Freedom Fighters.

All of these projects have given my students the opportunity to preserve cultural diversity in our community, even if it’s not always apparent to the naked eye. In the same way, I encourage all teachers to get inspired and to look beyond their classroom windows when penning their own lesson plans.

- Paul LaRue

Paul LaRue teaches Research History at Washington High School in Washington Court House, Ohio. The ultimate “hands-on” classroom experience, his course takes students into the field to learn about preservation and community service. Stay tuned this semester as Paul and his students document their project at Good Hope Cemetery here on our blog and on their Flickr photostream. Also, keep an eye out for future “Notes from the Teacher’s Desk” columns from Paul himself.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

Teaching Preservation: The Truth About Sixth Period

Posted on: March 9th, 2009 by Guest Writer

 

Something

The Good Hope Quilt

As we get deeper and deeper into the semester, there’s really something you should know about us.

When we talk about Research History, we’re not talking about a normal class that meets at the same time every day. (Come on, you should know by now that there’s really nothing normal about Research History.) The truth is, we’re actually spread out over multiple periods throughout the day.

For me, sixth period is Research History, and I fondly remember my first day because it’s when I discovered that I would be a class of one. Seriously. All of my classmates who you’ve met here on our blog are all signed up for different periods, so I literally have the classroom to myself. To say the least, it was an environment that I wasn’t used to; most classes have more than one student, allowing you to ride the coattails of those around you (not that I would ever do anything like that, of course). And though I have lots of room to spread out, I wasn’t sure if flying solo was going to be a good thing in the long run.

I started the semester out by listening to a transcript of one of the first Vietnam veterans who we interviewed for the Veterans History Project. It was during this first project that I quickly realized what makes Research History tick. The first-hand accounts of history are so rich and interesting that it makes us students really enjoy what we're doing and learning about.

I have to say, no textbook has ever caught my attention like the stories of the men and women who served our country on foreign soil. The transcribing that I’ve done so far has taught me more about Vietnam than I ever thought I’d know. The raw emotion of the soldiers, the logistics of some of the campaigns, all the names and places…things that would require pages and pages of reading to pick up on, I got in an hour of listening to a cassette tape. It’s pretty mind blowing when you stop and think about it.

For my second project of the semester, I was paired up with Shannon (a classmate from a different period). We were tasked with writing an article on the Good Hope Quilt, which was auctioned off after being made by the women of Good Hope during the final years of World War I. Ultimately purchased by a Civil War veteran, the quilt was signed by 180 people in our area. Just a few days ago, I completed the article, which includes quotes from the oral history of one of the family members of the original purchaser of the quilt.

At the end of the day though, one of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned in sixth period is how to stay organized and manage my time. (You kind of have to when all eyes are on you!) From being in a class of 25 to a class of just one, I’ve really realized (and started to better appreciate) my ability to hold my own.

Good luck finding that in any textbook.

- Dennis A.

Dennis A. is a senior at Washington High School in Washington Court House, Ohio. This semester, he’ll be working with his Research History classmates to document and preserve Good Hope Cemetery. Stay tuned as they share their experiences here on our blog and on their Flickr photostream.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.