Vote Early, Vote Often

Posted on: April 14th, 2009 by Sarah Heffern

 

Voting opened today for our annual Partners in Preservation program with American Express. This year, 25 sites in Greater Boston are competing for grant money. You can vote every day between now and May 17... That's right, every single day. The winner of the popular vote is guaranteed to win a grant, so getting involved can really make a difference.

We'll have an update from today's big announcement in Boston later today, but while you're waiting, visit the Partners in Preservation site and take a look at the contenders, pick your place, and cast your first vote.

Oh, and while you're online you can also invite a friend to vote and  become a fan of Partners in Preservation on Facebook!

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.

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern is the social media strategist for the National Trust’s Public Affairs team. While she embraces all things online and pixel-centric, she’s also a hard-core building hugger, having fallen for preservation in a fifth grade “Built Environment” class. Follow her on Twitter at @smheffern.

 

"The Onion" Sepulveda Unitarian Universalist Society building. [LA Times

LA Historic Building Survey: "In a city long derided for haphazard planning, a lack of appreciation for its own history and occasional dead-of-night demolitions, the survey aims to understand what remains on the ground, what has been lost and what might be worth saving from the wrecking ball." [LATimes]

Mass. Towns May Cut Property Tax Surcharge and Preservation Funds: "Under the Community Preservation Act, a surcharge of up to 3 percent is added to annual real estate tax bills. Participating towns then get a match from the state for the contributions.But some residents in the three towns are saying this money should remain in the pockets of taxpayers during tough financial times, or should be used to bolster community infrastructure." [Boston Globe]

The Street of the Future is a Livable Street: GOOD magazine provides visual examples to what makes an effective pedestrian street. Cool interactive photo provided. [GOOD]

101 Uses for a Deserted Malls: A panel of experts discusses new ideas for malls that have been hit hard due to the slumping retail industry. [New York Times]

[Inhabitat

Costan Rican Airplane Hotel Takes Flight: The Costa Verde Resort now features a hotel suite constructed in an around a 1965 Boeing 727. [Inhabitat] And for the backpacker or traveller on a budget, don't forget about the Jumbo Hostel in Stockholm.

The Preservation of Darkness: France is looking to establish an "anti-light-pollution reserve" surrounding a historic observatory in the Pyrenees. "The goal is to establish a zone with a radius of six to nine miles around the 130-year-old Pic du Midi mountain observatory so that views of the cosmos are not spoiled by intrusive light on the ground." [Discovery News]

A Weekly Dose of Architecture: Design for the Wing Luke Asian Museum in Seattle, a renovation of a 1910 Chinatown building originally used as a home for Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino immigrants. [archidose]

The Putting Lot: "The Putting Lot examines the relevance of empty space in the city. Located in Bushwick, Brooklyn, this miniature golf course occupies what was once a vacant lot. Unused, underutilized, and otherwise empty spaces are abundant in the industrial area around The Putting Lot." Sounds like it might be tough to make a shot with the pressure of an urban landscaping looming over you...maybe Kenny Perry should get some practice in here. [ThePuttingLot]

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.

The Other Side of Climate Change – Staying Healthy

Posted on: April 9th, 2009 by Barbara Campagna 2 Comments

 

Are walkable neighborhoods like the historic squares in Savannah, GA really good for our health?  How do we measure it?

Are walkable neighborhoods like the historic squares in Savannah, GA really good for our health? How do we measure it?

It’s always a pleasant surprise when you go to a lecture only because someone invited you, and you have the expectation of being bored, to instead discover a humorous, brilliant speaker who makes you think in ways you haven’t thought before. That’s what happened last Thursday night when I dragged myself to the National Building Museum to hear Dr. Howard Frumkin from the Centers of Disease Control speak about the impact of green building on health - How Do We Know What Makes Places Healthy? Here is a man with more degrees than my whole department (and we’re a well educated group) who was as entertaining as he was thought-provoking. His basic premise was: Are walkable, traditional neighborhoods really as healthy as they seem or do they just draw people who would be predisposed to walking anyhow?

Our Drive-Thru Lives

"The Drive-Thru Tree" in northern California Redwood country.  Are we so lazy we even have to drive through our trees?!

"The Drive-Thru Tree" in northern California Redwood country. Are we so lazy we even have to drive through our trees?!

The amazing inventions which culminated in the twentieth century engineered physical activities out of our routines and our lives. As a result we expect everything instantly and immediately. Why walk around the corner to pick up your dry cleaning if you can pull up to the front window in your car and get it instead? Indeed, why even walk around a redwood tree if you can drive through it?! (His jest not mine!) Suburban and even urban developments post-WWII were designed to move traffic, not pedestrians. We need to go back to our traditional neighborhoods and urban cores to remember the pedestrian.

Even with this though, the statistics to prove that walkable neighborhoods are better for our health are more anecdotal than actual. Architects and planners are not used to evaluating our designs and constructions empirically. Scientists at agencies like the CDC and at universities need to be working hand-in-hand with practitioners if we want to truly understand if and how good “walkable neighborhoods” are for the planet and our health.

Community Design’s Effects on Health and Well-Being

One of our basic human needs seems to be met by walking and talking in places like historic Savannah.

One of our basic human needs seems to be met by walking and talking in places like historic Savannah.

But then, at the same time, sometimes common sense is all you need to realize how healthy a walkable neighborhood is or should be. How do we balance common sense with empirical research and which is more real? Are you shaking your head right now? If you are it’s because this is the problem with almost everything related to climate change today. We all want to do what’s best, but the science is so young and evolving so quickly that what we believe for sure now, we may think silly in a year. Arrrrggghhhh. So what do we do? Well, we err on the side of what seems to make sense and move on. Dr. Frumkin mentioned eight criteria which, to him, indicate when a community is good design, healthy, and green. These were:

1. Provides many opportunities for physical activity.
2. Prevents air pollution.
3. Minimizes traffic injuries.
4. Doesn’t make climate change worse.
5. Provides many, healthy food choices within walking distance.
6. Mitigates heat island effect.
7. Improves mental health.
8. And provides positive social interaction – gives residents abilities to meet, greet, mix and mingle.

Walking and Talking

As Dr. Frumkin asked, “When was the last time you heard about a case of ‘sidewalk rage’?" A recent blog I wrote on my True Green column about the beauty of walking and “saying hello” in a historic community like Old Salem, North Carolina got more attention than almost any other blog I have written in the past two years. It would seem that people are hungry for walking and talking, and you don’t need empirical research to prove that.

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.

Barbara Campagna

Barbara A. Campagna, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C was formerly the Graham Gund Architect of the National Trust in the Stewardship of Historic Sites office. She is currently a sustainability consultant to the National Trust and can be reached at bcampagna@bcampagna.com.

Teaching Preservation: Where Is Potters Field?

Posted on: April 9th, 2009 by Guest Writer 2 Comments

 

Time for a little guessing game. Here are your clues...

This can't be it...

This can't be it...

It's two words. When you were in high school, it was something you liked more than movie day and substitute teacher day combined. And, regardless of how old you are or what you're doing today, it will always be the ultimate solution for when you will do absolutely anything (“Hmm, we haven’t had a fire drill in a while…”) to get outside in the sunshine.

It’s a beautiful little thing known as a mid-day (or if you're really lucky, all-day) field trip.

The other day in Research History began like any other, but ended in an exciting scavenger hunt through Good Hope Cemetery for a place called Potters Field. All of this started because Kelli M. discovered the names of 25 “paupers” in her research of the 1882-1897 deed records, which were given to us by one of the Good Hope trustees at the outset of our class project.

Potters Field is located at the rear of the cemetery, or so we thought. When we got to the location, all we found was dirt, grass and a little too much mud. We paced back and forth (not particularly cool given the conditions) and found absolutely nothing.

We didn't find Potters Field, but we did find some enthusiastic hand puppets who really love their state.

And then, out of thin air (or so it seemed), a red SUV pulled up and out came Mickey Mouse. Okay, not really, but the woman who emerged was wearing a sweatshirt decorated with those signature ears. Come to find out, she was the caretaker of Good Hope.

Mr. LaRue told her what we were doing and what we were looking for, and her answer surprised up. She said that Potters Field is located along the side of the cemetery, and the area we were canvassing wasn’t actually owned by the graveyard. Not convinced, Mr. LaRue showed her our map. This was by far the best part of the afternoon, especially when he said, “I know what I’m talking about, but I know that you also know what you're talking about.”

Needless to say, an agreement wasn’t reached, so we piled back into our cars and headed back to campus.

So, where is Potters Field and what’s the story behind it? Beats us, but stay tuned as we get to the bottom of this interesting mystery.

- Tyler K., Kelli M., Alyssa S. & Lynne M.

Tyler, Kelli, Alyssa and Lynne are seniors at Washington High School in Washington Court House, Ohio. For the remainder of this semester, they'll be working with their Research History classmates on a variety of preservation projects, including documenting and preserving local cemeteries like Good Hope. 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.

Preservation as Public History

Posted on: April 8th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

The conference was held at the Biltmore, a historic hotel in Rhode Island. (Photo: HABS/HAER website)

The conference was held at the Biltmore, a historic hotel in Rhode Island. (Photo: HABS/HAER website)

Much of the discussion at the closing plenary session of the National Council on Public History conference centered around the future of the field. In particular, we discussed how to communicate what public history is to those who don’t see themselves as public historians. For us personally, public history is more than just history outside of the academy—it is really any history work done within the public arena, including activities in archives, curatorial and education efforts, and of course historic preservation.

So what makes preservation public history? In the closing plenary the discussion focused on looking at history in terms of place and space, something that preservationists are more than familiar with. As preservationists, we also often use personal narratives to demonstrate the importance of saving a particular historic building, landscape, or site. Public historians also work to preserve historic sites and buildings, just as preservationists do, and both groups hope to have a positive impact on the community around them by fostering civic engagement.

One of the sessions that we attended was entitled “America’s Historic Sites at a Crossroads,” based on a 2007 conference at Kykuit and later documented in an issue of our Forum Journal. Jim Vaughan, Vice President for Stewardship of Historic Sites at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Harriet Beecher Stowe Center Executive Director Katherine Kane spoke at length about the future of America’s historic sites, something that public historians are deeply concerned with. The session made it clear that those of us working in public history wear many hats; we are preservationists, educators, historic site managers, and advocates. We believe that both preservationists and public historians need to start using these designations more fluidly, and think of themselves in new ways. By allowing for flexibility in terminology and identification, both groups can expand their toolbox and resources to better accomplish our goals.

Katherine Kane stressed the importance of staying passionate, and that in doing so our work as public historians will demonstrate the importance of our activities in our communities, organizations, and beyond. Hopefully, by recognizing common goals and utilizing new strategies, preservationists as public historians can continue to have a positive impact on the world around them.

-- Priya Chhaya and Leah Suhrstedt

Priya Chhaya and Leah Suhrstedt both work in the Forum office in the Center for Preservation Leadership. They are both preservationists and public historians. You can read more about the 2009 NCPH conference in Providence on the conference blog. For more information about the National Council on Public History visit the website at www.ncph.org.

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.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.