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.

Tell Us: What Place Matters to You?

Posted on: April 8th, 2009 by Sarah Heffern 2 Comments

 

Sharp-eyed preservationists watching Good Morning, America this past Saturday might have seen something familiar flash by in the "Your Three Words" segment. (Miss it? Go have a look... We'll wait.)

This Place Matters.

Chase Stone Barn, Wisconsin

Chase Stone Barn, Wisconsin

The folks at the Chase Stone Barn in Wisconsin filmed themselves shooting the photo above -- part of our This Place Matters campaign -- and sent it in to GMA for inclusion in the segment.  We're so excited that they got such great national exposure for their beautiful barn!

What place matters to you?

Honor a your special place by sharing your This Place Matters photo with us -- or plant a flag on our map if you're a little camera-shy. If you're like me and can't think of how to pick just one place, there's no need to worry. You can add a photo or flag for all your favorites!

Get started now »

This Place Matters is sponsored by Fireman's Fund Insurance Company because places that matter need to be protected. Learn more »

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.

Review Heritage Destinations and Win a Free NYC Theater Tour

Posted on: April 7th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Through my travels for business and pleasure, I’ve visited over 500 cities in 35 countries and nearly every state in the U.S. I've learned the value of traveling with the information necessary to get to the "must-see” sites. In the old days, I would ask family and friends for recommendations. Occasionally, I found their definition of "must see" differed markedly from mine.

Times have changed. Now, gathering information about travel destinations is as simple as logging onto the Internet. But it’s often difficult to find reliable information about heritage- and culture-rich experiences.

Heritage Travel, Inc. , a new subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is being designed with this purpose in mind. This exciting new online community will enable consumers to find, book and share experiences that match their interests.

This includes reading reviews from people who share your interests. As we build this new online community, we are seeking reviews of heritage destinations and sites, and we are offering an exciting incentive to to encourage submissions. Your review could win you and a guest an amazing tour of New York City Broadway theater. Heritage Travel's "reviews" contest deadline is now May 1st.

The tour highlights include:

  • A private performance by current Broadway entertainers.
  • A behind-the-scenes tour of Harlem's legendary Apollo Theater (you can even perform on stage!)
  • Tickets to two Broadway shows of your choice.
  • Privileged access to the New Amsterdam Theater.
  • A special visit to The Players, the theater world's most prestigious private club.
  • A private meeting with the president of the National Arts Club.

Each review earns you another chance to win

If you haven’t submitted a review yet, now is your opportunity. It’s free to sign up and share your reviews - all you need to do is login (or sign up if you haven’t already), choose a destination or site, and submit your review. You can submit as many reviews as you like, and each one will earn you one entry into the “Reviews” contest.

The reviews submitted to date range from a few sentences to the maximum of 2,000 words. Provide as much information as possible about the site or destination, such as recommended local hotels and restaurants, must-see’s, best times to go and other helpful tips.

Keep in mind that the winning review will be the one that best embodies the spirit of heritage travel: engaging, informative, and inspiring.

Don't miss out--submit your review today.

-- John I. Williams, Jr.

John I. Williams, Jr., is President and CEO of Heritage Travel, Inc.

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.