Notes from New Orleans: Sandbags & Missed Opportunity

Posted on: April 25th, 2008 by Walter Gallas


sandbagsAs the waters of the Mississippi rose to their expected crest in New Orleans, I passed some workers of the New Orleans Levee Board this weekend putting sandbags along a stretch of the French Quarter riverfront where that water was lapping away at exposed earth. About 30 miles upriver, millions of gallons of river water are being diverted to Lake Pontchartrain through the Bonne Carre Spillway in an effort to keep the volume of water passing New Orleans at a desired 1.25 million cubic feet per second.

sandbagsIt was noted in the press how a golden opportunity is being missed to use all the diverted sediment now coursing through the Bonne Carre spillway into Lake Pontchartrain and passing the city to be dumped in the Gulf of Mexico. Years of talk about water diversion plans to re-build the wetlands have resulted in very little implementation due to lags in funding.

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.

Celebrate Earth Day With Some New Resources

Posted on: April 20th, 2008 by Barbara Campagna 1 Comment


Cover of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

Earth Day is Tuesday, April 22nd, this year and we should all stop and think about what we’re doing in our daily lives to help stop climate change. Maybe it’s just synchronicity, but it seems that since Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change received the Nobel Peace Prize, mainstream media has finally embraced what environmentalists, scientists and yes, preservationists, have known for a long time – that climate change is being caused by our actions. No longer does every article present the opposing view as potentially valid - that climate change has not been caused or impacted by human actions. I walked into Barnes & Noble the other day and the “green” table was more prominently placed at the entrance than either the new fiction or nonfiction tables, and had more books on it too. I have begun making a practice of collecting every “green issue” of every magazine, and saving any article I see. And with this new validity, journals and magazines are assigning their best and most seasoned writers to the green articles. I also re-read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring on a recent cross-continental flight. A paperback re-issue was prominently displayed in a Denver airport book shop encouraging both me and the customer ahead of me to buy it. Below is my very subjective view of some good journalism on the topic I’ve recently read in no particular order, all of which got me thinking about how to make my life greener.

Time Magazine, April 28, 2008
3rd Annual “Special Environment Issue”

With a cover where they’ve replaced their trademark red border with a green one, and reinterpreted the famous Iwo Cover of Time magazine, April 28,2008Jima raising of the flag photo with an image of soldiers raising a tree, Time boldly describes their view of “How To Win the War on Global Warming”. This magazine (and Michael Specter’s article in The New Yorker) has the best description of cap and trade I have read. I am no economist, but after reading both Time and The New Yorker I feel I can now explain why this concept is crucial to improving our world. The entire issue can be downloaded. In addition, the online issue has some interesting links including the top 15 green websites to help you green your life. This section alone kept me busy with websites I hadn’t yet seen for an entire afternoon. Even if the articles in this issue weren’t so good, it would be worth it just for these links.

The New Yorker, February 25, 2008
“Big Foot” by Michael Specter

I’ve been a fan of Michael Specter’s journalism for quite some time, and I have to say that I am in love with this article.Big Foot photo by Horacio Salinas in Feb. 25, 2008 New Yorker article I quote it profusely in every speech I give and if you only have time to read one of the articles or magazines I mention here, read this one. Best description of the challenges of life cycle analysis that I have read anywhere. And his description of cap and trade was the first I had read which made it easy for me to understand. My favorite quote is “Possessing an excessive carbon footprint is rapidly becoming the modern equivalent of wearing a scarlet letter.” And “Personal choices cannot do enough, no matter how virtuous. It will also take laws and money. It will take political will.”

Vanity Fair Magazine, May 2008
Third Annual Green Issue

Okay, so I haven’t quite figured out why Madonna is on the cover of the “Green Issue” but since both she and I are closer now to 50 than 40, and if it sells more magazines, then more power to them (and her!). Robert Kennedy’s essay, “The Next President’s First Task, A Manifesto” compares the end of the slave trade to tackling the end of global warming. It’s not complicated, it just requires political will. Two articles about oil in the Arctic confirm the urgency of Kennedy’s call for the federal development of renewable energies. This entire issue can also be downloaded.  And like Time’s green issue, there is a special online-only section, this one on the 50 best green resources – books, DVDs and even poetry. Don’t miss the “Eco-Man’s Library”!

National Geographic’s Green Guide Magazine, The Inaugural Issue, March 2008

According to their website this new magazine is “Written for general consumers, not for enviromaniacs, Green Guide is chock-full of simple, useful ideas, broken down into achievable steps that make "going green" a gradual and affordable process rather than an all-or-nothing plunge.” And like Sunset magazine below, it has some of the easiest to follow recommendations for every-day living. I particularly liked the articles on greener cosmetics and toxic chemicals in your house. I have already been referring to the toxic chemicals article to improve the housekeeping standards at our historic sites. While you can view the magazine cover online, you need to subscribe to get full access to all the articles.

Sunset Magazine, The Green Issue, March 2008 (Northwest edition)

Of my recommendations today, this is the most populist, but with recommendations for green travel, best Preservation magazine cover, The “Green” Issueseafood choice, and best green furnishings that are readily found (such as at Crate & Barrel), this may be the magazine I pick up most often in my non-architecture life. And find out why Portland, OR is consistently ranked the top green city in the country.

Preservation Magazine, The Green Issue, January-February 2008

And don't forget our very own "Green Issue".  You can download all of it online. Read why historic preservation and existing buildings are key to improving climate change.

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

Notes from the Field: Utah's Nine Mile Canyon Under Threat

Posted on: April 18th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation


Prehistoric rock art at Nine Mile Canyon.Nine Mile Canyon, located northeast of Price, Utah, is under threat from a new project proposed by Bill Barrett Corporation and the Bureau of Land Management that would bring 800 new wells to the plateau above Nine Mile Canyon and dramatically increase the level of traffic within the canyon.

On Wednesday, we went to the canyon, which is renowned for its significant concentration of prehistoric rock art panels that illustrate a wide variety of images, including bighorn sheep, anthromorphs, and various other animals and figures. The Nine Mile Canyon area is also a prime location for the extraction of natural gas. Visitors to the canyon can see evidence of natural gas development in the form of pipelines, a large compressor station, and, perhaps most noticeably, industrial traffic traveling through the canyon to project sites.

While visiting a number of the canyon's significant rock art panels, we witnessed several large tanker trunks driving through the canyon and raising large plumes of dust in their wake. On several occasions, these trucks passed within yards of rock art panels, particularly those located near Nine Mile Canyon's confluence with Gate and Cottonwood Canyons. Increased traffic will present an increased danger to these irreplaceable artifacts.

The National Trust will provide BLM with comments on the proposal by May 1, and we want to encourage people to speak out about the harm that will result from this new development if it is allowed to move forward as planned. More information about the proposed development and how to contact the BLM is available on our main website.

-- Ti Hays and Amy Cole

Ti Hays is the Public Lands Counsel at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Amy Cole is the Senior Program Officer & Regional Attorney for the Trust's Mountains-Plains Office.

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.

Notes from New Orleans: Salvage Remains an Afterthought

Posted on: April 17th, 2008 by Walter Gallas


The demolition of the Lafitte housing project.Last Thursday, I was among the dispirited onlookers watching the demolition of the Lafitte housing development get underway in earnest. Bulldozers with claws were chewing up two buildings, contents and all. In contrast to what has been done at St. Bernard, none of the appliances, furniture or other belongings remaining in the apartments had been removed prior to the demolition. Everything was in the mix of rubble, with the bulldozer operator doing a rough job of separating furniture from appliances. The porch ironwork was amidst the material; no apparent effort had been made to remove it prior to demolition.

The demolition of the Lafitte housing project.In the Times-Picayune, John Angelina, the head of D. H. Griffin, the Houston-based demolition contractor, said while some metals like windows and pipes might go to a scrap metal recycler, it wasn't possible to save the iron railings because of the "time crunch" the job is under.

The demolition of the Lafitte housing project.I called Rick Denhart of Mercy Corps, who had been working with the demolition contractor on a salvage plan for Lafitte. He said that while he was awaiting written confirmation from the contractor that salvage was going to happen, he was confident that it would happen at least to some degree on some of the buildings. I told him demolition was underway already. Again--as with the very modest effort at C.J. Peete--it appears that salvage at Lafitte is clearly an after-thought.

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.

Author Edith Wharton's Home Facing Foreclosure

Posted on: April 16th, 2008 by Sarah Heffern


The MountThe Mount, Edith Wharton's spectacular classical revival country house and its extensive Beatrix Farrand-designed formal gardens, were reborn following a 10-year, $13 million total restoration, for which it received a 2007 Honor Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. One of few National Historic Landmarks dedicated to women, this western Massachusetts site is in imminent danger of foreclosure. A fund raising campaign is now underway to raise the funds necessary to stop the foreclosure. Learn more...

-- Wendy Nicholas, director of the Northeast Office, contributed to this story.

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.