Telling Richer Stories of Place

Today’s sessions started off with a session on stories, where they talked about a public housing museum, and African American Trail in Philadelphia, Los Angeles’ historic Filipinotown and the Los Angeles original town plaza that still exists. Two of my main take aways from the session were

  • Its very easy to partition off “our” history, but should consider it as a tapestry
  • “If you aren’t at the table, you are on the menu” – this is my favourite quote from the whole conference

Field School

Two of the sessions I went to today focused on agricultural history. The first was an overview of the various field school approaches in Ebey’s Landing, Washington.  They have a combination of univeristy, volunteer groups and the Teacher Restoration Corps. The part about the actual logistics of field schools was a bit dry, but included information about how they structured it, and the diversity. The hands on four hour shifts were complemented with educational lunches and evening lectures/tours. One of the tips for field school they mentioned was that to keep volunteer interested, make the projects diverse year after year. The most interesting part of the session was actually the focus on agricultural buildings. There are 489 barns designated in Washington State, and at least one in each county. See the full list here: . In this area they have a grant program to help with restoration work to agricultural buildings. Its cool that donated labour counts as owner contribution to their part of the grant matching money, so the neighbours helped paint windows


Over lunch I went to one of the power sessions in the exhibit hall, the topic was Detroit. The craziest thing I learned at this session was that for many of the demolished houses, the materials coming out of houses worth more than the houses. In order the promote the reuse of material’s they’ve come up wit the slogan: “Don’t demolish it, repolish it”. Check out Reclaim Detroit for lots of cool updates.


The last session of the day was on repurposing barns. The thing I found most interesting about this session wasn’t the content, though it was good, it was the speakers and their points of view. All three speakers were self identified non-preservationists. One was a board member, the other a restauranteur, and the third was a developer of shopping plazas. It was so intresting to hear how they had all been brought into the heritage fold. For instance the commercial developer got to know the National Trust through renting a property that was adjacent to a historic site. He stated that he did not think they would be friends, but that they are now working towards developing the historic site into shops and an event space.


In the evening we went to explore Brown’s Addition, a residential area in Spokane. Even though it was dark, the houses were still impressive!


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