preservationVOICES: A Reading List

By Forum Online posted 09-16-2016 17:06


With fall quickly approaching, we have kicked off our annual PastForward reading lists! Over the next few weeks, we’ll be providing a curated selection of reports, articles, and videos to prep you for our annual conference. We hope that they’ll spark discussions come November 15–18, when PastForward arrives in Houston, Texas. Register now!


The preservationVOICES theme will continue last year’s invigorating discussions about historic preservation’s role in fostering inclusivity and telling the full American story, including its complicated and conflicted moments. Programming will examine strategies that historic places can use to connect with current events and to offer safe spaces for reflection on heated racial and political debates. PastForward attendees will also learn to engage with underrepresented communities and bring their voices forward—examining, for example, the efforts that have been made to acknowledge and recognize lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) resources throughout the country.

In the live-streamed preservationVOICES TrustLive, John Valadez, a George Foster Peabody Award-winning and Emmy-nominated filmmaker and producer, will discuss how Latino/as have helped shape American narratives. His recent PBS-produced documentary for the Latino Americans series, “Pride and Prejudice,” looks into what spurred the Chicano movement and the rise of organized labor.

Preservation and Inclusion: LGBTQ Stories

Telling All Americans’ Stories is a National Park Service (NPS) heritage initiative aimed at increasing recognition of diverse cultural communities within the national park system. In addition to improved interpretation and education programs, the initiative promotes formal recognition of traditionally underrepresented communities through increased representation in the National Register of Historic Places and the National Historic Landmark program. As these programs continue to grow, so does the NPS collection of publications addressing the history of underrepresented communities and their stories.

One of the most recent NPS heritage initiatives, focused on the civil rights struggles of LGBTQ Americans, will culminate in the upcoming publication of the LGBTQ Heritage Theme Study. (In the meanwhile, check out a different NPS resource—Finding Our Place: Queer Heritage in the United States, which provides an overview of many sites and stories related to LGBTQ heritage.)

One of the forthcoming theme study’s authors is Susan Ferentinos, whom we are fortunate to have as a PastForward 2016 speaker. In 2014 Ferentinos published Interpreting LGBT History at Museum and Historic Sites, which offers practical examples and advice for the creation of engaging programing about LGBTQ history at historic sites. In a 2015 interview, Ferentinos discussed her work interpreting LGBTQ history—specifically, the poignant realization that she cannot “talk about LGBT history without talking about the present.”

Recently the California Preservation Foundation awarded the 2016 Trustee Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation to the “Citywide Historic Context Statement for LGBTQ History in San Francisco,” co-authored by Donna Graves and Shayne Watson. Adopted by the San Francisco Historic Preservation Commission in late November 2015, this is one of the most comprehensive research projects about LGBTQ historic sites nationwide, and it offers an excellent template for broader LGBTQ preservation efforts.

Community Partnerships

Preservation efforts sometimes stumble without buy-in from community members. Having community stakeholders engage in and lead preservation has been shown to boost and maintain organizational momentum, achieving community preservation goals much faster and more effectively.

The Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDpda), which works with many underrepresented communities throughout the city, will be among the case studies presented during “Listen UP! Hearing from Communities,” a PastForward 2016 Learning Lab. Ching Chan, the Design Lab coordinator at SCIDpda’s IDEA Space, was interviewed by Nakano Associate News. She discussed SCIDpda’s work in Seattle neighborhoods, including the Canton Alley revitalization project and the redevelopment of Hing Hay Park.

New Tools

Over the last few years at PastForward, we have been examining new tools to better capture and document input from various community stakeholders. This year we will continue to share case studies on the use of modern technology in support of historic preservation. In “Capturing Volunteered Historical Information: Lessons from Development of a Local Government Crowdsourcing Tool,” a paper for the International Journal of E-Planning Research, a group of researchers analyzes the use of digital technologies in the service of preservation and urban planning—for example, the Austin Historical Survey Wiki. They conclude that online civic engagement is only effective when there is enough will and knowledge to foster continuing contributions to the resource. In the summer 2016 Forum Journal article “Cultural Mapping: Engaging Community in Historic Preservation,” Claudia Guerra writes about a community engagement program at the San Antonio Office of Historic Preservation that enhances intangible heritage interpretation—specifically, recorded oral histories—with hand-drawn cultural maps. Guerra offers lessons learned on effective and authentic community engagement.

Resources From Forum (Open to All)

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