Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Young professionals talk about "working for the man"

Thursday's luncheon dine around had a diverse and cozy group that luckily included some locals. Both our planned restaurant and our backup were out of business, the resident Portlandians led us to good eats. While we all came from diverse backgrounds, we had a lively discussion about challenges (and rewards) of being public historians working in the government sector. The lunch format worked so well for a business style discussion, and having it in the midst of the day dedicated to events and panels about graduate students and young professionals certainly helped set the tone.

Also, as young professionals it was helpful to begin to do some networking outside of academia but with public history trained/minded fellow professionals. I found that those discussions shaped the way that I approached sessions later in the conference where the subject or the participants were government product related.

Personally, I hope that we see more luncheon dine arounds at future conferences and that this forum for government sector public historians continues to find a place in the schedule of events.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Stepping out into Portland

Portland, Oregon is a beautiful city. It’s not too enormous or too small in its harmonious setting between the Columbia and Willamette Rivers, which are flanked (on a clear day) by the snowy peak of Mount Saint Helens reaching into a beautiful blue sky.

That’s what Saturday was like at the National Council on Public History Conference, revealing to me just what a walkable, bike-friendly city looks like. I spent one of my breaks eating at Voodoo Doughnut and at various food carts, all while meandering through street fairs and Powell’s Bookstore (their architecture and history sections are like time warps – prepare to lose four hours in a flash). All in all, a good ending to a fantastic four days.

That being said, let’s take stock on the last two days of the conference. Friday morning I moderated a panel with David Brown (the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s executive vice president), Ian Fawcett (deputy executive director of the Land Conservancy of British Columbia), and Liz Dunn (consulting director of the Preservation Green Lab). The session explored the work of the International National Trusts Organization (INTO) and how climate change is being thought about by their member organizations across the globe. In putting together this panel, I wanted to spread the great information from the INTO conference in Dublin this past year. You can read one attendee’s reaction here.

Following this, I boarded a bus out to Dundee Hills to visit the Sokol Blosser Winery, an organic sustainable winery that is home to the first LEED certified silver wine cellar. The owners of Sokol Blosser understand the need for sustainable farming and viticulture and have adopted it wholeheartedly, managing to convince the vineyards surrounding them to work with them to accomplish their goals. More on that in a bit.

So, what does all this have to do with preservation?

On the one hand, the story of the vineyard speaks to what historians can accomplish (the founders of the vineyard were both history majors in the 1970’s), but it also attempts to answer a question we struggled with earlier in the week – how do we reach the public and show them that sustainability is a part of our future, and more specifically that historic preservation and sustainability go hand in hand within that future?

When I first started at the National Trust almost four years ago, I knew almost nothing about how the environmental movement was linked with old buildings (aside, of course, from the role of Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir in the creation of the National Park System). It took time reading and listening for me to understand why this is an integral part of what we do.

As a public historian/preservationist, it is important to recognize all the ways that history and the past connect with the public, even when this connection reflects highly volatile and controversial current issues like global warming and sustainability. We always throw around the fact that history is relevant in the here and now – that it is an important part of daily life and is ingrained in community character. The acknowledgement of this link between the public at the grassroots level and our role as historians/preservationists/public historians at the professional level needs to happen in sync with the work we do on policy and other legislation.

Let’s take a step back to the vineyard. The owners of Sokol Blosser knew they wanted to have a vineyard that was organic and sustainable, but they knew they couldn’t do it by themselves. So they reached out to their neighbors, trained their employees, and created a mindset within their own community about the importance of being green. Similarly, we recognize that the work we do on this issue is about more than just saving historic places; it is about preserving ecosystems and landscapes that are a part of historic view sheds, and consequently a way of life. We work within our organizations to communicate this belief and to spread the word to our memberships. We are ambassadors that are helping to usher forth an engaged, knowledgeable, and determined public.

Yes, this is a slow process, but it will continue to be advanced by gathering at conferences like the 2010 National Council on Public History/Environmental Historian Conference, where we all stepped out of our disciplinary silo’s and talked to one another.

Priya Chhaya

National Trust for Historic Preservation


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Adios Portland

A big shout out to all the people who worked so hard to make this another superb conference!

-- Post From My iPhone

NCPH Presidential Address: Public History at Middle Age?

Outgoing NCPH President Marianne Babal used her presidential address to talk about the state of the field and the challenges she envisions for the next few years. Noting that public historians inhabit "those in-between spaces where points of contact are constantly changing," she spoke about generational change, technological innovation, and economic challenge, and suggested that NCPH is "overdue for a season of introspection" in which we plan how to negotiate our next few years.

One thing that caught my attention in Babal's speech was her characterization of public history as a field that is beginning to be "middle-aged." NCPH turns 30 this year; our journal has been in operation since 1978; if we are middle-aged, we're surely on the young side of "middle"! In some ways, the field always feels young and fresh to me, perhaps because we're so perpetually involved in the task of self-definition and reinvention (and perhaps also because NCPH has been so successful at attracting and engaging graduate students and other new and/or young members). NCPH itself has a great deal of dynamism at the moment, reflecting the cohort currently involved in running the organization (including, as Babal and others pointed out, our excellent staff), but the growth of public history programs and of public history as a discourse that circulates more and more internationally also contributes to this sense of youthful energy.

In other ways, it sometimes seems to me that public historians increasingly discover our deep roots in many kinds of historical practices and concerns, which lends that air of maturity that Babal was perhaps seeing as middle age. As I move farther into my own middle years and find myself still feeling poised between self-definition and a growing sense of connectedness to others in the past who have been occupied with trying to foster deeper historical consciousness in our fast-paced, surface-oriented modern world, it occurs to me that this is a positive definition of middle age as well as an explanation of why I feel so at home in this field!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Nineteenth century "greens"

Sometimes at public history conferences we get so caught up in the “how” (the doing of history in public) that there’s a tendency to lose sight of the “what” (history itself!). I’ve enjoyed attending some of the ASEH sessions in Portland and remembering how illuminating it can be just to inquire into some aspect of the past that resonates in an intriguing way. The very well-attended panel “Interpreting Countermodern Landscapes: Toward Broader Public Spaces” did this by presenting four views of 19th century movements and projects that reveal the deep lineage of ecological and social critiques of modernity, as reflected in specific landscapes and places.

Aaron Sachs of Cornell University spoke about the “natural cemetery” movement in antebellum America as a complex response to the “go-aheadism” of the period, which specifically articulated a different version of space and society from the dominant urban grid pattern of the era. Daegan Miller, a PhD candidate also from Cornell, put a new twist on the iconic status of Henry Thoreau by examining Thoreau’s surveying and cartographic work, reading Thoreau’s 1839 map of the Concord River as an expression of multi-dimensional, multivocal place. Michael Smith from Ithaca College talked about his current research into the summer camp movement, presenting the camp as “an ideal space for clarifying values, testing them, and deciding which ones were worth carrying back to the modern world.” And Kathryn Ziewicz, a PhD candidate from Florida State University, compared Ebenezer Howard’s late 19th century “Garden Cities” in England with today’s New Urbanism, seeing similarities in the way that each has compromised with the modern forces that these somewhat utopian spatial forms were created to fix.

Although only Ziewicz made this explicit, all of the papers seemed on some level to be in dialogue with contemporary discourses about sustainability and eco-centric planning. On the one hand, this is a little depressing (why don’t these critiques and proposals seem to stick?). On the other, there’s something heartening about being reminded that today’s eco-visionaries have such a long lineage. And it was good to feel the vigor of these presentations and the obvious interest in the room. (Come of to think of it, this does actually sound a lot like public history!)

Slideshow of the Fort Vancouver/Cathlapotle Plank House Tour

Yesterday some of us went on a tour of Fort Vancouver and Cathlapotle Plank House. I posted a few of my lousy cell phone pics yesterday, here are the rest, click on the slides show for the stunning full-screen experience, or see them on a map:

Friday, March 12, 2010

Twitter tag

Check out the #ncph2010 Twitter tag for some quick takes on the conference in progress!

Portland by bike

One of the Friday afternoon tours was a 14-mile bike tour around Portland, well known as a "biking city" (in some neighborhoods in the east side of the city, 20-25% of residents commute by bike).  Bill Lang, an environmental historian at Portland State University, enlisted a former student, Scott Cohen, to lead the tour.  For more photos from the tour, click here.

Letting "preservation" go?

I attended a terrific session this morning called "Heritage of the World in Trust: Conservation in a Changing Climate," chaired by Priya Chaya with three panelists from the U.S. National Trust for Historic Preservation and The Land Conservancy of British Columbia. David Brown of the National Trust started things off by giving an overview of how the international national trust movement (who knew there was such a thing?) has been galvanized by the dangers posed by climate change and is supporting its member organizations as they shift into a whole new mode of stewardship organized around public environmental and ecological education. The Land Conservancy's Ian Fawcett described the work of the 12-year-old trust, which has protected about 125,000 acres of ecologically and historically important property. And Liz Dunn of the National Trust's new Seattle-based Preservation Green Lab (above) gave an overview of the many "sustainability" initiatives the Trust has been working on, including helping to develop energy-related building codes in partner cities and generating solid data to support the idea that reusing and retrofitting an existing building is nearly always going to be "greener" than building a brand-new "green" building from scratch.

All three panelists argued for the importance of getting beyond the limitations of the way the preservation field has historically defined its mission. Brown suggested that American preservationists should in fact follow the lead of their colleagues in many other parts of the world and shift to thinking about "conservation" rather than "preservation," as a way to talk about a much broader ethos and way of living rather than a way to save case-by-case specific properties and places. One of the things that sometimes frustrates me about the preservation, public history, and museum fields is that projects so often get stalled within categories that confine us even though we know intellectually that they're artificial and problematic--notions like "tradition," "heritage" or "preservation" itself, so convincingly deconstructed by recent scholarship yet still so powerful in public practice relating to history. This session gave me real hope that a newer paradigm may be emerging, more clearly focused more on the kinds of underlying values and goals that are often masked in public history practice but that the world needs urgently as people try to confront the behaviors and patterns that are increasingly landing us in ecological and economic hot water.

It was also heartening to see public history practitioners linking up the insights of history--for example, the knowledge of how older urban neighborhoods were built to be highly walkable--with emerging public policy attempting to create places that are responsive to social, environmental, and economic concerns. This kind of holistic thinking is in fact extremely anthropological, and seems to reinforce a notion I've had for years that public history and anthropology have much to offer each other. It was great to see a session where people were not only talking about moving beyond the limits of existing professional and disciplinary discourses but actually going ahead and doing it!

Cathlapotle Plankhouse Tour

Some cheesy cell phone pics of an amazing tour:

-- Post From My iPhone

Historical Thinking Dine-Around

After serving on a panel about digital history curricula and "tools" for public historians with 4 great folks (Jeremy Boggs and Tom Scheinfeldt from the Center for History and New Media, Leah Surstedt from American University/National Trust for Historic Preservation and Lauren Gutterman from NYU/OutHistory.org) I looked forward to turning my attention to another strong interest of mine-- historical thinking and teaching with primary sources.

I was thrilled by how many people signed up for the dine-around I organized on the topic. There were archivists, digital librarians, museum curators, museum educators, and university professors in charge of teaching undergraduates environmental history and teaching pre-service high-school level social studies teachers. Despite a bit of an adventure in search of the restaurant, I think that the evening was well-received. Conversation seemed lively around the table and from what I overheard and absorbed, touched on the intersections between these different related fields and our mutual commitments to helping the public learn how to think critically about the past. I also appreciate some helpful advice for me to bring back to my institution, the National September 11 Memorial Museum on how to use the process of parsing available sourcematerial on 9/11 to introduce students to thinking critically about sources and the construction of historical narratives. Ironically, perhaps, this advice came from a professor who teaches teachers in Texas, the state that just adopted rather horrifying new content standards.

I think the dine-arounds are a great addition to the conference experience!

Also had a great time on the city parks tour today, but that will have to be another post!

Things I Heard at the NCPH Conference

Overheard at the NCPH Conference:

How does one communicate about sustainability at the local level?

Is it better to be pretty good at a lot of things or really good at one or two things?

My Top Twitter Posts:

@pc_presnation: Important to train public historians to be adaptable . Knowing about digital tools is just as important as intellectual knowledge #ncph2010

@p_presnation: In a working group on sustainability and h.pres. How are you talking about it with your communities? #preservation #ncph2010

These two questions (and tweets!) lie at the heart of my first day of the National Council on Public History Conference here in Portland Oregon. I love this conference, first of all—its a small, yet open, community of historians that often like to look outside the box. Secondly hearing about these two things within the same day is not unheard of. In fact at any given moment you can hear about dissertations, practical applications for oral history, or even section 106 mitigation review all in one conversation.

The first tweet and the first question came from a session on digital history in a master's program. We had some great examples from the folks at the Center for History and New Media, that was supported by a student at American University (who also works for the National Trust for Historic Preservation), an individual at the National 9/11 Memorial Museum and a doctoral student NYU who works on outhistory.org. What was great about this program is that it was, in the end, about more than just digital curricula in an educational setting. It was really emphasizing that sometimes, and especially in the case of public history work (including historic preservation) it is better to know how to do a lot of different things so that you can build upon that knowledge easily to further the goals of your institution and work. While Jeremy Boggs from CHNM was talking specifically about basic digital tools (html/CSS, FTP file sharing, writing grant proposals) its really an idea that can be discussed across the board. Its really important in any field to be adaptable, something that I also talked with another NCPH participant on my very early morning flight across the country on Wednesday morning. In terms of digital tools this is something that can be seen at the National Trust through our very recent Save Americas Treasures campaign which used traditional media to contact congress, but also provided the guidance for advocates to use Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube to spread the word.

Which comes to the second lesson from this session. Sometimes you have to take a little bit of a risk and have a little bit of trust to move forward. Without either of these things we, as historians/public historians/historic preservationists will never be able to adapt to the changing world. New communication tools, mean new communication strategies. New research techniques and sources, means new methods of talking about those sources to tell the stories we want to tell.

The second session of the day was about historic preservation and sustainability. This is a topic, as I mentioned in my earlier post, that is near and dear to the heart of preservationists. This is not something that NCPH, traditionally, has really discussed which is why having this conference in conjunction with the American Society of Environmental Historians was a great idea.

At the heart of the conversation was a self-examination regarding how sustainability and historic preservation connect back to the role these buildings play in the community. That while we talk about relationship between the two subjects to our peers at the USGBC or at sister organizations like NCPH that we also have to recognize the continuing disconnect at the local level. What strategies have been done to develop outreach and communication strategies for those at the local level? Whose responsibility is it to get the word out? How can we get the word out?

All in all, a successful day which ended with a chance to speed network (its like speed dating but you end up with a lot of business cards) and a great dinner with one of the panelists from my own session on the International National Trust Organization's Dublin Declaration. So stay tuned on Monday for some concluding remarks and, I hope, some pictures from an organic and sustainable vineyard here in Oregon.

Follow the Conference on Twitter #ncph2010 or on the conference blog at http://ncph2010.blogspot.com/

Priya Chhaya

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Mass Motorization and the Environment

So here I am in Portland, Oregon, a famously "green" city (on the way in from the airport I was startled to see people getting on the light rail train with bicycles which they then hung up from hooks on the walls!) at the National Council on Public History/American Society for Environmental  History conference.  It's always fun to come to conferences and get to encounter what I heard a grad student refer to last year as "walking books" - the actual authors behind what we're reading.  In this case, the first panel I attended featured Tom McCarthy, author of the wonderful book Auto Mania:  Cars, Consumers, and the Environment (Yale University Press, 2008), one of the first things I read when I started my current study of cars and heritage.

Along with other speakers on the topic of "Mass Motorization and the Environment," McCarthy posed questions about the intersections of policy, politics, and automobility, and reached some conclusions that were ultimately rather dispiriting.  He spoke about the Clean Air Act of 1970 as the high water mark of environmental legislation in the U.S., representing "the frontiers of the politically feasible" when it was passed.  When states and agencies began trying to enact and enforce its provisions, though, particularly in the Environmental Protection Agency's ill-judged and possibly self-sabotaging promotion of mandatory gasoline rationing in California, public and political support quickly turned negative.  The EPA's credibility was badly damaged, and the episode formed part of a backlash against a whole constellation of things (including the 1973 OPEC oil embargo) that suggested to Americans that there might be limits to their expectations of mobility and freedom.  Noting that the EPA's projections and data were actually quite solid, given the scientific knowledge about car-based pollution at the time, McCarthy had to admit that "rational argument alone rarely carries the day"--an acknowledgment that echoes the ideas of Bill McKibben and Laura Nader that I wrote about in my last post.

On a slightly more positive note, McCarthy pointed out that although the EPA's data may not have swayed the public, policy-makers inside the Beltway actually did listen to what the scientists were saying, with the result that pressure to entirely gut the Clean Air Act was successfully resisted.  Federico Paolini, another of the "Mass Motorization" panelists, offered comparative comfort by showing that Italian regulation of traffic-related problems, including pollution, is only just beginning to be enacted--something that commentator Brooks Flippen said made him feel better about the U.S. government's actions in this area!  (Meanwhile, I take heart from watching Portland's light rail trains gliding past the hotel, and tomorrow I'm going to go on a bike tour--in the rain, it seems, but this is the Pacific northwest--to explore some of the city's extensive bicycle infrastructure.  Should be fun, if damp.)

(Cross-posted from my blog, History on Wheels.)

- Cathy Stanton

Currents of Change: Thinking about the Environment and History in Portland, Oregon

For the next few days I'll be attending the National Council on Public History (NCPH) conference in Portland, Oregon. Not only is this city the furthest west I have ever been, it is also the first time I've ever been in Oregon. The topic of this year's conference is “Currents of Change” and involves looking at the connections between history and the environment. The conference is particularly exciting because this year it is in conjunction with the American Society of Environmental Historians. You can see the program at www.ncph.org but I'll pull out a few highlights over the next few days (and will be tweeting @pc_presnation). Until then here are a few thoughts from the first day of the conference which also includes a celebration of NCPH's 30th birthday.

Sustainability is something we at the National Trust for Historic Preservation have made a priority. We've had tweets, and resources and discussions at various events including the National Preservation Conference. I know its something we care about on many levels. On my way in from the airport I overheard a snippet of a radio conversation that asked about why young people aren't involved with the fight against global warming like they were back in the 1960s for Civil Rights. The commentator whose name I didn't really catch, wanted to know where the sit ins, the protests, the civil disobedience to urge government action. His conclusion: That its not happening because no one has put forth a call.

I think a bigger question is: If someone puts out a call how will historians and preservationists answer?

Which of course leads me to more practical questions: how does the green movement and history interact with the public? more importantly what strategies and ideas are currently being used to reach people on the local level? How can we use our knowledge of the history of the environment in America to reveal how historic preservation is also green?

I'll be look for answers when I attend a panel that talks about historic preservation and sustainability, the opening plenary session with Adam Hochschild and my Friday tour of an organic winery, and much much more. So stay tuned!

(This post has been cross-posted on the PreservationNation.org blog and my personal blog at thisiswhatcomesnext.wordpress.com).

Priya Chhaya is a public historian who works for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Pre-conference Environmental History Forum gets things underway!

My organization at PSU (The Friends of History)  was one of the co-sponsors that presented  the Environmental History Forum held at Portland State University on March 9, 2010.

As the pre-event to the 2010 Conference, the Forum attracted  an overflow audience of interested students, conference attendees, faculty, historians, environmentalists and the general public. William Cronon, James Feldman and Nancy Langston did an excellent job during the forum of giving  the audience a foretaste of the exciting new issues in environmental history,  and a hint of the intellectual discourses and elucidating insights that the 2010 Annual meeting "Currents of Change" promises to deliver over the next few days.

The moderator for the Forum was PSU History Professor Bill Lang, the Chair of the ASEH and NCPH Local Arrangements Committee whose hard work has made this convocation of Historians in Portland possible.  We can't wait for the Annual Meeting to commence!

submitted by

K.C. Piccard-Krone
Friends of History
Portland State University
P.O. Box 751 HST
Portland, OR 97207-0751

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Digital Humanities at NCPH

The digital humanities are well represented this week at the National Council on Public History annual meeting in Portland, Oregon. By my count, fully nine of the approximately ninety sessions, workshops, working groups, and posters are either entirely or partially dedicated to the web and other digital outlets for public history. This equals the nine digital history sessions on the program at the much (many times) larger American Historical Association in January.

Here’s the list with times and titles. Please consult the full program online [.pdf] for room numbers and participants (and please contact me if I left anyone out!)

Thursday March 11, 8:00 am - 10:00 am
Jump Start Your Digital Project in Public History

Thursday, March 11, 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm
Digital Curricula in Public History

Thursday, March 11, 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm
History 2.0: Engaging the Public in History through the World Wide Web

Friday March 12, 10:30 am - 12:00 pm
Issues in Historic Preservation (including Cara Kaser on “Using Digital Tools in Historic Resource Surveys: The Oregon Survey Program”)

Saturday, March 13, 8:00 am – 10:00 am
Publish, Share, Collaborate, and Crowdsource Collections: Zotero 2.0 For Public Historians

Saturday, March 13, 10:30 am - 12:00 pm
Community of Records in the Age of New Media: Family History as Public History

Saturday, March 13, 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Poster - The Flushing Local History Project: A Digital Community Art Project and Archive

Saturday, March 13, 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Poster - Yesteryear: Historical Blogs as Educational Tools

Saturday, March 13, 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Omeka: An Open Source Tool for Publishing Cultural Heritage Online

[Crossposted from Found History]

Vintage Roadside Tour Stop #7 - Oaks Amusement Park & Roller Rink

Although it's a little damp this week - shocking to find in Portland, we know! - a trek to Oaks Amusement Park will reward you with some of Portland's best old school charm.

Vintage Oaks Park rink label from our collection

Opened in 1905, the 40-acre Oaks Amusement Park, located along the Willamette River in Portland's Sellwood neighborhood, has managed to survive two world wars, the Great Depression, fires, and severe flooding in 1948, 1964, and 1996.

Vintage ride in storage at Oaks Park

Among its many charms - including a 1920s carousel featuring a gorgeous carved menagerie of wild animals, one of approximately 200 remaining in the world - is a fantastic roller rink that floated through the floods of 1965 and 1996 by means of airtight iron barrels mounted under the floor of the rink.

Although we don't skate as often as we'd like - waiting long enough for our bruises to heal - the experience of rolling along on four wheels while enjoying a live performance on the rink's mighty Wurlitzer Organ is an experience straight from the past and not to be missed.

Owned by the Bollinger family from the 1920s to the mid 1980s, Oaks Park is now operated by the Oaks Park Association. Created under the direction of Robert Bollinger, the Oaks Park Association works to keep the park a thriving entertainment for Portlanders. The Association is also diligent in carrying out Mr. Bollinger's wish that the land on which the park sits never be developed, but rather preserved as an amusement park for future generations.

If you're feeling adventurous, you'll find the rink open evenings throughout the conference. Exact times and cost can be found here.

Helpful Details

7805 SE Oaks Park Way
(503) 233-5777

Map here.

Jeff & Kelly
Vintage Roadside

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Come Visit the Washington State Digital Archives Exhibit

We at the Washington State Digital Archives are packing up our gear and getting ready to set up our exhibit in Portland.We hope that everyone will stop by and see us.

We are the first built-from-the-ground-up digital archives in the world and we have a staggering 85 million records archived. Our collections include historic photographs, the Frontier Justice collection of territorial-era court documents (bonus sample: this 1887 case of a Nez Perce Indian accused of horse theft), property record cards (hey look, Barack Obama's Seattle home!), census and naturalization records, and so much more.

The Washington State Digital Archives is also a pioneer in developing new ways for our citizens to access the records of their government online. One exciting feature is audio search--keyword searching that currently allows users to search across more than 10,000 hours and 30 years of the House of Representatives Committee Meeting Recordings. Microsoft was an important partner in bringing this technology to the Digital Archives, and ours is the only website where users can perform this kind of audio search. Let us show you how it works!

So come on by and see Assistant Digital Archivist Larry Cebula and Lead Archivist Debbie Bahn to talk about what we are calling the "Washington State Model" for digital archiving, or just to chat about technology and public history. And if someone would bring us a cup of coffee that would be great.

Luncheon Dine Around for Graduate Students and Young Professionals

Please join Elizabeth Goetsch and Heather Bailey at our Dine-Around lunch for grad student/early professionals on the Thursday the 11th from 1pm to 3pm, "Working for the Man: Employed by Government Agencies." The lunch session is designed for graduate students and young professionals who have worked with a government agency (either currently or in the past): SHPO, NPS, NFS, FWS, BLM, etc. We will meet in the lobby at 12:45 and head over the the Three Lions Bakery for lunch.

Heather Bailey is finishing her PhD in Public History from Middle Tennessee State and just started a job as a State & National Register Historian for Colorado. Elizabeth Goetsch is completing her MA in History at Middle Tennessee and works as a park ranger for the Stones River National Battlefield. Since Thursday is the full of grad student/new professional topics and activities, we wanted to gather together all those breaking into the public history side of government agency work. See you at the conference!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Jump Start Your Digital Project!

Do you have a digital project you'd like help with? An idea you'd like to talk through? Or do you have a project that's stuck in a planning or implementation state? Join the staff of the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University for an un-conference-like session where participants can work through the issues of starting and completing real-world technology projects and "Web 2.0" initiatives together.

Digital-JumpStart is based on the notion that members of our community should capitalize on the wisdom of the crowd and our collective experience with free and open source technologies, agile development, and tricky institutional relationships. This is not about experts and novices. It is about building a community of practice that allows for sharing and innovation. These sessions will be most useful for those thinking about online exhibitions, mobile content delivery, collecting stories or photographs from different audiences, or creating a digital archive. We expect to engage a wide range of participants representing small to medium sized institutions, those new to museum technology work, and seasoned professionals willing to share their expertise and insight with the rest of the community

Digital-JumpStart will be meeting in Portland on Thursday 3/11/10 at 8:00 a.m. and will continue our conversations afterwards via the Digital-JumpStart wiki. Digital-JumpStart is open to everyone. No prior registration or pre-conference work is required.

We look forward to seeing you in Portland!

Tom Scheinfeldt, Sharon Leon, and Sheila Brennan

Vintage Roadside Tour Stop #6 - St. Johns 1939 Signal Gas Station

One of the most unique pizza places we've found in Portland is located in a beautifully restored 1939 Signal Gas Station.

Developer and historic building contractor Rob Phillips restored the building in 2003 with the help of an original 1930s Signal Gas Company specification book so all the period details are in place.

The Signal Gas Station, with its abundance of recreated neon, original Art Deco tower, and refurbished gas pumps, has become a landmark must-see in St. Johns, a Portland neighborhood north of the city center.

Helpful Details

Signal Station Pizza
8302 N Lombard St
(503) 286-2257

Monday - Thursday ~ 11:00 am until 9:00 pm
Friday - Saturday ~ 11:00 am until 9:30 pm
Sunday - 12:00 pm until 8:00 pm

Jeff & Kelly
Vintage Roadside

Voodoo Donut

As the conference quickly approaches, I am doing a little research on nearby attractions I would like to check out whenever I have a moment to leave the Hilton and explore Portland. The first on my list is Voodoo Donut, which is famous for its unique pastries. Some include the Dirty Snowball, Maple Bacon Donut, and The Memphis Mafia. They even have a collection of vegan donuts. At just 95 cents and up, who could pass up the experience?

Courtesy of Flickr User WonderMike

Courtesy of Flickr User WonderMike

Courtesy of John Dichtl

Best of all, located at 22 S.W. Third Avenue (they have a second location at 1501 N.E. Davis Street) in Old Town, Voodoo Doughnut is about a ten minute walk from the Hilton Portland & Executive Towers. It is open 24 hours, but from what I can tell, you should expect to wait in line for your sweet snack. See their website for more information. http://voodoodoughnut.com/

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pre-Conference Event: Environmental History Forum

March 9, 6:30 p.m.
Portland State University, Smith Memorial Student Union
Room 238
A discussion of new issues and directions in environmental history with major national scholars in the field. Participants will include:

William Cronon (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Author of Changes in the Land; Nature’s Metropolis; Uncommon Ground
Cronon studies American environmental history and the history of the American West. His research seeks to understand the history of human interactions with the natural world: how we depend on the ecosystems around us to sustain our material lives, how we modify the landscapes in which we live and work, and how our ideas of nature shape our relationships with the world around us.
Nancy Langston (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Author of Forest Dreams, Forest Nightmares; Where Land and Water Meet; Toxic Bodies
James Feldman (University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh), Author of Storied Wilderness

Moderated by Professor William Lang, Department of History at Portland State University and editor of the Oregon Encyclopedia Project.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Vintage Roadside Tour Stop #5 - Fairley's Pharmacy

The first time we saw Fairley's Pharmacy on NE Sandy we screeched to a halt, parked as quickly as we could, and ran across the street.

Luckily, we missed traffic, or rather, traffic missed us. Unluckily, we had arrived after Fairley's had closed for the day. Returning another day, we're glad to report that Fairley's delivered on the promise of its exterior.

Locally owned and operated since 1913, Fairley's Pharmacy is home to a beautiful small soda fountain complete with swivel counter stools.

We haven't tried one of their phosphate sodas yet, but we can attest to the delight that is a Fairley's chocolate malt. We chose the vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup option over straight chocolate ice cream - deliciously malty!

A little further afield than some of the other stops on our tour of vintage Portland, we recommend a trip by car to enjoy a little old school Portland. For those firmly planted in the new school, you'll find free wi-fi in addition to a range of espresso drinks.

Fairley's Pharmacy today

Fairley's Pharmacy 1940. Photo courtesy of City of Portland archives

Helpful Details

7206 NE Sandy Blvd
(503) 284-1159

Fairley's Pharmacy Hours
Mon-Fri 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Sat 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Sunday Closed

How to Get There

We recommend this trip by car. Our favorite way to get to Fairley's from downtown Portland is not the quickest, but you will get to drive the length of Sandy Blvd - lots of vintage Portland to see if you're looking closely!

Google map here

From the downtown Hilton at 921 SW 6th Ave

1. Head north on SW 6th Ave toward SW Taylor St - 0.4 mi
2. Turn right at W Burnside St - 1.1 mi
3. Continue onto NE Sandy Blvd - 3.6 mi

Fairley's Pharmacy at 7206 NE Sandy Blvd will be on the right.

If you do happen to try a phosphate, be sure and let us know what you think!

Jeff & Kelly
Vintage Roadside

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Update on ASEH conference events and happenings

ASEH Plenary Session on Klamath River Dam Removal
"Dam removal is sexy, it's interesting . . .But this is really a lesson in how to move through complex problems." -James Honey, program director of Sustainable Northwest, on Klamath Basin Agreements... ASEH's plenary session is especially timely this year. Officials from two states and more than 30 stakeholder organizations met in Salem, Oregon two weeks ago to sign the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and the Klamath Basin Hydroelectric Agreement. Join us Thursday evening to hear an analysis from ASEH scholars and several stakeholders who attended the signing of this historic agreement. Thursday, March 11/Pavilion Ballroom, 5:30 pm/Free event for conference attendees.

Dine-Around on Diversity Issues
Thursday, March 11 – meet in hotel lobby at 7:15 pm. After ASEH’s plenary session on Thursday, ASEH Diversity Committee Chair Bill Tsutsui will lead a dinner discussion on diversity issues. Sign up for this Dine Around at the conference registration desk and meet Bill Tsutsui in the hotel lobby at 7:15 pm. The group will walk together to Mother’s Restaurant.

Film : “River of Renewal” on the Klamath Basin, Friday, March 12, Grand Ballroom II, 7:00 pm. Free event for conference attendees

Monday, March 1, 2010

Vintage Roadside Tour Stop #4 - Interstate Avenue Neon

Once the main highway between Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington, Interstate Avenue was lined with mom and pop motels, restaurants, and gas stations - many lit with neon.

Interstate Avenue would never be the same after the opening of I-5 on December 2, 1964. Located just west of Interstate, I-5 became the corridor of choice for travelers who had patronized Interstate's businesses, leaving many of the mom and pops without the customers they relied on.

With such a drastic change in traffic flow and loss of business, you might think that all of the neon along Interstate would have been lost to time and decay. Although many vintage signs have been demolished, replaced, or taken down over the past five decades (including one ongoing preservation project, the Crown Motel sign), we're happy to say a nice cluster can still be found along the old highway.

Working our way south to north, here's a fun look at some of the neon sights we're fortunate to still enjoy along Interstate Avenue.

Palms Motel
3801 N Interstate Ave

The Alibi
4024 N Interstate Ave

Westerner Motel
4333 N Interstate Ave

Viking Motel
6701 N Interstate Ave

Additional good news: In 2008, the North Interstate Corridor Plan, was adopted by Portland's city council. The Plan included a provision which "establishes the city's first neighborhood-based neon district that encourages the preservation of existing 1950s era neon signs while providing flexibility for new signage." We don't know yet what this means for the future of neon along Interstate, but we're hoping for the best - preservation of existing signage.

If you'd like to learn more about the history of North Interstate Avenue or you enjoy vintage photos, we highly recommend this excellent and well-researched blog by Dan Haneckow at Cafe Unknown. "Illuminating Interstate."

Jeff & Kelly
Vintage Roadside