Codes and Coding

January 18, 2016 Blog Comments (0) 1105

I was reading an article from the excellent CityLab feed titled: 14 Incredible Objections to a Single Boulder Housing Development and I reposted in on Twitter with the intro: Every reason but the real one.  The list had included typical arguments about density, traffic and parking and esoteric ones like “pet density”and “firefly habitat” but of course the real reason is that it is affordable housing and homeowners nearby don’t want to live near poor people.  Or black people. Continue Reading

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Diversity and American History

December 18, 2015 Blog, Diversity, Inclusion and Racial Justice, History, Interpretation, Texas Comments (2) 1904

I took this picture in the United States.

For several years I have been working on a problem: the “Diversity Deficit” in the National Register of Historic Places.  95% or more of our historic sites have as their primary significance the story of a male of European descent.  You can see some of this year’s blogs on the topic here and here. Continue Reading

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Strategic Thinking and the Heritage of Every Single Day.

September 9, 2015 Economics, Global Heritage, Sustainability Comments (1) 1513

Aaugh HELP they are tearing it down!!!  NOW!!

One of the many benefits of my three years in Silicon Valley, buttressed by 30 years of serving on non-profit Boards of Directors  (I whittled it down to four recently.  Well, five.)  is that I have been steeped in strategic thinking and strategic planning.  While this may seem like a normal exercise to the MBA crowd, it is something that tends to be lacking in the historic preservation/heritage conservation field. Continue Reading

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Finding the East out West

August 21, 2015 Diversity, Inclusion and Racial Justice, History, Interpretation Comments (2) 1299

When I spoke to the National Tribal Preservation Conference two days ago, my host Bambi Kraus of the National Association of Tribal Preservation Officers introduced my talk by noting that the Tribal Historic Preservation Officers should “be themselves” and offer alternatives to the “Western” approach to historic preservation. Continue Reading

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National Historic Preservation Act: Addressing the Diversity Deficit

August 4, 2015 Blog, Diversity, Inclusion and Racial Justice, History, Intangible Heritage, Interpretation, Texas Comments (3) 1963

Two weeks ago I spoke during the meeting of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation regarding the Future of the National Register of Historic Places, which will be 50 years old next year.  I detailed some of the shortcomings that have emerged over that time, including a startling “Diversity Deficit.”

Less than 5% of the buildings listed on the National Register evoke the nation’s diverse history – the rest chronicle white men, who are much less than half the country.  I also detailed many of the challenges in preservation practice that we inherited from an architect-driven 1960s practice, one that has a tendency to focus too much on the formal.

The photo is one of may favorite examples, from St. Nicholas Avenue in Hamilton Heights, New York, the building lacks architectural integrity.  But Ralph Ellison wrote Invisible Man there in 1947, a book more relevant than ever today. The building is authentic but does not have integrity.  The problem is not the building but our practice – we adopted the architectural concept of “integrity” in 1966 instead of the international concept of “authenticity.” Continue Reading

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A few days in Milan

July 26, 2015 Blog, Global Heritage Comments (1) 1748

The Italian excursion described in my last blog had another half, and most of that was in Milan.  Milan gets a bad rap in comparison to the other large Italian cities, largely because it lost more of its fabric in the Second World War, and the rebuilding sports much of the bland utilitarian vernacular of the 1950s, but our peregrinations around this city offered more than the great Gothic cathedral. Continue Reading

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Associazione Canova and the Ossola Valley

July 8, 2015 Blog, Global Heritage Comments (7) 1966

This is the entrance to the village of Canova in the Ossola Valley in northern Italy.  Most of these stone houses date back hundreds of years, and the stone not only forms their walls, but their roofs as well. Continue Reading

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World Heritage in Texas!

July 5, 2015 Blog, Global Heritage, History, Texas Comments (0) 1437

This is the time of year new World Heritage sites are inscribed by UNESCO.  The total number passed 1000 last year, after over 40 years of the program.  As I have noted before, the United States has not taken advantage of World Heritage status in many years, partly due to a political funding dispute.  Absurdly, the U.S. has refused to pay its UNESCO dues for many years, so even though we can arguably afford to take care of our sites, at World Heritage level, we are deadbeats. Continue Reading

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