This presentation is part of the Texas Cultural Landscape Symposium, February 23-26, Waco, Texas.
Speaker 1: Thank you, Lauren. I think we have around seven minutes for questions, if folks want to step up to the microphone.
Jodi Jacobson: Jodi Jacobson with Texas State University again. This is for you, Lauren. As I’m listening to you, and I’m seeing great tie-ins with some work that’s already being done with regular Section 110 compliance and [inaudible 00:00:24]. I’m wondering, as you’re going out and doing the field testing of the hotspots and then continuing to monitor after it, are you, or how are you maybe integrating technology? Of course now with the wonderful tablets, and you’re talking about simple, and having great little pictorial, or former geo-reference photos of things and how they look, and if you’re able to use that at this point. Or is that something you guys are planning on doing, or …?
Lauren Meyer: Yeah. So, and I don’t know if this is on or not, but we are very much interested in using technology to simplify how we’re doing some of this work. Sending tablets out into the field, bringing photographs with us to do photo comparisons. [inaudible 00:01:12]. Okay. I’m sorry. We’re also using other high level-technology, laser scanning and photogrammetry, things like that to create more precise documentation of those resources so that we can sit in an office and do those comparisons change over time. See things that are very small-scale, micro-level degradation, understanding how weather events are impacting directly resources. We’re building test walls and doing studies on adobe and masonry in certain environments. We’re applying sort of false weathering so that we can look at these things before they’re actually happening in the environment, so that we can predict things and maybe get ahead of them a little bit.
But, absolutely. I think using technology in the field, and I think we’re all moving towards that, right? Even with our general data collection systems, we’re trying to figure out ways to be more streamlined in how we’re collecting all of that information so that we’re faster and we’re not spending a lot of time repeating work over and over again. Yeah. Thanks.
Michael Holleran: Michael Holleran, UT Austin. I have a sad question. It comes from Lauren’s presentation, but it’s really for either or both of you. Lauren, you’ve mentioned that we will lose things, and that we don’t like to admit that we will lose things. That very much is true to the history and core of preservation. We take it as a moral imperative to save things. I think that’s built into the title of your program, Vanishing Treasures. And there is a feeling in those high priorities, it’s built into the whole language of what we’re talking about, that high enough priorities, enough effort, we will somehow manage it. My question is at the other end of that. We think of the things that we lose as failures, and there will be more of them. Do either of you have any thoughts … help me think about how we let go of disappearing landscape systems. Is there such a thing as hospice care for landscapes? Death with dignity?
Speaker 2: [inaudible 00:03:55].
Susan Dolan: It was just a few years ago that I started to think about preservation not as just the preservation of physical fabric. I think it’s colleagues and other students, academics, that have taught me that we sometimes have to let go the physical but we can hold on to other aspects, like traditions, like skills, like storytelling. That for the Buckner Orchard, perhaps its future is in a germplasm repository, or its DNA is conserved under liquid nitrogen. But I think we need to take us a sort of multifaceted approach to preservation, and think about it elastically as not just physical in situ, but also ex situ, and in communities and the hearts and minds of all of us that care about them. Sincerely.
Lauren Meyer: Yeah, and I guess one additional thing. There are cultures that the act of doing things is as much or as significant as the thing itself. Right? I think exactly what you’re saying, the preservation of those traditions, of those techniques, of the knowledge, I think is just as important as the preservation of the object. Right? And with the work that we’re doing, we sort of balance the two. It is a challenge, though. When I walk into a park and we’re having conversations about climate change and impacts, and future survival of resources, my comment or my challenge to that park always is, “What is your threshold for loss?” You need to think about that. Right? I think we all need to be having that conversation and thinking about that. And when we have that conversation we need to be engaging not just those managers, the archeologists, the landscape architects, the architects, but the traditional communities, the visitors. This is a sort of stakeholder discussion that needs to happen. What is our threshold for loss?
I don’t think we really think about that very often. Right? Because we are sort of charging on, and we have been charged with the preservation of these things, and in the Park Service, we don’t want to lose a bit. I mean, I’ve had conversations with managers of sites that are all adobe that do not want to lose one speck of earth on that wall. That’s, I mean, it’s impossible really. There are no roofs. Right? There’s nothing protecting them in the landscape, so we have to sort of come to terms with it. Again, prioritization is the thing, but how do you prioritize when you don’t even know what your threshold for loss is? We do have to sort of make those decisions and be thinking about that.
Speaker 1: Anyone else? We have time for one more question. If not, I will ask it. So in my own work, I think … I work a lot in the Caribbean, and so one of the challenges is not having a lot of local expertise and capacity to monitor. So one of the things that we’ve been thinking about at A and M and the CHC is, how do you leverage local volunteers and non-experts in places that might be able to generate data for you, and how do you flow that back to a group of experts around the globe? So in both of your programs, how do you view the role of non-experts, say park visitors, inside of this framework of monitoring and identifying issues before you might have a chance to go out and see them?
Susan Dolan: I think that we can’t be dependent upon experts for preservations. That it takes a village, and that everyone can have a role. That sounds trite, but I sincerely think we have an opportunity to make the tools available to others to help them help us do this work. And what we are hearing in Andrea’s presentation, and Perky’s presentation, others, they are trying to develop systems that allow the sort of crowdsourcing of information. And the framework that you’re developing with the University of Arizona will hopefully help somebody who is less expert on various types of architecture and ruins to see the problems that are there.
So I think that it obviously takes training and patience, but I think it takes also open arms and willingness to embrace everyone. We heard this earlier too, that historic preservation cannot be an exclusive activity. If these places matter to culture, culture as a whole needs to help out, and yeah, enough said.
Lauren Meyer: Yeah. I agree, and I think again, the tools that we’re trying to develop are meant for the expert and the non-expert. Right? Even in the park system, we don’t have any one park that has all of the expertise necessary to be able to evaluate and understand all of the issues that we’re coming across when we’re talking about degradation of cultural resources, right? So we need to make sure that the archeologist is able to look at the cultural landscape or look at the historic building and be able to do an evaluation, at least some level of evaluation that could then trigger potentially somebody else being able to come in and apply their expertise.
On this sort of citizen science thing, I mean, I agree. I think there are people out there who are interested, and who are invested in the resources that we work with and live in, and we want to be able to engage them to help them understand, help them be advocates for us, and advocate for those resources, and be stewards. Right? In order to do that, we need to be able to communicate, not necessarily in that high-science way. Right? We need to be able to engage them, pull them in, and help them help us.
So, I agree on the citizen … and we do it. In many parks, there are site steward programs where there is some level of training involved. But we want people to get out there and help us, because again, it ties them…it makes their ties stronger to those resources. They care more, and they want to be out there helping. Yeah.
Speaker 1: Thank you. I think we’re out of time for our session, so please. Susan and Lauren, thank you very much.