CRM: The Journal of Heritage Stewardship - Summer 2009
CRM Journal

Introduction


Barbara J. Little, Editor

When working daily in any of the myriad practices of cultural resource management and historic preservation, it is sometimes difficult to see the forest for the trees. It is far too easy to get distracted by details such as procedures, regulations, and deadlines. When we step back to gain some perspective, we can regain sight of the whole. In considering the value of taking a broad view, I am struck by the fact that heritage stewardship it an intensely people-focused practice.

Now, that might seem like an unlikely observation about practices that deal daily with structures, landscapes, archeological sites, and collections of artifacts and documents. However, aside from the obvious observation that individuals actually perform the day to day work, it is increasingly apparent that professionals recognize the need to work more effectively with communities.

Some members of the public will have specific and occasional interest, such as might be aroused when a beloved local landmark is threatened by development. Others have ongoing, intense interests which may be imperfectly appreciated by professionals who need to be educated about community interests. The emerging importance of values-based preservation has been eloquently discussed in previous issues of this journal.1 Members of the public may have conflicting views about the value and meaning of heritage places, regardless of the input of preservationists, who should also recognize themselves as stakeholders and members of the public.

The push and pull of different values effect preservation in local communities worldwide. In the New York Times article, “In a New Age, Bahrain Struggles to Honor the Dead While Serving the Living,” Michael Slackman2 reports on the tension between development and preservation in this Persian Gulf kingdom. It’s a story whose central theme is deeply familiar: traditional architecture and ancient sites are being destroyed: bulldozed for the sake of new building. Traditional crafts and economy disappear in favor of globalized industry. Also familiar is his observation that the poor and disenfranchised are disproportionately burdened by the current push for preservation, which responds to development and destruction on the lands of the wealthy and connected.

Slackman quotes Al-Sayed Abdullah Ala’ali, a member of Parliament, about people’s desire for modern amenities: “People are demanding housing, they want development.” However, this government official sees that preservation and modern life are not in conflict, but are mutually dependent. When Mr. Ala’ali says that “Anyone who has no past . . . has no future,” he speaks in terms of the traditional wisdom that long has driven public commitment to caring for heritage. People determine how places and histories are perceived, how they are judged important enough to preserve and to commemorate, and whether they are shared with the wider public, both present and future.

One of the commonalities among the contributions in this issue is public involvement and collaboration. Neil Silberman explores the implications of the new ICOMOS Ename Charter for involving multiple stakeholders. Among the many inspiring achievements of Hester Davis is the consistent, collegial engagement with amateur archeologists. In describing the changing commemoration of women’s history in Canada, Dianne Dodd highlights the central role that local groups play in such work. Clay Mathers, Charles Haecker, and Dan Simplicio describe an ongoing collaboration among the Pueblo of Zuni, the Coronado Institute, and the National Park Service. The actions of the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia have been vital to the documentation and preservation efforts described by Sabra Smith. Although the intensive collaborative efforts of individuals from many agencies are invisible to the end user of spatial data standards, there would be no effective standards without the efforts that Deidre McCarthy describes. Similarly, William Patrick O’Brien describes an administrative tool for facilitating cooperative research and highlights the resulting international Missions Initiative and the Warriors Project, among other efforts.

As Silberman so clearly argues in his viewpoint article, heritage continues to evolve. As we see daily in the practice of heritage stewardship, it is individuals and communities, both professional and public, who will determine just how that evolution proceeds.

Additional Note to Our Readers

I’d like to thank all of you who responded to the invitation to review materials for the journal. The invitation is open: If you are interested in contributing to CRM as a reviewer, please contact the editor at NPS_CRMJournal@nps.gov with your name, email address, mailing address, phone number, and areas of topical and/or geographic expertise.

I am also very pleased to announce that Dr. Pat O’Brien will be taking over as the Book Review Editor for Volume 7. We all owe Brian Joyner our gratitude for his able editorship over the past three years and I thank him profusely for it. Brian will be taking over as Exhibits and Multimedia Review Editor. Rebecca Shiffer will take on the challenge of Research Reports, joining current Research Report Editors Lisa Davidson and Virginia Price.