A side or B side? Postindustrial artisans walking a fine line (Part II)

Continued from Part 1.

parking lot

“The B side” of the Fringe building was seen by one potential developer as part of what needs to be fixed in Union Square. Photo credit: Cathy Stanton

So how did the small-scale artisans at Fringe fit into the proposals put forward by the master developer candidates at the March meeting? The short answer is: ambiguously. They were clearly seen by the developers as both part of the hipness of the neighborhood and part of the set of problems–what in an earlier era of urban redevelopment was more bluntly termed “blight”–that the proposals aimed to overcome. This was made particularly clear by one presenter who showed slides of what he described as Union Square’s assets—a collage of logos from new-economy businesses, including Fringe’s—but then pointed to what he called “the B side,” ugly and problematic things that still needed to be fixed in the neighborhood. His slide for the B side included an image of Fringe’s entrance and loading-dock on the utilitarian back side of the IH Brown building, and he seemed unaware that the logo and the loading-dock belonged to the same enterprise. Lacking the high-tech polish of Artisan’s Asylum or GreenTown labs, Fringe is harder to pigeon-hole–and thus perhaps easier to overlook–in discussions about affordability and inclusivity within urban redevelopment. Continue reading

A side or B side? Postindustrial artisans walking a fine line (Part I)

street scene

Somerville’s Union Square has been relatively affordable within Boston’s expensive real estate market, but an impending city-led revitalization plan is already boosting prices in the neighborhood. Photo credit: Cathy Stanton

On a cold March evening this past winter, my students and I caught a bus from Davis Square, near Tufts University, to attend a public meeting in Union Square, at the other end of Somerville, Massachusetts. Within the generally-pricey Boston real estate market of the past two or three decades, Union Square has remained relatively affordable and as a result has been something of a haven for artists, artisans, low-income immigrants, and small, often marginal businesses. The March meeting, though, was part of an ongoing “revitalization” process that had already started to bring big changes to the square. Candidates vying for the role of “master developer” for the square were strutting their stuff, trying to demonstrate both familiarity with the neighborhood’s bohemian character and capacity to coordinate more than 2.3 million square feet of new development in seven blocks currently assessed at $26 million.

My class was conducting ethnographic research focusing on a collaborative of small artisanal businesses in a former industrial building in Union Square, and we were curious about how these kinds of companies–tied to currently-hip ideas about “maker culture” in some ways, linked with the longer history of small-scale local craft production in others–would appear within the image-making that was sure to be going on at the meeting. Continue reading

Professional opportunities July 15, 2014

To submit an item for the News Feed, send an email to:  news[at]publichistorycommons.org

AWARD: Society for History in the Federal Government (SHFG) seeks entries for its 2015 Thomas Jefferson Prize for documentary histories published in 2013 or 2014.
DEADLINE: Nov. 30, 2014

CFP: Public History in Latin America – special issue of Historia 2.0 seeks articles in Spanish and Portuguese
DEADLINE: July 21, 2014
Call is available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese

CFP:There and Back Again: Tolkien in 2015” – Feb. 20-21, 2-15, Columbus, Ohio, U.S.
DEADLINE: Oct. 1, 2014

CONF:Memory and Learning in a Changing World” – Sept. 15-17, 2014, Falstad, Norway

CONF:Co-Creating Narratives in Public Spaces,” free symposium on expanding the diversity of stories told at U.S. National Park Service sites – Sept. 17-18, 2014, Washington, DC, U.S.

CONF:ITIE2014: Local Culture and Oral History,” 6th Annual International Conference on Information Technology in Education – Oct. 27-28, 2014, Changsha, China

CONF: “Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities: Forging collection-based collaboration between archives, museums and academia” – Oct. 29-30, 2014, Birmingham, U.K.

NCH: National Coalition for History Washington Update for July 9, 2014
US Senate Confirms William “Bro” Adams as NEH Chairman; Proposed cuts to NEH would bring funding to its lowest level since 1972; House Funding Bill Would Cut NEH and National Park Service History Programs in FY 15
Full stories on NCH website

PUB: Collecting the Contemporary (Rhys and Baveystock, eds.)

PUB: History, Memory, and Trans-European Identity: Unifying Divisions (Sierp)

REV: Milliken’s Bend: A Civil War Battle in History and Memory (Barnickel) and Remembering the Battle of the Crater: War as Murder (Levin)

REV: Preserving South Street Seaport: The Dream and Reality of a New York
Urban Renewal District
(Lindgren)

To submit an item for the News Feed, send an email to: news[at]publichistorycommons.org

Professional opportunities June 10, 2014

ANNCT: The Society for History in the Federal Government has posted a timeline of dates important to the history of the federal government and for historical work in U.S. federal offices.

CFP: The Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) invites abstracts (sessions, papers and posters) for the Program of the 75th Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh, PA, March 24-28, 2015. The theme of the Program is “Continuity and Change.”

CFP: The Future of Museums Conference, a collaborative global conversation about technology, museums, and the future. This free, online event will be held from 10am – 5pm US-Eastern Time on July 24th, 2014.

CFP: Tracing Topographies: Revisiting the Concentration Camps Seventy Years after the Liberation of Auschwitz – Jan. 6-8, 2015, London, U.K.
DEADLINE: Aug. 14, 2014

CFP: Memory Frictions: Conflict-Negotiation-Politics, International Conference on Contemporary Narratives in English – May 6-8, 2015, Zaragoza, Spain
DEADLINE: Dec. 1, 2014

CFP: Trans-Atlantic Dialogues on Cultural Heritage: Heritage, Tourism and Traditions – July 13-16, 2015, Liverpool, U.K.
DEADLINE: Dec. 15, 2014 or earlier

CONF: Sound, Memory and the Senses Conference – July 24-25, 2014, Melbourne, Australia

CONF: 2014 American Association for State and Local History Annual Meeting, Sept. 17-20, 2014, St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.
EARLY REGISTRATION DEADLINE: July 25, 2014

EDU:Project Management for History Professionals” course from the American Association for State and Local History – July 15-16, 2014, Dearborn, Michigan, U.S.
EARLY REGISTRATION DEADLINE: June 15, 2014

REV: Selling the Amish: The Tourism of Nostalgia (Trollinger)

REV: Remembering Katyn (Etkind et al.)

Projects in the print-digital pipeline

sketch of well

Sketch for a key element of the “Slavery in New York” exhibit, found in the Public History Commons collection relating to the exhibit.

Regular visitors to the Public History Commons may have noticed that we’ve undergone a slight facelift recently.  The History@Work blog, initially the sole occupant of this site, has gradually been joined by other projects:  the News Feed, The Public Historian’s digital space, and now our new Library. To try to keep our interface clear and easy to navigate, we’ve bumped the blog down a little bit on the page and simplified the navigation bar.  We hope readers are finding their way around without too much trouble.

We’re also excited to introduce the Library to you.  Although still in its very early stages, it represents an important step in a larger project of creating flexible platforms for publication and communication and ways for our print and digital projects to cross-pollinate more easily.  We’re starting to get a sense of the possibilities through two recent collaborations, one of which revolves around Richard Rabinowitz’s award-winning article “Eavesdropping at the Well: Interpretive Media in the ‘Slavery in New York’ Exhibition.” Continue reading

Professional opportunities March 25, 2014

ANNCT: Estevan Rael-Galvez will give the 2014 Fredric M. Miller Lecture sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Region Center for the Humanities (MARCH), May 8, 2014, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.

CFP:Rethinking History: The Journal of Theory and Practice” seeks paper proposals for a theme issue devoted to the topic of “Authenticity.”

CFP:School vs. Memory: Conflict, Identity, Coexistence,” Oct. 10-11, 2014, Prague, Czech Republic
DEADLINE: May 11, 2014

CONF:Courage to Ask: Courage to Tell,” Southwest Oral History Association (SOHA) Annual Conference – April 3-5, 2014, Tempe, Arizona, U.S.

CONF:Consuming Objects: Negotiating Relationships with the Material World,” 12th Annual Material Culture Symposium for Emerging Scholars – April 11 and 12, 2014, Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.

CONF: Fourth annual Public History Community Forum (PubComm) conference – April 26, 2014, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.

FUNDING: Mining History Association Research Grant Program for graduate students, academic scholars, public sector professionals in related disciplines, independent scholars, writers, and educators.
DEADLINE: April 15, 2014

PUB: Table of Contents now available for Environmental History Vol. 19, Issue 2 (April 2014)

PUB: New eBook edition from MuseumsEtc – “The Exemplary Museum

Digital projects showcased in Monterey

shirt pattern

An item from New Mexico State University’s digitized Agricultural Extension Service records. Source: NMSU Library Digital Collections

At the third annual “lightning talks” session highlighting new (and some not so new) digital public history projects at the National Council on Public History conference, a dozen presenters showed off their work to a lunchtime audience.

A good-enough platform for change

report cover

Today’s post is also the introduction to the born-digital publication “Public History in a Changing Climate,” available now to NCPH conference registrants and to other readers by summer 2014.

In a television interview last year, American writer and neo-agrarian icon Wendell Berry spoke about the “dreadful situation” facing young people who are grappling with the cascading environmental, economic, and social challenges linked with runaway capitalism and anthropogenic climate change.  Berry noted that the recognition of our big problems creates an expectation of equally big solutions, but added that our own answers and fixes have too often been part and parcel of those problems, because we’ve tended to impose them in a way that ignores the limitations and needs of the environments we inhabit.  Real change, he said, means learning to listen in new ways to the non-human world and refusing to be rushed or impatient even while acknowledging the urgent need for action.  “I think of them,” Berry said of younger people entering this arena, “and I say well, the situation you’re in now is a situation that’s going to call for a lot of patience.  And to be patient in an emergency is a terrible trial.”

The idea of being patient in an emergency strikes me as useful for public historians to think about but from the opposite direction.  Rather than being impatient activists who need to be convinced of the value of patience, we tend to be inherently deliberate practitioners who haven’t collectively acknowledged that we are in fact in the midst of an emergency. Continue reading

All the news that fits: The view from where I sit

mosaic of typesetter

Typesetter, John A. Prior Health Services Library mosaic mural, Columbus, Ohio. Photo credit: Ehschnell at en.wikipedia.

For quite a number of years now, I’ve been one of the people involved in gathering and disseminating news about the public history field through the various channels of the National Council on Public History:  the H-Public listserv, the News Feed here in the Public History Commons, and the regular emailed updates that go out to NCPH members.  More or less once a week, I cull through other listservs, submitted announcements, and odds and ends that come to us through various professional and social networks and try to reduce the pile to a more or less digestible-sized list of professional opportunities for public historians.  Sometimes this feels like a purely clerical task (there’s a lot of cutting and pasting involved!) but every once in a while I realize what a valuable and broad perspective it’s given me on our ever-evolving field.  In return for those hours of cutting and pasting, I get an ongoing education about what people are doing “out there” and how a very wide range of practitioners are putting history to work in the world.  Here’s how things look to me at the moment. Continue reading