What are public historians doing about sustainability initiatives?

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The following list was developed from the case statements of the Public History and Sustainability Working Group at the April 2012 NCPH/OAH conference in Milwaukee as well as from the 2010 Working Group that inaugurated this discussion and some other sources.  Please add your project (with a link) in the comments section!

Collaborations/ Education: University of Nevada’s Preserve Nevada

  • Working on campus w/ Hotel Management doing green conferences, Public Lands Institute (BLM), Urban Sustainability Initiative, Brookings West, Las Vegas as a case study (renovation w/ Zappos of downtown LV to make more sustainability).
  • Funding from City of LV (license plate money).
  • Hands on workshops etc.
  • Engages various all these groups in a regional /national scope.

Sustainable Agriculture:
Martin Van Buren National Historic Site and Roxbury Farm

Fenway Victory Gardens

Sahuaro Ranch
– interpretation links to local agriculture and issues of sustainable in terms of water conservation

Interdisciplinary Training programs (involving History and Sustainability):

Environmental Studies


Public History

Landscape conservation/ preservation:

Frederick Law Olmstead National Historic Site, Olmstead Center for Landscape Preservation, National Park Service

Heritage Areas and Heritage Corridors: The Illinois and Michigan National Heritage Corridor, Essex National Heritage Area.

Bureau of Land Management: National Landscape Conservation System
– Canyons of the Ancients National Monument (part of the NLCS) and the Anasazi Heritage Center.

Adaptive Re-Use:

The Plant. This project functions as a laboratory for making industrial preservation work through sustainable adaptive reuse.  Located within the Chicago Stockyards, it demonstrates a radical re-use of materials.  It is a self-sustaining closed system off the grid system. The Public History project is to incorporate interpretive/community history into the project. That uses on-site material culture. The building, through history and the use, is an important example of how preservation is sustainable. Contact Wiliam Ippen, [email protected] and Devin Hunter, [email protected] for questions.

The C&O Canal Quarters Interpretive Program at the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park is changing how the National Park Service is utilizing its historic buildings. The program, which opened November 2009, invites visitors to spend the night in one of the park’s historic lockhouses. Visitors have the opportunity to learn about canal life in a very intimate atmosphere never before afforded to visitors. Thanks to Angela Sirna for her case study in the 2010 Portland Working Group, Recycling Buildings? Reframing Historic Preservation in the Language of Sustainability and the Green Economy.

Community Planning and Development:

John Deere Project Cedar Falls/Waterloo, Iowa
This is great model for synergy/ using the story to sell the project being a part of a complex/community planning. Contact Josh Waddle [email protected] for questions.

Surprise, Arizona.

Digital Projects:
Burying Ground Digitization Project, Wethersfield Historical Society.
Prompted by environmental decay of the headstones.

Historic Preservation/ Cultural Resource Management:

Preservation Green Lab (National Trust)



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