Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Expansion in Heritage

December 28th's #reverb10 prompt was:
Achieve. What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today.

Next year I would like to expand my involvement in local heritage and be part of a heritage preservation project. I plan on working on making connections in my relatively new community. I'm looking forward to expanding my knowledge base and commitment to public history. There are plenty of opportunities to gain new skills in the heritage field. In the new year, I am volunteering to help a local arts collective with grant proposals. Considering the importance of grants in heritage I feel that this will be a great opportunity to continue to expand my skills.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Photo Recall

December 25th's #reverb10 prompt: Photo - a present to yourself. Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.

Thia prompt reminded me of a number of the great photographs I've come across during my work in the past year. Here are a couple of examples:

The Brutis Office falling through the ice on Lake Huron. Photo is part of the collection held by the Thessalon Union Public Library.

This newspaper clipping is also held by the Thessalon Public Library and shows a local OPP officer baby sitting a cougar.

This final photograph shows Thessalon in its hay day. There are many photographs which highlight the vibrancy of this town during the era which was dominated by lumbering. It's a stark contrast to the quiet small town it has become.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Heritage Travel

The #reverb10 prompt for December 22nd was:
Travel. How did you travel in 2010? How and or where would you like to travel next year?

In 2011 I would like to visit Mackinac Island in Michigan. The island is rich in built heritage and is relatively close to my home. Mackinac Island has prohibited the use of motorized vehicles for over a century and the use of horse drawn transportation increases the old time feel of the Island. The Island is home to Fort Mackinac which is Michigan's only Revolutionary War era fort. Additionally, much of the downtown core of the Island contains well preserved heritage buildings.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lessons learned

December 21st's #reverb10 prompt was:
Future self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?)

The advice I would give myself for the year ahead is to be open to opportunities and to have faith that things will work out. There is no shortage of ways to expand knowledge and skills if you are open to trying new things and actively searching for new resources.

Advice I would give myself ten years ago: Listen to the interesting stories and personal histories of the elderly people you meet. Very few people write down their personal histories. Oral history is well worth listening to and preserving.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Heritage reading

December 20th's #reverb10 prompt:
Beyond avoidance. What should you have done this year but didn't because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)

In 2010 I have avoided dedicating more time to reading academic writing relevant to my field. The majority of the material I have read outside of work in 2010 was fiction. Granted, a large percentage of the fiction has been historical fiction but that really doesn't measure up to academic reading. One deterrent to academic reading has been my lack of direction in what to read. Picking specific topics I would like to know more about would help give my reading purpose and structure.

Topics I would like to explore through reading in 2011 include:
-Material culture
-Built heritage
-Collective memory
-The interaction of First Nation heritage and public history

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Healing and restoration

December 19th's #reverb10 prompt was:
Healing. What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011?

This prompt brought to mind heritage restoration and the 'healing' of heritage buildings. Ideally, heritage preservation comes prior to extreme restoration efforts. Depending on the state of the building, heritage restoration allows for the integrity of historical features to be maintained and in some cases assists in the preservation of the built heritage.

Ideally the healing component of restoration would include repairing a building in a way that is true to the architecture of the era. Replacing original windows with new energy efficient windows that are made in the style of the original windows or repairing and reinforcing the original windows are a couple of examples of heritage restoration and preservation.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Writing in 2011

The #reverb10 prompt for December 18th was:
Try. What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did/didn't go for it?

Next year I want to try to write more. I would like to continue to blog on a frequent basis and write about heritage issues that inspire me. I need to remind myself the benefits of writing and work on making a commitment to writing. Additionally, I would like to explore other avenues for my writing.

In 2010 I wanted to try to gain more experience in the heritage field. This year, I managed to gain a lot through volunteering and reaching out to others working heritage. I'm happy I took the initiative and time to volunteer with a variety of organizations as it opened many doors and allowed me to gain new skills.

Friday, December 17, 2010


The #reverb10 prompt for December 17th was:

Lesson learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

The best thing I've learned about myself this year is that I have the ability to tackle management and administrative problems logically and with tact. I gained a lot of experience dealing with human resource challenges, administering projects, and being on the front line during project management. Granted, I also learned that I have no desire to be in a position which is solely HR based. This year reinforced my desire to be in a position which allows for a combination of hands on work and program development.

The Literary and Historical Society of Quebec

A recent Ideas episode on CBC radio examined the history of the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec. Established in 1824, by the Earl of Dalhousie, the society is the oldest historic society in Canada. In addition to the age of the society, the society is historically significant based on its original status as an English strong hold, the library it houses, the built heritage of the society's building, it's role in establishing the National Archives of Canada, and the more recent development of the Morrin Centre.

The Society is located on a site with a diverse history. From 1712-1808 the location was home to the Redoubt Royal, which was a military barracks and eventually a holding place for prisoners of war. The current building was built between 1808 and 1813 and served as the Quebec city jail until 1867. The jail was the site of the last public hanging in Quebec. Following the closure of the jail the building was re-purposed by Morrin College. In 1868 the Literary and Historical Society moved into this building.

Currently, the Society's library collection is open to the public. However, borrowing privileges are restricted to society members. The library collection is unique as despite being located in a predominately French area the library specializes in preserving the city's English language heritage and history.

The podcast of this Ideas episode is well worth a listen as it highlights some of the unique history surrounding the society.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Expansion through friends

December 16's #reverb10 prompt was:

Friendship. How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?

The greatest impact my friends or colleagues have on me this year is their ability to open my eyes to new ideas and avenues. In the past year colleagues have introduced me to books, local historic sites, networking opportunities, new topics of inquiry, and additional branches of the heritage field.

This occurred gradually throughout the year and helped me broaden my perspective and interests in the heritage world. I have also learned new skills and honed existing skills based on feedback and conversations with colleagues. I have found friendship, support, and enthusiasm amongst colleagues in the past year. I look forward to continuing to exchange ideas and experiences with others in the upcoming year.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Capturing 2010

December 15th's #reverb10 prompt:
5 minutes. Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.

I have so many worthwhile heritage memories from this year, but these are the ones that I thought of in the five minute limit:

-The connections I've made in the heritage field.
-The kindness of those involved with the CDP and OurOntario
-The image of my parents dressed up in historical costumes during our visit to Fort St. Joseph.
-The skills I've learned this year -- project documentation, administration, and employee management techniques
-How the Sault canal looked when completely drained of water.
-The feeling of joy I had when I found out about my new job.
-My appreciation of natural heritage, particularly seeing the Agawa Canyon, the view from the Terry Fox memorial, and everything involving Basswood Lake.
-The support from friends and family when venturing into new territory, be it physically moving or taking on a new project.
-The small town moments: a community day parade that was mostly ATVs, a sign that boasts the fact that the KFC can seat forty people, hand delivered mail, a northern Ontario fish fry, and people saying hi to everyone they see on the street.
-Presenting at a conference isn't as scary as it seems.
-The most frustrating problems often contribute the most rewarding successes.
-My foray into community history and heritage.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Appreciating collaboration

Today’s #reverb10 prompt:
December 14 – Appreciate What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?

I have come to appreciate the value of collaboration and interdisciplinary work. Collaboration can take far more effort, coordination, and time than a non-collaborative project. This year proved to me the benefits of collaboration outweigh the occasional headache.

I also learned to appreciate the importance of structure in a collaborative partnership. Even if all partners involved have an equal stake in the project it is essential that someone take on a leadership role and have the power to make decisions when needed. I have also learned to appreciate the importance of communication during collaboration, without open and reliable communication even the most promising collabrative project can stall or go awry.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Action Planning

Today's #reverb10 prompt: Action. When it comes to aspirations, its not about ideas. It's about making ideas happen. What's your next step?

When thinking about what career and heritage based actions I would like to take next year the first thing that comes to mind is planning. But, does planning count as action? It's an activity and at times a very important first step. However, planning is often a predecessor to actual physical action. Despite its apparent lack of physicality, I think the importance of planning gives it merit to be included as an action, even if it is more of a mental action.

My next step is to begin prioritizing and planning what long term activities are going to help me grow professionally in 2011. I need to prioritize based on gain, enjoyment, and effort inputted into the activity. Currently, I'm debating about trying to focus on one or two volunteer activities or one volunteer activity and one major project to take on in the new year.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Intergration through tradition

Today's #reverb10 prompt was: Body integration. This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn't mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?

The moments this year where I have felt the most integrated have occurred since I started my new job. I have recently had the opportunity to participate in three Aboriginal smudging ceremonies. Each time I have participated in a smudge the feeling in the room has been one of thoughtfulness, remembrance, gratitude, balance, and unity. I feel fortunate to have been able to participate in these activities. Smudging also brings to mind the importance of preserving traditions, especially in an oral, marginalized, or aging society. Actively practicing traditions have the potential to allow people to become in touch their history, learn more about their culture, and to become integrated with their roots.

Seeking balance at work

I struggled with yesterday's #reverb10 prompt. That struggle combined with spending Saturday in a meeting resulted in my response being pushed back to today. December 11th's prompt was:
11 things. What are 11 things your life doesn't need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

Things I don't need in my life next year include:
-Unnecessary worry. I need to remember that sometimes things are simply out of your control and that there is no point in worrying about them, as it doesn't actually fix them.
-Constant contentedness. Despite my love for my job, there is no need for me to be constantly connected to it or to the internet. I need to take more time to unplug.
-An overflowing Google reader. I subscribe to far too many RSS feeds. In the new year I plan to weed out feeds I no longer have an interest in or which aren't updated regularly.
-Physical clutter. I spend two hours a day in my car, so despite my neat freak tendencies clutter does tend to build up. Being more proactive on keeping clutter at bay in my car and on my desk has the potential to help alleviate stress and annoyance.
-Shyness. I need to be more assertive when it comes to promoting myself, voicing my concerns, and putting my point of view out there.
-Procrastination. I know we all have moments of it and that's not necessarily a bad thing. I just need to avoid procrastination caused by doubt or dislike of an activity. When that happens procrastination is more a form of avoidance than anything.
-Negativity. Eliminating non-supportive people and activities can help turn negative thoughts into positive ideas.

I think all of these items can at be minimized through cultivating a sense of balance in my life. Balance needs to be created between work and home, clutter and neatness, and procrastination and pro-activeness.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Wisdom in a feeling

#reverb10 prompt for December 10th: Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?

The wisest decision I made in 2010 was to apply for a job I had a gut feeling was a good fit for me. At the time I applied I wasn't even really sure I was looking for a new job or what my chances were in the application process. I applied on a bit of a whim and didn't really put to much thought into what could happen if I actually got an interview or the job. I ended up getting the job and couldn't be happier. I'm proud, grateful, and happy working where I do.

An additional perk of this decision is that I now feel like I am beginning to put down roots. In the past five years I have lived in seven different cities or towns. This is the first place where I've begun to feel a sense of permanence and a sense of attachment to. I am extremely glad things have unfolded like they have.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Contrary to popular belief librarians do know how to party

Today's #reverb10 prompt: Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

OLA Super Conference 2010 was the best work related gathering in 2010. This conference was the first library focused conference I attended. The level of enthusiasm, the roar of the vendor floor, the sessions I attended, and copious amounts of good food and good company made this the work related gathering of 2010.

Highlights of the conference included:
-Presenting with OurOntario on collaboration and community building withing the Community Digitization Project.
-Reuniting with OurOntario staff for the first time in six months.
-Seeing the Knowledge Ontario staff in action on the vendors' floor
-The Extraordinary Canadians authors session.
-Learning more about the different branches of the library field.

I also had the opportunity to see the Rain Tribute to the Beatles while in Toronto for the OLA conference. That combined with the OLA conference made for a great week.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Beautifully different heritage

Prompt: Beautifully different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different - you'll find they're what make you beautiful.

The heritage field is filled with differences all of which have the potential to compliment and learn from each other. Academic historians, archivists, curators and those involved with museums, archeologists, digital historians, built heritage professionals, genealogists, and public historians are some of the many people involves with history and heritage.

Each heritage or history field is unique, and each group of professionals has a unique set of skills and strengths. Within each heritage field there are specializations and further compartmentalization which adds to the different qualities of each field. The variety which exists in the heritage world is ideal for collaboration.

There is also a number of people involved with the heritage field who have embodied a number of different roles throughout their careers. In the past five years I have worked and volunteered with a number of museums, a historical litigation company, a research department of a not for profit group, with a number of public libraries, and at an archive. One of my favorite things about heritage and public history is that there is always multiple options for a project, opportunities for collaboration and chances to learn from other professionals.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Connecting with Heritage and Beyond

Prompt: Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

In 2010 I discovered and further explored a number of communities:
-This year through twitter I became more connected with heritage professionals. This sense of connectedness was a huge help when I moved to a part of Northern Ontario without knowing anyone in the heritage field. My daily interactions online helped remind me that there are lots of people passionate about history and heritage out there.
-In 2010 I also was exposed to the public library community when working with OurOntario on their Community Digitization Project. I worked with a number of small public library, participated in the OLA Super Conference, and the OLS-North conference. The enthusiasm, kindness, and collaboration in the library community made my experience a memorable one.

Looking forward:
-I have started to explore my new found local community. Despite the fact that the town and surrounding area is home to only slightly more than one thousand people I'm constantly surprised by the number of activities and choices in the area. I hope to connect with more people in this community in 2011.
-I also hope to further connect and learn from the Aboriginal community in the area. These connections occur naturally at my work but I hope to learn from the community on a level above the level required by my job.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Constructing a reading list

Today’s Prompt for #reverb10:

December 6 – Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it? (Author: Gretchen Rubin)

I've been struggling with today's prompt since this morning. The most recent thing I've made is chocolate chip pie. However, I wanted to focus on something related to my foray into the heritage world. I'm in the process of compiling a list of things I would like to read of re-read in the upcoming year. The part of the list I've completed so far is below:

History/Heritage Related Reading:

  1. Shingwauk's Vision by JR Miller (re-read)
  2. Death So Noble: Memory, Meaning, and the First World War by Johnathan Vance
  3. The Madman and the Butcher by Tim Cook
  4. Compact, Contract, Covenant: Aboriginal Treaty-Making in Canada by JR Miller
  5. I'm also still debating about reading a number of books from the Extraordinary Canadians series

Fiction and Leisure reading:
  1. The Origin of Species by Nico Rici
  2. Fall of Giants by Ken Follett
  3. The Forrest Laird by Jack Whyte
  4. Sanctuary Line by Jane Urquhart
  5. Light Lifting by Alexander MacLeod

Considering my passion for books this version of the list is a shortened one of the list that seems to constantly be multiplying.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Letting go of built heritage

The December 5th #reverb10 prompt is: Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

A number of Ontario communities let go of valuable built heritage this year. Old buildings have been damaged by neglect, torn down by cities, or 'renovated' in the name of modernization. Earlier this year the Heritage Canada Foundation put out a 'worst losses' list which named the most significant buildings lost in 2010. The list includes:

1) Century Theatre, Hamilton, Ontario
2) 35 - 151 Colborne Street, Brantford, Ontario.
3) Downsview Hangars (Buildings 55 and 58) - Former CFB Downsview, Toronto, Ontario
4) Fleming Grain Elevator, Fleming, Alberta
5) River Street, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
6) Watson Lake Hotel, Watson Lake, Yukon

All of these buildings were valuable based on their age, architecture, or provenance. It's disconcerting that three of the six major losses on this list are from Ontario. Built heritage preservation simply isn't a priority or fiscally feasible for a lot of communities. As a result, it seems as though at least once a month another irreplaceable historical landmark is let go of.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Finding Wonder in Natural Heritage

The fourth #reverb10 prompt is:
Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?

In the past year I have renewed my appreciation for Canada's natural heritage and beauty. In the past I have often over looked natural heritage for more man made history. A few of the natural heritage sites which filled me with wonder this year include the Agawa Canyon, Aubrey Falls, and Lake Superior.

The hours spent on a train to get to the Agawa Canyon were more than worth the trip. The canyon park includes numerous striking waterfalls, a river, and the canyon itself is a great display of natural heritage. The canyon was created by faulting in the Canadian shield and the remote nature of the canyon has resulted in the majority of the natural beauty of the site being maintained.

My visit to Aubrey Falls inspired further appreciation of natural beauty in Canada. However, that site is directly impacted by a hydro plant next to it. The amount of water which flows over the falls is actually controlled based on how much power is being generated. The stark contrast of nature and development at Aubrey Falls reminded me of the importance of preserving our natural heritage for future generations.

The drive up to Thunder Bay allowed me to take in the vastness of Lake Superior. The changing temperament of the water, the quietness of the North, and the sea like waves were some of my favourite parts of that drive.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Inspiring Heritage Moments

Today's #reverb10 prompt is :
Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).
I have adjusted the prompt slightly to include moments where I have felt the most inspired and alive by events relating to history and heritage.

One of the most inspiring moments this year was during a digitization day held by the Huron Shores Museum. This museum is run purely by a dedicated group of volunteers. I was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of the volunteers. The event allowed me to see the value of local history in small communities and the pride of this community's history was tangible in the air that day. The Museum's photos digitized that day and as part of the Community Digitzation Program can be seen here.

Another moment which sticks out from 2010 occurred a little over a month ago. I was invited to participate in the laying of wreathes and a smudge ceremony held in the Shingwauk cemetery. The laying of wreathes and smudging were done in memory of Shingwauk residential school students. It was a moving experience that provided me with a sense of commemoration and connection to the past.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Public History Writing

The #reverb10 prompt for December 2nd is focused on writing, specifically: What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?

I do an innumerable amount of things that don't contribute to my writing about public history. Procrastination, perfectionism, and over analyzing things to name a few. On a more concrete level I think that my use of twitter has actually caused my blog writing to decline a bit. I often post things or link to articles on twitter that are definitely worthy of a blog post.

Tweeting about public history is a quick easy way to get a idea out there with minimal effort. A blog post takes more thought, time, and dedication. However, twitter allows me to interact with parts of the heritage and cultural community which I may never interact with otherwise. It's a different type of promotion, communication, and environment. I think it compliments blogging, I just need to remind myself that it's nice to form ideas longer than 140 characters.

Joining the #reverb10 bandwagon

After seeing a couple of #reverb10 posts I began to read up on the idea and started to debate over participating. Some gentle encouragement helped and I decided to participate in #reverb10.

Since reverb officially began yesterday, I'm writing two posts today to catch up. The December 1st writing prompt was: Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?

I debated back and forth about my 2010 word, but ultimately decided on discovery. I’ve discovered a lot about myself, my passions, the world around me, community heritage, and the world of public history in this past year. My top three heritage based discoveries include :

* Volunteering as a research associate for the Red Cross’ Health Equipment Loan Program (HELP) allowed me to rediscover my joy of archival research.
* My time working with OurOntario and the Community Digitization Program (CDP) helped me rediscovered my love for Northern Ontario heritage, people, and lifestyle.
* This year I also discovered that it is possible to combine my public history interest with other aspects of my life. This discovery eventually resulted in the combing of my traditional historical interest in First Nation-Settler relations with my interest in preservation. This combination took the shape of my new job and I couldn’t be happier about that.

I would like my word for 2011 to be growth. At this time next year I would like to be able to say that I’ve learned something substantial, continued to expand my activities in the public history realm and that professionally I have made a step forward (no matter how small).