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Friday, January 20, 2017

What I Hope

January 20, 2017; Silver Spring, Maryland

Donald Trump was sworn in today in as the 45th president of the United States. Many of us wonder if he’ll be the last.

I won’t belabor the reasons for our collective angst – they’re familiar, and have been beaten to death. Suffice to say that I thought him an appalling candidate, and am unlikely to forgive the Democratic Party establishment and corporate media for inflicting him and his Republican friends on the world.  And I keep “remembering” how the Roman Republic and the Athenian democracy and the Weimar Republic gave way to oligarchy and fascism, each such catastrophe contained by the relatively small populations involved and their inability either to totally screw the environment or unleash weapons of mass destruction. I fear for my grandchildren, and apologize to them, for what little that’s worth.

But I am also not entirely without hope.

The first president on whose campaign I worked was John F. Kennedy, and I was devastated when he was assassinated. Not only because of his tragic loss but because it meant we were stuck with Lyndon B. Johnson, who seemed pretty much the opposite of Kennedy and was, as some columnist or other pointed out the other day, not unlike Trump in a lot of ways – coarse, vulgar, narcissistic, ready and willing to play fast and loose with law, ethics, and propriety.

And yet, with respect to civil rights, the interests of ordinary citizens, and – especially relevant to me, as it turned out, environmental protection – Johnson turned out to be a fine, important, perhaps even great president.

Can Trump be something similar? Is it sheer Pollyannaism to imagine the possibility?

Much of our public life has become constipated. I was reminded of this yesterday as I composed comments to send the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about scoping the environmental impact statement on the Dakota Access Pipeline. I spent a good deal of time on the comments, all the while being quite certain that they’d be ignored, be meaningless. Why? Not because the Corps is made up of great villains intent on destroying the environment or abusing Indian tribes, but simply because they’re part of a system that can no longer even acknowledge citizen concerns, that’s gone beyond being influenced by those it’s supposed to serve.  Which, along with the arrogance of a lot of people in power, was (I think) pretty much the basis for Trump’s rise.

Part of this, I think, is the legacy of the Johnson years and those that followed – the vesting of faith in the regulatory state, its experts, and its lawyers.  It began innocently, as a means of serving the public, protecting the weak, undoing the damage done by untrammeled industrialism and racism, avoiding further destruction and abuse. But depending as it did on experts, on regulations, on bureaucracies, it pretty quickly grew into an impassable thicket, impenetrable to and contemptuous of the ordinary citizen. In which – to pick a tiny example close to my heart (or some organ), we can have two mutually contradictory regulations and about twoscore pieces of theoretically authoritative government guidance about how to determine places eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, some of which contradict each other and most of which utterly ignore the concerns of those who live, work, or recreate in and around historic places. And a system for implementing those regulations, applying that guidance, in which local people trying to get their cultural values considered have to engage pricy consultants – like me – to put their views into terms that bureaucrats can’t too easily ignore.

This is nuts. It’s an absurd situation, it’s anti-democratic, and it badly needs to be fixed. I’ve pretty much come to believe that it can’t be fixed without doing a whole lot of demolition first, and perhaps, just perhaps, the Trump administration will set the necessary forces in motion at least to do the demolition, if not to encourage building something better.

We need to rethink the regulatory state model; see if we can come up with something more responsive to reality, less prone to abuse. I have no reason to think that Trump and his pals are at all motivated to accomplish any such thing, but I didn’t expect much of Johnson, either.

A Commentary on the HAT Entries

Since it was my competition, my prize, and this is my blog, I’m going to give myself the luxury of commenting here on all the entries we received. Other judges -- and readers so inclined -- are welcome to do the same.

I actually was rather disappointed with all the entries, though I agreed with the other judges that all (well, at least most) had strengths, and that the winner provided the best basis for further discussion. Most seemed to me to be too narrowly focused on what professionals in the field think of as cultural heritage (old buildings, archaeological sites, and the like), and sadly, none seemed to find an alternative to some kind of government regulation. I hasten to say that I can’t think of an alternative to government regulation either, but I was hoping that some sharp, open-minded Millennial would come up with something totally different.

My summary comments on the six runners-up went like this:

·         “Doesn’t propose anything but hunker down and pontificate.”
·         “Good try, but underestimates the complexity of what’s in play. Implicitly oriented toward regulation of large, heavily funded projects.”
·         “Well meaning, but restricted to historic preservation/archaeology, and doomed by reliance on a statewide survey of interests; if you don’t lay bare your interests in advance during the survey, you’re screwed.”
·         “Well meaning, but doesn’t really outline a program, and narrowly focused on traditional historic preservation.”
·         “Interesting elements (e.g. Cultural Resource Bill of Rights) but ultimately too much an historic preservation-archaeology dictatorship.”
·         “Semi-coherent proposal for mob rule.”

Of the winner, I wrote: “Good try, and Community Heritage Boards would (maybe) be an improvement on SHPOs, etc., but they’re also likely to become petty local despots. Very east-coast perspective. Reminiscent of Randolph Hester, perhaps not surprisingly (and that’s a good thing). No comprehension of western, tribal, etc. realities, and no real federal government role.

This is not meant as a slam on anyone or everyone, and I’m grateful to all the contestants for giving us things to think about besides what I’m ignoring on Washington DC’s streets today. We’ll soon (I hope) have a dedicated website on which to discuss these matters further.

Heritage After Trump Award: The WINNER!

From the Desk of
Emily-Kate Hannapel & C. Scott Vann Historic Hillsborough, NC 27278

Dear Mr. King and Selection Committee,

Re: Heritage After Trump (HAT) Competition

As members of the North Carolina Historic Preservation Community, we were excited to learn of your competition. We are Graduate students at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro pursuing MFAs in Interior Architecture with concentrations in Historic Preservation.

We often discuss what we perceive to be relevant issues and contradictions in the world of Historic Preservation; these “radical” discussions over coffee seem ever more pressing in our Post-Trump world. The conversations that we’ve had over the last several years inform our submission. Here for your consideration, we offer an imaginative thought-experiment via Tweets that results in a N.E.W. creed for Cultural Management.

The future that we are both dedicated to creating is values-centered, just, equitable, sustainable, inclusive, and above all, community based.

Looking towards the future,

Emily-Kate Hannapel & C. Scott Vann

CREED for N.E.W. Cultural Heritage
Adopted February 1, 2018


Historic Preservation is old. It is tired. It inspires images of empty house museums, and
conference rooms of white men, lobbyists, corporate interests and real estate developers.
Historic Preservation is leveraging tax credits that can only be used by those who control the
resources. It is bureaucratic and rule focused. It obstructs rather than encourages. It is
concerned with authentic fabric more than with authentic community. It cares more about the
history of suppression, colonization, and domination than the history of human consciousness
endurance, and resistance.

Cultural Heritage is N.E.W. It is Neighborly. It is Environmental. It is Worldly. While heritage
occurs on the local level, it is connected and influenced by global concerns. Cultural Heritage is
about stewardship, building and retaining resources and knowledge for future generations. It is
for the community, by the community. It is intergenerational, looking to the past for future
solutions. Cultural Heritage carefully considers what stories our built environment is telling about
our communities. It encourages diverse stories of human ambition. Cultural Heritage examines
the fabric of the community. Communities decide what their values are and how the built
environment will represent them.

Imagine a beehive. Bees live and work together in an organized hive. Bees aren’t solitary, they
operate as a community. While each individual bee has its role, growth and sustainability are
the responsibility of the entire hive.

The N.E.W. Cultural Heritage system is based on a series of networks. A strong community is
an open system, and both transparent and accessible to all.

Forming Community Boards

The ultimate authority in Cultural Heritage is the Cultural Heritage Board (CHB) formed by the
local community.

Resources from the community, stay in the community. Community is defined by local
voting district.

Every resident within that district is a stakeholder, regardless of whether they own
property or rent in the district.

Each resident casts a vote during local elections to select their CHB.

CHB candidates can be any resident of the district. Young residents, people of color,
women, and residents from diverse backgrounds are especially encouraged to join

CHB’s are consensus driven.

One CHB member will sit on a neighboring CHB, creating a connection between each of
the neighboring boards. This encourages communities to invest in the wellbeing of their
neighbors, and creates a hive-like network between CHB’s.

A regional advisory board will be created to consult local CHB’s. CHB’s in the region will
appoint the advisory board, which will consist of experts, members of the student
population, contractors, and other individuals with relevant experiences and insights.

Identifying Resources

When CHB’s are initially formed, a survey of community resources will be conducted.
These resources may include human knowledge, historic properties, landscapes and
natural resources (as defined by the community).

CHB’s create their own Creed that discusses values, goals, and strategies for their
community’s future. This Creed is continually revisited.

Each Creed will include a conflict resolution strategy.

Case study 1: The community of Tryon, NC has identified singer Nina Simone’s
childhood home as an important resource in need of preservation. The community also
lacks a site for music courses. Using property tax funding, the community decides to
rehabilitate the home, creating practice studios for musical scholars from the region as
well as an educational exhibit on the importance of Nina Simone as a great musician
and an important Black American.

Funding and Local Economies

CHB’s are funded through local property taxes.

A resident may wish to consult the CHB in making repairs, additions, or alterations to
their home or business. Implementing the recommendations is viewed as a community
contribution, therefore, if the resident chooses to implement the recommendations from
the CHB, they will receive a reduction in their property taxes.

If residents contribute their time and service to their local CHB, they too will receive a
reduction in property taxes. CHB’s decide the value of contributions and property tax

Case Study: Christopher lives in a historic farmhouse in Yanceyville, NC. He is in the
process of restoring it, doing much of the work himself. Christopher is considering
replacing his old windows and goes before his local CHB to gather more information.
The CHB recommends repair over replacement and pairs Christopher with a contractor
who specializes in historic window repair. Christopher does the recommended repairs
and receives a property tax reduction.

Community Connections

While each CHB functions on the community level, they are connected to the broader Cultural
Heritage network.

Each community is invested in its neighboring communities and can look to them for
suggestions and support.

When new development is coming to a community, the developer must go before the
CHB for review.

CHB records are documented on an open source network. While anybody can see the
documents, actions, and information pertaining to the local CHB, only residents can
comment. All online commenting is tagged to a specific community member.

This neighborly support sustains and supports a much larger effective network that
stretches across the United States. Because all CHB records are online and transparent,
a national archive is created.

Case study 2: A regional developer wants to redevelop Ayr Mount, a historic home
along the Eno River in Hillsborough, NC as a sports center. A sports center already
exists just two miles away. The developer goes before the CHB. After extensive
discussion and conflict resolution, the CHB denies the developer’s request. The
developer is referred to the Efland CHB, a neighboring town that is seeking new
development. Efland offers the developer a comprehensive property tax package and
the sportsplex is widely success. All parties are happy.

This N.E.W. Creed has been created and supported by communities in every State. We believe
that we are stronger when we work together to create and preserve our built environment. We,
as a unified community of individuals, know that sharing across cultural boundaries creates a
better understanding of the vital source of our well-being. Our heritage will create the bridge
from our past to our future.

We the People

Attachment: A Pseudo-History by Tweet

Thursday, January 19, 2017

HAT Press Release -- and the Judges

Here's a press release regarding the "Heritage After Trump" Award. Please feel free to circulate, post, share with your favorite reporter, etc. This also serves to announce the winners.

Thomas F. King, PhD, llc
8715 1st Ave. #805D, Silver Spring MD 20910, USA
A Veteran-Owned Small Business

For Immediate Release

“Heritage After Trump” Prize Awarded

A US$1,000.00 prize has been awarded in the “Heritage After Trump” contest, sponsored by Thomas F. King, PhD LLC – a consulting firm based in Maryland.

Many people involved in managing and protecting “cultural heritage” – historic buildings, archaeological sites, antiquities, indigenous spiritual sites and landscapes, and other parts of the environment valued for cultural reasons by human communities – anticipate that the Donald Trump administration will quickly do away with many of the legal protections that such heritage enjoys. They also expect that many of the government systems set up to manage heritage, such as State Historic Preservation Officers and the National Register of Historic Places, will be transformed and cut back, if not eliminated. Many view these possibilities with fear; others think they present the opportunity to build better systems.

Grounded in Eleanor Roosevelt’s maxim that “it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness,” last November Thomas F. King, a Maryland-based private consultant specializing in cultural heritage work, announced that he was offering US$1,000.00 for “the best written description of the cultural heritage program the United States should put in place once the Trump phenomenon has run its course.” The contest rules stipulated that contestants should assume that all existing systems are eliminated, and to propose new heritage management systems that are simple, balanced, reasonable, just and equitable, open to use by and for everyone, that involve “results-oriented dialogue,” and that are “minimally bureaucratic.” Existing systems have been criticized, by King among others, for failing to meet such standards.

Seven entries were received by the contest deadline of January 10, and reviewed by a panel of judges representing a broad cross-section of heritage-related interests. On January 15th the judges agreed to award the prize to Emily-Kate Hannapel and Christopher Vann, graduate students at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The Hannapel-Vann entry will be published in King’s weblog, “CRM-Plus” (, on January 20.

In announcing the award, King stressed that all the entries had strengths, and that the award did not mean that the judges thought the Hannapel-Vann approach to be perfect. One judge with deep experience in the western U.S. worried that the winning entry reflected an eastern perspective, focusing on the actions of local governments. He warned that Indian tribes, land managing agencies, and western landowners will have very different perspectives, that will need to be accommodated in any new system.

Still, King said, “What Hannapel and Vann have done is to give us a reasonable starting point for further discussions as we work our way through the challenges of the coming years.” One of the “Heritage After Trump” judges, Jeremy Wells of Roger Williams University ( is establishing a new website to facilitate such discussions.

For further information on the HAT Award, please contact King at


Let me also take this opportunity to reveal the identities of the judges, who were chosen (by me) to represent a wide range of interests and kinds of relevant expertise, while NOT being substantially embedded in the "cultural resource management" or "historic preservation" establishments. Besides moi, the judges have been:

Jaime Bach: PhD candidate cultural anthropologist at the University of Montana, specializing in cultural heritage and perceptions of environmental change in Kiribati.

Judy Scott Feldman: Art historian, head of the National Mall Coalition, working to preserve the National Mall in Washington DC as a living historic and cultural landscape

Claudia Nissley: Former Wyoming SHPO, former head of the ACHP's (erstwhile) western office in Denver, consultant, trainer and writer specializing in heritage and consultation.

Kurt Russo: Executive Director, Native American Lands Conservancy

Jim Kent: Head of James Kent Associates, specializing in cultural ecology

Jeremy Wells: Assistant Professor of Historic Preservation, Roger Williams University

Kurt Dongoske: Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, Pueblo of Zuni

Mike Nixon: Attorney specializing in historic preservation, environmental, and tribal law

 I very much appreciate the hard work and contributions of all the judges.

Final Two HAT Runners-Up

Below are the last two of six runners-up for the HAT Award. Later today or tomorrow I’ll announce THE WINNER.

I should stress that there no ranking is implied by the order in which these runners-up have been published.

Institute for Critical Heritage and Tourism, British Columbia
The Signatories of this Document follow the 1992 World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity (Union of Concerned Scientists 1992) in asserting the following five principles:
·         We must bring environmentally damaging activities under control to restore and protect the integrity of the earth’s systems we depend on.
·         We must manage resources crucial to human welfare more effectively.
·         We must stabilize population. This will be possible only if all nations recognize that it requires improved social and economic conditions, and the adoption of effective, voluntary family planning.
·         We must reduce and eventually eliminate poverty.
·         We must ensure sexual equality, and guarantee women control over their own reproductive decisions.
We also follow the World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity in recognizing
A new ethic is required—a new attitude towards discharging our responsibility for caring for ourselves and for the earth. We must recognize the earth’s limited capacity to provide for us. We must recognize its fragility. We must no longer allow it to be ravaged. This ethic must motivate a great movement, convincing reluctant leaders and reluctant governments and reluctant peoples themselves to effect the needed changes.
As a consequence, the Signatories of this Document do not believe a one-size-fits-all heritage policy—however well-intended (Scott 1998, 2010)—can bring about this new ethic. Indeed, we believe the promotion by experts of a single-policy solution runs the risk of (1) misleading the public and other scholars into thinking potentially intractable contemporary socioenvironmental problems (Fassbinder 2016) are resolvable by modern governments and (2) reinforcing the idea that experts have either the knowledge or capabilities to enact meaningful change (Homer-Dixon 2007). A useful point of departure on this subject is this observation by Fikret Berkes and colleagues (2007:308):
Resource management is at a crossroads. Problems are complex, values are in dispute, facts are uncertain, and predictions are possible only in a limited sense. The scientific system that underlies resource management is facing a crisis of confidence in legitimacy and power. Top-down resource management does not work for a multitude of reasons, and the era of expert-knows-best decision making is all but over.
It is time for heritage experts to move beyond single-policy solutions (Ostrom et al. 2007).
Recognizing the scope and scale of the global heritage crisis (Fassbinder 2016; Union of Concerned Scientists 1992), and to avoid the trappings of naïve optimism in dealing with that crisis (Homer-Dixon 2007), we have sought a simple but realistic heritage stewardship model. We believe we have found two key strategies that define that model.

The first strategy is John Bodley’s Small Nation Solution, which confronts among many issues (e.g., elite directed growth) the core problem of population. According to Bodley (2013:vii),
The Small Nation Solution offers a very simple solution to the world’s biggest problems of poverty and environmental decline. The solution is simply that first each nation needs to be the optimum size, which means small, preferably fewer than ten million people.  Its citizens then need to reach a consensus on what they value most highly, and how these valued objects can be most justly distributed. In addition to scale and consensus, the small nation solution requires adherence to two fundamental principles that apply both within individual small nations and in a small nation world system: subsidiarity and heterogeneity. Subsidiarity means getting decision-making as close to the people as possible. Heterogeneity is about people in each small nation having maximum freedom to find the best solution(s) for their particular situation. 
Bodley’s concept of small nations is intentionally flexible, reflecting his belief in “societies being the best size to solve human problems, not in categorizing for the sake of categorizing.”
As a step towards implementing small nation solutions, the second strategy is Alan Parker’s Recommendations to Native Government Leadership. According to Parker (2012:189-91), “communities must adapt to changing conditions at a pace that will stress their social, economic, and cultural fabrics. But, we cannot afford to join our fellow Americans in massive denial. The time to plan and adapt is now.” Below is Parker’s 10-point plan (amended):
1.       Gather information on the impacts of global ecological breakdown in your region and make it available to your community.
2.      Secure sources of water.
3.      Secure sources of food.
4.      Prepare for impacts on plant and animal species.
5.      Develop relationships with neighboring governments and communities regarding disaster planning.
6.      Consider political alliances to build a renewable energy policy.
7.      Consider strategies to unite communities around the protection needed to defend treaty rights.
8.     Consider active involvement as sovereign governments in global climate change negotiations.
9.      Get youth involved in cultural education and defending their future.
10.  Work with other communities across imposed colonial boundaries on the basis of being natural regions.
Our model for heritage stewardship recognizes the links between the ideology of growth, development, and progress, and environmental thus cultural heritage destruction. To counter this, an emancipatory approach to heritage, as outlined here, begins with local control and questioning authority (Smith 2004). Designed to promote heritage resilience into the future, the result is not one but many solutions.

Richard M. Hutchings, Ph.D.
Marina La Salle, Ph.D.
Institute for Critical Heritage and Tourism, British Columbia, Canada
Berkes, Fikret, Derek Armitage, and Nancy Doubleday
2007. Synthesis: Adapting, Innovating, Evolving. In Adaptive Co-Management, edited by D. Armitage, F. Berkes, and N. Doubleday, pp. 308-27. UBC Press, Vancouver.
Bodley, John H.
2013. The Small Nation Solution: How the World’s Smallest Nations Can Solve the World’s Biggest Problems. AltaMira, Lanham.
Fassbinder, Samuel Day
2016. The Literature of the Anthropocene: Four Reviews. Capitalism Nature Socialism DOI: 10.1080/10455752.2016.1245918.
Homer-Dixon, Thomas
2007. The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization. Vintage Canada, Toronto.
Ostrom, Elinor, Marco A. Janssen, and John M. Anderies
2007. Going beyond Panaceas. PNAS 104(39):15176-8.
Parker, Alan
2012. Recommendations to Native Government Leadership. In Asserting Native Resilience, edited by Z. Grossman and A. Parker, pp. 189-92. Oregon State University Press, Corvallis.
Scott, James C.
1998. Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. Yale University Press, New Haven.
2010. The Trouble with the View from Above. CATO Institute September 8. Electronic document,
Smith, Laurajane
2004. Archaeological Theory and the Politics of Cultural Heritage. Routledge, London.
Union of Concerned Scientists
1992. 1992 World Scientists' Warning to Humanity. Electronic document,


Angela B. McArdle

A Better Cultural Heritage Program for the United States


If the United States got a do over on its cultural heritage program, and it were up to me to create it anew, I would build it around the idea that we value our cultural heritage. Cultural heritage means different things to different people, so a better cultural heritage program would allow for more flexibility and would put the burden of determining how best to value cultural heritage on the communities laying claim to that value – not on the entities (i.e. project proponents) responsible for the undertaking.



I use the term value deliberately. By “value our cultural heritage,” I don’t mean save our cultural heritage, or preserve our cultural heritage. I don’t mean mine our cultural heritage for data.
Although, obviously, these actions could very well be the way in which a community decides to value its cultural heritage. But saving, preserving, and analyzing are not the only ways by which we can value our cultural heritage, nor are they necessarily the best ways. There is no one size fits all solution so there shouldn’t be a one size fits all pro forma cultural heritage program.

I like using the verb “value” here because all its traditional meanings are applicable to this new system (see definition below). The varied meanings of “to value,” namely “to appraise,” “to consider its usefulness,” and “to appreciate,” are integral to building a cultural heritage program that is inclusive, consultative, and balanced.

Value (verb)

1.  to calculate or reckon the monetary value of; give a specified material or financial value to; assess; appraise: to value their assets.

2.  to consider with respect to worth, excellence, usefulness, or importance.

3.  to regard or esteem highly ( How the System Works
Every project that receives federal funding, or is undertaken by a federal entity, or takes place on federal land, must set aside a pre-determined percentage of their budget, established by legislation, for cultural heritage valuation.

What to do with that percentage is decided by the consulting parties. Once an undertaking is publicly announced, via some established network or (searchable) project database, there is a call for parties interested in the consultation process parties with some “skin in the game” so to speak. These consulting parties can sign on to a project by submitting a brief discussion of the cultural heritage that may be affected by the undertaking that they are interested in valuing.

These consulting parties can be locals or outsiders. They could be preservationists, archaeologists, businesses, families, tribes, organizations, cities, anything. If they can make a reasonable (obviously, “reasonable” is going to be subjective and would need to be further defined) claim on cultural heritage they wish to value that would be affected by the undertaking, then they are eligible for a seat at the consultation process.

A foreman is assigned to each project. The foreman is a state employee whose sole purpose is to guide the consultation process from beginning to end. For each project to which they are assigned, it is the foreman’s job to accept or reject consulting party applications, establish a consultation protocol (could be virtual, could be an in-person meeting, etc. whatever bests fits the situation), mediate the consultation dialogue, and decide the outcome (i.e. where the funds go and to what purpose) based on the recommendations of the consulting parties. Ideally, consensus among consulting parties is reached during the consultation process and the foreman accepts the recommendations, much in the same way a judge validates the decision(s) of a jury. However, if consensus is not reached, the foreman has the power to make a final decision based on all the information presented during the consultation process.

A possible kicker – if the law was to have teeth - funds can be returned and the project rejected if the foreman decides that the best course of action is not to go through with the project because the risk to cultural heritage is too great for a compromise to be reached. However, this should be unlikely, as there is a monetary incentive for consulting parties to come up with creative solutions that allow them to use the funds provided by the project to value their cultural heritage. Possible use of the funds could include (but are certainly not limited to) plans to:

Conduct an archaeological investigation
Preserve or conserve material objects or portions of the project area Mitigate damages to cultural resources
Establish a cultural heritage center/museum/education program Document cultural heritage (e.g. oral histories, 3D mapping, etc.)
Publish media (e.g. print and/or digital) celebrating cultural heritage of the area Establish a scholarship fund for individuals affiliated with affected cultural communities Strengthen infrastructure that supports lifeways of affected communities
Purchase parcels of land the project intended to use to protect them from adverse effects Host festivals/symposiums/conferences focused on cultural heritage
Fund a paid position that keeps tabs on the projects’ impacts on cultural heritage
Safeguard biological/ecological resources in the area that would preserve cultural lifestyles Construct edifices, memorials, art pieces, etc.
Host a fundraising gala/dinner intended to raise even more money to value cultural heritage

The possibilities for how best to value cultural heritage are bound only by the desires and creativity of the consulting parties, and the pre-determined budget set aside by the project proponents. In this way, each consultation can have a unique outcome, custom tailored to the consulting parties that have a stake in the cultural heritage affected by a given project. Additionally, and advantageously for the project proponents, there isn’t the chance of a project going overbudget because the amount is pre-determined by a set percentage established by legislation. Consulting parties will know this amount prior to making their recommendations, so they know what is feasible given the monetary constraints and can plan accordingly. The funds can go toward one large project supported by the consulting parties, or be divided equitably between the consulting parties there is no set rule on distribution.

Once a decision is made (either by consensus of the consulting parties, or by the foreman) the funds are distributed, the foreman documents the results of the consultation, and the project either proceeds unencumbered, proceeds with alterations, or is rejected. The documentation of the consultation process submitted by the foreman should be kept in a digital repository where the public can access it both for reasons of transparency and to foster ideas for future consultations on what works, what doesn’t, and how different groups negotiate valuing their cultural heritage.

The flow chart below depicts the chain of events at work in this system.

The Bureaucracy

To implement this program there are two levels of bureaucracy needed. The state appointed foremen and a federal agency that manages the repository of consultation results and provides support to the state foremen. How many state foremen are appointed depends on the size, needs, and budget of the state. State foremen should be dually qualified in alternative dispute resolution techniques (e.g. evaluation, negotiation, conciliation, mediation, and arbitration) and cultural heritage preservation.


·         Set Costs: Project proponents automatically build in cultural heritage as a fixed part of their budget and do not have to worry about going through a check the box process (e.g. always hiring a CRM firm) that may or may not make sense for their project. A foreman is automatically assigned to their project who will guide the consultation process and facilitate communication between the project proponents and consulting parties. No one is caught off guard and project proponents know what to expect, as do consulting parties.

·         Flexibility: This system allows for a wide range of outcomes. Say there are old buildings on a lot that are projected for demolition so a new building can be constructed. Perhaps no one cares about the old buildings. If no one cares, there is no reason to preserve them, or value them, but say people are interested in preserving the lifestyles of those who lived or worked in those buildings. The buildings can be destroyed but funds can be used to establish an apprenticeship that promotes the work that was done in those buildings (e.g. dying textiles, car manufacturing, etc.). Perhaps no one wants to save the old buildings, but they do want to honor them in some way. Funds can go to making a movie about their history and documenting their features before destruction. Perhaps lots of people want to save the old buildings. Funds can go to relocating the buildings, preserving the buildings in situ and incorporating them into the new project, or the funds can be returned to the project proponents if consensus among the consulting parties is that there is no feasible way to value the cultural heritage if the project goes ahead.

·         Inclusivity: If no consulting parties are interested in the project, the funds set aside for valuing cultural heritage are returned to the project proponents and the undertaking can efficiently proceed. If there are parties interested in cultural heritage that may be affected by the project, they are all invited to the consultation table. There is no pro forma qualification that determines who may be interested. Anyone can apply to be a consulting party: CRM firms, universities, concerned citizens, Native American tribes, locals affected by the view- shed, town or city councils, businesses, politicians, non-profits, churches, professional guilds, etc. Anybody that can make a reasonable claim on why there is cultural heritage affected by the project that is of interest to them gets a voice in the process.

·         Encourages Public Engagement: Because there are funds automatically set aside by the project proponents to value cultural heritage before the project even gets underway, there is a monetary incentive for individuals and groups to get involved and have a say where those funds get directed. If they take part in the consultation process, they could secure funds for valuing the cultural heritage with which they feel a connection.

·         Balanced: This approach doesn’t hinder progress of new undertakings; it streamlines it. Project proponents know ahead of time that funds are going to be diverted to interested consulting parties and there is an incentive for a quick resolution to be reached so that the funds can be released to the communities and the project can get underway. At the same time, this approach values the cultural heritage that consulting parties care about, not an esoteric idea of something that meets pre-set criteria for conservation because of its age or style. Consulting communities bring the cultural heritage they are invested in to the table, and they choose how best to value it.


·         Corruption: In this cultural heritage system, the state-appointed foremen hold a considerable amount of power for greenlighting or halting projects. Consequently, there is the possibility that their appointments may be politically-driven rather than qualifications-driven. Additionally, if the foremen lack ethical fortitude, they could be bought out by either project proponents or consulting parties desiring a specific outcome from the consultation process, becoming ineffectual puppets of whosever pocket they reside.

·         Insufficient Budget: States allocate funds differently and a system like this that assigns a foreman to every project may run into insufficient funding for the number of foremen needed to carry the work load.

·         Consultation Gridlock/Dissatisfaction: If too many consulting parties are heavily invested in the cultural heritage possibly affected by an undertaking, reaching consensus may become impossible. Giving the foreman the power to make the ultimate decision can help alleviate this gridlock but may leave some consulting parties dissatisfied with the results of the consultation process.

·         Requires Public Vigilance: The onus of identifying and advocating for cultural heritage that could be affected by an undertaking shifts from the project proponent to the public. There are both positives and negatives to this shift. The downside is that it requires the public to be vigilant and continually check in on new projects to see if there is cultural heritage of interest to them that may be at risk. This system does not require a project proponent to search for and identify cultural heritage that they may affect; rather, consulting parties have the responsibility to make their voices heard and identify the cultural heritage (or the possibility of something of cultural value) that may be affected by an undertaking. Only the things of interest to the consulting parties are taken into consideration.


I believe a better cultural heritage program for the United States would focus on valuing cultural heritage, with that value designated and defined by those closest connected to it. This cultural heritage program is simple, easy to implement, and is inclusive of all parties expressing interest, without burdening a project proponent with duties to preserve heritage that is of no interest or value to anyone. It engages the public and puts funds back into the communities – hopefully in useful, creative, and meaningful ways – instead of only funding CRM practitioners and the generation of grey literature. I think the benefits of an efficiently stream-lined but still consultation-based cultural heritage program like this, greatly outweigh the potential drawbacks. This program gives the power to the people, and lets them value their cultural heritage on their terms.