Consultation and Cultural Heritage: Let Us Reason Together -- the new book by Claudia Nissley and me on the nuts and bolts of consultation under laws like Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act -- has emerged from the printer and is available from major booksellers and especially from its publisher, Left Coast Press -- See http://www.lcoastpress.com/book.php?id=504.
Let Us Reason is built around the definition of "consultation" found in the Section 106 regulations of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, but it tries to generalize so as to be relevant to any consultation, anywhere in the world, under any environmental, historic preservation, cultural heritage, or planning law or no law at all.
All too often, "consultation" about cultural heritage and environmental impacts is reduced to pro-forma exercises like public hearings, comments on documents, and the like, in which maybe people excercise freedom of speech, but nobody's obligated to do anything about what they say. Consultation ought to be a two-way street, a discussion, an argument, a reasoned discourse leading to some kind of conclusion that everyone feels was fairly reached. That seems pretty simple and obvious, but it's remarkable how seldom consultation about government decision-making seems to work that way.
Our book doesn't offer any earth-shaking insights, but we hope it will remind people of some very basic principles that most of us learn as children but sadly seem to forget when we become adult bureaucrats and consultants. We think it will be useful to professionals involved in cultural heritage work, environmental impact assessment, and land use planning, as well as to communities, landowners, indigenous groups, and organizations trying to affect plans for potentially damaging projects.