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Friday, January 20, 2017

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.

3 comments:

Rod Brown said...

How does historic preservation rank on a list of issues we ought to be concerned about? I think we've stepped over the investigative priorities threshold between cultural history and species survival.

If we want people, generally, to care about historic preservation,much less do anything supportive, then feed them, keep them healthy, educate them. Hungry, sick, and ignorant people couldn't care less about their or anybody else's heritage.

Rod Brown said...

How does historic preservation rank on a list of issues we ought to be concerned about? I think we've stepped over the investigative priorities threshold between cultural history and species survival.

If we want people, generally, to care about historic preservation,much less do anything supportive, then feed them, keep them healthy, educate them. Hungry, sick, and ignorant people couldn't care less about their or anybody else's heritage.

Rod Brown said...

How does historic preservation rank on a list of issues we ought to be concerned about? I think we've stepped over the investigative priorities threshold between cultural history and species survival.

If we want people, generally, to care about historic preservation,much less do anything supportive, then feed them, keep them healthy, educate them. Hungry, sick, and ignorant people couldn't care less about their or anybody else's heritage.