Thursday, November 24, 2016


Back on November 11, I announced creation of the “Heritage After Trump” award. Two weeks having passed, and a few loose ends having been gathered together, I want to post about it again and encourage everyone who’s interested to consider competing for the US$1,000.00 award.

Below is what I said on November 11.

Suppose that the Trump/Pence administration is successful in doing away with U.S. environmental impact assessment laws and regulations, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). We have no more environmental assessments or impact statements, no more Section 106 review, no more State or Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, no more Advisory Council on Historic Preservation or National Register of Historic Places. Of course, this probably isn’t what the TrumpPencers will do – instead they’ll just bully the government’s employees into making the laws meaningless – but for simplicity’s sake suppose everything gets swept away. 

Suppose further that the voters turn the rascals out after a few years, and we are in a position to rebuild a national program of cultural heritage impact assessment and management. What should we do?

For reasons that I’ve discussed in more books and journal articles than anybody cares to recall, I don’t think we ought just to put the “old” systems back in place. We ought to recognize that those systems have deficiencies, some of which actually make them more vulnerable than they need be to attack by Trump-types, while some simply make them not very helpful in protecting the aspects of the environment to which people attach cultural value. 

So, I’m offering a thousand bucks (US$1,000) to the person, consortium, group, organization, gang, or crowd that produces the best written description of the cultural heritage program the United States should put in place once the Trump phenomenon has run its course. 

“Best” means that the program is:

·         Inclusive both in terms of the tangible and intangible environmental variables it addresses and the people, communities, and groups whose values are addressed;

·         Minimally bureaucratic – not relying more than absolutely necessary on government oversight bodies and documentation;

·         Consultative – involving open but results-oriented dialogue among participants;

·         Simple enough to make it accessible to and usable by ordinary citizens;

·         Open to use by and for all kinds of citizens;

·         Just and equitable in its treatment  of people, other life-forms, and communities;

·         Reasonable in terms of time and financial costs imposed on all involved; and

·         Balanced in relation to other needs, values, and priorities.

Describe your proposed program in ten typewritten pages or fewer, and send it as an attachment to email to 

Proposals will be judged by a small team of knowledgeable people that I’m currently assembling, and the award will be announced and made on inauguration day, January 20th, 2017.

That remains the description of the competition. I’ve now assembled a small group of experts – none of them members of the existing historic preservation, environmental impact assessment, or “cultural resource” establishment, and all thoughtful, wise people – to help me judge entries and select a winner. Should there not be a winner, the thousand bucks will go to a charity selected by the judges. To safeguard their privacy, I’m not going to reveal the names of the judges.

Based on what I’ve seen so far being bandied about on Facebook by people thinking about the prize, I think I need to stress that you should NOT think of existing institutions as immutable or necessary. About the only thing I can think of that’s good about The Trumpeting is that it may blow away a lot of stuff that’s impeded our having a world-class cultural heritage program. Among the stuff that may get blown away, for good or ill, are the State and Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the Section 106 process, the Council on Environmental Quality and its regulations, large chunks of the Environmental Protection Agency, and hunks of the National Park Service. I suggest that you not assume any of these to be necessary parts of your imagined heritage program. Think outside the box.

The deadline for submissions – to give the judges time to cogitate on and discuss them, is January 1st, 2017.  So you have a month and change; good thinking!

1 comment:

Dr. Dana Pertermann said...

When I have something to preserve in the middle of Wyoming, I'll call you first!

Dana Pertermann