Proposals and Session Notes

In many sessions, note-takers volunteered to take some notes on the discussion.  If a session below links to notes, you’re in luck! Any session with no notes: we had no volunteers for note-taking, so you’re out of luck.

Proposal Title: Building Community through Neighborhood History
Name: Erik Christiansen
Proposal Description: How can history and/or historic preservation help to build community? And how can it help us to reimagine our neighborhoods in Providence, so that they are more inclusive, more welcoming, and less isolated? Session notes here.

Proposal Title: The museum of formative historical experience (with a special exhibit on grim historical interpretation mistakes)
Name: Janaya Kizzie
Proposal Description: What formative experience made you the kind of person who goes to a conference about hacking heritage? Our museum will be made of stories on note cards, a few drawings and maybe a few artifacts, all representing interactions with history that changed lives. What themes and wings will arise? What can we take from these stories? What has to stay in the museum?

Proposal Title: There Is No Such Thing As A Vacant Lot
Name: Angela DiVeglia, Laura Brown-Lavoie
Proposal Description: Providence Public Library is working on a digital tour exploring the history of Providence’s unbuilt landscape–parking lots, city parks, empty lots, brownfields, and other open places. The library’s current Creative Fellow is a poet who grows food in a formerly abandoned city lot. Join us for a conversation about vacancy, urban farming, land as palimpsest, wastelands, urban wilderness, and what the earth remembers.

Proposal Title: Deconstructing Power Structures in Archives to Create Authentic Community Engagement
Name: Kate Wells, Angela DiVeglia, Taino Palmermo
Proposal Description: PPL and RWU are partnering to create a free workshop for community practitioners offering practical skills for thinking about organizational legacy, records management and future storytelling. As we develop this workshop, our conversations have centered around issues of power, authority and partnership. Starting from a review of the Appraisal approach in “Identifying & Dismantling White Supremacy in Archives” (UCLA, 2016), conversation in this session will reflect the following questions: *How can large institutions sincerely address criticism of previous disingenuous acts of community engagement and rebuild relationships with community practitioners based on service, trust and cooperation? *When do historical materials NOT need to go to a repository and instead stay within the community who created them? How does this impact authority and access? *What are the implications of a community-based participatory approach on the structure and work of cultural heritage institutions?

Proposal Title: Dead Zones: Exploring the Roles of Historic Cemeteries, Vacant Lots, and Wild Spaces in our Communities
Name: Erik Christiansen
Proposal Description:Every neighborhood in Providence (and other urban areas) contains spaces that are not often seen as useful (or as currently in-use), but that nevertheless may play a part in the life of a community. What defines these dead spaces, and how have they been used in the past or are used currently? How might we rethink their uses for the future in ways that would benefit communities, without doing damage to their heritage?

Proposal Title: Beyond Repair (Session did not run as proposers could not come)

Name: Kate Irvin and Anna Rose Keefe
Proposal Description: Heritage is a complex system of ideas and myths, that surrounds and defines objects deemed “culturally significant,” enough to preserved. Traditionally, museums have prioritized seemingly-pristine objects over items that show signs of wear and use. What types of narratives are unlocked when attention is given to well-used, remade and repaired objects? If we consider repair to be, as Elizabeth Spelman puts it, “the creative destruction of brokenness,” then how can we embody the ethos of repair in the work we do each day? How would that change the cultural heritage sector? What would a repaired world look like, and how can we work towards that future?

Proposal Title: Let’s fix Wikipedia real quick
Name: Janaya Kizzie
Proposal Description: As the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities Arts and Culture Research Fellow, I will be adding entries about artists, cultural movers-and-shakers and cultural organizations to Wikipedia throughout 2019. During this session I’ll talk a little about the project, answer any questions about how Wikipedia can work for humanities endeavors, and ask some questions for group discussion: what are the heritage-related things about Rhode Island culture missing from Wikipedia? How do you use, or avoid, Wikipedia in your own work? What does it mean to be in, or not in, Wikipedia? Session notes here.

Proposal Title: First Do No Harm
Name: Traci Picard

Proposal Description: We will examine and interpret the records from the Medicine Chest of the Sally, an ill-fated voyage from Providence to Africa which carried enslaved people to America. What was in the medicine chest? What did these products do? What can we learn about history through the lens of medicines, especially plant medicines?

Proposal Title: Revolutionary Rhodies

Name: Peter Fay

Proposal Description: What led to thousands of Pawtucket and Central Falls textile workers to support the Communist Party, and join the strikes and Unemployed Councils organized at Communist Party headquarters on Weybosset St. that rocked the state in the 1920s and 1930s? Is life today really so different from when corporate barons dictated social life, cut living standards, and threw the poor into the streets? Discuss then and now, and why labor’s heritage has been forgotten in R.I. with a colleague and comrade of Ann Burlak (the ”Red Flame” of Rhode Island, the female leader of the strikers).

Proposal Title: Pass The Mic: Podcasts as Collaborative Projects About Local Histories

Name: Jim McGrath

Proposal Description: Podcasts are everywhere; you’re probably listening to one right now as you read this session proposal. This session will be a chance for local heritage workers interested in podcasts to think about this form of storytelling in the context of collaboration. As we think about how podcasts might fit into the work we already do to tell stories about Providence, we should also think about whose voices are muted or absent, what perspectives on the city have come to dominate or overshadow the variety of lives in our twenty-five neighborhoods, and where we might re-think our ideas of collaboration to amplify (and record, and publish) new audio stories.  Session notes here.

Proposal Title: Mt Hope Music Mural: An Intergenerational Oral History Project (session did not run)

Name: Dannie Ritchie

Proposal Description: On September 16th 2016 there was an unveiling of a community mural under the walking bridge of Billy Taylor Park as part of their ongoing oral history project of the Mount Hope Neighborhood: East Side. At the event attendees enjoyed an oral history of the neighborhood and storytelling performances from local artists. The mural is part of a larger oral history project highlighting the stories and recollections of life-long Mt. Hope residents and intended to reflect the neighborhood’s history in order to inform the present and inspire the future.

Proposal Title: Training Heritage/Preservation Professionals

Name: Susan Smulyan

Proposal Description: Let’s talk about how to train the next generation of heritage/preservation professionals. What should students know? Where is the field going? What do current students think is the future of heritage and/or preservation? What changes would you like to see in training programs to better meet the needs of the heritage sector?  Session notes here.

Proposal Title: The Public and History: Preserving and Leveraging History in RI

Name: Kaitlynne Ward

Proposal Description: Rhode Island has a major opportunity to expand access to the rich and diverse history documented in our State Archives by building a new State Archives and History Center. The Center would create a highly visible, public space where adults and students can come to learn more about themselves and our state. We know that historic sites and museums generate tourism dollars. The proposed new facility also has the potential to build community state wide, as Rhode Islanders from all corners use it to explore the history of our people and places. What might the other public benefits of a new State Archives and History Center be? Join us for a conversation about the possibilities offered by a new civic space focused on RI history, and share your thoughts on how to make this a reality.  Session notes here.

Proposal Title: Preservation in the Anthropocene

Name: Marisa Brown
Proposal Description: Preservationists are increasingly attending to preserving and interpreting “sites of conscience” and difficult histories — but the field has not yet begun to grapple meaningfully with the preservation and interpretation of sites of environmental degradation.  If a “memorial” serves as both a commemoration and as a warning, these sites could play a role in expanding the public’s awareness of the history of climate change at sites of industrial heritage or environmental disaster.  Let’s share — what are programs that you know about that are setting out to do this work? What do you think those in the preservation field should be doing to center these stories? Are there any sites in Rhode Island that should be marked and memorialized? Session notes here.

Proposal Title: Documenting Providence History with Images and Crowdsourcing

Name: Maureen Taylor

Proposal Description: How can we collect both images and memories of Providence’s past? In the mid-twentieth century, architectural historian John Hutchins Cady, photographed Providence. He left us a pictorial archive of the city as he knew it. As the wrecking ball knocks down our past, how can we be like Cady and leave a record of the city behind?

Proposal Title: Saving Superman
Name: Rachel Robinson
Proposal Description: What would you do to save, reuse, or celebrate the Industrial Trust Building?  Session notes here.