Proposals (2016)

Submitted proposal topics appear on this page, listed in alphabetical order. Didn’t have time to propose a session? You can submit a topic on Saturday (before 9:15am): check in with Marisa at registration for details!

Questions? Email Marisa Brown: mbrown[at]genieloci[dot]com

Session Proposals


Activating Didactic Narratives: Public History, Storytelling, and Rhode Tour

Author: Logan Hinderliter

Description: How do you make drab narratives fab? How does multimedia not only illustrate text, but increase comprehension and engagement? How do you reach online audiences with cultural and historic content on a mobile platform? We hope to gain input and insight on ways that individuals activate various didactic narratives with editing and multimedia content to transform plain narratives into compelling stories in the digital sphere. Come learn about ways that the Council is tackling these questions and developing a statewide digital storytelling application! Please bring your narratives, stories, and texts that you’d like to activate!

Tags: mobile applications, storytelling, mobile content, multimedia


The Cat Parade: Aligning the self-interests of independent organizations for individual and collective gain

Author: Lee Wright

Description:My focus has always been on engagement: How do we create opportunities for people to engage with history and spark an interest in learning more?

Having created platforms, campaigns, and events to do that, the question becomes: What is the stumbling block to organizations individually using these and other tools and initiatives in order to help themselves and achieve our larger goal of greater engagement broadly?

We’ll go around the room for intros, I’ll kick off the discussion with some of the things I’ve worked on and the results, and we’ll look to others to describe their efforts and ways we can, individually and collectively, make a bigger impact–without depending on another grant or hiring more people.

Send me a note if you’d care to discuss in advance: Lee@TheHistoryList.com.

Tags: increasing public engagement, marketing historic sites and events, increase public awareness and involvement


Community Archives: Seizing the Means of Historical Production

Author: Angela DiVeglia

Description: Who decides what is important, what is preserved, and which stories are told? Is the current archival/ historiographic model limiting our ability to fully and accurately document the lives of working people, minorities, immigrants, and others who fall outside traditional historical narratives? What happens if the people documenting and facilitating access to stories are those whose stories are being preserved?

This session is an opportunity to discuss concepts such as collective memory, accountability, legacy, ownership, accessibility, and the responsibilities of the history-maker, as well as to ask big questions about why we participate in heritage work and documentation in the first place. It also offers a chance to share successful (or unsuccessful!) models of community archives, micro-museums, and non-traditional historical documentation.

Tags: public history, people’s history, community archives, community museums, collective memory, accessibility


Contemporary Art in Historic Spaces

Author: Lori Urso

Description: Be it fine art, sculpture, fiber or industrial art – contemporary art works can have a powerful impact in historic spaces. They provide a perspective from which to appreciate architecture, highlight endangered places, inspire contemporary practice, and enliven a historic site with contemporary relevance. How can your site benefit? Or, how might you visualize your own art in one of Rhode Island’s cultural gems?

Tags: Contemporary Art, Historic Sites, Art, History



Designed to Connect Students in their Communities: Lost and Found

Author: Andy Cutler

Description: Have been working on student acclimation program for over two years and recently presented on this topic at Yale’s Civic Leadership Conference.

Explore a new platform on integrating and acclimating students (and faculty) to Providence (and Rhode Island); thus maximizing their experience while studying here. Most cities (with the exception of Philadelphia) and colleges have no programming in place to acclimate students to their communities (beginning with the admission tour process (and admissions materials created)—>then moving on to orientation week —–>and available throughout their four years of study. This needs to change as students are clamoring to know more about the assets and resources residing in the communities they have chosen to reside/study in.

I have worked with hundreds of college students over the past decade in the Greater Providence Area (primarily from Brown and RISD), have had a number of interns and done research to confirm where the blind spots in the acclimation/integration process involving students. There are 35,000 students (and 70,000 in the state of Rhode Island).

This is a replicable platform that could be piloted in Providence (at Brown and other schools) and brought to other smaller cities in the US with significant college/university student populations (e.g., New Haven, Pittsburgh).

Tags: Engagement, Design, App, Technology, Data Mining, Acclimation, Mentorship, Experiential Learning


Forming Connection to Place

Author: Brent Runyon

Description: How do practitioners make the case to new residents of neighborhoods that the history of that place is worth preserving and recognizing, especially when those new residents are immigrants from countries that share little history with those who built and occupied those neighborhoods for generations? SHOULD that early history matter? How can new residents make the place their own, and claim their own history as an important part of a place’s heritage? And what does this mean for the sustainability of the neighborhood?

Tags: historic preservation, immigration, sense of place


Green Movement and Historic Preservation

Author: Jason Martin

Description: Historic preservation and sustainability are two terms that should go hand-in-hand. Yet the conflict between the two grows as technology advances and more homeowners want to, and are encouraged for economic and other reasons, to go “green” by adding insulation, solar panels, etc. There is a disconnect between preservation and green advocates that must be overcome in order for both to move forward in the coming years. This session will look at different aspects of achieving this goal.

Tags: Historic preservation, Sustainability


Hardboiled history and grotesque genealogy: retelling genre fiction

Author: Janaya Kizzie

Description: Janaya Kizzie and Rekha Rosha, leaders in local writer’s groups Frequency Writers and the Historical Fiction (HiFi) Collaborative, will explore with the audience the sociopolitical uses of genre fiction—specifically noir and horror—to “hack” the dominant Eurocentric view of the past.

Tags: creative writing, historical fiction, historical narratives, history, noir, horror


The Horcrux Theory: Immortality and Adaptive Reuse

Author: Sneha Murali

Description: Question of what it means for a building to take a stand in time is a topic that I have been researching as an extension of my final presentation for the theory of adaptive reuse class which later evolved as my independent study called the Horcrux Theory: Immortality and Adaptive Reuse. It is an alternate perspective of how the concept of immortality and the soul can be tied back to a built form.

Tags: adaptive reuse,soul,immortality,popular culture


How can laypeople and built heritage professionals work more effectively with each other?

Author: Jeremy C. Wells

Description: According to social science research, everyday people perceive, value, and experience built heritage in a substantially different way than the professionals who work in this field (e.g., preservation planners, preservation architects, architectural conservators, historic site administrators, staff from preservation advocacy organizations). Both groups of people have a common stake in built heritage, but have difficulty communicating with each other because of radical differences in their perspectives. Heritage practitioners use acronyms and fact-based, objective descriptions that often alienate most stakeholders. Conversely, laypeople use stories, emotional descriptions, and complex meanings that are difficult, if not impossible, to reduce to the kinds of “facts” that are required by heritage conservation doctrine and law (e.g., the regulatory environment). Recognizing that both perspectives have merit, this session will explore ways that these two groups can work more effectively with each other by focusing on the differences and similarities in the perspectives of laypeople and practitioners. Potential topics include how professionals can learn to communicate in the language of most stakeholders and educational approaches to help laypeople understand the regulatory and doctrinal foundations of built heritage conservation practice.

Tags: historic preservation, heritage conservation, professionals, laypeople, communication, understanding, doctrine, law, regulatory environment


Inspiring Pride in Place: Doors Open Rhode Island

Author: Caroline Stevens

Description: For decades, cities around the world have been organizing successful “Open House” festivals that all share a common concept: providing special public access to the great places and spaces of our cities, for free. I formerly managed Open House Chicago, the signature event of the Chicago Architecture Foundation and the largest weekend architecture festival in the city. I am now in the early stages of adapting this program for Rhode Island.

Doors Open Rhode Island is a nonprofit organization committed to inspiring pride and investment in our communities through connecting the public to the great places and spaces of Rhode Island. Doors Open Rhode Island will be a key launching point for Rhode Island exploration through a series of public programs planned throughout the year, culminating in an annual weekend festival.

I need your feedback on how to shape this program to meet the needs of Rhode Island.

Tags: civic pride, tourism, preservation, architecture, history, fun!


Ignoring Rhode Island’s oldest building and its first Governor

Author: James Alan Egan

Description: Why do Rhode Island historians and archaeologists ignore the enigmatic 28-foot-tall stone tower in Touro Park, Newport. Are they afraid they’ll get embroiled in the controversy about who built it? (Vikings! Templars! Chinese! Elizabethans! …)

Most Rhode Island history books completely ignore the first Governor of Rhode Island. He was appointed by King Charles II in 1663 and was reelected seven times. When he died, over a thousand people attended his funeral. He ruled over Rhode Island when it became a safe haven for persecuted religious groups like the Jews and the Quakers. And no, it was not Roger Williams. Roger was never Governor.

Why did this first Governor end up owning the Newport Tower and ask to buried 500 feet to the west of it?

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, people came from all over America to visit the Newport Tower, yet nowadays few Rhode Islanders study it. When so much can be learned from history, should we accept the attitude of many locals: “We prefer it to be a mystery.”

Tags: Creative thinking, Interdisciplinary thinking, Rhode Island in the 1600s, Governor Benedict Arnold


Latino History and Heritage: ¿A Donde Vamos?

Author:Marta V. Martinez

Description: This is an invitation to meet informally with anyone in Rhode Island and the region who is interested in preserving Latino history and heritage beyond collecting oral histories. This is for those who wish to learn more about each other’s work and to brainstorm ways to collaborate, share data and to begin an ongoing discussion. How can we bring more Latinos to the table to learn about the value of preserving their heritage?

Tags:  Latino history, Latino heritage, oral history


Making History Matter

Author:Marjory O’Toole

Description: How can local historians, academics, museum staff and community members work together to make local histories matter? Can/should academics write and talk in ways that are engaging and accessible to the public? Can/should  local historians gather and present information in ways that gain the respect of the academy? Can/should community members give up treasured local legends that don’t hold up to scrutiny?

Tags: local history, best practices, engaging the public, exhibitions


Museums of the Recent Past

Author: Sarah Zurier

Description: The glorious ziggurat built for Apex Stores in Pawtucket (1969). Architect Ira Rakatansky’s East Side home (1958). A neighborhood corner store. A suburban strip mall. A McMansion. These buildings could become the museums that tell the history of the second half of the 20th century. What places are emblematic of Rhode Island’s recent past? How do you interpret the recent past at your historic site or in your heritage programs? How do you walk the line between nostalgia and history?

Tags: historic preservation, recent past, modern architecture, interpretation


Nimble: Responsive Storytelling on the Fly

Author: C. Morgan Grefe

Description: Even as technology has gained ground in interpretive experiences, many of our sites and programs rely on traditional, guide-led approaches. But, we know that not all tours are made equal, and often that has more to do with the process of storytelling than all of the details in the tour. So how to get to all of the desired points while still focusing on the craft of telling a good story that engages our audience? And how do we adjust, in real time, our approach and narrative in response to our visitors–their questions, body language, comments? How can we make our stories responsive to their interests while still addressing the planned focus?

Tags: storytelling, visitor experience


Past versus Present: PRESERVATION versus DESIGN

Markus Berger

Description: In our present societies we view ‘history’ as separate from the ‘present’. The building once ‘produced’, after a 50-year period, enters the realm of the historic and is no longer treated as a design-object but as a history-object; it belongs to the past. The right to alter such objects no longer belongs to the present generation and the most ‘appropriate’ approach suggested is ‘stewardship’, i.e. a form of curatorial management of the built world.(1)
We think, act and work in opposition of the past versus the present. Heritage, that we often objectify, idolize and mummify, and contemporary design, that is often self-obsessed about its visual form and its technology. Herbert Simon best defines “to design” as: “to devise courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones.” Why are we not able to connect past and present trough design, trough innovative and thoughtful combinations, allowing design to be used as a tool for preservation and therefore able to positively Hack Heritage?
(1) Frederica Goffi, Carlton University

Tags: past, present, preservation, design, opposition


Re-mixing Cultural Heritage

Author: Ari Davidow

Description: There is a wealth of cultural heritage digital artifacts created over the last couple of decades: lectures, concerts, images, workshops, often captured by non-professional afficionados. If they are baby boomers, they are now retiring and tossing stuff. What is current best practice, and where do we want to go in terms of preserving these materials, making them discoverable, and ensuring that they get online, chunked, in ways that facilitate re-mixing in new cultural heritage, MOOCs, or whatever.

Tags: MOOCs, preservation


Rescuing Local Retail Heritage

Author: Anne Holland

Description: From New York City’s most beloved toy store to San Francisco’s landmark bookstore, locally owned heritage retailers in cities across the US are closing down due to rent rises that only chains can afford. Providence’s retail institutions are under similar pressure.

On one hand, long live capitalism and market forces. On the other hand, a beloved neighborhood institution helps the bottom line of the city through creating a sense of unique place.

Should preservationists concern themselves with trying to help the retailers that make our city feel like home generation after generation, or should they silo themselves into only caring about buildings?
Tags: Retail, economic forces, landlords, shops, stores, local business


Sustaining Historic Preservation

Author: Clark Schoettle

Description: How does historic preservation in the US compare with other industrialized countries? what can we learn from other countries? Are the existing incentives and regulatory controls sufficient to protect and encourage sustained historic preservation in the US? Are we able to adequately balance private property rights with public benefit? Should the preservation of historic buildings and districts be mandatory, or voluntary? Will historic preservation goals ultimately win or lose when confronted with political pressure and economic development goals? Can we better institutionalize historic preservation in city planning and economic development?
Tags: Incentives for Historic Preservation


Talking About A Revolution: Why Civics and Local History Matter

Author: Bill Hasley

Description: Local knowledge inspires civic attachment. Civic attachment inspires citizenship and neighborliness. Neighborliness is the key to a healthy and happy and prosperous community. Therefore, local history and local knowledge are indispensable.


Towards a new plan for heritage management in war and conflict zones

Author: Clayton Kindred

Description: Both the United Nations and the United States Department of Defense have developed policy that specifically addresses the management of heritage objects (or “cultural property”) in war and conflict zones. However, much of this policy is antiquated, and is focused on protecting heritage from looting, appropriation and illicit trade. As such, this policy is ill-fitted for addressing how modern groups such as the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda use heritage objects for theater and spectacle.

Accordingly, heritage policy in war and conflict zones needs to be updated. But what would this look like? Should soldiers be deployed to guard and protect things like archaeological sites, ancient ruins and tombs? Does the location of heritage now play a role in deciding how groups like the Islamic State advance and govern? How should airstrikes and military movement function in areas of significant heritage?

Tags: war, terrorism, ancient history, policy, cultural property


Who Cares About The Truth?

Author: Ruth Taylor

Description: Do the facts matter? If history is narrative, and if we all experience our own realities, what is the proper place for the facts? Are the emotional realities of today more important than the factual details of the past? Do we study and recreate the past in service of our goals for today, or do we look to the past to inform our analysis of the road to the future? Donald Trump says that thousand of American Muslims celebrated in New Jersey while the World Trade Center towers fell. His story is factually untrue, though the myth achieved some emotional reality. Or did it, and does it matter?

Tags: historical narrative, manipulating the past, applied history. public history, relevance


Who’s Studying Slavery?

Author: Marjory O’Toole

Description: An invitation to meet informally with other people in the region – academics, activists, museum personnel, amateur historians, descendants – currently researching African or Native American slavery in New England to become more familiar with each other’s work and to brainstorm ways to collaborate and share data.

Tags: slavery, local history

Session Notes (Google Doc)

John-Nicholas-Brown-Center-1200x1200


css.php