Getting from Maps to Soil: Different Scales of Action

The highlight of this week was attending the Branching Out field team’s Teach-Back! Ericka, Sasha, Shanasia, and I traveled to Fairsted to listen to their presentation on all that they had accomplished this week. Since we had met them and gone on the Black Heritage Trail together a few weeks ago, it was great to see their familiar faces again and hear about what they’ve been up to!

I was so amazed by all of the work they had done! During the Teach-Back, the team took us to at least four different areas of the site where they had worked on planting, weeding, and removing plants. We learned about the tools they used and the names of the numerous plants that they planted.


The Branching Out Team talks about removing the weeds in the area behind them.


Quite a turnout for the Teach-Back!

During the Teach-Back, the team also passed around a planting plan that they had used throughout the week. The plan reminded me of my Appomattox Court House maps, and as I looked at it, I realized the connection between my work and theirs.


Shanasia, now a pro at reading planting plans (see her recent post), examines this one.

Listening to the Branching Out team reminded me that if not for people like them, the dreams and imaginations of landscape architects might just be on paper. As I sit back in front of computer and draw trees on the Appomattox maps, I now have a renewed appreciation for those who might take these maps to the site.

As a whole, I’ve been thinking a lot about scales this week. In college, one professor of mine always talked about how one has to address urban issues at the appropriate scale (local, city, state, country, etc.). Thinking about historic landscape preservation, I am getting the sense that there is a big difference between working at a site and working at a regional office. Throughout my time at the Olmsted Center, I have really enjoyed the Brown Bag lunch series because it has introduced me to a lot of different aspects of preserving cultural resources at a regional scale. This week, the interns and I got to learn about the HACE center from Eric Breitkreutz from the NPMap program from Mamata Akella. In both of their presentations, I was particularly intrigued by their ability to create tools, such as adaptive building reuse plans and map-making software, that individual parks will actually use.

As I finish week 7 of my internship, I definitely want to continue exploring cultural resource-oriented careers at the many different scales within the National Park Service. I feel like every week I am finding out about more NPS centers and programs that I didn’t know existed! Very grateful for the opportunity to intern with such an interdisciplinary and exciting organization this summer!

Thank you!

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