Landscape Management and Diversity within National Parks

Welcome back for the sixth week of my Designing The Parks blog! There’s been lots going on at the OCLP, and I’m here to share my take on it with you all.

The Existing Conditions report is getting more complete with each passing day. This is a working Google Document that Ella, Jenna, Angelina, and I have been steadily filling out. It contains topography, natural systems, land use, circulation, buildings and structures, views and vistas, vegetation, and small scale features, and each DTP intern has been responsible for one or two of these features. As the document continues to get filled out, it will be my goal to begin going through each feature for each house to 1). fill out any small or large remaining gaps of information, and 2). make sure the style, flow, and structure of each description is smooth and consistent.

Last blog post, I gave a taste of the AutoCAD elevations I am drawing for Kuhn House, which we took measurements of when we visited Cape Cod during our second week in June. I am happy to report that the North, East, South, and West elevations of both the house and shed are just about complete. All that remains is to create the minor details to the elevation – such as door knobs, exterior lights, and hoses – and to assign the correct colors for line weights. The elevations are quite important as they will be the first ever recorded measured elevations for the house! The process has been very enjoyable as I’ve seen the AutoCAD drawings come to life from the measurements we took weeks ago and because I’ve had the opportunity to work at the conference table in front of the huge tv-computer screen. Until yesterday, I had not been able to use my computer due to some technical difficulties with my ID card, but the problem was solved when I could use the large tv-computer at the conference table to do my work. I quite enjoyed my time camped out in front of the large screen drawing away on AutoCAD. Thankfully, Melvin was able to fix the ID card problem and get me set up at my computer, but I now find myself missing my old conference room desk….

This past Wednesday on July 13th, we had a Landscape Management Workshop at the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site (FRLA) in Brookline, Massachusetts. The workshop was with Myra Harrison (Superintendent, FRLA), Lee Cook (Site Manager, FRLA), Mona McKindley (Gardner, FRLA), Scott Hyndman (Horticulturalist, FRLA), and Alan Banks (Supervisory Park Ranger, FRLA). The OCLP’s very own Chris Beagan and Eliot Foulds led the meeting, and we discussed landscape character management for the site. The objective for our meeting was to go over how the management and maintenance goals and recommendations are being met today having been originally established about twenty years ago when the different volumes of the Cultural Landscape Report (CLR) for FRLA were created. We discussed three key terms about the character of the landscape – Spontaneity, Domesticity, Discovery – that we analyzed while walking around the site. These three terms serve to the larger concept of Establishing Priorities, which is integral to any site of historic preservation. It became apparent to me during this site visit that there is not a singular, consistent approach for addressing different features of the landscape. As landscape character is the sum of its parts, the landscape character is preserved through all its features and characteristics, however small or large.  The difficulty this brings about is that not all features and characteristics should be preserved in a static, non-changing way each year. This speaks to the original larger concept of Establishing Priorities and makes creating a Preservation Maintenance Plan challenging and necessary to consistently review, which we were doing this past Wednesday.

Yesterday, I had a lunch meeting with the two other LHIP interns, Daniela Sierra and Ashleyann Perez-Rivera. Daniela interns at the Lowell National Historic Park, and Ashleyann interns at the Charlestown Navy Yard. I had met Ashleyann at previous Brown Bag Lunches, so the point of the meeting was for all three of us to finally meet in person and discuss our respective LHIP internships with the National Park Service. I really appreciated getting to all meet and talk together, hearing about how our experiences were all similar in different ways at our respective sites. We discussed our planning for our respective Latino Conservation Week events (official news release here) along with the general theme of racial and socioeconomic diversity within National Parks of the United States. It was great to bond over these shared experiences, and it makes me excited to meet the other LHIP interns across the country when we all get together in Colorado from August 10-13.

On an ending note and also on this same note of racial diversity within parks, Angelina mentioned to me yesterday that there is a great podcast online on NPR’s Code Switch. The episode, entitled Being ‘Outdoorsy’ When You’re Black or Brown, highlights the history and issues of race within National Parks. The podcast is only twenty minutes long, and I certainly recommend listening to it, which you can find here.

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Drawing Kuhn House elevations on my conference table desk on the tv-computer screen

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Drawing Kuhn House elevations on my conference table desk on the tv-computer screen

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Ella and Jenna hang out with an NPS sculpture made from found objects

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Mona McKindley, the Gardner at FRLA

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The group doing the Landscape Management Workshop at FRLA

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Angelina snapping a photo during the Landscape Management Workshop at FRLA

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Jenna and Ella on an urban sculpture park in Boston City Hall Plaza

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The courtyard of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, which we visited after work yesterday

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We made arts and crafts postcards while making some new friends along the way

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Even at the Isabella Stewart Garder Museum, we can’t get enough of FRLA and Green Hill

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