This week I began establishing an advisory group for the digital memory mapping project, I attended several meetings with the Preservation Assistance team, I met with Amanda Casper to follow up on our meeting a few weeks ago and update her on what I've been doing. I also began developing a Google Drive folder to hold documentation of work I have done during my internship until this point, including the current draft of the LGBTQ+ Philadelphia sites spreadsheet, a reflection of the first memory mapping project, and my methodology in accumulating the sites spreadsheet. Finally, I heard back from Sue Ferentinos this morning with feedback on the LGBTQ+ Philadelphia sites list and responded.
During my meeting last week with Dr. Bruggeman, Bonnie, Helen, and Shaun, we discussed the need for me to arrange an advisory group of sorts to offer various perspectives on the social media digital memory mapping project. On Monday I contacted GVGK Tang, a colleague at Temple University who is familiar with digital projects and effectively engaging with the community. She offered several valuable insights: 1) She asserted that the demographic most likely to respond to a prompt to the project on social media is younger, middle-class, white people, a concern that Dr. Bruggeman voiced at our meeting on Friday. To close that age gap she suggested I consider going door-to-door at the John C. Anderson apartments, a housing development for LGBTQ+ elders. 2) GVGK also advised that I consult lower income, LGBTQ+ people of color on how best to resolve issues of representation in this project. 3) She finally suggested that I include women in the project, as lesbian sites have a history of being ignored. These were all incredibly valuable insights for me to consider as I begin developing this projects initial structures.
On Tuesday, I had several meetings in the NPS Northeast Regional Office. The first of these meetings was a Regional Manager's teleconference which Bonnie led for Preservation Assistance. I learned that these managerial teleconferences are monthly occurrences, and that different program managers lead the call each time. The conversation was centered around possibilities for collaboration between different programs within the Park Service's Northeast Region, and Amanda Casper suggested developing a system whereby smaller parks needing technical assistance could make their need known to other programs who have the expertise and/or interest in meeting their needs. Shaun and others on the call seemed to respond favorably to this proposal, and I think it would be fascinating to see that idea actualized.
My second meeting that day was the Preservation Assistance team's bi-weekly meeting, the primary focus of which was assisting a colleague from Park's Planning devise a plan for creating a new park to encompass two significant Quaker sites in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens, New York which are nationally significant for their representation of exercising religious freedom in 17th Century America. Her presentation on this project was fascinating to me, particularly because she explained the criteria that Parks Planning look at when seeking to create a new national park. These criteria, I learned, differ greatly from those of prospective NHL's or nominees to the NRHP. The four criteria, of which a prospective park must meet all four, are national significance, suitability, feasibility, and the need for NPS management. I found it interesting that these criteria are more matters of the practicality behind establishing a new park than the historical significance of the site, though that is a point of consideration. Although they consider a site's significance, they also ask detailed questions around why the Park Service as an entity should be responsible for that site becoming a park.
My third meeting was an impromptu catch-up session with Amanda Casper. I explained the site list, memory mapping project, and the next memory mapping project and she offered me her insights on what my next steps should be on all of these fronts. She encouraged me to send an additional follow up email to those who signed on for the internal review creating a deadline for responses. The reasoning for this, with which I agreed, is that my internship is tentatively scheduled to end next Friday (though this may be subject to change) and that by that time I need to submit this list for external review as well, which I cannot do without feedback. She also encouraged me to create a Google Drive file holding all of my materials from my internship, including the current iteration of the site list, a reflection and collection of findings from the first memory mapping project, and a summary of my methodology for the site list.
My fourth and final meeting on Tuesday was with Bonnie and the Northeast Region's student interns. The purpose of this meeting was for Bonnie, as the manager for Preservation Assistance in the Northeast Region, to respond to questions from interns who are just beginning our work with the Park Service. She answered many questions about how her background, how she became involved with the Park Service, and what substantial changes she has seen during her time with the Park Service. It was a wonderful opportunity for me as much as for the other interns, most of whom were located either in Boston or Lowell in Massachusetts, to learn more about Bonnie's background. She answered many of the questions with stories, and I particularly appreciated the stories of her time with the Park Service's Tax Act, which dealt with historic sites seeking tax deductions for their status. In brief, this meeting, as with the previous one with Parks Planning, provided fascinating insights into NPS programs with which I have not personally engaged in my internship.
I spent today, July 26, following Amanda's advice on creating a Google Drive of my internship materials, and also responding to a feedback email from Sue Ferentinos. I was delighted to hear back from Sue on the list of sites I sent out a month ago, and to receive her thoughtful response. She asserted that some of the sites I listed under the blue category lack the national significance to be considered for NHL status, though they do possess substantial potential for local preservation. I responded inquiring whether these sites contribute sufficiently to national historical themes for nomination to the NRHP. Although the NRHP is not the primary focus for this project, I want to ensure I document this potential if she believes it exists. Sue also sent me three other individuals to consider adding to the list: Reed Erickson, John Fryer, and Gloria Casarez. I will begin researching these figures when I return to work next week.
This week I submitted my fourth invoice, summarizing work completed between June 20th and July 17th, I continued photographing many of the sites on the Philadelphia LGBTQ historic sites spreadsheet I compiled, I continued developing a new outreach project following the previous one’s memory mapping theme but utilizing social media and digital tools to reach a broader audience, and I learned much more about the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) in connection with my contact in Boston. Finally, this morning I met with Dr. Bruggeman, Bonnie, Helen, and Shaun Eyring to discuss how I have met the conditions of my internship per my internship contract.
Tuesday, I was in the office and continued my work developing a proposal for a new community outreach project. As mentioned briefly last week, I am planning a second memory mapping project, this time utilizing social media (specifically a Facebook group for LGBTQ+ Philadelphians) and a digital mapping tool called Carto. I will be asking participants, “Where in Philly has been the most important place for you as an LGBTQ individual?” I will subsequently take their responses, including whatever stories they feel comfortable sharing, and place them on the Carto map. Carto is a digital mapping tool that allows for greater data visualization than Google Maps. Participants’ names will be kept anonymous, but their stories will be a significant part of this project. Ultimately, I hope to create a more populated map than I did at PrideFest, and this project will likely go on for roughly a month to maximize time for participation. Based on the specific responses I receive from those who engage with this project, I will connect the sites that matter to them with sites possessing similar histories to interest them in the larger LGBTQ+ Heritage Initiative. Thus, if they are interested in the larger project, I will keep them updated on its progress as things go forward. During a brief meeting with Bonnie on Tuesday, she outlined some of the institutional boundaries I will need to circumvent in conducting this project, and she suggested I schedule a meeting with Catherine, a colleague in the office. Catherine is currently dealing with similar issues in projects that require participant feedback, and I will be meeting with her on Tuesday to discuss how I can best conduct the project to avoid any institutional taboos.
Also on Tuesday, I heard from a colleague in Boston asking me about how viable NRHP or NHL nomination forms or documentation from HABS would be as indirect interpretation resources. I had only just learned what HABS did as a program and dove into researching more about how one documented a site through HABS and what that ultimately did for the site. During my meeting with Bonnie I asked about what the difference was in terms of historical interpretation between HABS and NRHP/NHL nominations, and she explained that HABS, per its original intent, is not meant for any interpretation. It serves solely to document a building’s historical and architectural significance. That being said, we both recently received news from Megan Springate in D.C. about a HABS study that interpreted D.C.’s LGBTQ history, which was a significant deviation from HABS’s traditional mission.
Wednesday, I once again took to the streets, photographing additional sites from the spreadsheet. This time, the sites I photographed were those I believe hold strictly local significance. This included places like the Bike Stop, the Barracks, and Horizon House. The Bike Stop is a bar that has been home to Philadelphia’s gay and lesbian leather community since 1982. In 1983, the bar began hosting the annual Mr. Philadelphia Leather competition, and in 1993 began the Mrs. Philadelphia Leather competition. Both competitions were suspended in 2009, but were reestablished in 2015. I was fortunate enough to meet 2017’s Mrs. Philadelphia Leather winner in passing at PrideFest while conducting the first Memory Mapping project! The Barracks was a Philadelphia bath house from 1976-1980. It looks like the property remains true to the original structure from that period, despite all of the ongoing revitalization efforts that surround it. Horizon House was significant in the 1970s as the primary meeting place for Philadelphia Gay Rights organizations like the Radical Queens and the Gay Activists Alliance. Prior to the original property’s demolition, Horizon House became the PAIN Center. It is now a physical therapy center. Thursday, I uploaded the new photos to the spreadsheet and Google Map.
Finally, this morning I met with Dr. Bruggeman, Helen, Bonnie, and Shaun to discuss how I have done in meeting the tasks as set forth in my internship contract. As a reminder, those tasks were as follows: 1) Develop an exhibit that will feature information about the NPS current LGBTQ sites, landmarks, and history as a community engagement tool; 2) Assessment of LGBTQ Sites for Preservation in Philadelphia; and 3) Develop a Community Engagement Model. The first task remains in development, but the conversation surrounding my work on the spreadsheet for assessing LGBTQ sites and both of my memory mapping projects was both optimistic and fruitful. Although I currently await feedback from the folks conducting internal review on the list, the four of us in the meeting discussed next steps when the time comes for an external review within Philadelphia’s preservation community as well as within the LGBTQ community. Regarding the memory mapping projects, it seems the digital mapping project I propose will be more complex than anticipated, but those complications only increase the potential the project holds. I will need to establish a project group with whom to discuss and troubleshoot the project before I initiate contact within the Facebook community.
All in all it has been a fantastic and productive week, and I remain as optimistic and enthusiastic as ever towards the work I continue doing on this initiative.
This week I began embedding the photographs I took of one section of properties into the spreadsheet as well as into a Google Map I've developed of all the properties I've assembled. I also started scheduling an internship assessment meeting between Dr. Bruggeman, Bonnie, Helen, and myself for next Friday, July 21st. I took more photographs of properties from the list and included those in the spreadsheet and Google Map as well. In addition to this, I began contemplating ideas for my next outreach project and developed a preliminary plan for that. Finally, I updated myself on all that has gone on in Philadelphia's LGBT Community over the past few weeks.
Prior to my leave last week, I photographed the first of three sections of properties from my list. This week, I went back into the city to photograph the second of these sections. This included photographing former coffee shops popular among LGBTQ Philadelphians, like the Humoresque and the Gilded Cage; Harlow's, a bar opened and operated by Philadelphia trans*celebrity Rachel Harlow; and the former address of acclaimed sculptor Beatrice Fenton. In seeking out and photographing these locations I have come to expect that several of them might no longer have an original structure left behind. This was the case with the Fenton residence, which was seemingly demolished to make room for South Juniper Street. Fenton was born in the early 1880's, so it is not altogether surprising that her childhood home is now gone. I will simply have to search for other places she lived that might still stand.
I had some initial difficulty in learning how to embed an image into an Excel Spreadsheet before it finally dawned on me that you cannot embed an image in a cell, but rather paste a similarly sized image over the cell. Once I realized this the rest came easily. Prior to my initial photography outing the other week I created a Google Map to locate the properties easily on my phone. Since then, I have pasted the sites' narratives and embedded the photographs I have taken onto their respective points. Currently the map serves as a means for me to locate these places when I go to take pictures, but it would be interesting to see if there were something else I could do with it down the road.
As part of the Temple University course that serves as a supplement to my internship I began scheduling a meeting for internship assessment with Dr. Bruggeman, Helen, and Bonnie for next Friday, July 21st. The purpose for this meeting is to discuss and assess how well I have satisfied, at that point, the duties as outlined in my internship contract. I am really looking forward to this meeting, and I believe it will be a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the work I have done thus far with my supervisors, and receive valuable feedback to implement as I move forward in my work on this project.
Over the past few weeks I have continually mulled over possible future outreach projects for me to better engage Philadelphia's LGBTQ community on this project, and hopefully bring some of them on board. I am happy to say I may have finally devised one with, I believe, great potential. The memory mapping project at PrideFest last month received modest, though undoubtedly valuable, participation, but I would love to expand on that. I am developing a proposal for a second memory mapping project to be implemented on a digital platform, possibly using Carto (a mapping program with greater data analyzing capability than Google Maps). My hope is for this to be a follow-up of sorts from PrideFest, taking from that experience and, hopefully, executing a similar concept on a larger scale. I am still considering what my Big Question will be for participants, but I do have access to an audience via social media. This project is still very much in preliminary stages right now, but I plan to have a full proposal established by next week, so stay tuned!
It has been a few weeks since I read up on the current events in Philadelphia's LGBTQ community, so I spent this morning catching up. I have written before about the changes in leadership at the Mazzoni Center, a non-profit healthcare provider for the LGBTQ Community accused of racial bias and sexual misconduct. The former CEO, Nurit Shein, resigned over a few months ago, and this past week the Center's board appointed Stephen Glassman as interim executive director while the board seeks a permanent leader. Glassman is the former executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut, and former chairperson of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. Glassman stated that, "As the Mazzoni Center continues to engage in its critical work for marginalized communities, my focus will be on providing a steady hand, along with effective, transparent, and accountable leadership, during this time of significant transition, in order to usher the organization into its next phase.” He will serve as the interim executive director for the next six to nine months, until the Mazzoni Center board finds a permanent leader to fill the position.