Plastic for the People: Printing the Past and Engaging the Public
By Bernard K. Means, Director, Virtual Curation Laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University In the Virtual…
With the annual conference just a few short weeks away it’s time for me to grab a highlighter and mark up the preliminary program. Without a strategy in place too many opportunities are lost and I find out later all the papers, posters, and panels I should not have missed. I put together a Top 10 list for public archaeology recommendations at SHA 2012.
1. Pre-Conference Workshop Can They Dig It? Proexcavation Techniques for Archaeologists Working with Local Communities. Facilitators Jay Stottman and myself (Sarah Miller) are putting the final details together on exercises and activities to spark deliberation over excavating with the public. Participants will design their own proexcavation program and report on the before, during and after activities as we highlight tips and tools along the way. Really looking forward to it! (Wednesday, January 4)
3. PUBLIC DAY!! This year’s theme “Gallantly Streaming” will feature activity tables and exhibits from over 15 local and regional archeology programs. The event is free and open from 11:00am-2:00pm at Fort McHenry. Check out posters, interactive activities, and interpreters. Topics will include the struggles and triumphs of Maryland’s African American communities, Native Americans, colonial history, Civil War archaeology, historic shipwrecks, and plantations told through posters, interactive activities, and interpreters. (Saturday, January 7)
4. Solving Problems in the Public Interpretation of Maritime Cultural Heritage Symposium: I had a chance to talk to Della Scott-Ireton this week about this symposium which runs all day Thursday. The presenters are leaders in the Maritime archaeology field and any of these papers should be well worth the public archaeologists time. The maritimers in general have done a wonderful job integrating public archaeology into nearly everything they do, and it shows at the conference. Proof is in this session–don’t miss! (Thursday, January 5)
5. Public Education and Interpretation Committee: Wake up, wake up! The PEIC meets early Friday morning from 7:45-8:45 am. This committee welcomes new members and is eager to discuss K-12 education, displays and interpretation, social and traditional media, or just plain digging in plain sight. Breakout session planned to brainstorm materials and topics for the Public Archaeology toolbox, blog and newsletter topics, and session ideas for 2013. Please come, bring a friend! (Friday, January 6, Room TBA)
There are two chances to join in public archaeology discussions over lunch on Saturday. Terry Brock will facilitate discussion at his table focusing on Social Media, disseminating archaeology to diverse audiences through a variety of tools such as Twitter, Facebook, and the blogs. Across the room pull up a chair at my Public Archaeology table where we can discuss archaeology education, particularly marketing to educators and gaining the audiences you want. (Saturday, January 7)
7. Toward an Archaeological Agora Revisited: Using Collaborative Approaches in Facilitating Public Participation and Creation of Archaeological Knowledge and Understanding Symposium: I’ll admit it, last year I Googled the word agora during the session (it means meeting place, to congregate). I loved each and every paper, particularly Pam Cressey and Douglas Appler’s paper on the City of Alexandria’s program and ways of making an unmarked African-American burial ground tangible to the public eye by placing luminaries to represent the number of known burials interred. This year’s version is chaired by John Jameson and Harold Mytum, a definite must see with integrated terrestrial and maritime papers. (Thursday, January 5)
8. General Outreach-Related Sessions: Scheduled for Friday are the following two general sessions. In the morning you’ll find me in the Maritime Heritage Management and Outreach session. Since I learned about Derek the Dredger from Ian Oxley I make a point to see anything in which he’s taking part. In the afternoon Lessons from the Field: Public Outreach and Education session features PEIC member Laura Segna and other interesting PubArch papers. Fresh from the PEIC meeting at 7:45 that morning there should be a good turnout.
9. Fifty Years of Community Archaeology on the Potomac: Lessons from Alexandria: Alexandria is arguably the ultimate example of a community-supported city archaeology program. I first met co-chair Doug Appler when he came to St. Augustine to do research on city permits, and of course I am in awe of the work by Pam Cressey. Discussion is not to be missed, led by SHA outgoing President William Lees (full disclosure: also my boss!). If you work in communities with archaeology ordinances this symposium should have a lot to offer on how to craft community involvement. (Friday, January 6)
What did I miss? Give a plug for it below in the comments section and we’ll try and help get the word out. Take some of my advice and have a good/bad story to tell? Let us know what you saw and what you did in the PubArch frame of mind at SHA.
*Note: post written before program finalized. Times and dates subject to change. Individual papers and posters not available at the time of posting, please add below!