Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New Gutters for the Historic Jamestowne Church

The Restoration Department has started the process of rain gutter installation on the Memorial Church on Historic Jamestowne Island. After scaffold set up, the crew scraped loose paint from the wood cornice,then washed it with TSP to remove dirt and oxidized paint. After a day of drying, the cornice was painted with an alkyd primer. The next step will be caulk and a latex top coat. Only after proper cornice preparation will the gutter installation begin. While the crew waits for paint to dry, it has several broken slate shingles to replace. We are also adding "snow catchers" just above the newly to be installed gutters, because we do not wish to revisit this job after it is done. 132 snow catchers were required to do both sides of the 55 foot long church. Since stainless steel snow catchers were half the price of copper, they were ordered. The crew will paint them black before they are installed. The catchers are for a "retrofit" roof, meaning they have long straps with downward sloping grooves in their sides, designed to slide under slates and hook onto their nails. The gutters themselves are 6 inch, half-round aluminum, factory finished in a "Mansard Brown" color, to mimic the look of weathered copper. They will be hung from stainless steel straps attached to the roof sheathing, which necessitates the removal and re-installation of the lower shingle courses. We estimate the job will require three technicians about two weeks per side, if the weather is kind.

Think Globally, Preserve Locally

You’ve heard the phrase “Think Global, Act Local” and you've seen the “Buy Fresh, Buy Local” bumper stickers. You are familiar with the “locavore” food movement, right? Well, isn’t preserving the neighborhoods and architectural fabric of your community one of the most important local acts you can commit?

When you think about it, local is everything. Local IS your neighborhood, your backyard. How do you want your community to look? Do you want it to maintain its sense of place? It’s local flavor? Or, do you want it to look like every other place across America?

We travel to see the “local” in each new place. Each place, town, and neighborhood we visit has its own distinct flavor. That will stop if we fail to commit to preserving our individual communities. The best way to ensure the integrity of each local town is to support regional preservation efforts in your community. Consider donations to your local preservation non-profit. Or, how about donating some time to helping an historic site?

Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of committing to buying local products for many reasons but let’s just don’t forget about the buildings, neighborhoods and other historic fabric that make up our communities. They deserve our attention and commitment as well.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Crooked Road to Improving Local Economies

I read today that revenue from tourism in Virginia increased nearly 7 percent to about $19 billion in 2010. Tourism in Virginia also supported 204,000 jobs and provided more than $1.3 billion in state and local taxes last year. I also read an article about Galax, Virginia and how it was just announced that a furniture manufacturing plant that will create over 300 jobs is coming to Galax.

The company, Albany Industries, is also revitalizing a vacant property so few new infrastructure costs will be needed. These two articles coincided nicely with a presentation I was giving recently on the importance of heritage tourism and how in today’s economy, localities need to diversify and embrace all economic outlets to survive. But the articles also made me wonder — is there a link between local revitalization/heritage tourism and the creation of new manufacturing jobs?

The Crooked Road, Virginia’s heritage music trail, created in 2003, has helped generate huge economic gains for towns and communities in southwest Virginia like Galax. In just 8 years, the Crooked Road was listed as a National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Distinctive Destination; it has also been featured on the National Geographic’s Discover Appalachia Interactive Map and the Smithsonian’s online magazine.

But the real story is the economic impacts of the Crooked Road. According to the 2008 Crooked Road Economic Impact, accommodation spending increased by 232% in Galax from 2004-2007 and by 90% from 2003-2007 in Floyd. Direct spending in the region from visitation is estimated at $12.9 million and the total economic impact to the region is estimated at $23 million per year.

Why did Albany Industries choose Galax over other Virginia cities? I am confident that the available workforce, monetary incentives and political maneuvering were all reasons, but these reasons seem to exist in many Virginia towns. Maybe Albany Industries chose Galax for another reason as well; perhaps it was because they wanted to be positioned in an area of revitalization, activity and festivity — traits that Galax possesses, in part due to a heritage tourism initiative called the Crooked Road.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Patrick Henry's Scotchtown...Haunted Halloween

When Scotchtown site coordinator Ann Reid and her staff throw a Halloween event, they don't pull any punches. While the Restoration Department was repairing the pump house roof, they stumbled upon two of Ann's Halloween "performers" that are housed on site. That should amp up the event. Fiendishly clever, and just a hint of sadism.

Monday, October 3, 2011

VCN's Environmental Assembly

The Virginia Conservation Network’s Virginia Environmental Assembly was held September 16th - 17th at Wintergreen Resort. There were many great sessions, but a couple that I found remarkable were the Economic Impacts of Virginia’s National Parks and Battlefields Session, and Making the Case for Incorporating Natural Assets into Local Planning sessions. Both of these sessions bolstered the idea of strengthening the partnerships between heritage and natural resource organizations.

In the first session, it was discussed that tourism is a 13 billion dollar industry in Virginia and the top two touristy things to do in Virginia are walking and visiting historic sites. To continue the pace of this economic engine it makes sense that we need to protect our public parks that so often combine recreational trails and historic sites.

Kate Brady and Catherine Redfearn from Partners for Place also discussed how National Geographic is currently working on a Geotourism project in the Shenandoah Valley through the Center for Sustainable Destinations.

Geotourism- a growing category of tourism- is defined as tourism that sustains nature or agriculture, is based on local heritage and retains the character of the destination. Geotourists tend to seek authentic experiences, spend more money, stay longer and have less impact on the environment.

The session Making the Case for Incorporating Natural Assets into Local Planning was presented by the Green Infrastructure Center, a Charlottesville-based organization that helps local governments, communities, regional planning organizations, land trusts and developers evaluate their green infrastructure assets and make plans to conserve them.

Karen Firehock, Executive Director of GIC, discussed the differences between infrastructure and green infrastructure and how to get across to local officials how clean air and water contributes to the health and quality of life for communities.

It is curious how we are ingrained to value clean air and water and beautiful landscapes, but so often we wait until local leaders publically recognize our natural assets before we will admit that they are just as valuable as good roads or good schools.

The Virginia Environmental Assembly as well as other environmental workshops are held throughout the year. Check out Virginia Conservation Network’s website for upcoming events.