Building Community: One Blog at a Time

Float plane at the Vancouver Waterfront

A recent visit to Vancouver to speak at two events for Vancouver Heritage Foundation, let me check out their waterfront in person.

My life is rather complicated since I regularly live and work in three different cities and am fortunate enough to have projects and speaking engagements across North America. The advent of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and blogging makes this possible and creates a virtual community for a virtual consulting practice. When people ask me where my office is I say "wherever I am." While Steve jobs and Bill Gates have made that response possible, I do on occasion long to live in one city and keep better control of my carbon footprint. In the mean time, I keep connected both personally and professionally primarily by keeping Facebook and Twitter open at all times and getting much of my professional dialogue through blogs. A lot has changed in 25 years. I remember getting the first fax machine when I worked at an A/E firm in the 1980s and a faxed letter or memo was not considered an official document, but only as a warning that the official one would soon arrive by mail. A friend of mine in British Columbia saw on my Facebook status that I was speaking at a conference in Vancouver and took a plane to visit me. And my sister has basically launched her new business Canine Splash through Facebook. While nothing beats face time as I discussed in last week’s blog, social media and interactive websites and blogs do provide a parallel community and offer some advantages that can only be found online. Below are links and brief descriptions of some of the blogs and websites I go to or use most often in my practice. BLOGS Engaging Places, Max van Balgooy Max is the former Director of Interpretation & Education from the Historic Sites Department of the National Trust. He started our Historic Sites blog which became the best way to connect National Trust historic sites around the country and rapidly grew to connect all historic sites, not just National Trust sites. Max has left the National Trust and started a new blog called “Engaging Places” to fill the gap and need for sharing information about and among historic sites. Max writes and blogs more often than just about anyone I know, so Engaging Places has already become a go-to place for me in just the month it’s been up. Switchboard, Kaid Benfield
Richardson Olmsted Complex

Both Lloyd Alter and Kaid Benfield have recently written blogs about Buffalo's spectacular architecture like the Richardson Olmsted Complex and its incredible neighborhoods.

Kaid is the Director of Sustainable Communities at the Natural Resources Defense Council and one of the founders of the LEED Neighborhood Development rating system and co-founder of the Smart Growth America Coalition. Kaid writes about sustainability in our neighborhoods and communities, which often includes his insightful musings about preservation. He is another prolific blogger and his topics include anything from walkable neighborhoods, discussions about cities – are they green or not (Phoenix), what makes them inherently green (Buffalo!), and why architecture still matters. He’s been writing this blog for 4 years and not long ago Time magazine named his blog one of the top 10 most influential blogs about sustainability. Kaid's blog is also published on the The Atlantic's blog on Mondays. Treehugger, Lloyd Alter Lloyd Alter writes about sustainable issues for “Treehugger” from Toronto. An architect, activist, and preservationist, Lloyd blogs about green buildings, prefab green buildings, inherently sustainable buildings and communities, climate change and historic preservation. I don’t always agree with him, but I find his blogs timely and his inquiry very thoughtful. And he probably writes even more than Max or Kaid!  Check out Lloyd's slide show homage to Buffalo, in particular his great story about visiting the Richardson Olmsted complex. Huffington Post, Charles Birnbaum Charles Birnbaum is the President of the Cultural Landscape Foundation and one of the most experienced and outspoken preservation landscape architects in the country. He writes about very provocative topics for the Huffington Post with a particular specialty being his admiration for modern landscape design and designers. Charles has the guts to say (and write) out loud what most of us think but would never say. WEBSITES TPS new website The National Park Service’s Technical Preservation Services website has always been important as the home of the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and the Preservation Briefs. TPS recently launched a retooled website which includes their new Sustainability Guidelines which can be downloaded. The website is quite beautiful and very easy to navigate – two features the National Park Service’s website was not known for before. National Trust for Historic Preservation, Sustainability Page
Best Practices Manual for National Trust Historic Sites

I prepared the "Best Practices Manual" for the National Trust's historic sites when I was the Chief Architect there.

And then there is of course the National Trust’s website and blog. The Sustainability website includes terrific information on weatherization, restoration of windows, and sustainability policies. The blog doesn’t have a particular voice as many people – both staff and guests – can provide their thoughts but it’s consistent in its coverage of sustainable communities and neighborhoods, preserving windows and applauding people and places who are making a preservation difference. National Trust Historic Sites Blog As mentioned above, the creative force behind this site has left the National Trust and launched a new blog. So it is unclear whether this site will continue. But while it’s still up, make sure you download some of the great documents posted on this site including my Best Practices Manual and Max’s Standards & Best Practices for Historical Interpretation and Public Education. And if you’d like to “subscribe” or follow this blog, True Green Cities, please sign up through the “Subscribe” button at the bottom left of this page. You’ll receive a daily recap when new blogs are posted. This is the second part of my "Building Community" series.
© Copyright Barbara Campagna – True Green Cities - 2011-2013