Use Protection.

Like many of my classmates I too struggled with the acronym laden text. Despite this I enjoyed King’s organization of the text, using specific examples to explain the multitude of difficulties that face those attempting to preserve both natural and historic environments. This being said, like Anna, I would have REALLY liked at least one positive experience or example.

Something that struck me while reading was what seemed to be an immense lack of understanding when it comes to landscapes by government entities. I’ll admit that my knowledge of landscapes was limited before Everyday America at the beginning of the semester, but I would expect much more (perhaps foolishly) from programs and people whose job is to essentially preserve cultural and natural landscapes. The lack of knowledge on landscapes is quite frightening to me and makes me think more should be done to educate the populace on the importance of landscapes.

I thought King’s discussion on cumulative effects on the environment was especially well done. Many people are not conscious of what their actions can do to environment and the startling ramifications they can have.

Lastly, I couldn’t help but think that not all employees working in the bureaucracy are pleased with the procedures that are in place. As King writes on page 142 some professionals working in EIA or CRM are “just going to keep on keepin’ on” because as mentioned they could be flipping burgers. Even with all of King’s brimstone and fire, when it really comes down to it, I find myself in an ethical dilemma. When I get out of college and have to start paying off the student debt, I don’t know that I could resist a job even if it required me to sell my soul the black hole of bureaucracy. I mean is fighting the good fight worth a diet of Top Ramon? These are the type of questions that keep me up at night. And on those awful nights when I really start spinning out of control, I put on City High’s “What Would You Do?” and remember, life could be a whole lot worse.


“Fuzzing” my reality

I guess I’m not at all surprised at the inadequate nature of our laws and the bureaucratic machine that seems to gum-up-the-works. But I have always been a cynic when it comes to our government. In fact, if I’m honest with you and myself, I do not believe that mankind is truly good at heart (sorry Anne Frank, of that I have very little faith). So we’ll just say that King has not helped my opinion on that front. He’s talking about a big-business, big-government, big-justice court systems, a pro-capital, anti-environmental monster that I feel quite incapable of confronting, on whatever front. Can I just climb into my hole now?

Okay, okay, it may seem bleak, but if we are going to go out there and get a job then this is the kind of system we may very well end up dealing with in our professional lives. So it might be in my best interest to pull my head out of the sand, and be aware of this stuff, however defeated it makes me feel.

On the more positive side of things I got quite a laugh at the pokes you people took at TFK for all the MFKING acronyms. So thanks for that guys. :)

Our Unprotected Heritage

Thomas King attempted to wrestle with a problem that is not limited to historical preservation laws. Many laws and even amendments are not fully enforced. The lack of public knowledge and complex and vague verbiage in the law are all problems with almost every law in the United States. Take for example the Civil Rights Act’s of the 1960’s, the general public is under the impression that these laws fixed racial inequality. It takes very little research to stumble on to the fact that class differences still exist. King argued the same thing. That most people believe there are laws put in place to protect their heritage, but once an organization attempts to use those laws, they find themselves unprotected. This does not take away from the fact the poor enforcement is of heritage laws is any less of problem, but his arguments are not new. His pointing fingers game at the Bush administration is childish. I believe by now everyone understands that Bush and republican congress are responsible for several bad decisions, even Idaho republicans are embarrassed about their reign of terror for eight years. However, pointing fingers does not really get results. King gives strong examples of why there are problems with the law and his resolutions are same resolutions that everyone provides for a broken laws. Public support, clarifying the laws, get presidential support, “tell the agencies to clean up their act” (his suggestions here are extremely complex taking away from the simple process), reworking the regulations, and change in law.[1] Great! Now how do we convince the government to do this? The people? Ok, how do you get the people involved? There has to be enough incentive for a majority of the public to be involved. For some it will be the cultural heritage that is being taken, but as King so bluntly states unless you have the money he can not help you. So how do we get the “ordinary” person involved? I honestly believe that to remedy several legal issues with the United States; more public involvement is needed, but the real issue comes down to how. How do we get the public involved? Will simplifying the laws make the public anymore willing to read them?  Overall the book had great points about the problems with the heritage laws, good examples to prove his points and justify his finger pointing at the Bush administration, but it was frustrating that these solutions to the problem of law are always impossible to implement. It would be nice to see these solutions working at a smaller level and how they were able to put them in operation before assuming these are the right answers.

[1] Thomas P. King, Our Unprotected Heritage: Whitewashing thr Destruction of Our Cultural and Natural Environment, (Walnut Creek, California: Left Coast Press, 2009), 161.

Bombing Boise?

I experienced similar struggles with the acronym laden text that preaches doom and gloom for any future protection of cultural, historical, or even environmental landscapes in the face of unquenchable expansion and development.  However, I will give TFK some credit for his more liberal understanding regarding what should be considered when altering a landscape.  I thought his discussion of landscape and what can be considered significant culturally was a good starting point for changing how these “light green” laws are approached.  I also thought that King made a good point when he brought up cumulative effects on the landscape.  For some reason, as humans we have a hard time conceptualizing how our actions effect the environment and how these environmental consequences will eventually come back to affect us.  I have been really interested this past year in environmental justice, and how these projects we undertake can negatively impact racial minorities and poorer classes in the U.S. in disproportionate numbers.  There seems to be little we can do to prevent these environmental disasters from happening even though prevention would save millions of dollars spent on cleanup, potential loss of property, and untold consequences on the health of those who live in those areas.  I wish TFK would have made some suggestions on how change the governmental structure more so that it protects the land and the people, rather than business and government interests.

Don’t walk away mad…

First of all, I must agree with the frustrations at the amount of acryonyms in the writing. By the time I saw them again, I forgot what they meant. That I may be able to attribute to my early college education, however. I was also thrown off by attempting to remember legal references and section 106 and blah….I was going to go to law school once, but no more.

I am, as of yet, unsure if my feelings about this reading stem from the actual book, or stress and the need for a good massage and pedicure, but I found myself not only angered, but confused, surprised, and even disgruntled at times (to quote my neighbor). Most of the unpleasant emotions were brought up during the discussion of the BLM’s method of contact and land research, as well as pretty much all of chapter seven and its guidebook to dodging anything. Not that the author supports it, but that wow I didn’t even consider half of these things had been going on, especially environmental issues and toxic waste concerns. I suppose I just have too much faith in mankind.

I was not completely disappointed; I appreciated the surprisingly light-hearted approach to the majority of the issues. I also very much appreciate the end chapter on “What to do about it.” This would especially include “Never *&%$#@ Assume!” It left me with a glimmer of hope, and it always makes me smile when someone references profanity.

The Whitewashing of My Unprotected Brain (WMUB)

I don’t think I have ever read a publication that used more acronims than Our Unprotected Heritage(OUH). This even includes the technical manuals I had to read while I was in the Navy. I’m not sure who Thomas F. King’s (TFK) audience is, but OUH seems to be pitched to a very small group of people who regularly deal with the Light Green Laws (LGL) he saturates OUH with. I personally believe that the Bright Green Laws (BGL) are much more important and should take fiscal and enforcement priority–if I had the choice between cutting the LGLs or the BGLs in the coming federal budget I could face the demise of the LGLs with a clean conscience. I found it humorous that TFK spends most of the book discussing how ineffective the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the National Historical Preservation Act (NHPA) are, only to suggest ways to correct them–on page 161-2–that would require legislation even more complex and unworkable than the already existing laws. A solution to the problem might lie in allowing more jurisdiction to loocal governments. I know of several local initiatives that have successfully impeded projects the community did not want to happen–Hammer Flats (HF), development of five mile and victory area (DFMVA), satelite towers in the same area (STSA). These might not all be cultural heritage related endeavors (CHRE)–which overall I don’t think are very important–but they do show that people can stand up to developers and businesses.

Our Overprotected Bureaucracy

The Main Point (MP) that I gathered from This Week’s Reading (TWR) is how hopeless any attempt at historic/environmental/cultural preservation seems amid all of the red tape restricting such attempts. There are so many loopholes that federal agencies and private businesses can use to get out of being held to whatever wishy-washy standards the “light green laws” encourage that it seems like it would be almost impossible to win a case for preservation if you did not have a significant amount of money, time, and connections to help you out. (Even the Rosas, who must have had a fair amount of these resources to be able to take their fight as far as they did, gave up in the end.)

That being said, I wonder if there were no positive examples of cases that have been won by average citizens, or examples where federal agencies have acted admirably, that King could have illustrated. Like Luke, he used only negative examples, so I was left with an overwhelmingly pessimistic feeling by the end of the book. Thus, King’s suggestions in the last chapter for resolving the problem struck me as vague and fruitless. Sure, it would be great for Obama to be able to tell all federal agencies to “clean up their acts” and see instant compliance. However, the reality is that this would involve even more bureaucracy with the appointment of task forces to analyze cases further and “monitor performance,” more training for agencies, etc. I wish that King had left us with an example of a reason to hope, or at least with a more tangible way to challenge the system.

Tactful History

Just in case some of you have not seen this story…

Virginia 4th grade teacher holds slave auction


I have a firm belief that every History teacher should be well versed in tactful instruction. The subject is far from pleasant, as the worst of human behaviors are typically showcased in some of the most memorable events. However, showing your bias completely negates the trust that you have with your students, colleagues, and the general public. Historical revisionism, or whitewashing, has always been a part of history. The victor writes history, but the defeated typically still show their disdain for the way certain events panned out.

White supremacists deny the Holocaust happened, descendants of Confederate soldiers put their forefathers on a pedestal,  and these young girls talk about something that even their parents weren’t old enough to experience first hand. (a lengthy documentary, but really shows how influential parents are on their children)

The difficult thing about sensitive topics in History, is that you’re always going to offend or embarrass a demographic. It’s going to happen. All of our ancestors did unforgivable things, but not acknowledging the past only makes us more likely to repeat similar mistakes out of ignorance. If we recognize the errors, we can learn and grow from the experience.

Baron Von Munchausen- a missed opportunity?

The article I found most infuriating was the response from the Manager of the Baron Von Munchausen Home to Larry Cebula. The quote that particularly irked me was this:
“The visitors that come to this House want to be entertained by “sayings” from the 18th century or “ghost stories”… You have to understand that the younger visitors know very little about the Revolutionary War period, due to the fact that schools have gone downhill and do not give this generation a good education…”

Isn’t this a reason for them to work harder to make their history the best it can be? For argument’s sake, let’s go with her claim that education is going downhill. If I ran a historical museum and I thought that students were not learning all that they should in their classrooms, I would try to make sure they at least learned some of it when they visited my museum. Theirs is a chance to help enhance an education. Schools are reluctant to talk about slavery? Well, the museum shouldn’t be. The manager does not see that dumbing down the history only compounds the poor education the students receive. Plus, I’m a little insulted at the insinuation that because I’m younger and use the word “like” I can’t possibly having the reasoning skills to deal with complex moral issues such as slavery.