CRM Journal


by Martin Perschler, Editor


"The more things change, the more they stay the same." First appearing in 1849 in the publication, The Wasps, those world-weary words have far surpassed their author, the French novelist and critic Alphonse Karr (1808-1890), in international notoriety. Many people are surprised to learn that the critic spent the last several years of his life fishing, growing flowers, and living carefree along the French Riviera. Another of his remarks, frequently cited by gardeners but otherwise not well known, offers a clearer view into the man's character: "Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns," he writes; "I am thankful that thorns have roses." In the end, it is all about perspective.

Whether one sees change as ineffectual or sweeping, intermittent or constant, no one, least of all heritage professionals, can deny that it exists. "Change" has given rise to entire industries and disciplines dedicated either to facilitating it or to reversing or mitigating its effects. Today, heritage professionals have access to a wide variety of products, protocols, regulatory instruments, and incentive programs developed to help keep things just as they are (or close) for as long as humanly possible. Whereas the cause is certainly noble, proper perspective is key when it comes to heritage stewardship because the stronger the urge to resist change, the greater the risk of overlooking more effective models of stewardship.

A number of the essays, research reports, and reviews appearing in this issue of CRM: The Journal of Heritage Stewardship explore new possibilities for heritage professionals, from new ways of gauging community interest in historic preservation to a new interpretation of a battlefleld. While new, they nevertheless endeavor to attain the same overarching goals of resource protection and contemporary relevance. For most people drawn to heritage and committed to effective stewardship, these goals have remained remarkably and reassuringly constant over the years. They poignantly illustrate the importance of new ideas, perspectives, and approaches in strengthening and building upon a shared tradition of resource stewardship worldwide.

A core value of the National Park Service, tradition is rightfully a tremendous source of pride for all heritage professionals and enthusiasts who have worked in partnership with the Service or with each other in support of resource stewardship. The year 2006 abounds in opportunities for everyone to celebrate that tradition: The National Historic Preservation Act turns 40 in October, the National Park Service Organic Act turns 90 this August, and the Antiquities Act turned 100 this past June. Although the policies and procedures for implementing these laws have become increasingly complex and have given rise to entire bureaus, offices, degree programs, and professions over the intervening decades, not to mention the world's first system of national parks, the spirit behind each of those laws has endured fundamentally unchanged. That endurance alone is just cause for celebration.

Since its debut in 2003, CRM Journal has played an important role in illuminating the rich tradition of heritage stewardship in the United States and the world by presenting essays, interviews, reports, and reviews that are at once topical, timely, and meaningful to all those interested in heritage. Under Antoinette J. Lee's expert editorial guidance, the Journal has achieved an enviable reputation as a scholarly, authoritative resource for heritage stewardship professionals and enthusiasts from all disciplines and areas of interest. The challenge for this new editor is to build on that reputation for editorial excellence, to celebrate that shared tradition of resource stewardship in all its diversity and complexity, and to promote new and innovative ways of achieving those shared goals of resource protection and contemporary relevance.