CRM Journal


by Martin Perschler, Editor


In December 2005, the magazine Saveur ran an illustrated piece on the Basque American community that has inhabited Idaho's Boise Valley since sheepherders from northern Spain first settled there in the 1880s. Author Lynne Sampson used the annual Sheepherder's Ball in the state capital as the point of departure for an engaging overview of the Basque presence in the American West, where the cultural legacy endures in everything from food to music to public celebrations.

The recipe-laden essay achieved something remarkable by cultural resource stewardship standards. In the span of 10 pages bracketed by a photograph of red bean soup and suggestions on where to eat and what to do in Boise, Sampson introduced more than one million food enthusiasts to a place unlike any other in Idaho, or the world. Whether Sampson's readers make the trip to the Boise Valley or settle for their own home-cooked version of Basque-style lamb stew, they will have moved beyond the printed page and had an experience that forever connects them to that place.

Memorable connections and experiences are increasingly part of heritage stewardship strategies that successfully make use of the power of place. These strategies often involve the full range of regional cultural production and practices and require the participation of a broad range of stakeholders for brio and depth. They may include a venerated old seafood shack known for crab cakes, a local craft or family tradition passed on from generation to generation, or media kits, feature articles, and other cultural heritage promotional materials designed to reach new or different audiences. Such strategies can simultaneously conserve historic resources, revive local economies, sustain traditions, and foster a sense of pride, place, and belonging.

A number of essays in this issue touch upon those themes. Rolf Diamant, Nora J. Mitchell, and Jeffrey Roberts highlight some innovative European and American resource stewardship strategies for working cultural landscapes that address contemporary concerns about preservation, sustainability, authenticity, and sense of place. Bernard Lubega Bakaye explains the importance of cultural heritage and local traditions in economic development decision-making in the African nation of Uganda. Projects and activities reported by Kristen Griffin, Jeremy Spoon, and others demonstrate that inclusiveness and a diversity of viewpoints in heritage stewardship matters benefit us all. Exhibit reviews relating to architecture and food remind us that, when it comes to cultural heritage and identity, actions and decisions are not strictly matters of taste.

The full enjoyment and appreciation of cultural heritage requires moving beyond words and images to experience shaped by people and place. A diversified strategy for facilitating such experience will engage many minds, enliven all the senses, and connect people to places in personally relevant, memorable ways.