Why do we save historic places? For whom? How can heritage conservation advance equity, justice, and climate adaptation? This podcast glimpses the future of the field from groundbreaking students at the University of Southern California.
Community-Led Advocacy: Saving Places and Building Power
When M. Rosalind Sagara entered the world of heritage conservation, she brought along a deep passion for, and background in, community organizing. At USC, she researched heritage advocacy through the lens of two contentious campaigns -- both led by local stakeholders working not just to save places, but to build power and community. Hear what Rosalind learned about community-led conservation then, and how she's building community and cultivating new leaders now with the Los Angeles Conservancy, Save Our Chinatown Committee, and Asian & Pacific Islander Americans in Historic Preservation.
Culture, Community, and the Holiday Bowl
In 2003, the majority of the beloved Holiday Bowl in L.A.’s Crenshaw district was demolished. Although the bowling alley--a big box profoundly important to the community--was lost, the coffee shop--a Googie gem designed by Armet and Davis--remains standing and is now a Starbucks. Today's guest Katie Horak analyzed the efforts to save the Holiday Bowl in her 2006 thesis. Listen as Katie reflects on her research, how times have changed in terms of valuing cultural significance, and why communities should tell their own stories. Now a leader in our field, she’s come back to USC as a teacher, inspiring the next generation of heritage conservationists.
Oakwood and the "Racing of Space" in Venice
At the turn of the last century, Black entrepreneur Arthur L. Reese convinced developer Abbot Kinney to hire Black workers for Kinney’s seaside resort and amusement park, Venice of America. Reese had a hard time recruiting Blacks to the area because, even though Venice was one of the few neighborhoods without racially restrictive covenants, no one would rent or sell to them. Thus was born the Black ethnic enclave of Oakwood, formed through de facto racial separation, or the “racing of space.” In this episode, alum Rita Cofield delves into Oakwood’s rich history, from the effects (positive and negative) of spatial segregation to the tangible and intangible evidence that remains--yet now faces erasure through rampant gentrification.
Fictional History: Recognizing Film and TV Locations
Should the Brady Bunch House be in the National Register of Historic Places? Why not? asks alum Jonathan Kaplan. In his master’s thesis, the TV writer-turned-heritage conservationist makes a case for designating sites specifically for their use in movies and TV shows. Along with literary precedent dating back to Chaucer, Jonathan cites the deep meaning and shared cultural experiences these places create. There’s a reason the Christmas Story House is one of the top tourist attractions in Cleveland.
If a place inspires meaning, does it matter where that meaning comes from? Join us for a fascinating chat that’s just the tip of the iceberg. For much, much more, check out Jonathan’s thesis on the Save As website, From Ramona to the Brady Bunch: Assessing the Historical Significance of Sites Used in Movies and Television Shows.
Old Pasadena's Act Two
As a teenager, Ingrid Peña saw a struggling part of Pasadena morph into the poster child for the revival of historic business districts in Southern California. Little did she know that years later, she’d revisit this period for her USC master’s thesis, Saving Old Pasadena: Where Locals Took on City Hall and Won. The story of Old Pasadena is the story of the early days of the SoCal preservation movement, the extraordinary effort it takes to breathe new life into an entire commercial district, and how the work never really ends. Hear all this and more from Ingrid, from her firsthand experience to the many details she uncovered in her research.
Yettem: A Garden of Eden in Armenian California
How do you preserve the heritage of a place you have to leave? Find out from Ani Mnatsakanyan, who just finished her master’s thesis on the Central Valley town of Yettem. Armenian for “Garden of Eden,” Yettem is a tiny town with a huge impact. Learn how it came to be, how it helped Armenians rebuild their lives after fleeing genocide in their homeland, and how heritage can both reflect and transcend the physical environment.