May 4, 2020
Today’s guest is a first for PreserveCast. Aimee Jorjani was appointed by the President of the United States to be the first full-time chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation – the federal agency tasked with coordinating preservation policy across the government. From the halls of Congress to the pueblos of the southwest – Chariman Jorjani is doing her bit to promote preservation and we’ll learn what she’s planning next on this week’s PreserveCast.
ABOUT OUR GUEST
Aimee Jorjani earned Senate confirmation in June 2019 as the first full-time chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP).
Ms. Jorjani has nearly 20 years of experience in the fields of government and cultural resources from a variety of perspectives including both executive and legislative branches, as well as the non-profit sector. Her career began on Capitol Hill in 1999 working as a legislative aide to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). In 2002, she moved to the US Department of the Interior (DOI) and held several positions, including serving as the Deputy Secretary’s Special Assistant for Historic Preservation.
A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Ms. Jorjani graduated from Northern Michigan University with a major in political science and minor in public relations and later earned a Masters in Historic Preservation from Goucher College.
From the Preservation Maryland Studios, in the historic podcast district of Baltimore. This is PreserveCast. Today’s guest is a first for PreserveCast. Amy Jorjani was appointed by the President of the United States to be the first full-time chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. The federal agency tasked with coordinating preservation policy across the government. From the Halls of Congress to the Pueblos of the Southwest, Chairman Jorjani is doing her bit to promote preservation. And we’ll learn what she’s planning next on this week’s PreserveCast.
Before we start this week’s episode, I really want to thank you for listening, and I want to ask for your help. PreserveCast is powered by Preservation Maryland, a non-profit organization that depends on member contributions to fund its work. This podcast receives no government support and currently has no major funder support. Its budget is entirely dependent on listener contributions. I’m hoping you’ll consider making a quick gift to help support this podcast, which is bringing important preservation stories to thousands of listeners around the country. Think of us as your preservation Netflix. Any amount helps, and you can make a quick online donation by going to PreserveCast.org, and clicking the Donate Now button in the upper right-hand corner. We greatly appreciate it. Now, let’s get preserving.
Amy Jorjani earned Senate confirmation in June 2019, as the first full-time chairman of the Advisory Council in Historic Preservation. Ms. Jorjani has nearly 20 years of experience in the fields of government and cultural resources, from a variety of perspectives. Including both executive and legislative branches, as well as the non-profit sector. Her career began on Capitol Hill in 1999, working as a legislative aide to Representative Paul Ryan. In 2002, she moved to the US Department of the Interior, and held several positions, including serving as the Deputy Secretary Specialist Assistant. In 2002, she moved to the US Department of the Interior and held several positions, including serving as the Deputy Secretary’s Special Assistant for historic preservation. A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Ms. Jorjani graduated from Northern Michigan University, with a major in Political Science, and a minor in Public Relations. And later earned a Master’s in Historic Preservation, from Gaucher College in Maryland.
All right, well we’re here with Amy Jorjani, and it’s a pleasure to have you with us here today on PreserveCast, Amy. We want to talk about all of your experiences and the work that you do with the Advisory Council of Historic Preservation. But before we get there, let’s talk a little bit about your path to preservation. What got you involved in this work, and what kind of made you the person you are today?
Great question. You know, quite frankly, it all goes back to growing up in the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Just right in the heart of it, not far from any historically industrial areas. I always saw the beauty in those dirty bricks and was fascinated by the stories that many ethnic neighborhoods and places of worship had been built by immigrant craftspeople. They were just fascinating to gawk at. I saw beauty everywhere. I think many people, for a period of time, did not. And it was both stories that defined various ethnic neighborhoods, like where my parents grew up, and where their parents were, and where my great-grandparents immigrated to and essentially squatted on the shores of Lake Michigan. It was a– you know, these local stories were everywhere throughout Milwaukee. And this– the neighborhoods really kind of defined who you were and the midwestern ethic, work ethic within each one of them. And then, too, growing up, I saw a lot of suburban flight. And areas of the city that just are really underutilized. Going back today, places are really being revitalized. You could kind of call it a rust belt of a town, but at the same time, it has this beautiful background of Lake Michigan. Along those shores, I always had a great time driving up and down them with my mom on Sundays, looking at the beautiful mansions on Lake Drive and admiring those elegant homes by the local noted architects and clearly different than where I grew up. But it was those little places to escape to are always kind of fun to imagine. And then too, growing up in the city, I always lived within walking distance from school and jobs I had and that kind of walkability was really sort of ingrained in me. So it was kind of a preservation, if you will, that just sort of embedded this type of ethic.
And so what was your first job in the field? So did you end up going and studying this and then decided that you were gonna work in it or how did that all come about?
Yeah. It all kind of came about with– I guess growing up too we would always take little day trips to Chicago and that was fun and doing different architectural tours. I suppose my love of architecture initially got me engaged, but then I took a high school government class field trip on a train all the way out to Washington DC, and just like Mr. Smith goes to Washington, we arrived at Union Station and out those doors was the US Capitol building. That was just a sight to see when I was all of, I guess, 16 years old. Hadn’t seen anything like that before, and that just kind of got me interested, and someday I’m going to come back to DC, I wanna work in that building. I loved my government class and my government teachers. To this day we still keep in touch. And yeah, that eventually lead to working on Capitol Hill. So if you’re getting Capitol tours included as a part of a first job, preservation, that might be one of them. It was all pre 9 /11 and at that time we could just go anywhere around the Capitol building with constituents or Capitol Historical Society offered wonderful classes for staff on the history of various sections of the building and I took advantage of all of them. I kind of think I got hired by that congressman because I got really excited about the prospect of giving Capitol tours. But yeah, otherwise, a few years later, was lucky to be involved in the launch of the Preserve America Initiative. That was 17 years ago today, March 3rd, 2003, that Mrs. Bush announced the creation of this interagency initiative and at the time I worked at the Department of the Interior and my boss Lynne Scarlett was the co-chair of the initiative. And she chaired and co-chaired many things, but for this, I saw this folder on her chief of staff’s desk and I was quick to claim it and it was a wonderful opportunity to work closely with her and exclusively on something. And she could clearly tell I was very enthusiastic and trusted me every step of the way. At that point, it started out as a folder and three years later it became a full-time focus as the success of the initiative evolved. We had a grant program on the hill, funded through congress after two attempts, and learned many lessons on that. We worked with all sorts of governors and congressmen and senators in getting close to a thousand Preserve America communities designated. And that was all just– I mean looking back, it was all just a matter of a couple of years where this effort expanded and grew, Funding for it definitely helped the enthusiasm behind it. But at the same time, it was local pride and just getting to the heart of heritage tourism. And not that it was a new concept back then, but it was something that we were trying to use as economic driver and expand more on the role of preservation.
Yeah, and maybe we can talk a little bit more about Preserve America a second. But I do have to ask– you do mention, of course, in your bio that congressman that you worked for was Representative Paul Ryan who went on to some fame. People may have heard of him. And before you had the Department of Interior, you worked in that office. I mean, you mentioned him in a bio so I feel like it’s fair game. Anything you want to tell us about Paul Ryan? Does he love historic places? What’s his favorite interest in history? Give us something maybe we wouldn’t already know.
Oh, yeah. Yes, it was my first boss in The Hill, and it was during his freshman term of congress. I think the entire office was under 30 years of age [laughter] at the time. And he does appreciate historic places, and especially his wife. She loves all things historic and antique, and we always had discussions about that in places, sometimes in stores we’ve shopped at, and what have you. But they’ve always had I think two different homes in the heart of the historic district in Janesville, Wisconsin. She was so excited when they had their first home there. And the town of Janesville has quite a history. I think she’s a fifth-generation, so that his kids are sixth-generation. He was always passionate about the people and the industry and the places of his hometown. And yeah, that really correlated with every issue he touched. It always went back to Wisconsin and these communities within it. And so it was an honor to work for him, and I think we kind of try to out love Wisconsin to each other [laughter]. We are very proud. And of course, yeah, the Packer tradition. He’s done some wonderful videos over the years too on the history of the Green Bay Packers. And, in fact, in the speaker’s office suite – I guess you visit a few times – the speaker, he had Wisconsin Historical Society books all over [laughter] his office, in every bookshelf. So that was, again, just such a thrill to see his career progress. But then seeing the speaker suites overlooking the National Mall and having Wisconsin represented all over it was fantastic.
Very cool. So as you mentioned, after you left Representative Ryan’s office, you ended up in the Department of the Interior, and you gave us a little sneak preview of that. You talked a little bit about Preserve America. But tell us about what were you doing at DOI? How did you end up there? Then maybe we can go in a little more details about what Preserve America was and what it is today and all that kind of thing?
Sure. Yeah, the Interior Department was a really great opportunity. When you’re on The Hill, and you kind of get a glimpse of the Federal Government as a whole, kind of our staffing specific committee work of your boss to really get to dive into specific departments. And so going from The Hill to a specific department was just sort of neat way, and then also seeing what The Hill looks like from a department is also a very interesting perspective. But I started there initially for the first two years working with the system secretary on policy management budget. But in part the number of three person of the department. One of the few people who have department-wide authority. At the time, the Interior had over seven thousand employees. I think it was about nine bureaus then – that number keeps fluctuating – but each bureau has their own culture challenges, competing missions, legislative directives, expanded 13 times zones around the globe, of course, expanding to the territories. It was fascinating to see, from that perspective, the balance to manage everything overarchingly at the department level. So after working for the assistant secretary of policy, management, and budget, switched over to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, working for the director on secretarial initiatives. And to see the challenges that they faced in implementing them from a department level to a bureau level, where they were housed under the assistant secretary for fish, wildlife, and parks – their sister agency was the National Park Service who they fought for love and attention over – was a great experience to get these various levels and the experiences behind them. And quite frankly, skipping ahead now to being at the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, I can appreciate the various challenges that the federal agencies and the members of our council have. Whether it’s department wide or within a specific agency and other ways they need to comply with overarching directives is not for the faint of heart.
Yeah. And we actually just had a– we did a preserve cast with Tom Moriarty. He’s been involved with Preservation Action and a variety of different– helped create the National Main Street Program. And one of the things that we talked about with him were sort of these conflicting priorities and conflicting messages that different federal agencies have about preservation, so just keeping it straight and they’re all kind of working from different playbooks. And that could be a challenge. And I know that that’s obviously something that you guys focus on a lot at ACHP.
Yeah, certainly. I mean, it’s different playbooks, but it’s also, if you’re not understanding what they’re challenges are, you’re not going to be able to help them. And so I think getting the different perspectives from where preservation sits within an entity– and this even is the same for state historic preservation offices. They’re all housed within different sections of their state government. And so sometimes, when I am looking into a certain issue with a state or before I’m meeting with one, I always like to see where are they in the state structure of government. If they’re housed in a department of national resources, there may be slightly different priorities versus if they’re housed in an economic development entity. I think it’s worth researching that and kind of looking into that before proceeding on anything and certainly not expecting something overarching from everybody in the same mechanism. It’s all going to be done very differently.
So why don’t we take a quick break here, and when we come back, let’s talk a little bit more about Preserve America and then really get into the nitty-gritty of the advisory council. And we’ll do that right here on PreserveCast.
100 years ago, in 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was signed into law and officially granted 20 million American women the right to vote. This mass expansion of voting rights was the result of generations of intense activism known as the Women’s Suffrage Movement that has had a lasting legacy on the continued fight for equality in America. In recognition of the struggles and achievements of a once disenfranchised majority, PreserveCast is honored to share remarkable stories of suffragists within each episode this year. Beyond the Ballot is supported by Preservation Maryland, Gallagher Evelius & Jones Attorneys At Law, and the Maryland Historical Trust. To learn more about influential women, past and present, or to donate, please visit ballotandbeyond.org ballot and beyond dot o RG. This week on Ballot & Beyond we’ll learn about Dr. Liebe Sokol Diamond, a skilled and dedicated pediatric surgeon in Maryland. Read by Elle Colmers Cowan, Director of Advocacy at Preservation Maryland.
Dr. Liebe Sokol Diamond. Dr. Liebe Sokol Diamond was a pioneer in many ways and one of the nation’s leading pediatric orthopedic surgeons. Liebe Sokol Diamond was the only child of Max Sokol and Anne Hirshchhorn Sokol, who were deeply involved in helping Jews in Eastern Europe flee their homelands and resettle in the United States during the 1930s. Liebe was born with congenital ring constriction syndrome, which caused the loss of several fingers and toes while in the womb. By the time she was a teenager, she had undergone 25 surgical procedures. She would go on to use those experiences for the rest of her life in surgery, research and teaching. She once told a colleague, you can either bitch or moan and make everyone around miserable or accept what is reality and get on with your life. Sokol Diamond focused on hand and limb deformities, particularly orthopedic aspects of genetic diseases in children similar to her own and a medically underserved group at that time. Sokol Diamond was the first female resident at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital and became its first female orthopedic surgical resident in 1960s. She was certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery in 1963. Sometimes she said it was not working with a disability but gender that would present her biggest challenge. In an interview with J. Moore Magazine, she said, “In retrospect, maybe some of my rough times were because I was a woman. We were tolerated in a physical sense. Out of 200 interns and residents, there were only five women. You took what was dished out and you shut up and drink your beer. We all thought that if you made any noise, we’d be kicked out”. And became renowned in her field for her innovative techniques for correcting limb deformities. The children saw a surgeon with challenges similar to their own using her custom design surgical gloves. She drew on her personal experiences to tend to them and their families in a special and distinctive way. By sharing, Dr. Sokol Diamond said she could take some of their loneliness, some of their fear for the future. One of her students Jerome Reich Mister who went on to become the chief of orthopedic surgery at Sinai Hospital said she had the ability to relate to the kids and their families and give them the best possible expectations. It takes a special person who can speak with authority because she had lived through it. Dr. Sokol Diamond was a professor at the University of Maryland for over 30 years and consulted at many local hospitals. Dr. Liebe Sokol Diamond died in 2017 and her impact on medicine in Maryland was widespread.
This is Nick Redding, you’re listening to PreserveCast. Today we’re joined by Amy Jo Gianni, the Chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. And before we took our break, we were talking with Amy about Department of the Interior and how it sort of shaped her experience and her understanding of preservation to work both at the department level, at the bureau level, has worked in the halls of Congress. And while you’re at DOI, before we really get into ACHP, which is I want to spend some more time but you gave us a little bit of a sneak preview of Preserve America. But what was it– what was the ethos of it? Does it still exist? What should people know about Preserve America?
Preserve America is a federal initiative that encourages and supports community efforts to preserve and use and enjoy our nation’s cultural natural heritage and learn from it. The goals, there are several broad goals, creating a better shared knowledge of our nation’s past., strengthening regional and local identities, and just increasing participation and preserving our country’s cultural assets. And along with that supporting economic vitality for communities. It has components to it. A large one was a Preserve America communities. And I believe the number is around 1000. But there was a big growth in them between 2003 through maybe 2009 or [2005?], 2010. I remember keeping a tally of– when we reached all 50 states and then we reached all congressional districts and yeah, there was literally a Preserve America community everywhere. And to be one there, there was application process where they had to have the support their local government and have a preservation commission. And we’re trying to not make it burdensome, but there were just a few things to check off to become a Preserve American community that also for a period of time opened up funding for Preserve America grants. And that was a program that through seven rounds and about $20 million of funds funded just under 300 grant projects. And the beauty of that grant program was the broad range of projects they could fund through five primary categories of funding, through research and documentation. You could revise the National Register document, you could research community histories. You didn’t have to go through different national register purposes, but background for interpretive programs, historical markers, you name it. And then there was also a separate interpretation and education program where you could use a wide range of media. Now in this day and age, you got podcasts, you’ve got iPhones. And we started this before such a thing. But you could use it towards heritage trails, itineraries, walking tours, living history programs, interpretive plans, a wide range of things too, kind of welcome and bring people into your local community. And also in with the planning projects, promotional projects, and training for professional development and outreach so a community could learn to better utilize and promote the historic resources, so it was just– a lot of great projects came out of it. State historic offices could apply for grants to working with their communities, tribal officers or the Preserve America communities did, as well. And then there was, for a period of time, a few presidential awards and Preserve America stewards, which were volunteer efforts and noting various friends groups and other great organizations out there.
And we were able to authorize into law the Preserve America Grant program along with Save America’s Treasures, and so Preserve America is still around. It is in the law books, and it can funded again pretty much at any time with any either presidential proposal or act of Congress.
And will it [laughter]? I mean, and now you’re putting your crystal ball on here, but, I mean, do you think it will ever make a comeback? Or why did it stop? Was it just change of administration?
It was somewhat change of administration. So yeah, I guess. And then that’s why 2010, budget proposal, they were eliminated, Preserve America and Save America and under the HPF, although the Preserve America wasn’t always funded in HPF funds. It was sometimes moved to a different pot of money, but yeah, it was somewhat viewed as a Bush administration initiative, but it really wasn’t [laughter]. Bush was very active and engaged in it, but it wasn’t a White House initiative, by any means. Even going into the Bush library, you don’t see it mentioned. It wasn’t really the case. It was just sort of a misnomer.
But since then, there have been various grant programs introduced under the HPF that do a wide range of specific things related to research and documentation efforts. But, at the same time, those were all things that Preserve America did, as well, and so there is confusion with the various moving parts of various grant programs out there if, say for example, they were to go under a overarching Preserve America umbrella. That’s one way to kind of protect the overall goals of what preservationists like to utilize federal funds for. So yeah, it’s hard to say. I mean, I definitely do not have a crystal ball, but getting congressional champions is always key. We worked very closely, back when I worked in the Office of Policy Management and Budget, doing such things, and so it’s just a matter of doing that. But again, competing priorities. You got a National Park Service maintenance backlog. Maybe is the park service the best spot for these type of funding activities?
I don’t know. I can’t–
But at least Save America’s Treasures came back, and I think a lot of people thought that that was toast, so [laughter]–
Yeah, and that surprised a lot of people. I remember there was a letter going around from an architectural foundation through Congresswoman McCollum, I think, and it surprised the preservation community when that came back from the [inaudible] [laughter] and so even that was– you never know.
Yeah, you never know. So let’s talk a little bit about the advisory council. So you’re back in government, you spent some time in the private sector working for nonprofits doing some preservation advocacy, and you’re now with the advisor council and in a presidential appointment position. Senate confirmed. And you’re the first full-time chair. So what is the advisory council for somebody who doesn’t know? And what does it mean to be the first full-time chair of said council?
The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation – small little federal independent agency established with the National Historic Preservation Act in 1966 – promotes the preservation, enhancement, and sustainable use of our nation’s diverse historic resources. We also advise the President and Congress on National Historic Preservation Policy. So being an independent agency is key to note. And also key to note that we’re the advisory council on historic preservation not for historic preservation, working with a wide range of federal agencies and competing missions and where preservation sits among those.
And what they can do to support where preservation sits is key to what the advisory council does.
So on a day to day basis, what does that mean?
A big thing of what the ACHP does is the Section 106 review process. It is a part of the National Historic Preservation Act that is kind of a stop, look and see and listen approach to any federal licensing, permitting, or funding on any type of project. And how it could affect federal resources, or cultural resources.
Right. And so that’s a big piece of what’s happening. And then, as you said, advising on policy. So what is your role in all of this? And why is there a full-time chair and why wasn’t there one before?
Yeah. As chair and then a member of the council, I am one of 24 members. And the council’s very uniquely structured in that sense where we’ve got public and expert sit in members on it. We have a Native American on the council, about eight or nine federal agencies represented, and organizations like the National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers, and National Associations of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers. So a mix of non-profit organizations, federal government, public entities, and private citizens. And so it brings together, around the table, very unique perspectives.
And so again, I’m just one member of this 24 council but I do chair it. And for a long time, up until I just got confirmed, I guess in 2019, it was a part-time role based out of wherever that person was living. And so they are active in a variety of different ways but the council meets three times a year and in between meetings, obviously a lot of work is done. And then the chairman would come in town for the council meetings and conduct those. Meanwhile, being in Washington DC and having a regular presence of a chairman interacting with federal agencies, various federal initiatives, working with The Hill, it was really imperative to have a full-time chair in DC to be able to advise the Congress and the Administration on preservation policy and how we can work it in with other competing interests and priorities on a very regular basis.
The idea was floated around, I think I actually through Preserve America’s summit that took place in 2006. It was convening in New Orleans of a wide range of preservation professionals and agencies. And the big recommendation was to have more influence on preservation policy. Someone full time needs to be at the helm. And that’s how it happened in a strange way.
Since your involvement in Preserve America, it’s almost like you created your own position. But I’m sure that you didn’t have the ability to plan that far out. You’re not quite that good, right?
No, I couldn’t see. I can’t see in the future now and I couldn’t see it then.
That’s a shame. So anything that ACHP is working on right now that people should know about? I know you’re forming a historic trades task force. That’s pretty cool, near and dear to our heart here at Preservation Maryland and our program, The Campaign for Historic Trades. Do you want to talk about– I mean, that seems like something that’s really big. But anything else that you want to talk about or do you want to talk about that?
Well, I really love this idea of the historic trades task force. And I mean, we all know there’s a critical shortage of skilled craftspeople in the construction trades, even more so in the traditional trades needed for rehabilitation and restoration of our historic places. And keeping building materials in good repair is the best way to preserve the historic fabric. And the people on the front line doing this work are just as integral to historic preservation as architects and building owners and all that. And so it’s easier to get a masters and start preservation than it is to work and get skilled training. And there’s something kind of wrong with that in my mind and the need to go and tell this student loan debt to get an advanced degree and that learn how to use a saw. And so the ACHP, its unique capacity to convene federal and non-federal entities and offers a unique opportunity, I think in building a traditional skilled trades workforce. And in my capacity as chairman next week at our council meeting, I’m hoping to make this announcement to– and creating the traditional trades training task force. And the members including the National Park Service, of course, The Historic Preservation Training Center in Frederick, Maryland, our council member at the time of education, National Trust for Historic Preservation, and of course our dear friends at Preservation Maryland through the campaign for historic trades, and other interested ACHP members. We’re hoping that it can expand to include other representatives from skilled and craft restoration trades as well. But the goal is to me identify how the federal government can work with non-federal partners in the private sector to help meet the need for an expanded pool of skilled preservation craftspeople and then develop [inaudible]. But also, we could potentially work in a policy statement recommending further action on the need for trades training and ways to advance the training and to make this training mean something through curriculum that’s widely acknowledged like a certified card-carrying stamp of approval that they are, you know, traditional trade skilled. And so–
And it’s so strange that that has taken so long, right/ I mean, that just some of these things, I guess you realize how young a country we are and how young the preservation movement is at least in sort of a regulatory sense, right? Or it’s like you’re the first chairman of the advisory council. It’s taken this long to get there. Right? And now, we’re just sort of like, “We really should have–”
I mean, people have been dabbling in this, obviously. We’re not the first people to think about this, but it has taken this long for it really to get together and be what we really need to focus on this, and I think there’s sort of this recognition too that if we don’t do this now, we may not have an opportunity in 20 years to make sure that there’s a workforce there to do this kind of work. [inaudible] beyond [inaudible] at that point. But also, again, not being the first to think of this, and there are certainly been many efforts over– what I’m just seeing in my research for at least 40 years, and if we can kind of convene this all-star cast of characters with various abilities and ways to influence, maybe we can make things happen on this front. And so I am looking forward to working with you on this and to see what we can do in this capacity at the advisory council and historic preservation.
Oh, yeah. I was just going to jump in and sort of ask. Trades, obviously, is a priority for you, but is there anything else that you’re hoping to accomplish over the next several years of your appointment? And how long does your appointment last?
Yes. Technically, it’s a four-year appointment that started in 2017, although I was nominated in 2018 and confirmed in 2019. It goes until 2021, but the beauty of the advisory council, council members stay on until they are replaced, essentially. And so I may have the ability to have some overlap and to have some continuity of the council and the work we do, which is a good way to operate versus having a countdown clock. And so there’s a lot of good work being done, but the unique capacity, working with current members of the administration that are on our council has been going very well, working our partners with their opportunity zones and affordable housing initiatives. Every now and then, historic preservation ends up in a discussion of being a barrier to such a thing. But at the same time, these opportunities, they’re all rehabbing historic buildings that have been sitting vacant for decades. And affordable housing, just the other day, Secretary Carson noted that whatever can keep costs down– and of course, we all know that using what’s already built is a great way to do that. And so as long as I can work and engage– obviously federal agency partners while I can and doing that as much as possible. But otherwise, work that can continue on is– we’ve got a digital information task force that was formed to address the need for more uniformly available digital tools, including GIS. We’ve come into so many dead ends trying to get different systems to talk to one another. For example, even with the opportunities in this great interactive web based site from economic development agency and commerce, we could not get it to talk with the National Register GIS information. But I’m hoping that our savvy friends at the state level working with the shippos and their counterparts the economic development agencies can do a better job than we can at the government.
But anyways, this task force will work to address getting this information, the location of historic sites to better inform project planning. We just better information having access to it and having a clear connection to current government might be the way to improve efficiency and environmental reviews which include Section 106 reviews. So essentially, many governors have a lot of infrastructure projects in queue and wishlists for all that kind of thing. And if we can help in a timely way, do these reviews, it’s the digital information is what’s necessary. And again, that can’t be just– any effort can’t be dictated from the top down, and so every state has their own information in a different type of way. Every federal agency does too, for that matter. And then we have to be sensitive, of course, to information from tribes. Not everything should just be on the internet as well. And so the task force recently completed a report and has now developed an action plan. And so I’m looking forward to doing these different things on the action plan and helping to– I can see that some of these are definitely achievable. And along those lines too, we also have a Leveraging Federal Historic Buildings Working Group that– I know the state of Maryland had a recent group, the Interagency Working Group, to help develop the ACHP to overcome obstacles in increased leasing of federal historic buildings to the private sector. We’re trying to provide guidance on agency reuse and consolidation of federal buildings, and the biggest thing is trying to identify these obstacles and what we can do about that so agencies could better utilize the Section 111 leasing authorities. And so we’re going to be highlighting the state of Maryland’s plan next week in one of our meetings.
And yeah. Yeah, we were very happy to see that. It’s a very good report. And also, the fun side of preservation is preservation in practice. This partnership with the Park Service and the National Trust’s HOPE Crew summer program for architecture students at historically black colleges and universities. Schools that we partner with is Morgan State right in Baltimore, and that’s fun because we can easily see them, and they can easily come down this way. But the other ones are Tuskegee and Hampton in Virginia. And this program introduces African American architecture students to historic preservation and related career paths and raises awareness of the rich legacy of the HPC. And so it’s largely a summer program where they spend time at Grand Teton National Park working with the crew out there and then coming to DC for a period of time and then visiting various sites. And we gather all sorts of preservation professionals for them to hear from and engage with.
And so yeah, we’ve got the compliance side of the ACHP but then what I love to call the fun, external side of preservation.
Well, you’re definitely busy which is good to hear, and it’s great to hear all this good work that’s happening.
If people want to learn more about the advisory council, where do they find you online?
We are at achp.gov, and I believe there is Facebook and Twitter as well. They can probably access that.
And they can follow you on Twitter as well. Is that right?
Yes, there is a chairman ACHP Twitter feed now. And I have to say, Twitter has been a great source of information [laughter] on various federal initiatives and what states are doing and what the state partners are doing. I know I’m now dating and aging myself [laughter].
Yes, we have to get you on TikTok next, I think, Amy.
Yeah, I can do that. I don’t know if I’m ready for that [laughter].
I don’t know either. So here’s the other thing you’re probably not ready for. The most difficult question. Your favorite historic site or place.
Oh, gosh. So that’s like picking a favorite child. I’ve got three of those.
I know. And you kind of live in the political world, so be careful with your answer here [laughter].
I’m going to go with just gut feeling of what I remember seeing as a child and being in awe with and what may have led to further curiosities which, of course, is the Pabst Mansion right on Wisconsin Avenue in the heart of Milwaukee [laughter].
So it is this amazing mansion, of course, built by these German craftsmen. Beautiful woodwork, brickwork, and it is right– at one time, there were mansions just like it all up and down the street, and that’s the only one standing to this day. And so it’s always neat to– where a historic site can– it’s obviously amazing to see on its own, but then it also directs you to learn more about what was around it and why it looks different now and various local policies that led to that. And in a funny way, it’s near a college campus. I have a feeling, that led to some of its demise nearby, but it’s just a neat place.
And is this presumably the family that made Pabst Blue Ribbon?
Yes. It is. Yes, Frederick Pabst and Captain Pabst. And in fact, there is even a little addition off to the side that is this really neat little structure that was used in the 1893 World’s Fair as the Pabst exhibit space. And it was there where they received their blue ribbon [laughter].
Well, that is a fantastic place to end this conversation. Didn’t think we would end up with–
Of course [laughter].
–Pabst Blue Ribbon, but I would expect nothing else from the Midwestern chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. So it’s been a pleasure talking with you. Looking forward to seeing all the good work that you’re going to do over the next few years in your role as chairman of the advisory council. Thank you so much for joining us today on PreserveCast.
Yeah. Well, thank you, Nick. And thank you for all you do.
All right. And we’re out.
[music] Thanks for listeing to PreserveCast. To dig deeper into this episode’s show, notes, and all previous episodes, visit preservecast.org. You can also find us online at Facebook and Twitter @preservecast. This program was supported by the Historic Preservation Education Foundation. PreserveCast is produced by Preservation Maryland and Baltimore City. Thanks again for your support, and remember to keep preserving. [music]