Month: September 2009

This Place Matters – Vote for Your Favorites

What do you get when you ask the public to download a simple sign, find a place that is important to them, photograph themselves in front of that place holding the sign and then download it to the Internet? You get This Place Matters. More than 2,000 people took the National Trust for Historic Preservation (full disclosure: my employer) up on their offer, and the results are fascinating.  When you have some time, go to the site, click on the slide show, and sit back and watch.  I guarantee you’ll love it! And now, the Trust is having a This Place Matters photo contest where you can go online and vote once per day for your favorite This Place Matters photo.  The top three photographers win a digital camera.  (Full disclosure:  I am not eligible.) You can guess which photo I’m voting for: Miller’s Grocery (shown above) in Christiana, Tennessee.  (Full disclosure:  I do not know the photographer or the subject.)  I just love this picture. Perhaps it is because it comes from my home …

Serendipity and The Fretboard Journal

Last Friday as I boarded my plane in Dublin, I opened the overhead bin and came across a banjo case.  A nearby passenger asked if it was mine, and I said, “No, but I was going to ask the same question.”  A slight man with a female companion sitting across the aisle identified himself as the owner of the case, which he said held a bouzouki. Well, my antennae went up and I recalled an article I read on the flight over in the new issue of my favorite magazine, The Fretboard Journal. I dug in my bag, quickly found the article about bouzouki maker Edward Victor Dick and passed it along.  It came back as the bouzouki owner pointed to a picture of Tony McManus in another part of the magazine and said, “I know this guy.  He’s played on some of my recordings.” At that my new acquaintances were asked to change seats so I could enjoy having a family with two children under the age of 4 across the aisle for a …

Why Should We Care About an International National Trust Movement?

We have just completed a wonderful International Conference of National Trusts here in Dublin—the 13th in the history of the National Trust movement. I suspect that when a small group of Anglophiles gathered together in the 1970s in Scotland for what became the first gathering of the world’s National Trusts, they could not have imagined either the spread of their movement or the diversity of people, countries, issues and models that we have seen this week from among the 200+ delegates in attendance. To read my full post on the wrap-up to the ICNT13, visit the PreservationNation blog. More to come… DJB

Why Do You Hate Your Knife?…

…and other tidbits of cultural commentary from an American in Ireland. On our second night in Dublin we were enjoying a wonderful dinner in the historic Tailors Hall headquarters of An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland.  I had the pleasure of sitting between the An Taisce past-president and a board member born in that far-away Irish town of Knoxville, Tennessee.  (His wife is Irish and as a software engineer he had the freedom to work from home.)  It was a delightful evening filled with laughter from the witty conversation.  I was on my best behavior, so I was surprised when all of a sudden my Irish seatmate – a distinguished botanist – turns to me and says, “Why do you hate your knife?” In typical American fashion, I was using my knife and fork to cut my food then placing the knife on the side of the plate while switching the fork to my right hand to eat.  She proceeded to give me a lesson on “eating Irish style” so that the fork stayed …

Irish History: As Fresh as Today’s News

As part of today’s International Conference of National Trusts, I joined a tour into the countryside to explore a bit of Irish history and see rehabilitation and interpretive efforts at work. Our host for the conference, An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland, owns a 1748 canal running through Ireland’s valley of the kings along the River Boyne.  The canal is under restoration and we had a chance to meet with the energetic project manager and learn about his work. The lock at the top is where the salt water from the sea meets the fresh water of the river.  The picture below is a historical view from the An Taisce web site of the canal in operation. This important part of the Irish attempt to capitalize on the Industrial Revolution was only one of the sites we visited.  I mentioned earlier in the week about seeing the silver at Christ Church Cathedral donated by King William in honor of his victory in Ireland that solidified his hold on the English throne.  Today, we visited …

Heritage of the World in Trust

Every two years the world’s preservation and heritage conservation community comes together for the International Conference of National Trusts, a wonderful gathering of colleagues and friends working together across the globe to protect, enhance and responsibly enjoy our planet’s fragile heritage.  To read my full post on the opening of ICNT13, check out the PreservationNation blog on the National Trust web site. More to come… DJB

Santiago Calatrava’s Dublin Bridges (And More) By Dawn’s Early Light

I am blessed with two talented children who teach me so much every day.  Claire has an imaginative and artistic eye that she uses to great effect in her photography of buildings and landscapes.  Andrew has been fascinated by architecture since he was a toddler and stood in our hall to carefully run his hand over the curved beaded siding on our wall.  As a preservationist and father, I love talking with them about their passions. So when Andrew texted me on Friday morning to say, “Dad, there are two Santiago Calatrava-designed bridges in Dublin,” I knew they must be special.  I wanted to see them not only based on Andrew’s message, but because I had seen the Spanish-born Calatrava’s Milwaukee Art Museum (a building I’ll be in again in a few weeks) and was intrigued as to  how he handled his designs in this city of bridges. To make a long story short, I left in dawn’s early light this morning and went on a 1 1/2 hour walk, beginning at Calatrava’s James Joyce …