J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Freedom’s Way Conference in Concord, 26-28 March

This is the last day to register for the Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area’s three-day conference on interpreting “Community Character and Common Themes” in local history.

This event will take place in Concord, 26-28 March, and use that historic town as a laboratory to investigate engaging ways to interpret the meaning and memory of place.

The conference description says:
In a rapidly globalized increasingly homogeneous world, it is the character of the places in which we live that define us. Local stories and places provide a lens through which to develop community identity and sense of place. The conference will explore the intimate link between discovery and interpretation as a means of bringing local stories to life within individual communities, connecting them to themes within the National Heritage Area.
John R. Stilgoe, Harvard University’s Robert & Lois Orchard Professor in the History of Landscape, will deliver the keynote address, “Verandas and Dooryards: Observing Landscape Close to Home.” Historian Bill Fowler of Northeastern University will speak on how regional history shapes the way we think. Case studies, presentations, and round tables will explore best practices in interpretation and educational programming using local resources.

The organizers are offering behind-the-scenes tours of The Wayside at Minute Man National Historical Park, The Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods, The Old Manse (shown above), and other historic locations in Concord.

This conference is aimed to counteract a common challenge for local historical societies and small sites: focusing on local places, artifacts, and stories so closely as to omit the connections with other sites in neighboring towns that, when woven together, can tell a larger story that’s still grounded in the local communities. For example, every Massachusetts town has its own story of citizens responding to the Massachusetts Government Act of 1774 and deciding whether to switch allegiance (and tax funds) to the extralegal Massachusetts Provincial Congress. Together those stories add up to a mass movement and a governmental revolution in the province.

As a sign of how many different organizations are involved in this event, the Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area is working in partnership with the U.S. National Park Service, Minute Man National Historical Park, Boston National Historical Park, John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor, American Antiquarian Society, The Drinking Gourd Project, Fitchburg Art Museum, The Guild of Historic Interpreters, Mass Audubon Society, Nashua River Watershed Association, New England Scenic Trails, The Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods, The Thoreau Society, The Trustees of Reservations, Walden Pond State Reservation (DCR), and Wachusett Mountain State Reservation (DCR).

As I said above, registration closes 20 March, and space is limited. The full conference costs $30, and cheaper registration is available for certain days only. Click the link above for more information.

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