Warm and cozy. For nearly my entire life, achieving that snuggly feeling during the long winter months has been a top priority for me.
The arsenal of things I use to feel warm and cozy include an overflowing drawer of wool socks, our rescue dog Collins, and a growing pile of books with subjects relating to hygge, coorie, and other geography based, self-care hacks. And, in this new year, I hope to acquire a little Finnish sisu – stamina, perseverance, and determination. I also recently learned about a concept akin to spontaneous kindness which is borrowed from ancient Sanskrit, kama muta or काममूत. It means ‘moved by love.’
You might be asking yourself, “what does a sock drawer, stacks of self-care books, and kama muta have to do with historic preservation?”
When I describe the preservation field to my non preservationist friends, I tell them that historic preservation is all about place and how people enjoy, celebrate, connect with + love the historic places that are meaningful to them.
As preservationists, so many of us are ‘moved by love’ to study, celebrate, protect, and invest in historic places. They can ignite happiness and they can also bring us together to reflect on our shared history. Places hold a power than can be therapeutic, yet they can also reveal our human struggles. Pennsylvania’s historic places teach us there is still much we have yet to learn about past peoples, cultures, and events.
A new year offers opportunities for us all to be moved by the places we love and to for us to discover how our collective efforts can create positive preservation outcomes. Here are a few of the opportunities I’m looking forward to starting or continuing in 2023:
Pennsylvania’s Statewide Historic Preservation Plan
One way we hope to connect with you is through the statewide historic preservation planning process. Pennsylvania’s plan, #PreservationHappensHere, is set to expire in 2024 so we’re gearing up for the next statewide plan.
In 2023, PA SHPO will engage with Pennsylvanians in every part of the commonwealth to help inform Pennsylvania’s next statewide preservation plan. In the upcoming months we will share more information on ways to connect with us throughout the planning process.
Pennsylvania’s Historic Places Inventory
I’m also looking forward to continuing PA SHPO’s proactive efforts to better identify, document, and promote underrepresented stories and places in Pennsylvania. Identifying and documenting historic and archaeological resources is the foundation of the SHPO’s work. All our programs start with identifying historic properties – from the National Register of Historic Places to Environmental Review and to our incentive programs such as Federal Historic Tax Credits and Keystone Grants.
Identified historic and archaeological resources are added to Pennsylvania’s Historic Places Inventory. This inventory is available online through Pennsylvania’s State Historic and Archaeological Resource Exchange (PA-SHARE) for the benefit of all Pennsylvanians. It also helps our partners and citizens of Pennsylvania understand how our commonwealth developed and evolved — plus the map-based inventory can assist in making informed decisions about future plans in Pennsylvania’s communities.
We are in the final phase of the Baseline Survey initiative. After this survey effort concludes in 2023, PA SHPO will act on the recommendations that have been collected over the last three years. To date, over 350 properties have been recommended for additional research and survey. These recommendations will help serve as the foundation for an ongoing, proactive survey program.
PA-SHARE now has over 4,000 registered users. In a survey sent to PA-SHARE users during 2022, PA-SHARE was rated 8 out of 10 stars. The most consistent benefits cited include:
- Immediate access to all of PA SHPO’s consolidated data in one online location.
- Streamlined processes to electronically submit project information are easy to use.
- Fast PA SHPO response times keep projects moving.
To ensure the reliability and responsiveness of PA-SHARE we continue to make routine improvements and have begun planning for a significant system update, which we internally refer to as PA-SHARE 2.0.
PA-SHARE improvements will focus on public access as well as add new features and functionality. We expect the update to address two major categories:
- Technology: Incorporate new technology or upgrade existing technology, including hardware and software such as new versions of Esri’s ArcGIS program.
- Functionality: Add new functionality or improve existing functionality based on customer feedback and staff needs related to access, data enhancements, project management, and user experience.
It is our goal to begin the development process for PA-SHARE improvements in the fall of 2023.
New PA SHPO Staff
We welcomed five new staff members within the past year. Our new team members have already contributed their curiosity and fresh pairs of eyes which will help us refine our processes and better serve Pennsylvania.
I am looking forward to learning more of their perspectives and talents plus absorbing their enthusiasm and ideas as we continue to define our priorities in 2023 and into future years.
In 2023, the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office (PA SHPO) is looking forward to working alongside the public and our partners and using our programs and resources to assist others achieve their preservation goals.
We will continue to encourage the preservation of places in Pennsylvania that matter the most to our communities, and we aim to also make more connections and grow interest in the places that tell Pennsylvania’s many stories.
Please share with us a place (or places) in Pennsylvania you love in the comments section!