Friday, May 20, 2011

Last week at the Florida Anthropological Society in Orlando, we presented a paper on our Archaeology: It's Out There program.  What the public who attended our "Out There" events may not have realized was there was method to our madness, very much guided by Civic Tourism.  This blog post will review some of the method and theory behind Civic Tourism, discuss how it can apply to archaeology and our work at FPAN, and some lessons we've learned or would like to improve on for the next round.

First off, Civic Tourism is close kin to cultural heritage tourism.  While heritage tourism focuses more on bringing visitors to sites of historical significance, civic tourism focuses more on the reciprocal relationship between the tourism industry and the residential community.  What I really took away from reading the Civic Tourism book was that good places to live are good places to visit and vice versa.  The definition can be found on the Civic Tourism website

To reframe tourism’s purpose, from an end to a means—that is, from a market-driven growth goal to a tool that can help the public preserve and enhance what they love about their place, while revitalizing the local economy. 

On paper this can sound a little dry, but in reality this approach can be a lot of fun!  For example, in Ft. Collins we checked out bikes from the free bike library in Old Town, rode along trails past the Poudre River, over to the Lindell Mill, finishing at the O'Dell Brewery.  The tour included cultural, historical, and environmental interpretive themes in telling the story of Ft. Collins as a place.

Visit to historic Lindell Mill, Ranchway Feeds.

Supporting local businesses!

What resonated for me when I attended the Civic Tourism conference last summer and read Dan Shilling's Civic Tourism: The Poetry and Politics of Place, were the following points:

1.  In crafting a story of place you should integrate cultural heritage with the natural and built environment.  If done properly, the benefits therefore should be economic, social, and environmental.  Being mindful of environmental impacts is imperative to archaeologists and one reason we tend to clash with tourism.  We have to think of sites in terms of sustainability- at what point can people "love" the site to death, over visit, or cause disturbance.  Civic tourism then is one way to invite the public while promoting responsible visitation.
2.  Another tenant of Civic Tourism that resonated with me as a public archaeologist is that "more is not better, better is better."  Our "Archaeology: It's Out There" did not render our highest participant levels, but certainly the quality of event was raised.

3.  Finally, I took to heart the departing message of the book, that the hardest part of developing civic tourism is not the promotion and marketing, but developing content on authentic stories.  Archaeologists can really help in this regard.  By mining the state files and putting together historical contexts that take into account deep time, environment, and settlement, we can provide authentic content.  (A constant battle we face in promoting tourism in St. Augustine.)

Source: Shilling Civic Tourism p. 87

Florida Archaeology Month provided a perfect opportunity to take these new learnings from Civic Tourism and apply them to our month long celebration. The theme of FAM 2011 was Native People, Native Plants. What a perfect platform to integrate the cultural, historical, and environmental!

One inadvertent impact was the deliberation we saw taking place among the visitors.  It recalled notes I'd taken from an Instruction and Design course I took from Linda Levstik at University of Kentucky.  I pulled from the shelf my Barton and Levstik Teaching History for the Common Good  and found this excerpt applied to what we were seeing in the field.  The authors state that: Purpose of education is to prepare students to participate in a pluralistic democracy. 

According to Barton and Levstik this is best achieved by taking a Humanistic approach to:  
  1. Promote reasoned judgment: evaluate causes and consequences of historical actions.
  2. Promotes expanded view of humanity. Thinking of people different than ourselves.
  3. Deliberation over the common good. Chance to discuss the justice of past events or social arrangements, as well as justice of their legacy.
Source: Barton and Levstik Teaching History for the Common Good : 35-37

In the end we achieved strategic goals as we explored new partnerships, found new audiences, integrated social media, encouraged deliberation, and got our foot in the door for Civic Tourism opportunities in our region. 

But we're not done yet.  For the next round we've learned:

We should not attempt to do these all in the same month:) 
While its fun to get in the spirit of FAM, the tours take a lot of time to set up and coordinate.  The events would be better served if we limited it to one a month over a year. 

We recognize providing authentic content is our greatest contribution to the Civic Tourism process. 
We provide authenticity by basing interpretation on archaeologically discovered points. 

In addition to providing content, we also learned to encourage deliberation. 
It becomes a natural activity at these kind of site visits.  Getting on and off the bikes in multiple pairings lends itself easily to people discussing points from different perspectives. 

We need to think broadly about environmental and built environmental partners. 
It wasn't until working on the conclusion of the FAS paper that it hit me, all the partners we left out to bring the Civic Tourism piece full circle.  We should have taken the Tolomato Cemetery visitors over to the Florida Cafe, a local food venue just across the street.  When we were at Mala Compra, we should have biked from the State Park to the County Park, then on to JT's Fish shack.  To provide true economic benefit, we need to be sure our visitors are investing in the community (buying lunch, spending money at local venues). 

For more images check our Facebook gallery or see some highlights below.

If you made it this far, you deserve a prize! Good reading!
 Sarah Miller

Many thanks to the staff and volunteers of the Northeast Regional Center: Amber Grafft-Weiss, Sarah Bennett, Robbie Moore, Toni Wallace, Jennifer Knutson, Lisa McIntire, Flagler College Archaeology Club

And thank you to our many, many partners in pulling off another FAM success!
Diana Eissing and GTM Preserve
Chris Newman
Shorty Robbins, Tera Meeks, and JaxParks
Albert Hadeed, George Hanns and Flagler County Board of Commissioners
Greg Smith and Marsha Chance
Alfred Bea and Ravine Gardens State Park
John Stavely and Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park
Carl Halbirt and City Archaeology
Steven Shomo, Syner-qi
Ann Stodola, Barbara Beyerl, and Camp Chowenwaw
Elizabeth Gessner and the Tolomato Cemetery Preservation Association
Julie Scofield Dot Moore, Volusia County Parks and Rec
Keith Ashley, Robert Thunen and students of UNF
Susan Mowery, Jennifer and Michael Harrison
City of Fernandina Beach
Michele Williams, SAAA and Flagler College
Marty Healey, LAMP and St. Augustine Lighthouse

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