Thursday, March 9, 2017

A year ago this week I wrote a blog "Archaeology Advocacy: Where have all the tabs gone?" after Florida's inaugural Archaeology Advocacy Day. At the time I was working on a chapter on archaeology advocacy for Robert Connolly and Elizabeth Bollwerk's edited volume, Positioning Your Museum as a Critical Community Asset: A Practical Guide, and spent time looking at organizations dependent on public funding that promote advocacy on their web pages. I was frustrated to find so few archaeological organizations that I belong to feature advocacy on their web pages and took a snap shot of the digital landscape in 2016.

Libraries, museums, and preservation organizations with Advocacy featured in permanent masthead tabs or as an issue on the Florida Trust web page.

Over the course of the year as advocacy became a buzzword across all these organizations, I was excited to think a year later there would be dramatic results on their web pages. These pages are the primary portal for communication to the public and to their members; they are a reflection of what matters to these organizations. I was already thinking of titles for this blog post like: "Archaeology Advocacy: Now with more tabs!" or "Advocacy in Organizations: Which web page wore it best?" But instead I'm going with "Archaeology Advocacy Tabs 2017 Edition: Where are they now?"

Screen caps from archaeology organizations 2016. "Advocacy" does not appear.
Screen caps from archaeology organizations 2017. "Advocacy" still does not appear, although Calls to Action and Coalition are now featured prominently in body of the SAA and SHA homepages.

In short, the tabs let me down. I was expecting from what I had heard about website redesigns that the actual word "Advocacy" would be featured in the permanent tabs at the masthead for each organization. They are not. I thought the word would appear somewhere on the homepage; it does not. There are call to action buttons and links, which I'll get to in a second, but overall it makes archaeology advocacy look like a temporary topic or fodder for a task force.

Coalition for American Heritage.
What is new are two emerging advocacy organizations. The largest is the national Coalition for American Heritage. On their homepage they state, "We support the nation's historic preservation program and research in history, archaeology, anthropology, and the social sciences." They are a coalition of:
Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA)
Society for American Archaeology (SAA)
American Anthropological Association (AAA)
American Cultural Resources Association (ACRA)
Links to the Coalition are present on the SAA and SHA website as featured topics in the mainframe but not as permanent masthead tabs.
The Coalition's leaders include the 
This sent me down an interesting wormhole because AAA and ACRA were not part of my screen captures from last year. And something fist sized advocacy heart grew, and grew, and grew to 10 times the size!

Advocacy tabs in the wild and in all their glory- circled in red.
Both ACRA and AAA feature Advocacy--the actual word!--not just on their website but as one of the permanent masthead tabs just as other publicly funded organizations do. The ACRA tab takes you to their Priorities and Positions page, but the tab has more drop down options: Advocacy Fund, Latest News, CRM Industry in the Age of Trump FAQ page, Dakota Access Pipe Line Statement (DAPL), and Lobby Day.  

Hovering over the AAA "Participate and Advocate" tab brings up a drop down menu where the first few sub tabs are how to get involved in AAA committees. The actual "Advocacy" tab that takes you to something resembling advocacy is 7 subheadings down (after "Donate") but clicking on the link does take you substantial content. The AAA Advocacy page features sub menus: Advocacy Efforts, Position Statements, Opportunities with the United Nations, Protect Academic Freedom, and Advocacy Action Center.

So what about the Florida advocacy digital landscape? Not much has changed on the pages I reported on last year (see 2017 screen caps above). The Florida Anthropological Society updated their webpage, but no advocacy tab. FAS did have an advocacy panel last year at the annual meeting and encouraged members to get involved, but advocacy has no presence on their website. It communicates information about the annual conference, Archaeology Month, and information on chapters, membership, officers and awards. The FAC page is the same as it was last year with no mention of advocacy.

What is new on the Florida advocacy digital landscape is a new organization, the Florida Archaeological Preservation Association (FAPA). After the Isolated Finds/Citizen Archaeology Permit legislative battle of 2016 over SB 803/HB 1054, archaeologists started to get better organized and as several groups started to form, FAPA was the first to file 501(c)(4) paperwork to support legislative lobbying for archaeological preservation. The FAPA Facebook page is very active with examples of looting, archive of past articles and issues, and postings from Advocacy Day.

Formation of FAPA is a good thing for Florida archaeology. My two concerns is the group is so far very Tallahassee-centric and I hope communication to other archaeologists about the organization improves over the next year. My other concern is nowhere on the page does the word advocacy appear. Does this matter? I think it does. Archaeologist urgently need to become more literate in advocacy issues. Not just the current crisis, but the history, the tools, and the greater context of advocating so we can get better and do this forever and forever. And it's not just missing from FAPA, it's also missing from the Coalition website.

It's clear advocacy issues are making their way to organizational websites as a reaction to the crisis we are in now, but that's only half the battle when it comes to advocacy. What happens when the eminent crisis is over? Is there a place for advocacy in archaeological organizations during the calm? What will the digital landscape look like in 2020?

After tracking this for more than a year, I'll end with my unsolicited advice:

  1. Make "Advocacy" an obvious tab and the masthead and leave it there. Communicate to your members and the public that advocacy is important, it's ongoing, and it's here to stay.
  2. Create courses on "Archaeology Advocacy" with syllabi that demonstrate the multidisciplinary nature of advocacy, the shared stories of how nationally we came together to form the laws we do have, but add readings on advocacy tool kits from other organizations with evaluation of their success.
  3. Archaeological conferences should have standing advocacy offerings, a round table or workshop or session on Archaeology Advocacy. 
  4. Donate dollars or time to organizations the support advocacy by becoming a member or collecting donations to sustain their efforts.
  5. Create clearinghouse pages in your own organization on issues that matter and as many varied sources of support as you can post to. The issues shift slightly year to year and this will go a long way to keeping information fast at hand.
  6. Look into the Roots and Shoots Toolkit to start the discussion of advocacy early with K-12 students and expand offerings for adults. If archaeology is not somehow relevant to the communities in which you work, it will cease to exist.
  7. Add an advocacy slide to your current lectures or presentations. Whenever I include legislative current events in my talks, that's generally the first question after the lecture showing people want to learn more and do more to support archaeological resources. 

And fair is fair- here is the FPAN website, where the word "Advocacy" does not appear....yet. Advocacy issues have a dedicated page and is listed under announcements and FAQ, but as of this writing is not featured prominently on our page.

To be continued in 2018.......

I'd like to dedicate this blog to Barbara Clark for organizing Advocacy Day this year and last at the Florida state Capitol in Tallahassee. Pictures seen on various center websites show the fruits of her efforts and represent a drop in the bucket of effort it takes to coordinate and bring a large group of people together. Well done Barbara and see you next year!

Links to organizations featured in this blog:

Coalition for American Heritage
American Cultural Resources Association
American Anthropological Society
Society for American Archaeology
Society for Historical Archaeology
Florida Anthropological Society
Florida Archaeological Preservation Association
Florida Archaeological Council
Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots
Positiong Your Museum as a Critical Community Asset: The Resource Guide: Advocacy

Text and images: Sarah Miller, FPAN staff

One Response so far.

  1. Unknown says:

    Terrific assessment, Sarah! Thank you so very much! I'm going to put this out there to the greatest extent possible . Advocacy matters, it's critical! Thank you!! Giovanna Peebles, VT

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