by Anne Petersen
On March 13, SBTHP was pleased to host a lecture at the Presidio Chapel by Dr. Ned Kaufman, Adjunct Professor of Historic Preservation at Columbia University. The lecture, titled “Extraordinary Prizes in Ordinary Places: How Preserving Everyday Things Can Save People and the Planet,” was coordinated by UCSB History Graduate Student Alison Rose Jefferson, and co-sponsored by UCSB Grad Division, UCSB Public History Graduate Student Association, UCSB AD&A Museum, UCSB History Department, UCSB Art History and Architecture Department, and UCSB Interdisciplinary Humanities Center (IHC). This powerhouse partnership resulted in an engaging and informative evening enjoyed by over fifty members of the community.
During his talk, Dr. Kaufman, Author of Place, Race, and Story: Essays in the Past and Future of Historic Preservation (2009) and Pressures and Distortions: City Dwellers as Builders and Critics (2011), noted that preservation projects in the U.S. have typically been devoted to saving extraordinary and unique places. While those places deserve special treatment, Dr. Kaufman issued a plea for recognition and appreciation of the nation’s “ordinary” places. These places can include the barber shops, diners, post offices, and other gathering places that foster community ties and a sense of belonging. These “third places,” a term originally coined by Ray Oldenburg in the late 1980s, are not often listed when people are asked directly about the places that are special or meaningful to them. Dr. Kaufman convincingly articulated through several examples, however, the sense of loss, displacement and sometimes even psychological trauma that can take place when third spaces, neighborhoods, and in startling examples from contemporary China, even entire communities are displaced or destroyed.
Dr. Kaufman’s thought-provoking lecture led to a lively reception in the courtyard outside the Chapel, and attendees discussed the examples presented and shared their personal experiences with preservation projects and meaningful places. Dr. Kaufman generously stayed through the reception, signed books and chatted with guests. In case you missed the event, both of Dr. Kaufman’s books are available in the gift shop at El Presidio SHP.
“Extraordinary Prizes in Ordinary Places” served as an impressive kickoff to the 2014 lecture season at SBTHP. We hope to see everyone again soon at our upcoming lecture by Max Kurrillo and David Kier titled, “The Old Missions of Baja and Alta California, 1697-1834” which will be held on April 10 at 7:00pm at the Presidio Chapel.
Anne Petersen is the associate director for historical resources at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.