Tag Archives: interns

A Q+A with our summer intern, Emma John

Emma John is a second-year PhD student in History at UC Santa Barbara interested in public history and nineteenth-century U.S. history with a particular focus on women.  As an IHC Public Humanities Graduate Fellow, John recently completed an internship at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, and has been working with the Casa de la Guerra, a historic house museum maintained by the Trust and former residence of José de la Guerra, the fifth comandante of the Presidio.

Emma John, working in the Presidio Research Center. Photo by Kevin McGarry.

As a Public Humanities Graduate Fellow you are interning this summer at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP). What work are you doing in the internship? 

This summer I have tackled a few projects. I started the summer designing new programming activities for Casa de la Guerra. These programs are meant to foster new types of engagement with the space—either moving through it differently or, for school groups, connecting the de la Guerra story to what students are learning about in Social Studies classes. At the moment I am helping design a brochure for Casa de la Guerra. This has involved consultation with museum employees, research, and selecting appropriate images from the Presidio Research Center to best represent the museum and the de la Guerra family. When finished, the brochure will provide a brief but informative introduction to the site.

What has your investigation into the history of the De la Guerra family revealed about the historical and continuing significance of the Casa de la Guerra site for the Santa Barbara community?

Learning about the de la Guerra family has been key to answering the larger questions I had about the history of Santa Barbara. Coming from the East Coast, I knew very little about the history of California.  Casa de la Guerra is not only significant to Santa Barbara’s history, but to California’s history. When they were first building Casa de la Guerra, Spain ruled Santa Barbara. By the home’s completion, Santa Barbara was part of Mexico. Jose died in 1858 as a citizen of the United States. Casa de la Guerra is representative of the significant cultural changes that have impacted Santa Barbara from the town’s inception.

Additionally, Casa de la Guerra has historically served as a town center. Jose de la Guerra was held in high esteem by Santa Barbara and his home often served as a site of social and civic functions such as weddings or settling legal disputes. Plaza de la Guerra was specifically built where it is and named in honor of the family in 1853.  Given that Plaza de la Guerra is back in the news, it is interesting to consider the site’s historical roots and significance.

Your research is helping to shape new interpretive programming at Casa de la Guerra. What might this programming look like?

Something great about the de la Guerra family is that several researchers have already documented their lives. I am utilizing that work to create programming that helps visitors imagine Casa de la Guerra as it existed in the nineteenth century—a bustling hub of activity.  For students I am trying to create programming in line with California curriculum standards. This might mean imagining the de la Guerra family in the context of Westward expansion, or considering the civic issues of Plaza de la Guerra.

Emma John at Casa de la Guerra, photo courtesy of UCSB IHC.

There are ongoing discussions about revitalizing De La Guerra Plaza, just opposite Casa de la Guerra. Is your work at SBTHP informing any of those discussions?

I have been considering ways of incorporating Plaza de la Guerra into museum programming. While it is important for museums to consider contemporary issues, it is also important to consider the longevity of programming versus current events. The goal is to incorporate contemporary issues such as talks of revitalizing Plaza de la Guerra while also making sure there are other programming ideas that will be relevant even after town discussions have shifted elsewhere.

Your research interests are in New England house museums; has this internship aligned with some of that work and/or pushed you in new directions?

Again, growing up in the Northeast has led to some, *ahem* strong regional biases.  However, I have been overcoming those biases while learning about Santa Barbara’s history and the history of California in general.  It has been great to get out of my historical comfort zone and imagine how my research interests make sense in California.

What has been the most exciting or rewarding part of the internship so far?

I love learning about local history wherever I am, and this internship has provided an unmatched opportunity to do just that. The trust does so much cool working interpreting and teaching Santa Barbara’s history and I’m thankful to be a small part of it.

How has your work so far in the Public Humanities Graduate Fellows program influenced your understanding of the role of public humanists in their local communities?

We had such a wide variety of guest speakers [in the Skills for the Public Sphere course] and internship opportunities this past spring—things that I had not even considered would fall under the umbrella of public humanities. So I certainly have a greater understanding of what is possible as a public humanist. Additionally, I’ve been learning about the importance of teamwork and collaboration. Historians are really good at solo pursuits such as archival work and writing. We tend to joke about the amount time we spend reading and thinking about dead people (one of my friends once baked a birthday cake for a nineteenth century missionary whose diary she was reading).  However, public humanities requires good relationships with the living.  As someone who is pursuing public history and humanities I’ve appreciated the opportunity to develop those skills of creating history with others.

Emma John at Casa de la Guerra, photo courtesy of UCSB IHC.

Click here to learn more about IHC Public Humanities Graduate Fellows Internships. This article was originally published on the IHC website.

Introducing Neeva and Pica, our New Presidio Heritage Garden Interns!

Pica and Neeva began their internship at the height of grape season.  They have been feasting on our Mission San Gabriel grapes each day.  Photo by Michael Imwalle.
Pica and Neeva began their internship at the height of grape season. They have been feasting on our Mission San Gabriel grapes each day. Photo by Michael Imwalle.

We are the new Presidio Heritage Garden interns at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park, Neeva and Pica. We come from Anacapa School every Monday and Wednesday afternoon to work with Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation Archaeologist Michael Imwalle on taking care of the gardens. We started our internship in September. On our first day, Michael took us on a tour of the gardens. Pica, who is an international student from China, was surprised by the figs because they looked like flowers inside, but were edible. On the same day, Michael also helped us pick oranges to take back to the school to share with our classmates and family. We also got to eat the baby watermelon which had been growing all summer.

The wheelbarrow is behaving itself for the time being as Pica and neeva relocate pups from the misi luki banana. Photo by Michael Imwalle.
The wheelbarrow is behaving itself for the time being as Pica and Neeva relocate pups from the misi luki banana. Photo by Michael Imwalle.

The seed harvest from last season's crop. Photo by Michael Imwalle.
The seed harvest from last season’s crop. Photo by Michael Imwalle.

After a couple of weeks we planted beans, wheat, brussels sprouts, broccoli, garlic and more. We got to harvest celery seeds, fava beans, watermelon seeds and wheat, which we ground into flour. We also made labels for the plants from clay roof tiles, which you are able to see around the gardens. It took us hours to make and put them in the correct places. The labels are heavy and easily-broken; we had to use a wheelbarrow to move them. The wheelbarrow can be really heavy and difficult to control, so once when we were moving the labels something unfortunate happened and Pica lost her balance and suddenly the wheelbarrow was on the side and a couple of the labels broke.

Neeva and Pica build a pea trellis from arunda donax, which they harvested and stripped from a cluster grown within El Presidio SHP. Photo by Michael Imwalle.
Neeva and Pica build a pea trellis from arunda donax, which they harvested and stripped from a cluster grown within El Presidio SHP. Photo by Michael Imwalle.

Recently we had planted radishes and carrots near the strawberries and orange trees.  We planted shelling peas and Christmas Lima Beans and got to make a trellis for the shelling peas at El Cuartel. Making the trellis was difficult, but fun.

Planting new winter vegetables in the Presidio Northeast Corner gardens. Photo by Michael Imwalle.
Planting new winter vegetables in the Presidio Northeast Corner gardens. Photo by Michael Imwalle.

One of the best parts of the Presidio Heritage Garden internship is that we always have oranges, mandarin and grapes to eat. Our favorite place to garden and water is the vegetable garden; it’s very green and lively.  We are also excited that the Presidio might get chickens this winter.

Neeva and Pica will be working in the Presidio Heritage Gardens through December 2013.  We hope you’ll stop by to see the “fruits” of their efforts!  You can learn more about the Presidio Heritage Gardens here

The Garden Thrives, But We’ll Miss You Gazal and Corinna!

by Gazal Hamayouni and Corinna Roberts

During their internship, the Sonoran Wheat grew as tall as Corinna! Or did it? Photo by Gazal Hamayouni.

We are nearing the end of our internship, so there is no better way to say goodbye than to tell our readers what we have accomplished in our five months of volunteering with the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.

Building the pea trellis. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

The last time we blogged, we shared information about the vegetables that were growing behind the cocina on the Northeast corner of the Presidio. Most of those vegetables have survived, and we have planted new crops such as strawberries, broccoli, brussels sprouts, potatoes, and more peas (check out our handmade trellis, it’s pretty awesome).

Arugula? I hardly know 'ya! This monster arugula plant's days are numbered, but it will taste good no matter how large it gets. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

The radishes are still there, and if you read this blog post and still haven’t checked them out for yourself, you better get on that because they have gotten so big that they are going to explode! We also have arugula, beats, chard, carrots, and cabbage.  They are growing little by little, but they are getting there! You can also find wheat and peas over at El Cuartel, so we urge you to stop by and look at the progress.

Weeding the wheat furrows. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

Our last task before we leave has been to restore all of the signs made from roof tiles that were used to label the crops around the gardens.

First peas of the winter crop! Photo by Gazal Hamayouni.

It’s been a pleasure working with Mike Imwalle and Anne Petersen, we have learned so much about the history of Santa Barbara’s Presidio, as well as the art of gardening. We have been inspired to start our own gardens at home and we are even starting a garden at our own school, Anacapa, which is right down the street! We have enjoyed this time with our readers, and until next time. Peace and vegetables!

Gazal and Corinna in the Presidio Northeast Corner garden. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

Corrina and Gazal are seniors at The Anacapa School.  Last week they finished up their one-semester garden internship at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation. Anacapa School is just down the street, so we look forward to bumping into them as they pop into the garden from time to time to check on the fruits of their labor.