Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Consider the Possibilities: Coming to Louisville?

As the summer draws to an end, it's a great time to consider the possibilities for the future (above, that's Rod Cofield, director of Historic London Town and Gardens doing some serious incubation work in the hammock suggested in a creativity workshop I did there this spring). I'll be joining a thousand or so of my history museum colleagues at this year's American Association for State and Local History conference in Louisville, KY on September 16-19.

Here's what I'll be doing:

Listening Session on Diversity, Friday, 4:15, Location TBA During my year on the Nominating and Leadership Committee at AASLH, we've had a number of thoughtful conversations about diversity, inclusion and equity.  I'll be joining AASLH Council chair Julia Rose to co-facilitate a conversation about the ways in which AASLH can broaden and deepen these conversations.  Last December, AASLH issued a statement as part of #museumsrespondtoFerguson which read, in part,
“As integral members of American society, history organizations have a responsibility to collect, interpret, and engage in our country’s history, including both the harmonious and the controversial histories.” 
But it is not enough to look outward—we must also look inward to our own practices—as an association and for the field.  In this open conversation, AASLH leadership wants to hear from you on key questions such as:
  • What do we mean when we say words such as diversity, inclusion, access and equality?
  • What kinds of policies or statements should AASLH have in place?
  • How can AASLH more directly encourage the history museum field’s own practice in diversifying our stories, our staff, and our approaches?
  • How can we build personal awareness of issues of social justice, privilege and inclusion and integrate that into our work?
  • How can we translate philosophical agreement into action?
Special thanks to Incluseum for several of these questions and for their thought-provoking approach to issues of inclusion.   This is a critical issue for our field and we look forward to hearing from all of you.  If you can't make the session please feel free to comment below or email me your thoughts.

Banishing Boredom:  Facilitating Meaningful Meetings and Workshops
Tamara Hammerlein, Jeannette Rooney and I all know that you've spent way more time than you'd like in boring meetings. You know, the ones where nothing happens except droning reports or where the whole conversation goes off track.  We think meetings can be--and should be--both fun and productive and we'll be sharing and modeling a cornucopia of tips to take to your next meeting.

Small Museum Lunch
Creativity has a natural home in small museums.  Over lunch with your colleagues, we'll talk about how to build a creative culture among staff, volunteers and community.   Bring your own memory of your first creative act and get a free creativity tattoo plus a chance to win your copy of Creativity in Museum Practice (can't attend the lunch?  You can still get a copy of the book from Left Coast Press in the exhibit hall).

Don't be a Runaway Bride:  The Possibility of Building a Long-Term Relationship with Your Community
Lindsey Baker, Beth Maloney and I get the dubious honor of one of the last session slots on Saturday. We'll be talking about how to enter into long-term relationships with your community, rather than creating those projects that are like a bad blind date.  We promise lots of meaty conversation--and if you're not going to be in Louisville, you can participate in AASLH's online conference and hear us in a webinar.

What else do I hope to do?  I've got a list of other sessions:  I want to think about creating a 21st century museum in the boyhood home of Woodrow Wilson, as re-thinking shrine-y historic sites is much on my mind;  I want to continue thinking how we interpret unfolding events and how to interpret religion at historic sites.   And of course, I'd like to meet you if you're there.  If you're curious about my work, thinking about a new project or initiative that I can help with, be in touch.

Don't forget, you can follow the conference at #AASLH2015 on Twitter--and find me directly on Twitter and Instagram as @lindabnorris.

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