Friday, April 3, 2009


Day 1. NCPH is a big enough conference that you could conceivably attend but not meet or talk with anyone new. It would be pretty hard though, especially with so much emphasis being put on networking. Yesterday, I attended a session on social networking and public history where Denise Meringolo and Melissa Bingmann became 21st century Emily Posts offering words of advice on the etiquette of facebook, linkedin and conference schmoozing to an audience of extremely interested graduate students (many of whom were on their way to speed networking afterwards).
Later in the afternoon, I saw a different example of networking in action. The Community Retrospective, 1968 Riots panel had representatives from Newark, NJ and Baltimore, MD, who had been involved in extensive community projects commemorating the 1967 and 1968 civil unrests in those cities. Each project was successful because of the number of stakeholders who became involved, the multidisciplinary approach, which included exhibits, conferences, theater, film and art, among others, and the impassioned direction of community leaders who marshalled their social networks in support.
Perhaps, most impressive to me, the network formed between and by the leaders of these projects. While Newark and Baltimore are very different cities, they share similar histories of the disenfranchisement of African Americans, bounded white ethnic neighborhoods, and federal disinvestment in the postwar period. What a powerful story to tell together--the story of urban unrest in a region, not only an isolated city. All history is local, but it is by sharing resources, knowledge, expertise and stories that it becomes powerful.

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