Hello! The 2021-2022 PLACE Fellowship began in November as a hybrid program with both virtual and in-person meetings. Using this time, we got the chance to get to know one another while discussing what we want to accomplish this year. We kicked off the year with a conversation about the question, “How can I work to protect and promote our public lands and collective history?”
First, we discussed our personal goals for this program and what we want to accomplish together. We went into small groups to brainstorm ideas. In these groups, we were able to converse about what we hope to learn and how we want to grow as a group by the end of the program. We proceeded by going over group norms along with our behavioral expectations for one another. Then we practiced by performing skits to demonstrate our ideal expectations to our peers in an entertaining and informative way.
After being presented with our question of the month, “How do we know what we know?”, on our second day in person we went outside to the docks of the Charlestown Navy Yard to examine the area. Using binoculars provided by our guest speaker, Rebecca Shoer from the Stone Living Lab, we searched for three things we saw that had personal, historical, and natural significance. We discussed how these things became what we knew and how we knew them, giving us one way to answer the question we were faced with this month.
Along with this, we measured the slope of a hill using scientific instruments. The next day, we crossed the harbor to meet another guest speaker, Ranger Amelia from Boston African American National Historic Site. She taught us about the history of the area around Faneuil Hall. We were shown examples of different sources that can be used as evidence, such as trade logs, invitations, man-made creations, fossils, and even natural formations. With these pieces of evidence, we were given a question to think about and answer based on what we found, comparing and making changes to our ideas as we listened to others and were guided along. In the end, we found ourselves at an answer close to what is generally accepted amongst
historians, with our own ideas fitting in well and allowing us to see properly how finding such answers works. Being able to apply it to a place that many in the group had been before, and just a train or bus ride away from those who hadn’t, was especially effective in helping us remember and understand how all of these types of sources interconnect and answer questions experts and researchers have about the past.
Now with more experience and information, we were equipped with knowledge to be able to answer our question of the year. To protect and promote our public lands and collective history, we can work with a variety of evidence collected to document our history. Keeping it with us to refer to and organize events and feelings of the past. On that note, we at PLACE look forward to the upcoming months and will post an update again soon!