Expert: S.P. Must Protect Its Cultural Landscapes
Historically speaking, landscapes have been neglected and overlooked and become plop-and-drop "memorial petting zoos" to collect stuff, according to an expert in landscape architecture.
Charles Birnbaum said Wednesday night that communities across this country -- including Southern Pines -- have harmed cultural landscapes by cluttering them with things that are not true to the historical origins of the property.
"You have a palette here," Birnbaum said of Southern Pines. "You don't have to fill it with stuff."
He cites things such as the sign marking the entrance to Weymouth or the crape myrtles that have been planted at the entrance to the property that are counter to the original historic landscape of the property.
"Why do we do this and think it is actually effective?" Birnbaum asked.
The criticism of the site was part of the tough love Birnbaum delivered during a free lecture at the Sunrise Theater in Southern Pines. The event was part of the Classical Design Foundation's lecture series.
The positive side is that it can be reversed, according to Birnbaum.
Birnbaum is the founder and president of the Cultural Landscape Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the public's awareness of the importance and irreplaceable legacy of cultural landscapes. It utilizes education, technical assistance and outreach to broaden the support and understanding for cultural landscapes nationwide in hopes of saving heritage for future generations.
Cultural landscape is a geographic area that includes cultural and natural resources associated with a historic event, activity, person or group of people.
More about the organization can be found on its Web site, www.tclf.org.
According to the foundation's Web site, cultural landscapes are enormously beneficial because they reveal aspects of an area's origins and development. They provide scenic, economic, ecological, social and recreational and educational opportunities, which help individuals and communities understand themselves.
Preserving those landscapes are important, the site says, because their ongoing preservation and interpretation can yield an improved quality of life and a sense of place and identity for future generations.
The foundation defines four types of cultural landscapes: historic sites, historic designed landscapes, historic vernacular landscapes and ethnographic landscapes.
Birnbaum told members of the audience that it was important to understand the history of a place, to work together as a group and to take a holistic approach to cultural landscapes. He urged them to adopt a shared value system and find and define what is "character defining in the community."
"It is time for this community to look at the big picture and see how it fits together," Birnbaum said.
Contact Tom Embrey at (910) 693-2484 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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