‘Heritage is really part of everything’: Preservation Conference shares stories of Douglas County

photo by: Austin Hornbostel/Journal-World

Stonemason Karl Ramberg hosted a stone-carving workshop on Baker University's campus as part of Saturday's Preservation Conference events.

The second edition of the Douglas County Heritage Conservation Council’s Preservation Conference came to Baldwin City this weekend, and organizers on Saturday were pleased with the results.

The Journal-World caught up with the council’s heritage coordinator, Kaitlin Stanley, early Saturday afternoon, and Stanley said the conference had so far been a success. This year, the conference theme was “Trails, Tales & Structures: Stories of Douglas County Heritage.”

Friday’s agenda included tours of historic sites in the county and a social hour with other conference attendees. Stanley said while the weather was challenging for the conference’s first day Friday, site tours at Black Jack Battlefield and Natural Park, the Santa Fe Trail and Prairie City Cemetery were largely a success.

On Saturday, panel discussions took place throughout the day at Baker University’s Rice Auditorium. Concurrently, stone mason Karl Ramberg hosted a stone-carving workshop in the courtyard outside the auditorium, and an oral history showcase at the nearby Lumberyard Arts Center shared stories from local groups like Haskell Indian Nations University’s cultural center and La Yarda.

Following opening remarks from speakers like Douglas County Commissioner Shannon Reid and Kansas Rep. Christina Haswood, the first panel of the day Saturday was about land and heritage.

Panelists Araceli Masterson of Somos Lawrence, Jay Johnson of the In ‘zhúje ‘waxóbe project, and Kelly Kindscher of the Kansas Land Trust shared their thoughts about topics like the natural heritage and cultural history of native prairies and forests. Kindscher touched on how recent county topics like expansion of the South Lawrence Trafficway, possible future solar energy development and an Open Space Plan might square in that conversation.

photo by: Austin Hornbostel/Journal-World

Kelly Kindscher of the Kansas Land Trust speaks during a panel about land and heritage. Kindscher was joined by fellow panelists Araceli Masterson of Somos Lawrence and Jay Johnson of the In ‘zhúje ‘waxóbe project.

Stanley said that panel, in particular, made for a great way to set the stage for the rest of the day’s discussion, especially considering the topics that group spoke about concerning Native and immigrant voices.

“We’re trying to broaden heritage,” Stanley said. “We’re trying to make sure there’s a greater understanding, that heritage is not just about built environment and homes, but it includes immigrants that are here recently and their relationship to land and place.”

Other panels varied broadly, with that idea of “broadening heritage” in mind; the land and heritage panel was followed immediately by one about restoring historic homes, and later in the day speakers guided discussions about recording and sharing stories of heritage.

Even with an already broad swath of topics on the table at a setting like a conference, Stanley said there’s still more to explore.

“I mean, we’re not scratching the surface of the stories that we should be talking about, right?” Stanley said. “We’re just barely getting into the beginning of this is just some of the things that are happening in preservation and heritage, because heritage is really part of everything. Every human, every natural component, every built part — that all is, or will be, part of heritage.”


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