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  • 10/30/2020 2:07 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    If you weren't able to get a spot for last week's webinar on technical writing for CRM, it is now available on demand for you to watch on your own schedule!

    The vast majority of writing in cultural resources management is for non-archaeological audiences, yet the writing guidelines traditionally used in modern CRM adhere to a centuries-old writing style that conflates our meaning because it dictates that scientists remove themselves from their work to appear objective. This passive and intransitive type of writing is not only difficult and slow to read, it is expensive to write, edit, and produce, so much so that many academic publishers are abandoning the “academic voice” for this reason.

    The CRM workplace has been slow to change. Plain language would greatly help cultural resources reports become more accessible and transparent to non-archaeological audiences. This approach to technical writing also can empower all CRM practitioners with the tools and training to produce consistent results of the highest quality.

    This webinar goes into detail on the new style of technical writing meant to engage not just colleagues, but also clients and the general public. It benefits both junior and senior practitioners by helping them understand the difference between technical and scientific writing, while managers and reviewers also get the tools to evaluate work on a consistent basis. Attendees learn how to use a few simple tenets of the style to be more efficient in the workplace while also being more responsive to the needs of the public audiences they serve.

    As with the live session, this webinar is available to ACRA members at a discounted price. Members can get the discount code to access the presentation here.

    Watch Technical Writing for CRM:
    Developing More Efficient Communication

  • 10/29/2020 6:10 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    While most firms carry general liability policies, professional liability insurance is often out of reach for CRM practitioners, especially for small firms. Now simply being an ACRA member can make obtaining such a policy easier!

    We have partnered with Coterie to offer a 5-10% discount on professional liability insurance policies. Coterie is a technology company that makes buying business insurance easy. By harnessing the power of data and automation, they help remove hassle and confusion from the insurance process for businesses of all sizes. The result is simple, reliable, and affordable coverage for businesses.

    This discount is only available to ACRA member firms, who can start the quote process here. Not an ACRA member firm? Join us today to get access to this and our other new benefits, including the ACRA Healthcare Program (which has no additional costs to member firms)!

    Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about any of our member benefits, and stay tuned as we continue to add to our benefits package.


  • 10/29/2020 4:06 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    From the ACHP:

    Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) Chairman Aimee Jorjani today administered the oath of office to Luke A. Nichter, PhD, of Texas, swearing him in as an expert member to a term ending in June 2022. President Donald J. Trump appointed Nichter to the ACHP.

    “The ACHP is honored President Trump appointed accomplished historian, author, and educator Luke Nichter to the ACHP,” Chairman Jorjani said. “Dr. Nichter has much to offer as an expert member. With his level of expertise in research and writing, we look forward to his perspective and counsel as we tackle historic preservation issues and tell the full stories that are vital to our country.”

    Nichter is a Professor of History and Beck Family Senior Fellow at Texas A&M University-Central Texas, and a 2020-2021 National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow. His area of specialty is the Cold War, the modern presidency, and U.S. political and diplomatic history, with a focus on the “long 1960s” from John F. Kennedy through Watergate. Nichter is a noted expert on Richard Nixon’s 3,432 hours of secret White House tapes. He also has a website that offers free access to the publicly released tapes as a public service.

    “As someone who has spent so much time in the heart of LBJ country, what an honor it is to contribute to the work of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation–a key part of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society initiative,” Nichter said. “I hope to utilize my background in history, along with my passion for reaching a historically interested public using different mediums, to form new partnerships and spread the word about the work of the ACHP. We Americans love our history, our national parks, and our historic sites. Getting more people involved in the cultural estuary of our nation helps to make us a more engaged society.”

    In addition, Dr. Nichter is a New York Times bestselling author or editor of seven books and a founding executive producer of C-SPAN’s American History TV. A feature of the channel is “American Artifacts,” a weekly program that Nichter conceptualized, which lets viewers experience a museum, an archive, or a historic site from behind the scenes–something different than what they would ordinarily see as a member of the visiting public.

    Nichter fills a term that began in 2018 and replaces Robert Stanton, who has served as an expert member on the ACHP since 2014. Stanton was the first African American to serve as National Park Service Director and later served as Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the Interior.

    “Bob Stanton’s presence on the ACHP touched so many, and he will be sorely missed; however, his years on the ACHP have made a lasting impact,” Chairman Jorjani said. “As chairman of the Communications, Education, and Outreach Committee, he helped develop our Preservation in Practice program that is helping to diversify the field of historic preservation. In addition, his insight from his long career at the highest levels of the National Park Service benefitted the ACHP. I am grateful for our time together. Bob has been a trusted advisor, and I know he will continue to be a resource we can count on.”

    The National Historic Preservation Act provides that appointed expert and general public members shall serve for a term of four years and under that law, may not serve more than two terms.

    You can view this press release on the ACHP website.


  • 10/28/2020 2:26 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team
     
    Aerial Archaeology, Then and Now

    November 12, 2020 | 2:00 - 3:30 PM (EDT) | Register Now


    Today, with a light aircraft, high resolution cameras, and a thorough survey protocol, huge landscapes can be covered in a matter of hours with photographs capturing both quantitative data and relevant qualitative information about context, scale and character. The qualitative aspects of narrative photography not only add context to important data at the site, but in an increasingly visual culture, artistic and narrative photography provides a hook to draw people into the story of important landscape research.

    The operational, technological, regulatory, and economic differences between aerial platforms and software available to process imagery are changing rapidly and deserve careful attention when considering project design for survey and imaging of project sites. Join us on Thursday, November 12 at 2:00 pm EST for Aerial Archaeology, Then and Now - a webinar that will give attendees specific knowledge of the state of aerial imaging technology today and detailed options for its deployment in the service of archaeological research/documentation/communications.

    The webinar will address project design and provider selection, and will also discuss costs, regulatory issues, resolution at different altitudes and speeds, and general pros and cons of the technology.

    Space is limited, so register now to reserve your spot. As a reminder, we have implemented a firm-wide registration fee for ACRA members during the pandemic - once one person from a member firm registers, others can register for free. Contact us for information on subsequent registrations.

    Register Now

  • 10/27/2020 3:38 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    On Saturday, October 31, the American Swedish Historical Museum is hosting the annual New Sweden History Conference, which explores the history of the New Sweden Colony (1638-1655) and its legacy in colonial America. This year's conference, which is being held virtually, will focus on vernacular architecture in the Delaware River Valley prior to 1767. The presenters on the panel, listed below, include Wade Catts from ACRA member firm South River Heritage Consulting.

    Panelists:

    • George Ambrose: “Hiding in Plain Sight: The Disappearance and Rediscovery of Material New Sweden” This presentation will look at the on-going “search for New Sweden”, focusing on the hopeful and—at times—controversial hunt for remnant material evidence found in churches, Swedish and American museum collections, and surviving historic houses.
    • Wade P. Catts: “‘The Walls Are Not Nearly as Good as They Appear on Paper’ Archaeologial Evidence of Fort Casimir/Trefaldighet/ Neiuer Amstel (c1651-1679)” Using documentary, topographical, contemporary fort design guidance, and archaeological data, this talk will illuminate Fort Casimir’s construction, layout, and configuration and subsequent searches for its location.
    • Jeroen van den Hurk: “Vernacular Architecture in the Delaware River Valley, ca. 1600-1767 ‘Built after the Dutch model’” Little is known about the architecture of New Netherland, and perhaps even less of that along the Delaware River. This talk will combine the information gleaned from the surviving Dutch colonial manuscripts, historic references to the built environment, and surviving buildings from the colonial period to piece together what the early settlers may have built.
    • Joseph Mathews: “The New Sweden Colonial Farmstead at Governor Printz Park in Tinicum” In a 1938 essay, Dr. Amandus Johnson described his hope to see Pennsylvania’s Printz Park “as a kind of Skansen” with a “Swedish farm from the 1600’s” made up of log buildings serving different purposes. The New Sweden Company (NSC) of New Jersey hired Swedish architectural preservationist, Gunnar Zetterquist, to build just such a farmstead in 1988. This talk provides an account of this ambitious project and its relocation to Governor Printz Park, connecting it to early-20th century Swedish open-air museums such as those envisioned by Artur Hazelius and Georg Karlin.
    Registration is $35, and registrants will receive links to view each speaker’s recorded presentation prior of a live panel discussion. Participants may submit any questions they have for the presenters in advance which will be answered during the live panel discussion webinar on Saturday, October 31 from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm EDT. Register here!
  • 10/26/2020 5:17 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team


    Your Congress in Action is a series that highlights the Capitol Hill news that affects CRM firms the most. Be sure to subscribe to the ACRAsphere to ensure you don't miss an update.

    Normally, Washington is a pretty sleepy place a week before the election as the nation’s focus turns to the campaign trail. As we know, 2020 is not a normal year, and several major policy battles are still being waged, even as voting has already begun.

    The main action is around an economic relief bill to extend unemployment insurance, provide relief for state and local governments, and aid small businesses. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin are trading proposals in the (slim) hopes of getting a bill passed before the Election. The main sticking point remains the overall price tag: Democrats want a package totaling $2.2 trillion, while Senate Republicans have pushed for a lower amount.

    Even if Pelosi and Mnuchin strike a deal, it’s not clear what the Senate would do. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) has said he would bring to the Senate floor a bill that was approved by the House and had the support of the White House. But he also has reportedly told the White House to hold firm on not agreeing to a deal. For their part, Senate Republicans brought a “skinny” $500 billion COVID relief bill to the floor last week, which Senate Democrats opposed, killing it. It is likely that any bill, if enacted, won’t happen until a lame-duck session after the election.

    Meanwhile, the Senate is moving forward with the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans voted unanimously to send her nomination to the full Senate Thursday, in a session that Democrats boycotted. The Senate is expected to vote on the nomination on Monday, which would enable Barrett to be seated before the election – and possibly vote on matters related to the election itself.

    Speaking of the election, a record number of Americans have already cast ballots, either absentee or via early voting. As of Thursday, 45 million Americans had already voted; that number equals 33 percent of all the votes cast in the 2016 election. In Texas alone, the number of early votes is two-thirds the amount of all votes cast in 2016. Does this portend a record turnout overall, or is it a function of the pandemic prompting people to vote early? It’s hard to say, but all these absentee vote means that we probably won’t know who wins the White House, or control of the Senate, for a few days, if not longer.

    Once the election is over (even if the counting isn’t), Congress still has a fairly large to-do list in a lame-duck session. The current funding agreement for the federal government expires on Dec. 11, meaning Congress and the White House need to extend it to avoid a government shutdown. Congress also needs to pass a Defense authorization bill, which they have done every year for the last half century. And a COVID relief package will need to be debated, assuming it doesn’t happen before the election.

    There’s a fair chance that all of this – government funding, a defense bill and COVID relief – will be wrapped into a single massive bill. This is what DC folk call a “Christmas tree,” since it gives lawmakers the chance to exchange their “Yes” vote for getting leadership to attach their pet legislative projects onto the bill. This means anything could sneak into an end-of-year bill, including items not favorable to the CRM industry. Vigilance is key.

    Naturally, the political environment in a lame-duck session will depend on the election’s outcome. If President Trump wins re-election and Republicans maintain control of the Senate, then Republicans have an incentive to “clear the decks” by passing legislation quickly so they can start a second Trump term with a clean slate.

    On the other hand, if President Trump loses, will he and Senate Republicans try to push through as much legislation as they can before January? And will Democrats try to block everything, waiting for Joe Biden to enter the White House? It’s also entirely possible that a lame-duck session will happen in an environment when the election outcome isn’t even known, adding to the uncertainty.

    No matter who wins, we expect the Trump administration to accelerate their regulatory reform. This could include further attempts to curtail NEPA, or even touch Sec. 106. If Biden wins, he could undo these regulations, and Democrats could use the Congressional Review Act to overturn them. But even if Democrats retake the White House, efforts to “streamline” regulations to speed up infrastructure projects could imperil Sec. 106.

    The possibility of regulatory action post-election is just one of the trends that ACRA is following closely as we approach Election Day. In meetings last week with members of Congress and their staff, ACRA heard loud and clear that the future of preservation policy hinges a great deal on the outcome of the election. If Democrats win back the Senate, there will be new leadership and direction at every Committee. Regardless of who wins, there will be pressure on federal agencies to cut “red tape” in order to get people back to work. Does this mean that policymakers will try to exempt projects from Sec. 106? Anything is possible, which is why ACRA has been sending the clear message that Sec. 106 is a win-win for the economy and for protecting our heritage.

    Regardless of who wins, the ongoing pandemic and economic crisis means the urgency among business of all sizes to get some relief from Washington will continue. Programs like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) help, but what’s really needed to get the economy moving again is a plan to combat COVID-19 and, ultimately, a vaccine. Putting the county’s physical and economic health back on track is something all sides should agree on.

    Wear a mask. Practice social distancing. And make a plan to vote. If you need help with the last one, visit www.vote.org.


  • 10/22/2020 3:00 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Within the field of cultural resources management, there has been increased interest and attention focused on harassment and discrimination issues at both national and local levels within the last several years. In December 2019, ACRA conducted a survey on organizational policies regarding harassment and discrimination policies at CRM firms. As a follow up, we are now conducting a survey on the individual experiences of those in the CRM field.

    This survey seeks to collect information on the experiences that CRM practitioners have had with sexual harassment and gender equity while working specifically in the private and public sectors of cultural resource management. We ask questions about your individual experiences, reporting of those experiences and associated outcomes, and your archaeological training experiences. We also ask about your observations of harassment and discrimination in field, laboratory, and office settings within cultural resource management.

    This survey should take approximately 20 minutes. It is completely anonymous and does not ask any questions that would compromise your identity. You may stop the survey at any time, and you may choose to answer only some of the questions. ACRA’s Executive Director is the only one with administrative access to the survey results. ACRA will use the data to inform the creation of new initiatives as a part of our Health & Safety program.

    The deadline to complete the survey is Tuesday, December 1. If you have any questions or comments, please contact Dr. Sarah Herr (sherr at desert dot com). Please feel free to send this survey to other contacts in the industry, and thank you in advance for your participation.

    Share Your Experience Now

  • 10/22/2020 9:15 AM | ACRAsphere Blog Team
       
         

    The American Cultural Resources Association and the Society for American Archaeology understand that these are challenging and rapidly-changing times that more than ever require the close collaboration of those who care about protecting and preserving the nation’s shared cultural past.

    ACRA is the national trade association supporting and promoting the common interests of cultural resource management (CRM) firms of all sizes, types, and specialties. ACRA member firms undertake much of the legally mandated CRM studies and investigations in the United States and employ thousands of CRM professionals, including archaeologists, architectural historians, historians, and an increasingly diverse group of other specialists. Using free market business practices, ACRA firms deploy skilled teams to provide clients with the best service while fulfilling ethical and professional commitments to people and cultural resources, as well as providing communities with a voice in development processes.

    The SAA is an international organization that, since its founding in 1934, has been dedicated to research about and interpretation and protection of the archaeological heritage of the Americas. With nearly 7,000 members, SAA represents professional and avocational archaeologists, archaeology students in colleges and universities, and archaeologists working at Tribal agencies, museums, government agencies, and the private sector. SAA has members throughout the U.S., as well as in many nations around the world.

    Our organizations will continue to work together and with other like-minded professional organizations to represent the interests of cultural resources management and conservation to all sectors of government, including Congressional representatives on both sides of the aisle, federal and state agencies, tribal governments and agencies, and state legislatures. Drawing together the voices of our collective members is essential to ensuring preservation initiatives are at the forefront of national discussions and are fostered in local communities. We are committed to accomplishing this goal jointly and look forward to future opportunities to do so.


  • 10/21/2020 4:55 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    From the ACHP:

    The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) today announced the findings of a task force working to promote the development of a robust workforce in the skilled preservation trades.

    ACHP members adopted a policy statement prepared by the Traditional Trades Training Task Force, which is exploring ways to address the deficit of skilled workers, such as masons, carpenters, painters, plasterers, and others in the construction trades, who know how to—and why we should—preserve, repair, replicate, and maintain historic materials and finishes essential to historic preservation projects.

    “Traditional trades are critically important to preserving the heritage and continued use of our historic built environment for future generations,” ACHP Chairman Aimee Jorjani said. “It is more important than ever, with the Great American Outdoors Act that is now law as well as the pandemic’s impact on employment, to increase the number of skilled craftspeople in traditional trades. These are skills that can be added to those currently in the construction field or for those interested in pursuing creative and skilled hands-on preservation work.

    “Engaging the Traditional Trades Training Task force has shown that these can be well-paying jobs that help revitalize communities, both physically and economically, and lead to pathways into the expanded field. The unanimous passage of this policy statement solidifies the ACHP’s involvement to encourage and help guide efforts for public and private partnerships to address this urgent need and highlight the value of this work.”

    A 2019 Associated General Contractors of America survey showed 80 percent of construction firms reported having difficulty filling craft positions that represent the bulk of the construction workforce. This lack of skilled workers is further magnified for the specialized traditional trades often needed for historic preservation projects. Growing the ranks of skilled traditional trades workers would help to build preservation capacity and ensure historic resources are preserved, bolster local economies, helping to fill vacant jobs, and would allow people to acquire marketable knowledge, skills, and abilities that employers are seeking. Resulting jobs often are well paid and secure.

    The policy statement points out these key concepts: training opportunities in traditional trades should be widely available; open-source training curriculum is important; apprenticeship programs are essential; and industry-recognized credentials and/or qualification standards are needed.

    The policy statement outlines several recommendations:

    • Integrate traditional trades into existing Department of Labor apprenticeship programs.
    • Encourage states to use existing Department of Education career and technical education funding for traditional trades training in state Perkins Plans.
    • Encourage recipients of existing Department of Housing and Urban Development funding to address traditional trades training when meeting workforce development requirements.
    • Consider options for federal support in development of open-source traditional trades training curriculum.
    • Develop federal qualification standards for the traditional trades.
    • Include traditional trades training when addressing deferred maintenance of historic properties under the Great American Outdoors Act.
    • Promote traditional trades training in the work of conservation corps.
    • Explore use of COVID-19 recovery/stimulus funding to create jobs and job training in the traditional trades.
    • Utilize the Historic Preservation Fund for traditional trades training grants, as authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act.
    • Explore development of sustainable, dedicated funding that would be a continuing source of revenue for traditional trades training.

    In conjunction with the Task Force’s continuing work to promote traditional trades training, the ACHP will explore opportunities for encouraging implementation of the Policy Statement’s recommendations.

    Chairman Jorjani chairs the Task Force, with Moss Rudley, Superintendent of the National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Training Center in Frederick, Maryland, and Nicholas Redding, Executive Director of Preservation Maryland, as vice chairmen. Other members of the Task Force include the following: Casey Sacks, U.S. Department of Education Deputy Assistant Secretary for Community Colleges; Ryan Hambleton, Department of the Interior Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks; Katherine Wonson, Director of the National Park Service’s Western Center for Historic Preservation in Grand Teton, Wyoming; ACHP Vice Chairman Rick Gonzalez; James Turner, owner of Turner Restoration in Detroit, Michigan; Simeon Warren, Chief of Architecture and Engineering at the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training in Natchitoches, Louisiana; Benjamin R. Curran, Department Head of Savannah Technical College’s Historic Preservation and Restoration Program and Director of the college’s Center for Traditional Craft; Milan Jordan, Director of the HOPE Crew at the National Trust for Historic Preservation; and Brian Lusher, Historic Preservation Officer for the National Endowment for the Arts.

    You can also view this release on the ACHP website.

  • 10/20/2020 5:26 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team


    ACRA member firm Mead & Hunt is undertaking a project for the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) that will focus on project-level Programmatic Agreements (PAs) and Post-World War II (postwar) commercial property types (NCHRP Project 25-62). The project has two main goals:

    1. Review current and best practices for project-level PAs to develop strategies that enable state DOTs to streamline Section 106 responsibilities and decision-making.
    2. Develop a structured, replicable methodology for developing historic contexts, conducting surveys, and completing National Register evaluations for postwar commercial properties built from 1945 to 1980.

    Mead & Hunt is requesting your input through two online surveys, which will help them better understand these issues. Links to both surveys are provided below. The surveys should take 15-20 minutes to complete and the deadline is October 31:

    Programmatic Agreements

    Postwar Commercial Properties 

    For information about this project can be found here

    What is NCHRP? For more information, please visit the Transportation Research Board website.

    Thanks in advance for your input!


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