Thursday, September 22, 2011

Status of Secondary Literature Review: One

In order to think and provide my readers with more context, I am completing a secondary literature review for sources included in my thesis, Adapting Preservation.

Not only will this serve myself, as a digital note, but it will also enable you to delve into the academic path that I have taken. While these reviews are certainly not all of the sources I have read over the past decade, they are relevant to my topic, and they provide an accessible dialogue.

In some cases, a preface is not enough room for an author to completely explore their thoughts, and it may not be enough director content to provide the reader with direct connections to the focused topic.

It can be stated that in developing a thesis topic one starts out broadly and ends up with a focused concentration. While the topic may seem broad when limited in definition, successful theses can succinctly wrap up all foreseeable loose ends in less than a hundred pages.

My first selection is a book entitled, Truth, Love, and Social Change: and other essays on community change, by Roland L. Warren (1970). The preface makes a bold statement about the authors prespective, "The writing of this preface has been delayed by still another national crisis that has closed mroe than a hundred colleges and interrupted normal activities in hundreds of others. As I write this, the National Guard is quelling campus disturbances in one state and putting down a black riot in another." (vii)

Warren is enable to narrate historic events in personal terms that affect the writing, but also the reader's frame of mind when approaching this volume. He continues, "As usual, communication takes place more readily within like-thinking groups than between antagonists. Two contrary points of view on specific issues have arisen. Two distrinct vocabularies have developed to describe any sets of events. Along with them, two quite different interpretations of the nature of American society and the root of its problems have emerged as the means by which these strong differences are expressed." (vii)

For the sake of my thesis, we must approach the obvious reality that sustainability is still considered a nontraditional approach to design and life. It is not mere coincidence that terms like conventional and unconventional are coined when describing greening projects. While there may not be the same type of engaged violence as in race and war riots, the fight between environmentalists and consumers has greater long term weight than gun fire or physical brutality. Those who represent the ecological impact of industry are called derogatory names, and they are often dismissed as alarmists.

Warren's book examines the application of change.

How do preservationists move from their stand-by of applying historic character and significance to utilizing sustainable arguments that respect all old, but not necessarily historic, structures?

How do they convince the commercial audience that they should be thoughtful in their purchases and demand high quality and design? That they should maintain their buildings and be mindful of alterations? That they should limit demolition as an option of both social change, security and the scape goat of larger issues?

Even before the main chapters' of Warren's book, he quantifies a solution by word and action.

His criticism is crisp and sharp. He begins his introduction with an observation by Karl Marx, "The philosophers have only interpreted the world differently; but the point is to change it." This call to action makes the audience think, and it points to the underlining question in Adapting Preservation. Should there be an implied difference between historic and sustainable preservation?

I have witnessed design review meetings that seek to implore interdisciplinary design, which works as a collective loop rather than, now deemed archaic, the linear design method. It does not work. Warren goes on to jest about the relativity of democracy. Is democracy just an improbable ideal that society attempts to impose on itself to feel better?

When a group of interested citizen's advocated against the demolition of the Columbia Building, a Cleveland Landmark, they collaberated and rallied with definitive representative organizations to get their point out. But these definitive representative organizations would not politically support the groups actions. They merely listened to them, knodded, but kept the political waters calm. Make no waves.

In the end, the Landmark was demolished for a parking structure related to a casino development.

Was that a shock to some? Yes, the group wholeheartly thought their methods of collaberation would make change. Not so much.

Harking back to Warren's statement, "like-minded communicate easier than adversaries", and it is pretty clear that while this group was feeding itself... it wasn't feeding anyone else.

Groups want to stay the same.

Inserting change into the vocabulary makes pretty much the bulk of individuals uncomfortable.

The professionals like to perpetuate their methods, politicians really can only offer what the group wishes to hear at said point in time (campaign approach), and the common folk are only conveyed when it directly affects their life with some positive stimuli.

So, what about historic and sustainable preservation? Warren's analysis would conclude that it as the force of consensus that enables sustainable preservation to be an outcropping of historic preservation. In the United States, historic preservation is different than conservation. Abroad, heritage conservation is the broad definitive applied to this action. It can be surmised that it is the will of democratic thinking that creates the need to have a "grab bag" of strategies to affect change (or the will of action).

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