Sunday, January 03, 2010

New Year, new posts

We hope. 

Besides its part of my list of resolutions (of which I'm also blogging about, separately) that I will blog again, if only to keep my mind active and the chance to peruse things outside my of workplace. It will be about heritage of course.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Change of life.

Well, since my last post I've gone on welfare, found a contract job, gotten off welfare, eked out a living, interviewed for a few jobs and got a year long contract. Go me!

The new job required a move to a new city which I was more than happy to do.  Toronto can be lovely to live in but its not the be all and end all of cities or living well. Besides my new job is quite frankly, a dream job!

So what am I doing? I am a heritage planner for a municipal government. I shepherd heritage permits through the approvals process, I review technical circulations and look for possible (and avoidable) heritage impacts and I'm going to be working on the archaeological master plan.

And stuck in a dark corner lies the unfinished paper. More work's been done on it, but it is still unfinished and I still have difficulty talking about it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Testing, testing....

Will the sky actually fall if I really, truly, seriously commit to posting again? And follow through this time?

Monday, July 21, 2008

When dreams turn to reality...

This is just a quick little post really.  But over the weekend my boyfriend commented on what happens when the opposite of finding one stone flake in a square metre happens.

Him: "You know that dream? The one where you find tons of artifacts? In fact you wind up having more artifacts than soil?"

Me: (Sighs.) "Yeah."

Him: "Well it finally happened. One square metre, 44 centimetres in depth and tons of artifacts."

Me: "Cool. What else did you do?"

Him: "Nothing. I had a square meter full of artifacts that needed to be dug, sorted by material and bagged. There was nothing else I could do. I spent 10 hours on that damn square surrounded by people getting through 5-6 squares the same day."

Me: "Still, that 's interesting isn't it? At least you had a lot to show for it."

Him: "Yeah. Five buckets. The big kind. Filled with pottery."

Me: "And this is why you're lying on my couch?"

Him: "My back hurts from the pottery....."

But all is now well, and he is getting squares which sensibly have only 40-60 artifacts in them. He's a happy boy.

 I miss fieldwork.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Something to talk about...


Yesterday, I began my internship with a Municipal Heritage Department. Not the city I live in  but one nearby.  I will be doing research on heritage plans and having fun with some of the archaeology side of things. I think its a good fit.

The only drawback is that this Municipality does not, in fact, have a Municipal Archaeological Master Plan, which is unfortunate because that's what I'm studying. But it has a fine record in heritage conservation and I think it will be valuable to experience how planning is done on a day to day level.  When it comes time to look closer at my chosen problem I'm hoping to do a little research via interviews and job shadowing at other municipalities nearby.

So why did I pick this city? Well, initially it was a second choice (because of the lack of the mamp) but I was delightfully surprised at their attitude towards my email and phone calls. They were also intrigued by MY research and thought that I could contribute to their office team and do some meaningful work. Their attitude goes a long way to my understanding why I have such respect for the more public examples of this departments work.

Other offices I contacted showed some interest too, and my first choice did turn me down. That was a disappointment, to be sure, but at least I'm reasonable certain that it was a reluctant choice on their side too. From their rejection I'm to understand that they loved my project, loved my resume and that they did not have either the room for me or someone to work with. Very disappointing.

But once I had talked to the people at this Municipality I was pretty certain that that was were I wanted to spend my summer.

And my first day seems to have rewarded my choice. I walked in and there was my desk with a new computer (still no login yet though), a working phone and in a rather sweet gesture - stationary supplies. The section head had made sure that I had a notepad, a legal pad, post its and a pen. An incredibly thoughtful gesture.

And then he gave me excerpts of the municipal plan, a binder of heritage policy discussion memos and correspondence and a copy of the Heritage Act. I spent the day reading and taking notes.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Project AMP - initial ramblings

In Ontario, where I live, there are several municipalities who have commissioned Archaeological Master Plans of their municipality.  The idea is to readily identify areas of high archaeological potential, so that when a parcel of land is under consideration for development, a municipality can ensure that an archaeological assessment takes place.  It's a planning tool that has grown in frequency over the last three decades, particularly as pieces of legislation such as The Planning Act, and the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act(OEAA) increasingly regulate how developments must be regulated. 

In both Acts, human heritage is something that is recognized as being valuable and worthy of consideration when a new development is being assessed.  And its the Ontario Heritage Act that identifies what is considered heritage in Ontario - archaeology, built heritage and landscapes- and therefore worthy of protection. 

Of course project and developments don't often happen on a solely provincial level. In fact most developments must go through the municipal planning offices for approval. It is the municipality that can insist on an archaeological assessment prior to project approval, as well as agree to waive that requirement.  A municipal archaeological master plan, helps them to make that decision.

The odd thing is (in my view), is that no one appears to have looked how these archaeological master plans have worked or how they are used. Even though Ontario is the world "leader" in commissioning them for future planning. 

And I'd like to know. I'd like to have a look at one and see what information it provides and how often it is used and what it is used for.

To do this, I've taken courses in land use law, policy analysis, resource management, impact assessment, heritage planning - on top of my undergraduate degree in archaeology. I've read policy, legislative drafts, and technical reports. Not to mention lots of journal articles on how other countries do it, how in Ontario we can address the issue of First Nation ownership (even as we ignore the truth that the province does not claim ownership and doesn't take responsibility for artifacts), and angst about the lot of the private consultants who do most of the archaeological work in the province, yet claim to be powerless.

The one perspective I don't have is how a municipal planning office approaches the thorny question of archaeological resource management in their land use policy. And I'd like to know.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Back with a whine

Yes, it has been a while since I blogged.

In brief - I've been out of the province, out of the country, sick and once again figuring out finances and the administrative riddles of my department.  And so I got out of the habit of writing about anything beyond what was needed to get through class and homework assignments.

But I have been thinking about archaeology and how it is practiced in Ontario. It's what I'm trying to study after all and I had to think really hard when I was writing two particular essays last semester. Both papers related to the ramifications of how half-baked policy affects the daily practice of how archaeology is actually done in the province.

Don't yawn.  I know its policy and that policy is not nearly as "cool" as digging, but it's in the provincial legislation and policies that the daily practice of archaeology  is organized. These decisions mount up day after day, month after month and year after year, until say... we have boxes of artifacts in dubious storage for 15 years and the notes are starting to fade.  
This is a problem, this is an example of a policy that needs to be revisited pronto, and does it seem boring now, when hundreds, thousands of artifacts are at risk? No. 

Is it being discussed at a level where this will actually be addressed? Not at the moment.  But knowing when it was last discussed, who was involved, who wasn't and what was decided would help anybody trying to make sense of what is going on now and what needs to be done. And knowing that the discussion of artifact storage is tied into a larger policy argument that is indefinitely on ice is VERY important.

But back to my essays - one was on how archaeological sites are managed in Ontario from a resource perspective, and another was an examination of heritage and archaeological management from an intergovernmental perspective - i.e. the Province sets the rules, and the municipalities are required to shoulder a great many of the responsibilities with few decision making powers - especially regarding archaeological materials.
So yeah, in the next couple of blogs I wanna talk about my papers and how when you don't pay attention to policy, it can screw up the best intentions.