Saturday, July 19, 2008

7/19/08 Maine Community History Project

Back in May, MRM contacted me about being involved in a grant proposal. The Maine Historical Society had a new program called the Maine Community History Project (MCHP) and she wanted to get together a team from Farmington to apply. She pulled together interested folks from the required participants (library, historical society, and a local school), plus she got a cool group called Center for Community GIS (CCGIS) and me--a faculty member who works with future teachers in the area of technology integration. The five representatives from each group met a few times and did some work via email and pulled together an application in a very short period of time. In June, we found out that 50 communities had applied and 8 had been awarded . . . and we were one of the 8. Yeehah!!

On June 27, three of us (MRM, Wendy--an English teacher at the local middle school, and me) went to the all-day training session in Portland at the Maine Historical Society (MHS). On July 7, we had our first official meeting as a participating community where the two staff members from the MHS led the meeting. Our team can have as many meetings as we want, but once a month we have a meeting with the MHS folks and they give us direction and guidance and we keep them updated on our progress. It's a very interesting way to accomplish a project like this.

Today was our first meeting on our own since the proposal-writing meetings. We met at the Historical Society building and just got a glimpse of the amazing stuff that they have and tried to get a handle on what we want to do and how we're going to do it. It's really overwhelming as well as exciting. Our goal is that with this grant (and the help from MHS and the funding that we're getting) we will be able to accomplish what MHS wants but also lay an organizational foundation for the Historical Society and future projects like this, even when we don't have funding.

Oh, so what is this project, you're asking? MHS has an amazing online artifacts collection called The Maine Memory Network. To quote their website, "The Maine Memory Network is a statewide digital museum that provides unprecedented access to over 13,000 historical items from over 180 museums, historical societies, libraries, and other organizations from every corner of Maine. Step inside to see rare photographs, documents and artifacts; to explore online exhibits; to access resources for teaching Maine history; and to learn about how you can participate and help preserve Maine history." Our goal is to digitize at least 150 artifacts from our community (and trust me, we have plenty . . . the Farmington Historical Society has well over 5,000 artifacts that they've catalogued and a bazillion more that they haven't been able to catalog yet) and create an online presence to share Farmington's rich heritage with the outside world. AND we're getting students in the area involved in the process. Since every 7th and 8th grader has a laptop in Maine through their amazing Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI), they actually bring a rich resource to the project. And of course, on top of that, you're looking at hopefully getting the next generation involved in capturing and getting interested in their own heritage and history.

For me, it's going to be a heck of a lot of fun personally, but it's also going to enrich what I teach and how I teach it at the university. I'm very excited.

No comments: