What got little third grader Jason Church so interested in cemeteries as a little kid – to the point that he became a preservation specialist and now Chief of the Technical Services DivisionΒ @ncptt.nps? Check this out.

πŸŽ₯ Catch the full episode on my YouTube Channel under live videos:

ABOUT JASON: Since September of 2020, Jason Church has led the Slave and Tenant Farmer Housing Documentation Project. He divides his time between original research, field work on outdoor sculpture and architectural materials and organizing various trainings and conferences. Jason earned his M.F.A. in Historic Preservation from Savannah College of Art and Design.


Jason Church, Chief of the Technical Services Division at the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, discusses his work in historical preservation, including his current project on documenting slave tenant farmer housing. He also talks about how cemeteries hold important history and art, and why they are a great training space for preservation professionals.


– πŸ‘¨β€πŸ”¬ Jason Church is the Chief of the Technical Services Division at the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, where he leads the slave tenant farmer housing documentation project.

– 🏯 Church got interested in historical preservation through his childhood experiences visiting museums and historic sites, and into his adult life with restoring houses and learning masonry and plaster work.

– πŸͺ¦ Church emphasizes the importance of cemeteries in preserving art and history, and sees them as valuable training spaces for preservation professionals due to the variety of building materials found there.

– πŸ—ΊοΈ Church’s project documenting slave tenant farmer housing has uncovered the deep history of these structures and occupation practices in the Deep South, and highlights the importance of preserving this knowledge.

– πŸ‘₯ Church works with a variety of communities, students, and professionals to provide preservation training and workshops across the country.


(00:00) all right so hello everyone good morning good afternoon depending where you are I am Monica Rhodes and it gives me great pleasure to introduce my new video series three and impossible as we know histories are often multi-layered and the name of this show is certainly no exception if you are a Spades player then you know

(00:23) this phrase you would use this when you’re predicting how many books you’re you have in your hand and what you’re going to do to win uh it also represents the essence of cultural preservation which is not just a conversation about the past but one that concerns the future as well three in the possible and

(00:40) preservation is predictive through this series I will be chatting with experts in the preservation space and asking three and possible for questions per interview this is a free-flowing conversation with my community of practice so without further Ado I’d like to welcome Jason Church who is the chief of the technical

(01:02) services division at the national Center for preservation technology and training in Natchitoches Louisiana uh ncpt ncpt is a research and training office at the National Park Service since September of 2020 Jason has led the slave intended farmer housing documentation project which we’ll hear a little bit more about and Jason devised

(01:25) his time between original research field work on outdoor sculptures and Architectural materials and organizing various trainings and conferences across the country he earned his MFA in historic preservation from the Savannah College of Art and Design so I’m very pleased to have Jason join us in conversation today

(01:45) and before I jump in I just want to say a little bit about how I met Jason which was down on a project that uh that we did uh at this point it’s probably been seven eight years time you know in in New Orleans I had just worked with ncpt on a project in Natchitoches Louisiana at the African house and a few months

(02:07) later I get a call from Jason talking about a project that he had been working on for years and at this moment the the Hands-On preservation experience which is a program of the National Trust historic preservation uh was just getting really getting this ground and getting the splitting I think we’re a

(02:26) year two maybe you’re one two or three and Jason says you know hey Monica I have this project down in New Orleans and I think it’ll be a good fit for a program for your pro program and so that’s how the the program got into Cemetery uh preservation and also how uh you know we continue to develop a partnership with closer partnership with

(02:47) the Park Service uh and and uh businesses like uh DT for example uh so Jason uh let’s let’s get into our first question um tell me how you got into the work that that you’re doing and you’re leading down in ncpt um how’d you get started all right well first of all I’m excited to talk to you today Monica I love this

(03:11) program I’ve checked out the other ones they’ve been awesome um so you know my story is like most of us uh my parents drug us as a kids as kids to you know start museums and battlefields and you know they drug us all around and I guess it’s stuck uh so any parents listening eventually um you know your your kids will stop

(03:33) hating uh the next Museum and it will uh eventually enjoy it uh but it kind of stuck with me and I got really interested in historic houses and historic sites um and then that was really it and then um in the third grade North Carolina history so I’m originally from Wilmington North Carolina that’s where I

(03:54) was born great historic city um I did a third grade project on uh Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington and that got me hooked in cemeteries uh you know we did a video tour which in my 1982 or something like that was a big deal uh we met the caretaker and he took my dad and I all around and told us all these

(04:14) Amazing Stories let me go in all the mausoleums that literally gave me the keys to the cemetery um and I was hooked and that was really it for me ever since then you know I’ve been fascinated with cemeteries I’ve been fascinated with uh historic sites and you know going growing up I was really interested my parents we started

(04:36) flipping houses you know buying houses and restoring them and that got me interested my daddy used to loaned me out to the contractors you know well my son will help you too that’ll you know lower the price kind of thing and so that’s where I started learning you know how to do plaster work and how to do masonry work and and

(04:53) things like that and I got really interested in um my grandfather was a Mason his father was a mason so I got really interested in that started laying Stone uh did that all through college to pay for school and just really really got interested in the materials and in the structures that way um did my undergrad in building science at

(05:13) Appalachian State got interested in buildings and realized really quickly I didn’t want to do new construction I was doing that already laying Stone and realized that just wasn’t what I wanted to do uh so went back to school for preservation and realized that’s what I wanted I loved historic buildings and

(05:30) for me it’s always evolved um you know I came I worked for the city of Savannah Department of cemeteries you know restoring iron work and restoring uh masonry work came here and got to learn all of the research and got to learn to work at all the labs and learn the the conservation science part of it

(05:51) and now for me it’s sort of evolved even more um you know really learning the history of the sites and getting more interested in the people who made these buildings important so you know sort of moving away from it’s not just the building that’s that’s need or or has an interesting story it’s the people who

(06:11) made that that building interesting um so you throwing up a picture here this is a great segue into some of the work we’re doing right now which is I got really interested in 2020 literally we we got some cool laser scanning equipment and I just gone to school for it and I thought well they have these

(06:31) really small vernacular buildings around me I knew nothing about them didn’t even know what they were but I thought these are really old I really was in love with them and it would be something obtainable something I could actually do I could scan the small building um and learned that they were tinted

(06:48) farmer houses and I a new sort of vaguely what tenant farming was but not really and I met this gentleman Elvin Shields um and who had been a tenant farmer himself and had left to go to Vietnam and left the plantation and it really hit me I was like well you know this Mr Shields is my dad’s age what do you mean you were a tenant

(07:11) farmer and so really got to learn that tenant farming wasn’t something that went out in the tour of the century that here in the Deep South tinted farming lasted uh the the oldest per the oldest case that I know of that I’ve interviewed a family was still hand picking cotton under a tenant agreement

(07:29) in 1978. so we started interviewing these uh former tenant farmers and we realized these buildings yes they had been lived in until the 70s some of them as tenant Farmers but we realized that uh these buildings had held housed enslaved workers before that and it was the same families so to me that became a a big

(07:49) eye-opener or something that they didn’t tell us about in school and something I felt like I’d been lied to that I didn’t understand um so that’s sort of how that you know like I said it’s for for me preservation is always evolving we’re doing something new all the time and that’s what I love about it yeah now

(08:10) thank you for for that background and and it you know it reminds me about the work that we do and how all these places um are embodied with history like you know building is not a building a landscape a battlefield it’s not a battlefield a cemetery is just not a cemetery and I’m even thinking about the

(08:27) project that we did together in in Tennessee at Stones River um you know the United States colored Troops uh that that were there and the history of that place um and so I you know I’d like to hear a little bit more about um you know really what kind of pulled you into the cemetery uh maintenance space I know you touched briefly on it

(08:49) but I’m you know I’m thinking about you know the fact that you do Cemetery trainings and workshops across the country right um you work with uh communities you work with students uh you work with preservation professionals you work with folks who uh or even Masons who are you typically working on buildings but uh you know haven’t

(09:09) necessarily worked in cemeteries so the types of people that you’ve interacted with is very interesting so I just want to hear a little bit more about that and then of the you know some of the why like what drives you into the cemetery space the way for me cemeteries you know there’s no building material that I know

(09:26) of and and I’ll challenge anybody to this because I I’ve seen so much um just about any building material that’s historic you’re going to find in a cemetery just on a smaller scale so I mean stained glass windows woodwork Iron Work bronze stainless you know masonry cast out it’s all there uh just on a smaller scale so for a training

(09:48) effort it’s perfect you know um I remember when I first started doing uh trainings teaching people to work on Ornamental Iron everyone always said why don’t we get out of New Orleans and work on a building why don’t we well then you got to get scaffolding you got to close streets off you got to get harnesses or

(10:05) we can work on the same fence the same railing on the ground in the cemetery there’s no one around it’s very quiet it’s a beautiful space so for training that was really kind of it but what drew me to cemeteries is the you know the artistic value that’s in them that we sort of Overlook I mean the historic part is

(10:25) amazing um but the other thing that we sort of Overlook is you know most these City cemeteries it’s a City sculpture garden that we sort of neglect you have this beautiful landscape sculpture garden just sitting right in your in your city we should go out and enjoy it and for the training aspect for me you know historic

(10:46) cemeteries are like the gateway drug to preservation you know I might not be able to convince you that brutalist concrete structure is worth saving or but that’s a really cool architecture grocery store we should save it but I can convince anyone that historic cemetery is worth saving because you know everyone has someone

(11:07) they love maybe it’s not a family member maybe it’s a hero maybe it’s a sports figure it’s a writer someone that you love and someone that you respect is in a cemetery so it’s easy to get everybody I can you know school kids all the way up to you know like you said practicing Masons and conservators we could easily bring them

(11:28) in to a historic Cemetery um so to me that’s really you know sort of the gateway drug uh to preservation then once like we get you hooked we can convince you to save the courthouse or to save the old school um but yeah everybody we can bring them in and it’s something tangible I mean working on a building

(11:50) you know in 10 years we got um you know something accomplished in this historic building but now you know we can go in the cemetery and we can leave having fixed that stone today so it’s that instant gratification that people love you know I went out and I cleaned this thing and oh my gosh it looks great I’m so happy I did

(12:12) preservation today um so yeah here’s the work I did with again with the trust with hope crew um this is uh kalapapa national uh Historic Site in kalapapa Hawaii um cleaning the grave of Father Davian a saint uh so I you know I had to get the the picture off because you know how often do you get to clean a Saints grave

(12:37) but just it takes us it’s taking me to some of the most beautiful locations in the world and met some of the Most Fascinating People I love working in cemeteries I really do yeah as interesting says as a young person I spent a lot of time in my family Cemetery in Texas and uh you know as I reflected you know it was those moments

(12:57) of walking around on the grounds seeing it not only as a place where my family’s buried but seeing it uh you know now I have the language to see it as like a cultural landscape um but it’s you know it’s a place it’s a place where people picnic uh you know in the in the mid-1800s every night like it’s you know these places have history

(13:15) they are public uh Public Gardens they’re they’re outdoor sculptures uh and they’re some of the most beautiful places in in the cities especially places that are not filled with you know parks and beautiful Parks you can some oftentimes go to the cemetery and those places have been maintained sometimes

(13:30) now otherwise we wouldn’t we would be out of jobs uh if every place was uh beautifully maintained so yeah I I couldn’t agree with you more well and to me I love working with you youth groups and and and college students and things like that and cemeteries because it’s a tangible Link to the Past it’s it’s not

(13:53) abstract anymore this is that person who did this thing right here um and you know this is the thing this is the last record of them this is their permanent marker um you mentioned the the Buffalo Soldiers that um at Stones River one of my great aha moments that that’ll always stick with me was working down at Chalmette we were

(14:14) running all these volunteer groups through and I had a group from a girls uh Catholic High School in California really hard workers just having a great time with them and one of them had a portable speaker attached to uh the backpack sprayer and they were listening in Bob Marley’s Buffalo Soldier came on

(14:32) and all the kids were singing along and I thought oh my gosh what what a moment I I so I stopped him and I you know paused the music I said you know you guys know what a Buffalo Soldier is right and none of them knew what they just knew the song and I said all right look down you’re all cleaning U.S color troops graves

(14:51) right now so we talked about and they all of a sudden everybody’s phones out they’re taking pictures they’re instagramming Buffalo Soldier you know and one of them called their history Professor was like do you know what we’re doing and there was this connection like okay this is a song about these people this is oh wait these

(15:10) are the people um and it meant a lot to them they left and were you know some of them started crying because we started pulling up like Googling Buffalo Soldier and explaining the the start of the US colored Troops and you know who and then the kids were taking pictures and actually Google searching the people

(15:28) they were cleaning and finding their records and it was just one of those moments like you know here is these you know the actual people that we we need to honor um so for me that was always that’s a moment that always stay with me I was working with that group yeah and one of the things about that I’m just you know

(15:47) thinking about like when we when we work together in xiaomi You Know Not only was there cleaning activity and I think they’re like 14 000 headstones thereabouts uh so cleaning headstones volunteers uh realigning those headstones so that was a whole uh whole thing uh but the documentation part was important can can you talk a little bit

(16:07) about uh that and and the importance of uh kind of identifying where people are buried and connecting those to a database uh to help with the management of these cemeteries you know in the long term sure I mean it’s you know genealogy is such a huge Pastime right now I mean it’s one of the fastest growing pastimes

(16:29) in America uh and I love it it’s really what drives most of the cemetery preservation and all these geologists out there you know people everyone wants to be an armchair genealogist so you’re at home and you’re researching this person that you you now have learned you have a connection with that you maybe didn’t know about last

(16:49) night and then you want people want to see I want to find their grave I want to find who they’re related to I want to see this but of course you know can you drive halfway across the country for this but no we have things like find a grave and you know we have all these databases that we can go you know we can

(17:05) search it we can find them and so doing all this documentation is really important to find these people to find these lost links you know that tangible link to our own history our own past um so it’s really important and you know and documentation’s a great project you can do uh with volunteers um we were talking earlier and and check

(17:27) our social media we’ll have more information about it when it’s available but you know we’re doing a documentation project with a trust uh later this year up in DC and just really trying to you know get those people online now and and letting people find each other um you know really like I said to to

(17:47) link up to those people who all of a sudden now you know you’re related to and who were they and all this amazing information that’s out there like on Ancestry and stuff like that yeah yeah I I really love your your phrase armchair genealogist there’s a lot of armchair historians and people who are going to

(18:05) do the research but you know that that’s sometimes getting out and putting some Sweat Equity into these places uh that’s that’s where the the rubber meets the road so thank you for uh as your interviewee Joy said uh Joy Canard said you know preservation is an action word uh so we you know somebody’s got to go

(18:23) out there to document it it should it should be us it should be everyone listening uh to go out and document those sites for for those who can’t go out absolutely absolutely so so Jason what what are some of the things that you’re working on now like what are you what do you have going on uh anyways

(18:39) throughout the South so I’m you know I’m the chief of technical services at ncpd so we do lots of things uh we we work in the labs we do our own original research um we have six research Labs here we do pro bono work for students who are working on their dissertation and their p and their thesis so a little plug for

(18:58) that uh so we do a lot of that you know we’re constantly running samples doing mortar analysis pain analysis mystery coding analysis in the labs uh and then I have a team that works for me that goes out and does digital recording of sites and so that’s that’s a really important aspect of what we do so uh the team

(19:17) right now is actually on the road uh so we have um I have two people work full-time for me um Ben Bosque and Megan Suzanne Reed are out right now uh working at uh Converse Louisiana and they’re documenting Rosenwald School uh so we’re we’re doing digital recording uh this is actually one we’re going to be working on next

(19:41) week um the photograph this is in um Mount Olive Louisiana this is a Rosenwald School so and we’ve got a greening Youth Foundation uh intern that’s working with us um uh John Richardson and then we’ve got a Tuskegee student joining us in a couple weeks who will be working on this project with us as well

(20:04) um and really just trying to capture there were 395 Rosenwald schools built in Louisiana there are 18 Still Standing uh so we’re doing digital recording of all those so we’re doing laser scanning of it uh we’ll do photogrammetry do a couple matterport tours of them and then I’ve got an oral historian Isabella

(20:26) Jones that works for me she’s doing interviews with former students of some of the schools and all this is going on a story map so we’ll have the the last 18 there’s 18 schools and two teacher houses left standing out of the 395 that were built and in various stages like the one in Converse is still being used

(20:45) uh with the school system which is pretty cool so that one we’ll just do the outside because inside is you know still an active classroom building and Jason let me say a little bit of something about Rosen law school so just for for the folks watching uh you know Rosenwald schools were a joint effort

(21:02) between Julius Rosenwald also if you know Sears Roebuck Company and Booker T Washington so we you know had two guests focused in on Tuskegee so Booker T Washington founded that University and so this was a joint effort for them to uh educate African-American rural students uh so this is like the early 19

(21:22) teens um 15-ish to like 1930 ish um you know they were about 5 000 of them from Texas Texas here all the way to Maryland so they’re kind of sweeping alone here and to to just let you know like how rare these resources are you know Jason just said that they’re 18 in Louisiana there are five about 500 left in the country so it went

(21:46) from you know 5 000 rural schools down to about 500 so the need to preserve these spaces is absolutely critical and the work that Jason is leading with his team uh is is really at The Cutting Edge of the efforts to preserve these spaces in addition to you know other efforts other organizations have done time but

(22:06) these are these are very rare historic resources and they are an important chapter in education history American history architectural history a lot of the the schools that were designed were coming from architects who were trained at Tuskegee University the Robert R Taylor uh yep so you’ve got all these

(22:23) these intersections here in preservation you know in the same ways that you take a 30 000 foot of History you see how like all of these this is connected to this and this is connected to this um preservation is the exact same way it’s the it’s living breathing history so I just wanted to double click on that

(22:39) for a second uh General background oh yeah it’s a great project we’re working with Brian Davis the Louisiana trust he has researched all of the 395 found these for us and then basically called us in and we’re going to do the digital recording album so we’re super excited um just amazing structures uh Robert R

(23:01) Taylor design just great use of natural light and the way they’re divided up I mean they’re really really fascinating buildings um and of course we talked about earlier the history of them trying to get that you know we’re recording the the tangible but also trying to get that intangible and interviewing people who

(23:19) actually went to school there and and what it meant to them and and what that opportunity afforded them um before we’ve we’ve lost those people I mean the people are as rare as the buildings uh so trying to capture those those stories is is really uh important to us as well and that I mentioned earlier we’ve got the project we’re

(23:39) trying to record every um slave structure and tenant structure that we could find we’ve done about 200 so far uh mostly uh in the Deep South but all the way up to mayor Ireland on the Eastern Shore and not only recording the buildings but of course again trying to get those interviews with not only tenant Farmers but Plantation workers

(24:00) period because we’ve interviewed some people who you know grew up in um a tenant Shack that had been uh you know a slave structure before that uh but they they’re we interviewed one lady whose grandmother was a cook and had been the last cook at the plantation and it really gives you that sort of super

(24:20) tangible weight I’m talking to the person who grew up in this house whose grandmother raised her who was the last Plantation cook it you know you realize those distances aren’t as far away as as we think they are um a great quote that I love to use and it’s actually your quote Monica uh that we talk about

(24:46) um Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks but we don’t really talk about anybody between them so that’s really how we started with the tenant project was trying to tell the story of of tenant farming that lasted for so long um so really trying to interview those people before before we’ve lost them of the buildings we’ve documented I know of

(25:07) at least 10 that are already gone they’ve already collapsed uh one of the big things with climate change we’re starting to get a lot more tornadoes in the South than we ever had a lot more wind events and so we’re losing these buildings at a at a faster rate than we used to so we’ve lost about 10 of them already but the sad part is

(25:26) of the people we’ve interviewed we’ve already lost um something like 20 percent of the people we’ve interviewed have already passed so you know it’s a race which which you know we’re losing resources very quickly the buildings and the people that made them important uh so it’s a constant race between those two

(25:46) and Jason how student farming houses across the South and uh that’s a that’s a lot of work so how how many people are working with you uh to support this episode so uh right now I’ve got three full-time working on the project that’s it and then uh we’ve got uh in a we’ll have another uh person join us uh in a week and then we’ll have

(26:13) three interns on the project so it’s it’s a pretty small team we we try to constantly look for grant funding and opportunities to bring in more interns for a couple reasons a it helps us out but also really wanting to train more people on how to do this work uh so we’re we’re constantly looking for people we’re constantly looking for

(26:35) funding things like that to to get more but it’s a it’s a small team I wish it was much bigger I’d love for to tell you I’ve got 15 people you know documenting right now because uh we really have four initiatives going on the Rosenwald project that we just started literally today the team left this morning for the

(26:52) first one uh we’ve been documenting the tenant structure since the end of 2020 not a great time to start you know a documentation project on the road but we made it happen uh We’ve also got initiative we’re trying to document uh dance halls and Juke joints uh we’ve done mostly here in Louisiana we just

(27:13) did one for the state of Virginia but really trying to document those sites before they’re lost because they’re you know there’s all been abandoned they’re they’re disappearing very quickly and then the newest project that we’ve just launched and we’ve only documented a couple sites uh but we’re really trying

(27:29) to find you know more funding and stuff to get this going is to draw a document a historic lgbtq historic sites in the south and that’s you know I’m I’m a southerner I love the history of the South uh for the good and the bad I think the south is an amazing place and I I sort of started this project because you know

(27:51) we’re a very rich diverse culture in the South and I think that gets overlooked uh I think you know people think about it being sort of one way but uh I saw a lot of important lgbtq sites getting documented in other places but not really the South uh so we started working with a group called invisible histories and if you know

(28:13) definitely check out their Instagram and their websites an amazing group uh that’s doing this work uh but they document and uh save archives and ephemera and photographs and oral histories so we started working with them to to document the structures you know where did these things happen uh where you know what buildings did these

(28:34) things take place in and there’s an amazing amount everything from safe spaces to you know places that had small book presses and and Zine presses to um you know drag clubs to to bars I mean it the sky is the limit uh there’s an amazing amount and it’s it’s not something I knew anything about so it’s

(28:56) a learning process like I mentioned earlier this is the part of the job we got to keep learning all the time so I really really enjoyed learning these stories and learning about these places myself um and just hearing the stories you know beauty salons to I mean the sky’s the limit there’s the theaters it’s just

(29:14) it’s every kind of building it’s every kind of space um but trying to capture those again we’re losing those really quickly and we’re losing the people that were really instrumental in that Civil Rights Movement we’re losing them really quickly you know that’s an older group um so yeah trying to capture those

(29:35) buildings and those uh those stories it’s a race it really is yeah I’m just just thinking about like you know the Rosenwald the Juke joints the sharecroppings uh sites the lgbtq sites like all of like you you’re literally working to expand the the physical narrative um just you know beyond the books uh and

(29:58) and I’ll say about LGBT history the National Park Service a couple years back uh led by Megan springgrade did an lgbtq study that was groundbreaking so if you can uh look that up absolutely that is but this isn’t this is an ad this is icing on a cake on top of that right this is important work um that’s that’s added on that which is

(30:16) narrative that’s in the South and you’re absolutely right um you know outside of also being a southerner there’s this perception of you know who we are and what we represent but some of the best food comes from the south some of the best music is coming from the south some you know your your civil rights icons uh

(30:33) that are that are uh upheld as as leaders around the world are also coming from you know this area in the Deep Side so there’s a lot of things happening in them you know not to quote Outcast too much but during the source Awards they were getting booed because this was you know early early rap history the South

(30:51) didn’t get any respect at all uh and so while they were getting booed by you know uh people from the east coast and the West Coast uh Andre 3000 gets up and you know first thing he says is like you know the South has something to say and I’m thinking about uh the work that you’re doing right now to expand that

(31:07) narrative to let people know that we’re not telling one single story of what southern U.S history is but they’re all of these stories that come together and by you documenting these vernacular places it’s also getting at the stories of regular folk the the the the hair care salon the the the woman who owned

(31:26) the Juke Joint in Mississippi uh you know the the the I don’t know the LGBT the lesbian Club the gay club in Arkansas so you’re like you’re getting all of these stories that are important uh and tell a deeper richer story about who we are as a nation not just it’s not a southern store but this is a Nash

(31:44) story here as well so I’m just uh enjoying hearing all of the things that you’re that you’re working to do down there down there yeah I mean to me that’s what drives me you know I I came from farmers and And Trades people you know um my mom was a school teacher my dad uh worked at textile mills and ran textile

(32:04) mills you know I grew up going to visit the factors he worked at and visiting you know the lumber Mills that my granddad worked at and and you know laying brick and laying Stone and that’s so that’s what I came up with and I think we sort of look over that I mean that’s America uh it doesn’t matter what

(32:22) background the people are it’s it’s that those vernacular structures it’s the people the you know the worker housing the places they went to to drink after work and listen to music and that’s that’s America to me so that’s what’s really driven me it’s like well I’m in this position now we have this technology

(32:42) how can I share this with the world you know how can you know a kid in Iowa sitting in a high school classroom how can I let them experience what the housing for an enslaved worker was like those buildings still exist we can make a 3D model we can have them walk through it in virtual reality so to me that’s we have the technology I want

(33:04) to share those spaces you know somebody who’s in love with zydeco music in the Netherlands you know we just recorded these clubs um you know down in uh bro Bridge we just did a digital recording of a 3D model a virtual reality of this club and the acoustic signature of this club wow so it’s like like capturing the audio

(33:29) and how it sounded within the Zydeco Club yeah we’re working with a college Utah Valley University yeah um they’re audio Engineers you know this is something like I said you got to keep learning this is something I’d never thought about or heard about they came to us and working with the professors uh

(33:47) Emily and Brian and they’ve come down and taught us the The Virtue you know recording the virtual sound you know every space has an acoustic signature so capturing That acoustic signature so let’s say you’re you know like I said you’re in the Netherland engineer in love with Zydeco now you can experience

(34:07) what that club is like acoustically as well as virtually you can walk around and visit that club for the first time um so this is this is what draw was me to get up every morning it’s like how can we push this technology to come in and let someone else experience my culture experience what we’ve grown up with here in the South

(34:31) you know fall in love with it um you mentioned the food yeah that’s the next thing I love to we got to figure out how to let them experience the food um but yeah how do you experience the music how do you experience um you know the everyday vernacular that makes you know such a rich culture and you know trying to get that to other

(34:50) people through 3D modeling matterport things like that so they can experience in themselves well this gives me into the last question Jason which is you know I have an inkling what you’re going to say but what do you what do you think is the future of preservation what should people who are in school learning about

(35:07) preservation or people who maybe this is the first time they’ve heard about preservation on this call what should we be thinking about where should the field be headed uh what are what are your thoughts to me it’s it’s it’s sort of breaking that that Ivory Tower of you know here’s the courthouse or here’s the you know

(35:25) the big you know formal Gothic Revival church or something like that and bringing it down to yes that is those buildings are important sure but we’ve probably recorded them we’ve probably documented those you know you know there’s books and books on what you know it keep makes me think about when I first started recording uh the

(35:49) enslaved structures uh someone came to me and said why aren’t you recording the big house it’s like there’s there’s whole shelves there’s a library full of books on that but they skip the you know 30 buildings that are behind it of the people who actually build it and actually work the land and made this the plantation that

(36:09) it was and and actually built the big house and all the things that’s what we need to record we need to record we need to bring awareness and bring the love of and and same with cemeteries you know handmade grave markers you know those kind of things those are the things that we need to celebrate and I think that’s the future

(36:31) for preservation is celebrating everybody’s story it’s celebrating you know okay so yeah this person wasn’t someone famous they didn’t write a book they weren’t you know featured on television but they’re part of American History is absolutely as important so hearing about them working at a cotton mill okay tell

(36:54) us about it how did that process work what did you do you know learning those processes before we forget about it learn you know trying to capture our industrial Heritage past from the workers and the sites those are the kind of things that drive me like I want those stories I want those individual stories you know that intangible history

(37:17) of America before it’s lost and absolutely the site itself before we lose you know all of these dance halls for example we need to record them and talk about all the people who played on them and all the amazing things that that happen at them you know the grandparents that met there and now you exist because they’ve met each other

(37:40) which is a great story We captured the other day you know we talked to these two people in their 90s they talked about the guy I talked about seeing his future wife he’s 94 seeing her sitting on that bench you know and you know making those eyes where they’re across the dance floor and her talking about him coming over and

(38:01) asking her to dance for the first time you know hearing those stories that’s what made that building magical not just that Fats Domino played there but also all these people whose lives interacted with the building um and we have this amazing technology to do all this digital recording we should and we should we should try to

(38:22) focus on that and get it out to the people and tell as many stories as we can well well stay well stay that’s that’s that’s that’s that’s you know the the the the phrase that kind of comes to mind like that’s what we that’s what we’re doing that’s that’s the work we are um you know identifying stories that

(38:42) people would say are you know ordinary folk regular folk you know nine to five folk got a pension um those stories those experiences those people are the lifeblood of the country and those stories deserve to be told and shared and supported and uplifted uh to the same same level so absolutely excellent point excellent point so Jason

(39:02) one last question this is you know how how can people get in get in touch with you like if they’re looking to to follow the work that you’re leading on sharecropping lgbtq history in the South uh Rosenwald schools uh how how can it get in touch uh one of the easiest is uh our Instagram um you know you can check out what we’re

(39:26) doing every day um you know see the teams in the field working we try to post every day uh so that’s a great way you can message us through that uh our YouTube channel is a great one we’re constantly putting our interviews up but um probably the the quickest is Instagram um yeah you you can message I’m the one

(39:47) that actually will check it uh so you’ll actually get me if you message it um but yeah we try to post every day and we’ll post when our videos come out when our podcasts come out we’ve got a podcast series uh we’ll post those um but yeah you can see that the team in the field I’ll get ready to post uh your

(40:05) text just came in of the pictures from uh Converse Louisiana where they’re uh document in the Roosevelt school today I’ll post that as we get off here uh so yeah it’s that’s the easy way I mean we we try to use social media for that and that’s you know to be honest that’s really how we’ve done the entire tenant

(40:24) project uh when I started I started knocking on doors and found that didn’t go real well I started knocking on doors going hey this is really important buildings can we allow us to come record them and you know who are you get off my property it was not going well so we we did a few for the park service and we started

(40:43) posting it on Instagram and Facebook and saying if you know some more let us know and then literally everything started flowing in and we’ve got more buildings than we can possibly handle I’ve got years worth of buildings waiting on me I have notebooks full of contacts and addresses and where people have

(41:01) contacted us mostly through social media um you know some professional hey I saw this on social media I’m calling you on you know kind of thing but most of them have been hey I own a farm and these are back there I’d love for you to come document them before they’re gone or hey we’re a state site we’d love for you to come and

(41:21) you know digital record these these buildings um so yeah we could we could run a team of 20 for the next five years easily um but so yeah we’re always looking for help we’re always looking for more who has a story that we need to talk to uh you know getting oral histories is so important to us so if you know somebody

(41:43) that we should be talking to messages let us know so we’re excited to hear their story all right well thank you Jason and again that’s uh on Instagram at ncptt if you are uh if you have stories or something you like to share uh with the work that uh Jason is leading in uh and if you’re interested in collaborating that’s the

(42:07) way to get in touch with him as as well and as we close out um my aunts in the comments just reminded me my grandfather worked at a cotton gin uh in Texas so you know again these these stories of uh regular folk doing doing regular things hey we’re getting ready to get a document a cotton gin in Lubbock okay

(42:24) well I’m looking forward to following that as as I have done on Instagram and until we are in the same place again Jason it’s always a pleasure thank you for your time today tell the family and everyone at the office I said hello I Wills great city as always Monica all right and thank you all for for joining

(42:46) in today uh we’ll be back uh next month uh with more conversations

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