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Stewarding the Future

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  1. Stewarding the Future

  2. Sustainability is an iconic term It implies a commitment to manage natural and cultural resources to ensure their continuance into an indefinite future. • How far ahead is that? No general agreement. This is a futurist stance. What supports this view? • Ethical: Fairness • Conscientious: How will the future see our generations? • Familial: Hope for our progeny’s quality of life. • Pragmatic: Goals of social stability Has future stewardship lost ground over the past half century?

  3. Shifting from future orientation to present orientation? Shift from future to present From permanence to transience Propensity to think in terms of immediate returns and consequences. “Borrow environmental capital from future generations” The present is a ruthless dictator to the future.

  4. How does orientation impact heritage tourism? Is the rise in heritage site visitation a form of surrender to uncontrollable forces? • See it before it is lost. • Searching for stability in a world of change • Legislating what cannot be controlled • The virtual world creates its own concerns. David Cohen, comments on being overwhelmed by the volume available to receive. Technology lives in the present

  5. The Paradox of Learning Through research the conclusion is now that we know how to preserve almost everything—endangered species, antiquities, art, archives, human life itself. • Technology makes long-term conservation increasingly feasible. Except itself. The means are there, but the ends are missing. International conventions have championed stewardship of resources for future generations, yet these principles are seldom if ever put into practice.

  6. What should be retained from the Present before it is past? The trend appears to be that the present is becoming shorter, or more unstable. • Technology may capture the moment, but cannot sleep or important developments will be missed David Cohen suggests that our concern of the “authenticity” of the digital is over wrought. Fraud and distortion have, are, and will always exist at low levels. Corruption of data is more critical than distortion of narratives.

  7. Historians look to the past for the service of the future Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790). • Duration is no object to those who think little or nothing has been done before their time, place all their hopes in discovery, [and] think…that there needs no principle of attachment, except…present conveniency.“ Presentism in the past • Thomas Paine – ("we owe nothing to the future") • Thomas Jefferson ("the dead have no rights")

  8. The changing conclusion about the effects of civilization and human agency George Perkins Marsh Man and Nature (1864) was the first text to cast doubt on, and then to overturn, the then-dominant view that lauded human agency, in obedience to divine command and to civilized advance, for transforming raw nature into an ever more fruitful and productive earth. Both the deliberate and the unintended consequences of reckless developmental greed, undertaken with thought only for the present, were fateful, even fatal. • The cause was lack of concern for the future. • But, prescribed controls flew in the face of customary faith in individual liberty and free enterprise. The West was won and wholly engrossed; there was no more land; wasteful destruction must cease, bade Roosevelt and Pinchot in 1908.

  9. The pressing demands of the voracious present When every thing is politics and economics, then only those with the power to influence will be served. Advocates of intergenerational equity are far outnumbered by economists • market forces and individual interests are adequate guarantors of environmental and social heritage. • "future generations are likely to be incomparably richer than people alive today.“ The same social values that seek political and economic stimulus to overcome present suffering, must ignore the future. • Poverty forces an insistence on immediate needs.

  10. Once upon a time the future was a bright and shining promise Advocates trumpeted scientific progress and faith in social engineering. (modernism) The age of Modernism expressed impatience with tradition engendered countless cornucopian forecasts. Sometime around the late 1960s that modernist utopia disappeared. (Post-modernism) • The future became a thing of the past. • Visions of the white heat of technology gave way to hand-lettered tracts extolling pastoral scenes of “windmills and families holding hands” • Heritage, roots, and historic preservation made the past our favored abode to escape the fears and the perils of the present. • The nostalgized past, was by the 1980s “the foreign country with the most profitable and rapidly growing tourist trade of them all.” (David Lowenthal)

  11. What is the yield of investment in the Future? Could investment in the future now perhaps offer comparable rewards to those the past offers? • The future has become more open and less predictable, uncertain rather than foreordained. • Can the uncertainty encourage engagement with it? That the future, near and far alike, holds huge risks is undeniable. How would preservation and tourism encourage an engagement in the future? But the materiality of the present has created a world of consumption, so the products need only last long enough to be consumed.