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"Preserving Architectural Heritage and Community Traditions in New Mexico and the Southwest"

Community-Based Preservation Approach

Ways in Which Cornerstones Serves Communities

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Hands-on Assistance

Cornerstones has developed a nationally-recognized model for involving community members in dynamic, volunteer-driven preservation projects to save historic community buildings. Cornerstonesí expert field staff works with communities to plan these projects, offering technical direction and training, while eliciting and supporting local leadership. Cornerstones helps communities organize and implement Saturday workdays which involve community and outside volunteers recruited by Cornerstones. Since its inception in 1986, Cornerstones has participated in more than 50 such restoration projects which have not only served to preserve important historic buildings that are central to cultural heritage and community life, but have built and strengthened community in the process. In 1999, Cornerstones conducted 119 workdays at 14 sites around New Mexico and southern Colorado.

Technical Advice

As word of Cornerstones' services to communities has spread around the region, it gets many requests each year from communities for assistance in identifying and proposing solutions to common problems facing their historic adobe buildings. Usually, a member of Cornerstones' technical staff will visit the site, inspect the building and meet with community caretakers. Often follow-up visits are necessary, and sometimes other technical services, such as structural engineering are needed. Cornerstones is often able to secure these services on a pro bono basis. After the assessment, Cornerstones usually provides the community with a written report, explaining the problems found and recommending solutions. Last year, Cornerstones' staff members made 147 technical assistance visits to 67 sites.

Youth Training

Recognizing the important role young people play in carrying on cultural traditions, Cornerstones has developed specialized youth training programs. These programs provide youth with marketable job skills and a greater appreciation of their cultural heritage. An important component of the training is exposure to leaders in the communities who act as mentors, teaching not only the traditional skills, but also their significance within the history and culture of the society. Cornerstones has completed successful youth training projects in the communities of Mora, Zuni Pueblo and DoŇa Ana, New Mexico. Most recently a major, multi-year youth training project has been established in Socorro, Texas. The traditional skills training revolves around the restoration of the old Socorro Mission, which is one of the most important cultural landmarks in the area. Youth will learn skills that enhance their employability, while they restore the Mission as a cultural and community center. About twelve students from an alternative high school in Socorro have participated in the program thus far.

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Community Workshops

Cornerstones disseminates important technical information regarding the restoration and maintenance of historic buildings to a large number of people very efficiently through one and two day community workshops on various topics of adobe preservation. Education is the key to success and sustainability of community-based preservation projects. Participants can take skills learned in the workshops and teach them to others in their communities. Each year, a few workshops are scheduled in different parts of the state and surrounding area. Cornerstones invites community people from the region who have a need for the particular information provided in each workshop. As a companion tool to the workshops, Cornerstones has published the Adobe Architecture Conservation Handbook. This how-to manual is and excellent compilation of traditional adobe preservation techniques and is designed for use by non-professionals. The intended result of all this training is to arm community members with the information and skills that give them the confidence to do the important work of preserving their historic community buildings, as well as their own private residences. Last year, five training workshops were held in the communities of Lamy, Las Vegas, La Cienega, Mesilla, and the Pueblo of Acoma. Topics included lime and mud plastering, stained glass window restoration, adobe making and repair of traditional flat roofs. A total of nearly three hundred people participated in these workshops.