Thursday, November 8, 2012

Kent Boese Believes Historic Preservation Can Promote Respect and Progress Within a Community

Recent DC Community Heritage Project Grant Recipient Discusses Community History and his Forthcoming Park View Walking Tour

By Priya Dadlani

Kent Boese is a DC Community Heritage Project grantee, who created the Park View Walking Tour project and gave the Park View neighborhood a prominent voice in the DC community. Boese moved to the neighborhood in 2007, not knowing much about the community, but after getting to know his neighbors and conducting some research, he found out that this small neighborhood is very unique and holds interesting stories unknown to most of the District. Boese grew up in Harvard, Illinois,a small town of about 5,000 residents. Boese says, “I've discovered in many ways each neighborhood within D.C. operates like a small town. I guess that's why I fell in love with my neighborhood and why I am an effective advocate for it.” Like small towns, communities in the District function better when people work together. Helping neighbors, calling officials and assisting the community are common actions for Boese and others living in communities like Park View.

Boese quickly realized that other local blogs often distorted Park View or fostered their own bias about it. To properly represent the neighborhood, Boese created a blog where he shares information about Park View to anyone who wants to learn more about the community. “I wanted the community to have an equally strong voice as surrounding neighborhoods. I also wanted to create a place where local news and articles on history, development, crime, etc. could be shared and foster discussion within the neighborhood,” says Boese.

Boese’s blog, Park View, D.C., includes reports on the “collective memories and experiences of DC citizens”. Boese believes these details are important because Park View, with the rest of DC, is going through many changes. But the Park View Boese fell in love with is the one that he moved to, not “some mythical future neighborhood”. So for him, it is important to preserve the deeply rooted history of the community and its citizens and make these stories available to newer residents so they will be able to more thoroughly understand what Park View is and make stronger connections to the history of the community. Boese says that, “one of the greatest assets of the neighborhood is the long-established residents. It is in the community’s best interest for the contributions of all previous generations to be known if we are to value and respect each other and continue to move forward as one community.”

The love Boese has for DC comes from a very rich history and to him the District is interesting because it has both “deep roots” and a “transient population”. It also has both a national and a local presence. After many years of relative stability, the city is undergoing a lot of growth and demographic changes. “How we as Washingtonians respond to these changes - preserve, document, and make our history accessible - successfully fight and minimize displacement - and move together as a city will determine our worth to the country and the world,” says Boese. DC has great potential for a better future , but it can only be realized if newer residents and older residents are able to work together and learn more about one another’s history . Boese believes that preserving the history of the city and passing it on to new generations will help District citizens in achieving this goal.

Kent Boese has done something great for DC by giving Park View a voice just as loud as those of its’ neighboring communities. The walking tour project Boese is working on is nearing completion, and a draft was recently sent to the printer. The next step is to distribute all the brochures throughout the District and get the word out about where copies can be found. The Humanities Council is excited about Boese’s walking tour, and we hope the Park View community will be too.

1 comment:

  1. Boese is an inspiration! Thanks Priya Dadlani for sharing his important work. Nice piece.