Natural landscapes are the foundation on which all communities establish their culture. Cultural landscapes investigate the complex relationship between culture and nature and how to represent both within a designated area. This complex relationship is seen in the variety of definitions for the term “cultural landscapes” identified by the LSS 240 Student Guide: Home page. The relationship of culture and nature is a world wide discussion that scholars from interdisciplinary fields are contributing to and asking questioning about how to present and preserve these precious sites.
"A conflict between nature and history need not exist." (Stepenoff 2008)
The purpose of this guide is to highlight ways in which cultural landscapes are established. By compiling and analyzing documents at hand and providing access to these materials, I hope to help fill some gaps of culture resources within natural landscapes located in the Pioneer Valley. By investigating these sites through examples of archeology and architecture, natural elements and stakeholders involved I hope to provide a glimpse into the complex challenges and creative opportunities to present, preserve and interpret our cultural landscape in our backyard.
“The ecological and scenic values of natural areas deserve protection, but so do the historical qualities that arise from connections between the land and human activities." (Stepenoff 2008)
To protect and preserve these spaces we must not only consider them to be recreational opportunities but associate cultural significance to these sites. To extend on the previous LSS 240's investigation of defining cultural landscapes and historic preservation I will interpret the Mount Holyoke Range Planning Unit, located in the Connecticut River Valley, which includes three mountainous and largely undeveloped units; Mount Holyoke Range State Park, Joseph Allen Skinner State Park and Mount Tom State Reservation. By highlighting examples of interdisciplinary resources available within each unit and the variety of opportunities they have to offer, I hope to bring to light a cultural landscape perspective that enables the community to engage with both the natural and cultural aspects of these precious landscapes in the Pioneer Valley.
"Used with purpose and imagination...cultural landscape can, and should, be an essential underpinning of preservation, opening a whole new chapter on our understanding of, and respect for, the world around us." (Longstreth 2008)
“Reinterpreting the Landscape of the Pioneer Valley” is an extension of previous LSS 240 students work but looks to go one step further by reinterpreting the landscape by presenting it as a cultural landscape. By applying the theory of cultural landscapes and historic preservation to the interpretation of sites within the Pioneer Valley I hope to highlight the interdisciplinary nature of preserving these spaces and engage a broader community about what it means to interpret a site through a cultural landscape viewpoint. This resource investigates and brings to the forefront resources such as documents, scholarly works and websites to further investigate the cultural landscape associated with the Mount Holyoke Range Planning Unit. This LibGuide investigates the overall Mount Holyoke Range Planning Unit highlighting its overall cultural landscape resouces and provides a general understanding of the management practices that dictate how each individual unit is protected. Each tab within the LibGuide breaks down the important cultural landscape attributes in each unit within the greater Mount Holyoke Range Planning Unit. This structure is to help highlight the cultural landscape of each unit and help to highlight just a few examples to engage the community in viewing these natural landscapes as cultural landscapes.
Understanding the significant natural features and biodiversity of the landscape contributes to the understanding of the importance of the cultural landscapes foundation and provides information about the accessibility of the cultural landscape to the community so they can explore and enjoy these spaces.
By discussing the overall cultural significance of the site and providing a few specific examples of the archeological and architectural significant features of these cultural landscapse we gain insight into the stories that can and should be told within these natural landscapes.
Investigating who has a role in preserving and managing these cultural landscape is important way to understand the interdisciplinary nature of preserving these locations. Determining who has a say in managing these locations allows for the community to engage directly and understand the reasons for designating and protecting these cultural landscapes.
By understanding the community who visit these sites we gain insight on how to engage with communities about cultural landscapes. This information allows the various stakeholders to make these landscapes more accessible and exciting to the community who want to enjoy the natural to cultural resources the Mount Holyoke Range Planning Unit has to offer.