Divide and Conquer, and a Preservation Conference

The centigrade is rising here in the Sonoran Desert of Baja, or lower Arizona, and we are deep in the first phase of the process of doing the legwork to acquire the National Historic Landmark (NHL) designation for Tucson’s historic quarter, the Barrio Viejo. This has been a super busy week for me! In addition to managing over a 100 volunteers  for the NHL project, which we have since separated into divisions – a data entry, a fieldwork, and a historic research crew, and deployed on our tasks, it was also the Arizona Historic Preservation Conference held in nearby Oro Valley, Arizona. It was very rewarding to attend the conference and even one of my supervisors, Demion Clinco of the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation, was honored with an award for this tireless work in the field of preservation in this amazing Southwestern city. I was able to attend two workshops while at the conference, which had direct applications to the work that we are doing in that they dealt with adobe technical work. The first was entitled ‘Adobe and the Mudman’ and was a a general overview of the conservation of earthen architecture, its use throughout the world, some case studies within Arizona, as well as a practical session where we made adobe bricks. The second workshop had to do with the application of lime plaster as a traditional coating to adobe structures,  specifically the addition of “baba de nopal” or the mucilage or slime from prickly pear cactus pads as a binder and superior adhesion material in the plaster. This was a fascinating subject, and I am very grateful I had the opportunity to attend. Finally, at the beginning of the week I welcomed another intern working on the project and actually a friend of mine, Magda, and got her up to speed to help coordinate this intensive program for our project.

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