The Stories we tell – Daniella Castillo Vásquez

Part of my job as a Cultural Landscape Preservation Digital Media Resource Assistant at the Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation is highlighting the stories of a place that are often overlooked, or unfortunately forgotten. I spend hours in the afternoon going through articles and reports, trying to find the voices of these people, which ultimately are the voices that tell the story of the places we now get to visit and enjoy. When I was writing one of my profiles, I constantly reminded myself that that was the true importance of this incredible work I am honored to do: understanding that places witness. A place can bear testimony of the lives it encountered throughout its existence, and through the changes it experiences a place can tell a story.

This week I have been reading and writing about the Glendale Battlefield located in Virginia. A former farmland, it was devastated on the second to last day of the Seven Days’ Battle during the Civil War. At first glance, its forests and tired grounds don’t tell much of a story but just under the surface there are stories of resilience, of strength and of community. The area where Glendale is now located was once home to a vibrant community of free Black men and women, who were educators, teachers, farmers and were some of the most affected by the Battle. Getting to tell their story of how they rebuilt after facing the atrocities of war is an honor and it reminds me of the importance of the work we do and the content we share through these articles..

These places are alive through their details, and when we visit them we can almost feel the energies of the people that once laughed, cried or worked there, if we just stop and pay close attention.

Drawing table at the Frederick Law Olmsed National Historic Site

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