18th Annual Calumet Heritage Conference

Nature Reworked:  Honoring the Past, Interpreting for the Future

Saturday, October 28, 2017
8:30 AM – 4:30 PM

Lebanon Lutheran Church
13100 S. Manistee Ave.
Hegewisch, Chicago, IL 60633

Nearly 80 of us gathered to learn about and discuss past work to celebrate, preserve, and protect our region’s heritage, as well as how interpretation of that heritage can provoke others to see the beauty and take joy in our region’s everyday but extraordinary places, neighborhoods, and landscapes. We thank you for your contributions to the important conversations that our speakers’ presentations prompted. As always, our field trip was a collaborative effort and we thank all of those experts who shared their knowledge of the region along the way. 

You’ll find the conference program below along with an archive of various conference resources. 

This year’s conference celebrates the work of generations of people to protect and preserve the environment, including those from 20 years ago who aspired to establish a Calumet National Ecological Park. Their effort led to the creation of the Calumet Heritage Partnership and a growing region-wide movement to designate a Calumet National Heritage Area. In 2017, a major step in that direction was taken when the Partnership submitted its Feasibility Study to the National Park Service.

The struggle to sustain a natural and built environment that works on everyone’s behalf in this nationally significant landscape is a key theme in the Feasibility Study. The “Nature Reworked” theme highlights the region’s rich natural endowment, changed by human hand, but then protected and restored by people who fought for it at neighborhood, regional, and national levels. We honor this nationally significant past, celebrate the work still going forward, and interpret cultural and natural resources so that future generations can enjoy the region’s abundant assets.

The conference provides a taste of the way in which local efforts matter, especially when they roll up into regional networks to tell a nationally significant story.

Morning presentations, panel discussions, and networking are followed by lunch and an afternoon tour of some of the region’s most iconic heritage gems. 

Download and share the conference flyer with friends!

Prelimary Program

8:30 – Registration, Meet and Greet, Continental Breakfast

9:00 – Welcome

Michael Longan, President, Calumet Heritage Partnership

9:10 – Rediscovering Heritage: Honoring the Past

On the 20th anniversary of community meetings that led to a bi-state vision for a Calumet Ecological Park and ultimately to the current initiative for creation of a Calumet National Heritage Area, we invite Judith Lihota to revisit how our region rediscovered its heritage and started us on the path to where we are today.   

Judith Lihota, Calumet Ecological Park Association

9:25 – Advocating for Heritage: Calumet’s Diverse Neighborhoods

For this panel, we invite community leaders to reflect on their past and current work to protect communities, preserve cultural heritage, and restore nature in the Calumet’s diverse neighborhoods.

Cheryl Johnson, People for Community Recovery; Kimberly Unger-Rodriguez, Save Marktown; Jessica Renslow, Miller Spotlight; Tiffany Tolbert, Vice-President, Indiana, Calumet Heritage Partnership (Moderator)

10:15 – Break and Discussion

10:30 – Shining a Light on Heritage: Museums, Galleries, and Local History Organizations in the Calumet Region

This panel highlights local heritage organizations’ efforts to interpret and preserve the region’s stories. Presentations include an overview of the Museums, Galleries, and Local History Network, a newly formed Calumet Heritage Partnership group working to bring more visibility to local heritage sites, and discussion of how current and future programming can strengthen regional identity.

Madeleine Tudor, The Field Museum; Serena Sutliff, Westchester Township History Museum

11:00 – Keynote Address: Giving the Gifts of Interpretation in the Calumet

Ted Cable, Professor of Park Management and Conservation, Kansas State University

11:50 – Lunch

1:00 – Tour: reVisiting Heritage: Interpreting for the Future

Sherry Meyer, Vice-President, Illinois, Calumet Heritage Partnership;Ted Cable, Professor of Park Management and Conservation, Kansas State University

4:30 – Conference Concludes

The Calumet Heritage Conference is a program of the Calumet Heritage Partnership.

The Calumet Heritage Partnership is a bi-state non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the unique heritage of the Calumet region. The Field Museum is a partner of the Calumet Heritage Partnership. Together, they lead the feasibility study to designate the region as a Calumet National Heritage Area. The Calumet Heritage Partnership and the Calumet Collaborative serve as the joint coordinating entity for the proposed Calumet National Heritage Area.