We have worked with our Partners at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of African American History and Culture to curate the experience of A World-Wide Story in the Next Exit History App. This project takes items from their collection, some on display and some in storage, and puts them back on the map. Showcasing the stories that connect places and people- a shared history showcased in map form. Connecting stories of hardship and hard work, exclusion and inclusion, slavery and freedom, famous figures and common men and women. These stories come from all over the globe and yet belong to each person too.
Next Exit History is hoping to become part of the bridge closing the gap between Visitor and Local Economies. We believe that every community has a story that should be shared. That community and culture traits should be preserved and celebrated. As individuals, we yearn for connection. Connection to new places and new people but also to shared beliefs and histories. And all of these things should be accessible by all.
Back in June, I wrote about the Pend Oreille Basin Heritage Project and the opportunities for using mobile technology to satisfy requirements of regulatory compliance or to serve as creative mitigation. A component of that work was collaborating with the Kalispel Indian Tribe in northeast Washington to both interpret their history and to do so in a way that recognizes the cultural significance of places and the ongoing preservation of the Salish language. This has much broader application than just including tribes as stakeholders in projects and throwing in a few Native American sites to broaden the sweep of historical interpretation: it can aid in the preservation of language and, in a dynamic way, provide tribal communities a way to both tell their stories through their own voices (literally) and promote heritage tourism in the process.
The beauty of an app like Next Exit History lies in its flexibility. The ability to take a large network, add your own network and connect your content to others in a way that is valuable to both you as a site and app users. Flexibility helps to ensure that no matter your goals and how often they change, there are ways to incorporate the features of Next Exit History to make it work for you.
Heritage organizations have an agenda. We want the public to discover historical and cultural sites and value the stories they tell. We also want visitors to support the preservation of cultural resources and the organizations that act as their stewards. While our agendas are certainly ambitious, well-planned interpretation can go a long way toward helping us succeed.