Thank you to everyone who attended the Cambridge Historical Society’s “Opening Conversation” & Annual Meeting! We also want to thank our captivating speakers, Dr. Karilyn Crockett and Diana Lempel. To kick off the year-long series of events, CHS hosted Dr. Crockett and Diana Lempel in exploring the year’s thematic question, “How Does Cambridge Engage?” Dr. Crockett drew on her work as an MIT lecturer of public policy and urban planning in discussing Cambridge activism and her 2018 publication, People Before Highways: Boston Activists, Urban Planners, and a New Movement for City Making.
If you missed the event, here are some highlights from the evening:
Dr. Crockett reflected on the ways that growing up in Dorchester and commuting between the Boston-Cambridge neighborhoods informed her understandings of placemaking. Dr. Crockett described the 1960s Inner Belt protests and the array of local actors fighting for the protection of their neighborhoods. Together she and Diana discussed the value of oral history. Dr. Crockett considers the activists who engaged in these protests her co-authors. These activists include long-term residents as well as students, and their engagement reflected larger protests happening across the country at this time, including the civil rights and anti-Vietnam movements. Dr. Crockett recognized how the fight for land rights and community protection is ongoing.
Diana and Dr. Crockett unpacked the term “embodied archives.” Dr. Crockett believes every person carries stories with them and each person collaborates in shaping history, thus suggesting each person is a walking archive.
When asked to give advice to the Cambridge Historical Society on how we engage, Dr. Crockett responded that she wants to see more young people at events, to find ways to effectively and equitably liberate communities, and resist apathy.
The audience asked questions about affordable housing, the role of MIT in shaping Cambridge’s neighborhoods, and the visual reminders of the battle against the Inner Belt.
CCTV filmed the event, which can be viewed below: