#NoMoreStuff: 5 Steps to Conquer Thanksgiving (and Holiday) Tension

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Sales and Marketing Guy

Well, it’s that time of year again: Our 2016 #NoMoreStuff Campaign kickoff! What is the #NoMoreStuff Campaign, you ask?

Simple: Our effort to encourage people to re-think the relationship they have with the objects and things that surround them before they head out holiday shopping for things they may not really need or even truly want. Things like, I dunno, family heirlooms.

 

no more stuff, #nomorestuff

Last year, our official kickoff was #WhiteFriday (the day after Thanksgiving). This was our direct response to #BlackFriday. As part of our message, we encouraged people to stay home with family and chat about family history (with actual family!) instead of getting in hand-to-hand combat over “Little Live Pets ‘Snuggles My Dream Puppy’ Playsets.”

So, let’s fast forward to 2016.

This year, it’s safe to say Thanksgiving dinner in the U.S. will be pretty interesting for many families. Lots of important conversations to be had.

And quite honestly, I hope you all have deep, challenging interactions with friends and family because we absolutely need meaningful, authentic conversation that include lots of listening and throughful dialogue—now more than ever.

However, it can’t all be serious stuff, right? If you want or need a break—if even for a few minutes—we have a possible nonpartisan solution: focus on family history.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Eat.
  2. Clear the table.
  3. Place five (5) family heirlooms in the center of the table.
  4. Share all the information you can about each heirloom. Go around the table and join forces in this effort.
  5. Then, document these stories using our free Heirloom Registry Registration Sheet. If you want to save these stories permanently online and label each object with a unique Heirloom Registry ID number (and even take a picture of the people sitting at the table that you can attach with the online entry), purchase these at www.houstory.com.

For extra credit: take pictures of doing #NoMoreStuff-y like things and post them online using the #NoMoreStuff and #WhiteFriday hashtags. Make sure to follow us on Facebook, too.

And remember: one thing that will always bring families together, regardless of differing beliefs, values and vision is…family.

Maybe.

At least it’s worth a shot, right?

If you want to learn more about the origins of our #NoMoreStuff campaign, I invite you to check out our post from December 2012. Thanks!

 

Natural disasters: Are your family heirlooms and family keepsakes ready?

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

Dan

I live in the Pacific Northwest, and earlier this year there was an article in the New Yorker that created quite a stir (you probably saw it). It was about the impending Cascadia earthquake that is likely to kill thousands and decimate regional infrastructure. The sub-headline of the article provided this chilling message: “An earthquake will destroy a sizable portion of the coastal Northwest. The question is when.”

That’s always fun to hear, right? Especially in your own backyard.

In response, I’ve since prepared emergency supplies for my wife and I while creating a disaster preparedness plan for my immediate family living in the area. This first-level preparedness has provided me with piece of mind when it comes to survival and basic needs. Water, food, shelter. Check, check and check. Undoubtedly, these are the most important considerations when disaster strikes.

But now that I’m prepared on that surface level, let’s dig a little deeper. What is the second level of preparedness? Much like end-of-life issues, getting your house in order ranks highly. This includes compiling and organizing medical and financial issues in such a way that physical destruction doesn’t mean they disappear forever. Just because your house has been burnt, flooded or destroyed doesn’t mean your life ends.

This whole process got me thinking about what people are doing when it comes to family history and specifically family heirlooms.

If you look back at 2015, the list of natural disasters that have occurred around the world is astounding both in frequency and in severity. If you live in the American South and Midwest right now, you know all too well what I’m talking about with the historic-level flooding that is occurring. In other words, things are getting wacky, kids.

Might I suggest you to make 2016 the year you prepare yourselves for what may come? No matter where you live, being prepared can provide peace of mind. After your have addressed your basic needsfinancial and medical issues, move on to sorting and organizing your family heirlooms. Obviously, we can help with this process: use The Heirloom Registry to ID your family heirlooms offline and save their stories online in about 10 minutes. Done. Whatever system you use, start the process. You’ll be thankful you did even if you don’t ever face mother nature head on.

 

Keep track of heirlooms no matter where they end up: Give them traceable IDs!

Keep track of heirlooms no matter where they end up: Give them traceable IDs!

 

#NoMoreStuff 2015 campaign wrap-up

Another year, another #NoMoreStuff campaign.

Our fourth “No More Stuff” campaign—which officially kicked off with “White Friday,” an alternative to Black Friday—ended today. We thank everyone who supported our efforts to save their family heirloom and family keepsake stories and avoid the urge to needlessly consume! Below are a few of the tweets from campaign supporters. We’ll be back next year to continue the effort. Until then, consider the importance of honoring the items you currently own instead of reflexively buying the latest junk you probably don’t really need or truly want.
35-NoMoreStuff

 

Now, on to The Herd for this month…

“The Hearth Herd” is a roundup (or “Herd”) of a few stories we’ve seen recently that we feel our fellow Houstorians would be interested in. The Herd’s content will generally focus on three things: 1) House and property history; 2) Family heirlooms; 3) Environmental sustainability. If you see something that you think belongs in The Herd, we’d love to hear from you!

 

Family History

Author: Geoffrey Fowler, Wall Street Journal

Title: It’s Time to Record Our Grandparents’ History

Herd-Worthy Because: “A smartphone app from StoryCorps can bridge generations by turning anyone into a documentarian.” Man, this is getting too easy. The technology is there. It’s up to you to take a few minutes and do it.

 

Author: Vaughn Davis Bornet, History News Network

Title: This 98-Year-Old Historian’s Got Advice for You

Herd-Worthy Because: “History is largely comprised of anecdotal material. What difference does it make that you then wrote on cheap paper with an ordinary fountain pen or even a borrowed pencil.” In other words, just do it!

 

Author: Jennifer Sheehy Everett, BayStateParent

Title: 4 Ways to Discover and Preserve Your Family History

Herd-Worthy Because: “Knowledge of family history has been shown to reap surprising rewards for children. A 2001 study on the subject by Drs. Marshall P. Duke and Robyn Fivush of Emory University suggests that children who know more about their family narrative have higher self-esteem, a stronger sense of control over their lives, less anxiety, and fewer behavioral problems.” As an added bonus: researching family history is also lactose free and has that delicious taste all dogs love.

HERD-FamilyHeirlooms

Author: Amy Chavez, @JapanLite

Title: Taking a longer view in defense of clutter

Herd-Worthy Because: “When I walk into houses that are clean and tidy — those of people who have simplified, organized and decluttered — I see a house cleansed of memories and heritage.” Amen, Amy. Amen.

 

Let us know what you think. Do you like the Houstory Herd? Do you have a problem with something we said? Do you think we are full of beans? Do you like monkeys? Talk to us!

-30-

 

White Friday anyone? Try an Alternative to Stuff This Holiday Season

By Mike and Dan Hiestand, The Houstory Brothers

 

no more stuff, #nomorestuff

Instead of waking up earlier and earlier on Black Friday (or increasingly never going to bed as more stores compete to open their doors first), battling the traffic and fighting the crowds for more stuff, what if you gave White Friday a try instead?

For the past few years, we’ve run our “No More Stuff” holiday campaign that encourages people to re-think the relationship they have with the objects and things that surround them before they head out shopping for things they may not really need or even truly want.

This year, we’re giving the campaign an official kickoff day — the day after Thanksgiving. Yes, we know we have some competition — so we’re calling ours White Friday.

Here’s how White Friday works: You sleep in as long as you need to. You sip your tea or coffee and bask in the memories of family and Thanksgiving the day before. Maybe you have a bit of breakfast. And then — when you’re ready — you take a leisurely stroll around the house taking notice of — and being grateful for — a few of the important pieces of “stuff” you already have. Maybe it’s an old family clock. Or a table that’s hosted family gatherings (such as dinner the day before). Or a treasured family photo. Or a special family cookbook. Or the crazy doo-dad sitting on the shelf that’s been in your life for as long as you can remember. And you write down their stories. (We call the things that you choose “heirlooms” here at The Heirloom Registry — but it’s really anything — old/new, expensive or “price-less” — that holds meaning for you.)

If you’re traveling and you’re waking up at your folks’ house (or grandparents’ — or some other relative) all the better! Let them choose the things that are important and whose stories they feel are worth sharing. You walk around with them, listen and take some notes. Maybe snap a photo or two of your family member in front of things he/she is talking about.

Here’s what I promise:

  1. You will learn something memorable you didn’t know before.
  2. You will smile.
  3. In years to come, you (and your family) will appreciate this simple gift more than almost anything else you could buy at 4 am.

It doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated

To make it easy, we are gifting you this free, downloadable form that will help you collect some of the more pertinent information. When you finish you can simply attach the form to the back of the “heirloom” or file it with your important documents.

You can also try out The Heirloom Registry — for free — by signing up this holiday season for a complimentary registration number when you visit our Web site. (If you want to get a bit more fancy by ordering a permanent registration label or plate, we can help you with that.) But you don’t need to.

The important thing is that you do it. Because the stories of our family heirlooms usually disappear with our family members. And an heirloom without a story is — as we say — just more stuff.

We know it might sound crazy. And if you genuinely need that digital bathroom scale and can get it for the insanely low price of $9.99, go for it. (We all need things. That’s life on Earth.) Heck, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy a mixture of both Black and White Friday. A Shade of Grey Friday feels like a step in the right direction.

But be the change you want to see in the world, right? We’d like a world that  makes room for a White Friday.

And we’d like to sleep in.

Happy Holidays!

Mike and Dan

 

Preserve, conserve, #nomorestuff

 

Houstory Herd: We Want HouStories

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

dan hiestand, houstory, heirloom registry, home history book

Connect with me on LinkedIn!

Do you own a family heirloom with an interesting story? Do you live in a house that has a compelling history? Would you like to share these tales and other related HouStories with others?

If you answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, we need to talk.

We’d appreciate the opportunity to connect with you about the possibility of making your story a part of our new podcast. In case you didn’t hear, episode 1 of the podcast was unveiled a few weeks ago, and No. 2 is on the way shortly. In the meantime, we want to line up some good stories for future episodes.

Why should you do this? Your story can help inspire other Houstorians to preserve and share their own houstories. I can’t tell you how many times I hear our customers and supporters say: “Boy, that is a great idea. I should document and share the stories behind my house and family heirlooms.”

And then they put it off, forget about it and wish they had done so later. Your words may help others to take a few precious moments to save those stories.

Drop us a line to talk about that old Craftsman home that your mom and dad bought during the Depression, or chat about Uncle Theo’s rocking chair or Grandma Patty’s quilt. Shoot us an e-mail at info (at) houstory (dot) com, or hit us up at our Facebook, Google+ (Home History Book & Heirloom Registry) or Twitter accounts. We hope to hear from some of you.

Now, on to The Herd for this month…

Continue reading

Houstory Herd: Cabin Fever Edition

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

dan hiestand, houstory, heirloom registry, home history book

Connect with me on LinkedIn!

It’s hard not to feel bad for our U.S. eastern seaboard readers, who are currently buried under piles of snow, enduring frigid temperatures and likely experiencing cranky moods — and perhaps at touch of cabin fever. I grew up in Alaska, so I can relate.

I still remember the sun coming up around 10 a.m, and sinking below the frozen horizon just a short five to six hours later during the dead of winter in Anchorage. And of course we had snow. In fact, this state of affairs — which started in late October and continued well into April, sometimes later — literally made people want to kill themselves.

Hopefully, you’re not quite at that point yet. Rather, I hope you’re taking advantage of your cabin fever to work on family history projects. Here’s an idea: Take some time to document your family heirlooms. And do you have kids? Then take time to properly designate who gets what when you are no longer around.

You might as well be productive with all that extra energy, don’t you think? If it makes you feel any better, I had to wear a light jacket because it was only 61 degrees today in Oregon at the beach. Brrrr!!!

What is “The Hearth Herd.” It’s simply a roundup (hence the name “Herd”) of a few stories we’ve seen recently that we feel our fellow Houstorians would be interested in. The Herd’s content will be confined to three main categories: 1) House and property history; 2) Family heirlooms; 3) Natural Resource Conservation. Basically, the things you’ve come to expect when you visit our blog.

This is where you come in: If you see stories you think would make our monthly collection, please shoot me an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet

Author: Nicole Anzia, Special to The Washington Post & DelawareOnline.com

TitleHow seniors and families can cut the clutter

Herd-Worthy Because: “We have all picked up an old black-and-white photo at some point and been unable to identify the people staring back at us. We’re left wishing we had asked someone who knew when we had the chance. The same goes for that piece of artwork, jewelry or furniture. Learning the history of items makes it easier to decide whether to keep or discard them.” Yep. And keep those stories attached to the heirlooms by labeling them and registering them online.

****

Author:

TitleL.B. Antiques sells quality pieces with interesting back stories

Herd-Worthy Because: “Many times the back story adds more value because people love hearing about the how and when the antique was used throughout history.” If you live in Minnesota, give them a visit. I know we will. Right after we visit Matt’s Bar for a “Juicy Lucy.” Ever had one? Genius baby! Genius!

****

Author: Curbed, by Jenny Xie

TitleStudents Scraped Together a Small, Functional House for $489

Herd-Worthy Because: “Everything we used was on its way to the landfill…” Inspiring on multiple levels. Whether it’s re-purposing your unused family heirlooms or unused lumber in the garage, I challenge you to look around your own house, and imagine how these items can be utilized in a creative and useful way.

****

Until we “Herd” again…

HoustoryHerd: NoMoreStuff Edition

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

dan hiestand, houstory, heirloom registry, home history book

Connect with me on LinkedIn!

A few years ago, my family recognized that gift-giving during the holidays was really becoming more of a burden than a pleasure.

This was a pretty big shift, because my side of the family is not small. In addition to my parents, I have five brothers, two sister-in-laws, three nieces and a wife. We are all extremely fortunate to have roofs over our heads, food on the table and plenty of creature comforts that make life not only easier but enjoyable, such as the laptop I’m using to compose this.

In other words, we are not for need of anything.

consumerism, #NoMoreStuff, heirloom registryAround the same time, we also realized we were also not for want of any things, either. Rather, we all seem to prefer experiences (such as eating out, traveling or simply getting together) as the activities we liked to spend our disposable income on. For many folks, I think this is a common theme. Buying less “stuff” (everyone probably has their own definition of what that means — I just know it when I feel it) and choosing to re-invest those funds into non-material items can be both more memorable and meaningful than a great Black Friday deal.

In response to this evolution, my family developed a lottery system where we would pull names out of a hat and purchase a gift for that person. One gift per person. Now, as we all get older and fully realize the significance and importance of family connection, we concentrate our efforts and funds on simply getting together to enjoy each other’s company. I’m not saying we don’t give gifts. If I see something that I know a family member will truly appreciate, I won’t hesitate to purchase it, and vice versa. But there are no expectations.

thanksgiving, holidays, family history, #NoMoreStuff

As an example of a non-material offering that I consider absolutely priceless, last year — as a special gift — my mom and dad walked around their house and documented  the family history behind several key family heirlooms in their home. Now, those precious stories are safely recorded online at The Heirloom Registry, and accessible to our family, both now — and long into the future — after those stories can no longer be shared in person.

Let’s face it, the holidays are often one of the few times we are able to bring family members together at one time. Depending on the family — and I understand some family dynamics are a little more stressful than others — this is an extraordinary opportunity. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to choose how you spend these few, fleeting moments. I’m just asking you to recognize that each year that goes by is another opportunity to connect with those you love on a deeper level.

This year, as during the past two years, we are urging you to say, ” NoMoreStuff .” Share your photos and stories of family heirlooms, family histories, house histories, etc., that show you’ve decided to say “yes” to deeper family connections, and “no” to the rat race.

Simply tag them #NoMoreStuff on social media. Spread the message — join us in our No More Stuff Revolution!

Happy Thanksgiving!

PS: I’m informing this week’s poll with help from PBS NewsHour, which recently posed a great question that directly relates to the theme.

thanksgiving, black friday, shopping

Thank you, PBS for the screen shot!

 

 

Now, on to The Herd….

What is “The Hearth Herd.” It’s simply a roundup (hence the name “Herd”) of a few stories we’ve seen recently that we feel our fellow Houstorians would be interested in. The Herd’s content will be confined to three main categories: 1) House and property history; 2) Family heirlooms; 3) Natural Resource Conservation. Basically, the things you’ve come to expect when you visit our blog.

This is where you come in: If you see stories you think would make our monthly collection, please shoot me an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet

Author: connectmidmissouri.com— Referred by  The New England Historic Genealogical Society

TitleA priceless family treasure

Herd-Worthy Because: “Sara realized if she didn’t get the pictures back, ‘That would have been a large portion of our family’s history gone for three dollars.'” Whoops!

****

Author: Al Jazeera America

TitleHomeless dragged down by belongings, as cities view keepsakes ‘trash

Herd-Worthy Because“(Items like family keepsakes are) garbage, as far as the cities are concerned. This is trash and an unsightly mess. If you can’t lug it when you take off, it’s going in the trash. Period.”  Imagine if you had to haul your entire world — including your family heirlooms — with you every day. And you had no permanent place to put them. All while living on the streets.

****

Author: Eastman’s Online Genealogy Letter

TitleMake a Google Will

Herd-Worthy Because: “Many of the online services we use every day have no contingency plans for a deceased customer’s heirs to take over the account and save whatever is online for posterity.” Getting your affairs in order for the great beyond. Yes Dick Eastman, you’re speaking our language!

****

House History

Author: connectmidmissouri.com— Referred by  The New England Historic Genealogical Society

TitleThe Schoolhouse from The Birds Is Now a Beautifully Restored (and Haunted) Private Home

Herd-Worthy Because: Remember when actress Tippi Hedren’s character Melanie Daniels asked this question? “Have you ever seen so many gulls? What do you suppose it is?” I’m thinking it may have been tainted salmon, but those were some angry birds! But this isn’t about that. It’s about an iconic schoolhouse-turned-private house.

****

Author: The Guardian

TitleThe Making of Home review – Judith Flanders’s history of how our houses became homes

Herd-Worthy BecauseA fascinating 500-year history charts the transformation of our houses from uncomfortable workplaces into cosy sanctuaries

****

Natural Resource

Author: Eastman’s Online Genealogy Letter

TitleCreate a Permanent Living Legacy that Memorializes the Passing of a Loved One

Herd-Worthy Because: “The goal is to directly rehabilitate and rebuild the dying ocean reefs and, in turn, add new habitat to the marine environment. For families and individuals that choose cremation, Eternal Reefs offers a unique memorial choice that replaces cremation urns and ash scatterings with a permanent environmental living legacy.” Hmm, environmental protection plus family history. We likey!

****

Author: Story of Stuff

TitleBuy Less, Live More

Herd-Worthy Because: From now through the end of December, the Story of Stuff is on a mission to collect pictures and stories from supporters who believe there is more to the holidays than shopping and consuming. Sound familiar? Check out their cool campaign!

****

Until we “Herd” again…

Houstory Herd: ‘Mourning’ Edition

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

dan hiestand, houstory, heirloom registry, home history book

Connect with me on LinkedIn!

Guess what? You, me, and we are all going to die. In case you didn’t know: There is one finish line for everyone, and we are all going to cross it. We don’t know when or how, but it’s going to happen.

There, I said it.

Dying. Death. Dead.

For some of you, this may be uncomfortable to read about. For others, perhaps a feeling of resignation, and for others fear (and/or all sorts of emotions in between). I say all reactions are valid. I also say, “let’s talk.”

When we talk about death, really we are talking about the living. The survivors. The family members and friends left behind to pick up the pieces, to organize the memorials, to execute the wills, to deal with the pain of loss. So if death is really about the struggles of the living, why don’t we do more to prepare for the big finish?

In my universe, death is not an end, but simply a part of the story arc. Take The Heirloom Registry, for example. I consider our service a key part of estate planning. For parents who take the time to jot down a few notes about a family heirloom — how it came into the family, why it’s important to a family’s history, to which family member it’s designated  — death is made a bit easier for children left behind. By taking the time to register what matters in your family, you’ll be helping your family members when you can’t be there.

Register now, rest in peace later.

I may need to work on that tagline, but you get the gist.

So what got me started on death this month? Well, it is Halloween for starters. Zombies. Vampires. Frankenstein. Just seems like a good fit.

I also was inspired by a New York Times article that highlighted three exhibitions of art associated with mourning and memorialization. In the article, the author asked if the topic was a bit too grim.

“I think it’s quite healthy,” said Mary Rockefeller Morgan, a psychotherapist and the author of “When Grief Calls Forth the Healing: A Memoir of Losing a Twin.” “Society is becoming open to the discussion of all types of topics that used to be forbidden, and people are longing to heal naturally in the sharing of grief.”

My sentiments exactly. So get to talking. Get to registering. And get to living.

PS: We are putting the finishing touches on our brand-spanking new podcast, which will be out in November so stay tuned!

Now, on to The Herd….

What is “The Hearth Herd.” It’s simply a roundup (hence the name “Herd”) of a few stories we’ve seen in the recent past that our fellow Houstorians would likely be interested in. The Herd’s content will be confined to three main categories: 1) House and property history; 2) Family heirlooms; 3) Natural Resource Conservation. Basically, the things you’ve come to expect when you visit our blog.

This is where you come in: If you see stories you think would make our monthly collection, please shoot me an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet

Author: The Fall River Spirit — Referred by  The New England Historic Genealogical Society

TitleGreat-grandfather’s police notebook a window to the past

Herd-Worthy Because: “I get a glimpse of his world every time I pick up his fragile 93-year-old patrol notebook, the one with the frayed binding, yellowed pages and enviably elegant penmanship.” Yep, we’re in!

****

Author: This Old House — Referred by  The New England Historic Genealogical Society

Title: Look What You Found During Your Renovations

Herd-Worthy Because: “From a homemade mousetrap to a fading Civil War tintype, the oddities readers have discovered in and around their homes surprised even us.” Time capsules are everywhere!

****

Author: MarketWatch.com

TitleHow to prevent family feuds when it comes to your inheritance

Herd-Worthy Because: Register. Your. Heirlooms. Now.

****

Author: New York Times

TitleExploring the Culture of Mourning

Herd-Worthy Because: “Death is not going to go away because we pretend it’s not there, and there needs to be a way culturally of dealing with this reality of life…” Or as Woody Allen put it: “I am not afraid of death. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

Author: dallas news

Title“(Rocker) Phil Collins remembers the Alamo with donation of artifacts

Herd-Worthy Because: Have you ever really listened to 1985’s masterpiece, “No Jacket Required.” This was on steady rotation in the Hiestand house at that time. Now that Phil has entered my universe (or I guess I’ve entered his), I have to give the guy props.

House History

Author: House Beautiful

Title:5 Mansions With Major Dream House Potential

Herd-Worthy Because: With listing prices under $100,000, these homes, in our opinion, have major dream house potential.

Natural Resource

Author: DIY * Del * Ray

Title:  Cleaning Out Clutter: Where Can It Go Besides the Curb?

Herd-Worthy Because: Great common sense tips on what to do with the stuff you no longer need or want, especially for people who are downsizing households. Example: “I have a computer hard drive and a Kindle that have died. How can I recycle them without putting myself at risk for identity theft?” These types of questions will become more and more complicated as people acquire more and more stuff. You can recycle or reuse nearly anything if you slow down and take the time — including ideas!

 

Until we “Herd” again…

The Houstory Herd: ‘Seeking Family Heirloom Stories’ Edition

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

dan hiestand, houstory, heirloom registry, home history book

Connect with me on LinkedIn!

Do you know of someone who owns a family heirloom with an interesting story? As you know, family heirlooms can take many different shapes and sizes, and monetary value often plays little or no role in the item’s designation as a family keepsake.  If you were to take even five minutes to look around your home, I guarantee you could find several items you hold onto solely because of sentimental value and story. One way to make this determination: what would you take with you if your home was burning?

With all this mind, I have a favor to ask of our readers this month: We are creating a new, professionally produced podcast that will tell the stories behind family heirlooms. But to tell these stories, we need your stories.

 

family heirloom, keepsake

Collectibles are often sentimentally valuable, but not always financially so. (Photo: FOR FLORIDA TODAY )

Can you help us spread the word? Our mission is to preserve the stories behind as many family heirlooms (and houses) as possible, and to make sure they are not only documented but also accessible to the future.

And this all starts with you.

If you hear of or have stories you think might make the grade, please shoot me an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet.

 

online poll by Opinion Stage

Now, on to The Herd….

What is “The Hearth Herd.” It’s simply a roundup (hence the name “Herd”) of a few stories we’ve seen in the recent past that our fellow Houstorians would likely be interested in. The Herd’s content will be confined to three main categories: 1) House and property history; 2) Family heirlooms; 3) Natural Resource Conservation. Basically, the things you’ve come to expect when you visit our blog.

This is where you come in: If you see stories you think would make our monthly collection, please shoot me an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet

Natural Resource

Author: Story of Stuff

Title: “Sailing Past Plastic” – Podcast

Herd-Worthy Because: How do we end the, “take, make, waste cycle”? The Story of Stuff podcast, “The Good Stuff,” tries to answer this very question. On this episode: An interesting conversation about consumerism and one man sailing the seas on a journey to battle plastic pollution.

 

Author: Detroit Free Press

TitleWhen floods ruin family keepsakes, you can still hold on to the memories

Herd-Worthy Because: When disaster mixes with family keepsakes, the results can be tough pills to swallow. “How do you put a value on the things that hold memories? To most, that sewing machine looks old and uninteresting, with a replacement value of a few dollars. To me, it’s invaluable.”

****

Author: Referred by NGS

Title: “Soup to Nuts: Tracing family history via great-great-grandmother’s skillets

Herd-Worthy Because: One woman’s reflections on her great-great grandmother’s keepsakes, and their place in her family history. “I’ll cook with them knowing that I am only their temporary caretaker. Some day, I’ll pass along the skillets – and the stories – to one of my nieces, and it’ll be her turn to ensure that the memory of these strong women lives on.”

 

Author: Florida Today

Title: “Care, communication key to deciding on keepsakes when loved one dies

Herd-Worthy Because: “It’s important, because this is the very thing that can tear a family apart — fighting over the one thing everybody thinks they should have.” Sad, but very true. Plan now so you don’t have to later.

 

Author: Referred by NGS

Title: “Saving New York’s Neighborhood History One Interview at a Time

Herd-Worthy Because: A very cool oral history project to save the legacy and stories of a quickly changing city of vibrant neighborhoods. How are you saving the stories behind your city, neighborhood, home and family?

****

Until we “Herd” again…

The Houstory Herd – August 2014

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

dan hiestand, houstory, heirloom registry, home history book

Connect with me on LinkedIn!

You know you are getting old when you start referring to folks  as “young people.” (Actually, you might achieve that designation when you start writing, “folks” in blog posts, too.) Well, I guess I’m getting kind of old because today I’m going to write a little bit about young people and their role in the world of historic preservation.

For some reason, over the past month I’ve seen a slew of stories about the younger generation getting involved with historic preservation projects. As a fan of history — especially history in my own back yard — I love seeing the younger generation take an active interest in the past. To me, that curiosity is something that carries over into many areas of life.

By my estimation, if you are curious to hear about how grandma and grandpa first met, then you are likely pretty curious about lots of other things, such as local politics, world news and the general notion of staying active and making a difference in your community.

To me, curiosity and an effort to understand our history — at whatever scale — is among our greatest virtues.

Take a 14-year-old preservationist by the name of Bridget Brady. Bridget was among a handful of kids who devoted a large chunk of their summer to saving a 167-year-old mansion in Massachusetts. Talk about an inspiring story. It reaffirmed my belief that not every person under the age of 18  is glued to a smart phone 24-7 (although, I do think many are). In fact, some kids are not only offline, they are plugged into the community around them.

 

Vancouver Columbian, house history, washington state

College students have been carefully excavating at Fort Vancouver in Washington state. Photo Credit: Vancouver Columbian

This notion that young people (see, I’m still old) simply don’t care about history got me thinking: What can we do to help inspire the younger generation to care? Taking it a step further, what have you done to help your kids care?

At Houstory, it’s no secret that we primarily focus on saving family history through family heirlooms and house history, which explains our question this week. We would encourage you to sit down, and talk to your kids. Tell them about the things that matter to you. You might be surprised by the results.

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Take the poll below, and let us know what you think.

 

online poll by Opinion Stage

Now, on to The Herd….

What is “The Hearth Herd.” It’s simply a roundup (hence the name “Herd”) of a few stories we’ve seen in the recent past that our fellow Houstorians would likely be interested in. The Herd’s content will be confined to three main categories: 1) House and property history; 2) Family heirlooms; 3) Environmental sustainability issues. Basically, the things you’ve come to expect when you visit our blog.

This is where you come in: If you see stories you think would make our monthly collection, please shoot me an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet

HERD-Sustainability

Author: CBC Radio (#WasteWarrior, @DrTorahKachur)

TitleWhat a Waste: Waste Warriors

Herd-Worthy Because: “If you’ve found space junk in your yard, make kindling out of orange rinds or cure your own urine, we want to hear your story!” A radio series about reducing waste. Aside from the cured urine, we’re on board!

****

HERD-FamilyHeirlooms

Author: Ecns.cn

TitleFiguring out history of family heirlooms in Shanghai

Herd-Worthy Because: “There were 109 (figurines) in all, invariably 10 to 12 centimeters in height. But Macaux could not trace their origins, until something caught his eye.It was a label on the trunk, written in French, that read “Orphelinat de Tu Se We, Shanghai,” — the Orphanage of Tu Se We, Shanghai. A date followed: June 23, 1938.”

A story, a label. The Heirloom Registry says, “yes!”

****

Author: The Times-Picayune (New Orleans)

TitleNew life for the family heirloom: Decorative painters help passed-down furniture blend with today’s taste

Herd-Worthy Because: Great ideas for folks looking to revamp awkward family heirlooms. 

****

Author: Miami Herald

TitleCuban immigrants share precious family heirlooms to show history of Cuban exiles

Herd-Worthy Because: Memories of a life since past, experienced through heirlooms of all kinds. “These are not only memories but items of everyday use when Cuba existed as a nation…[These shirts] were on the streets of Havana. They lived there.”

****

Author: The Sydney Morning Herald (Contributed by the New England Historic Genealogical Society)

Title: “Foster kids to get digital ‘memory box’ to store their precious keepsakes

Herd-Worthy Because: Read this one if you have time.

To help store the keepsakes of the state’s 18,000 children in foster care, leading child welfare agency Barnardos Australia has developed a digital ‘memory box.'” 

What a great and important concept to protect the memories and family histories of our most vulnerable.

****

Author: The Emporia Gazette (Referred by the New England Historic Genealogical Society)

TitleOne heck of a hand-me-down: 1928 Model A Ford passed to fifth generation

Herd-Worthy Because: The story behind a 1928 Model A Ford that has trickled down through the same family since it was bought fresh off of the assembly line.

****

HERD-FamilyHistory,etc.

Author: The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)

TitleFarewell to my great-grandpa’s house, and my sort-of history

Herd-Worthy Because: An interesting — and honest — account of the author’s ties to his grandfather’s central Pennsylvania home. The author discovers how sometimes one’s connection to a place sounds better on paper than it actually feels in real life and how part of honoring a connection is sometimes letting go of it.

****

Author: The Cheerful Word

TitleWhy your stories are worth telling: Part 1” 

Herd-Worthy Because:  As the author explains, “You may know your mother or father from a child’s perspective, though you are all now adults, but you may not know much about your parents as the rest of the world experiences them.”

A short piece that discusses collecting and sharing family stories, which the author notes, 86% of boomers (age 48-66) and 74% of elders (age 72+) agree that are the most important aspect of their legacy. 

****

Author: Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter

TitleAn Obituary Begins With “Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead

Herd-Worthy Because: At 70-year old Joanna Scarpitti’s request, her family wrote her obituary with the first line being a quote from the Wizard of Oz.

Which, of course, got me (and other commenters) thinking about what famous line I’d like to open my obituary….

****

HERD-HouseHistory

Author: The Columbian (Vancouver, Wash.)

TitleHouse’s history dug up

Herd-Worthy Because: Another example of young people getting involved in preserving the past.

****

Author: Richmond BizSense (Richmond, Va.)

TitleThe historic old house lady

Herd-Worthy Because: A Virginia realtor known as the “historic old house lady” talks about the market for historic homes and the challenge of finding the “unique buyer” who “understands old houses, appreciates the history of it and… wants to be a good steward of it.”

****

Author: English Chinese News Service

TitleHistoric house partly demolished ‘by mistake

Herd-Worthy Because: “Honey, did you remember to hold the mail and the newspaper?” Yes Dear. “Did you remember to give the neighbor a key a leave the lamp on the auto timer?” Yes Dear. “Oh, and did you notify the city not to demolish the house while we are away?”

****

Author: PreservationNation Blog

TitleHow I Spent My Summer Vacation: An Interview with Teen Preservationist Bridget Brady

Herd-Worthy Because: I’m trying to reflect on how I would spend my summer vacations in comparison to this amazing teenager. The only thing I preserved was my parent’s sanity when I left the house.

****

Author: New York Times

TitleHome of Johnny Cash Hopes History Will Help It Rise

Herd-Worthy Because: The Man in Black.

The Johnny Cash Boyhood Home in Dyess, Ark. has been refurbished and opened to visitors.

****

Author: Metro Weekly (Washington, D.C.)

TitleLiving in History: 5 Great House Museums in Washington (D.C.)

Herd-Worthy Because: If you live near our Nation’s Capital and you like old homes, you  will want to print this out for some fantastic day-trip destinations. Describes how the “old home experience” has been freshened up for today’s visitors at many house museums.

 

Until we “Herd” again…

The Houstory Hearth Herd – July 2014

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

dan hiestand, houstory, heirloom registry, home history book

Connect with me on LinkedIn!

I’m curious: Were you born before 1946? In other words, are you a “pre-Baby Boomer?”

During the past few years, there have been an array of reports that have attempted to grasp how much wealth pre-baby boomers — those born before 1946 — are going to pass down to their kids and grandkids.

While all agree the number will set a new record for “intergenerational transfers,” the estimates are surprisingly varied, ranging from $25 trillion to $136 trillion according to one study.

Chances are, if you are in that pre-’46 demographic, you are not only passing down money, but also valuable possessions — including family heirlooms. And if you are not passing them down, you may be — gasp! — trying to sell them for a profit, or simply giving them away.

This month, I’ve included a link to a radio interview that discusses how challenging the market for selling and even giving away old furniture has become.

Now, I’d like to present my case for how The Heirloom Registry can help increase your odds of successfully parting with your treasured — but now unneeded — older furniture.

* Imagine a future Saturday spent antiquing with a friend or spouse. You are looking for a table. You see three tables, all essentially of the same look and quality. But one has an Heirloom Registry ID tag. You pull out your smart phone (or simply jot down the ID number), go to HeirloomRegistry.com and pull up the story behind the table. In a few seconds, you see this particular table was owned by a family in Central Texas that used to invite single war veterans over for Sunday dinner during the early ’50s. After eating dinner on this very table, they would often play cards, the registration says, “well into the night.” In fact, I don’t have to imagine: That is the story behind our table. And, after I spoke to the owner we bought it from, it’s all documented. If I had pressed (and I probably should have), perhaps the owner could have provided a black and white photo of the table — circa early 1950s — showing one of these gatherings. Perhaps with some of the people in the photo identified. It took me under 15 minutes to permanently tell the story of my table, which now includes a couple sentences — and a 2011 photo — about how it made its way to Oregon with my wife and I.  As you look at my future table on consignment in some future antique store full of people that care about history do you think my table — which otherwise looks just like the others — might have an edge? I’ll let you answer. 🙂

With that said, I know not everyone cares for stories. In fact, I’d say most people don’t. But for the few that “get it,” it makes a big difference. I’m guessing you care, or you probably wouldn’t still be reading.

Take the poll below, and let us know what you think.

online poll by Opinion Stage

Now, on to The Herd….

What is “The Hearth Herd.” It’s simply a roundup (hence the name “Herd”) of a few stories we’ve seen in the recent past that our fellow Houstorians would likely be interested in. The Herd’s content will be confined to three main categories: 1) House and property history; 2) Family heirlooms; 3) Environmental sustainability issues. Basically, the things you’ve come to expect when you visit our blog.

This is where you come in: If you see stories you think would make our monthly collection, please shoot me an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet

HERD-Sustainability

Author: PreservationNation Blog

TitleCityLove: Meet Seattle

Herd-Worthy Because: Just showing my hometown some love. I’ve got a lot of pride in the Emerald City. This just gives me another reason. “Seattle really is green…Thinking about green in a preservation context, Seattle also has some great examples of medium- and large-scale adaptive reuse.” Oh, and “Go Hawks!”

****

HERD-FamilyHeirlooms

Author: NPR’s Tell Me More

TitleIn a Tough Market for Old Furniture, Manage Your Expectations

Herd-Worthy Because: Hmmm, so it’s tough to sell your old furniture? And you need every advantage you can get to make it special? Sounds like a job for The Heirloom Registry. If people know the stories behind your items, that may be the difference bringing home the green or not.

****

Author: Monsters & Critics

TitleBob Dylan’s Musical Keepsakes Worth Millions

Herd-Worthy Because: The answer, my friend, is somewhere underneath your bed. Or maybe stuffed into the closet. Perhaps the attic?

****

Author: The Smithsonian

TitleThe Descendants of Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison Donate Family Heirlooms to the Smithsonian

Herd-Worthy Because: Apparently, some pretty amazing Civil War-era objects spent about 100 years in an attic. And now, their storied past will give them a new life in a very public space. Umm…cool.

****

Author: AL.com (Alabama)

TitleIdeas for Heirlooms: Wedding planners offer unique ways to incorporate something old into your big day

Herd-Worthy Because: For anyone who loves family heirlooms and is planning for that special day…

HERD-FamilyHistory,etc.

Author: The Huffington Post

TitleA Dying Man’s Touching Farewell

Herd-Worthy Because:  A man, dying of cancer, sends a farewell e-mail to friends and family as he tries to get his affairs in order. As someone who believes very strongly in living obits, and taking care of family heirloom designations and stories while you are still alive, this story struck me. Find out what happened.

****

Author: NPR’s The Takeaway

Title: Student Pallbearers Serve the Underprivileged

Herd-Worthy Because: “Burying the dead, these students learn that every person is worthy of dignity and care, a lesson that makes them more conscious of how they treat the living.” In our opinion, dignity starts with story. And every person has a story.

HERD-HouseHistory

Author: Dick Eastman

TitleHow They Made Books in 1947”

Herd-Worthy Because: This video reminds me of the process we use for the Home History Book. What can we say?We like well-made books.

****

Author: Dick Eastman

TitleUSGS Historical Topographic Map Explorer

Herd-Worthy Because: If genealogy guru Dick Eastman says,” This has to be one of the best tools I have seen for finding old maps,” then we in the Houstory Nation are paying attention. Sounds like a great tool for house history, eh?

****

Referrer: Megan Smolenyak

TitleBBC’s The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window of Britain’s past

Herd-Worthy Because: Here is the synopsis of this BBC series: “Whether exploring London or Scotland, the series does an incredible job of connecting people to places, of teasing out emotions from architecture, of reminding us that buildings and streets are the locations for our own happiest and saddest moments.” Sometimes, I wish I had cable. Or, more specifically, the BBC. One of our favorite UK architectural historians, Melanie Backe-Hansen, is also mentioned prominently in the article.

****

Until we “Herd” again…