HPC and NHS Initiate Web-based Marketing of Northfield’s History

DowntownNewUlm.jpgSteve Edwins, of the Historic Preservation Commission, and Hayes Scriven, of the Northfield Historical Society, quickly assembled a group of interested parties for a meeting this morning. The topic was the creation of a website, or at least a web presence, of what was referred to as a “Historic Walking Tour Podcast”.

The idea, continuing threads of 10 to 20 years of various discussions, was advanced as a result of one of the sessions at the recent Historic Preservation Conference. The specific inspiration was New Ulm’s historic tour.

In addition to Edwins and Scriven (and, of course, me), Joe Hargis of Carleton College, Kathy Feldbrugge of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Lynn Young of the Northfield Public Library participated, watching New Ulm’s show and voicing their enthusiasm for the piece. Representatives of St. Olaf College and the Arts and Culture Commission were invited but unable to attend on such short notice.

Edwins suggested that the power of New Ulm’s podcast was the linking of historic sites with heritage stories. In addition to bringing history to life, the stories offer another compelling reason to visit the featured community.

He went on to cite other examples of powerful web-based “tour guides”. Grand Marais, Minnesota, Chino Hills, California and Tallinn, Estonia were among those highlighted by Edwins.

The group also explored related topics, including the need for a central and neutral portal with clear and appealing links to other sites, organized by interest areas such as arts and culture, economic development, history, and shopping. During the discussion, all the attendees voiced recognition of the effectiveness of enhancing text with images.

Everyone praised the New Ulm concept and offered their assistance to the Northfield initiative. Hayes is going to convene another, and larger, gathering in the near future, at which experienced potential resource people will present to the participants.