building a trench vs. digging a hole

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The banners adorning main street in Aurora featuring veterans is an example of an impactful and well-executed project led by the Aurora Legion.

By leveraging an underutilized canvas in a public space the Legion has remembered Aurora’s vetrans in a meaningful way, with the cost offset by sponsorships.

This is a huge contrast to the blip the Aurora Historical Society has coughed up.

In this piece the Society’s curator, a role which the society is unable to sustain without $70,000 grant funding through the town, is quoted as “hoping people come in” to witness the exhibit and that “I really want people to realise it wasn’t just something far off and forgettable”.

WTF?

Successful organizations don’t spend precious resources building something hoping people will show up. If the intent is to make an exibit resonate with people you actually have to have a strategy to make that happen.

It’s 2016, not 1976.  Hanging up a uniform and signs with huge text blocks that no one is going to read only serves to ensure an experience where Aurora’s history is seen as something far off and forgetable

While the Aurora Historical Society has been doing the absolute minimum, most likely preoccupied with their elitist ball held in King, the Newmarket’s Historical Society has gone over the top in building a replica First World War trench.

Cerenzia, chair of the historical society’s First World War centennial committee, is quoted in this piece as summing up the project as attempting “to blend historical data with the personal experiences of Newmarket residents during the war”

I visited last night and can confirm it does that exceptionally.  The trench isn’t long, nor is it a complex construction, but it provides a memorable experience.  Of course there are the obligatory wall panels offering context, the numerous artifacts, photos and even film footage but these serve to compliment an experience, not to stand in place of one.

Here are some shots

When leaving I inquired as to their attendance, which between noon and 8pm on the one day was over 300 people and this wasn’t their busiest day.  They’ve had several groups and there is still a week left in its run.

What is refreshing to read is Cerenzia’s approach, evident in the concept and execution of this exhibit:

“Just because history is something you read in a textbook doesn’t mean it has to stay there…If you are a historian or an avid history fan, we all have a responsibility to challenge ourselves to make that history exciting and entice the younger generations to learn more. History is actually pretty cool.”

The responsibility Cerenzia is outlining here is to be exceptional, to be surprising and to ultimately not be forgettable.

Unlike its peers, the Aurora Historical Society consistently fails in living up to this responsibility and ultimately its ability to contribute to Aurora’s exceptional quality of life.

History is cool, and it should never be left to get old.

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