Heritage Emergency National Task Force Working Groups Need Your Expertise!
Jul 09, 2019
By Michelle Gallinger, CoSA SERI ACCESS Coordinator
The Heritage Emergency National Task Force (HENTF) held its annual meeting in Washington, DC at the Smithsonian castle on June 13, 2019. HENTF is co-sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Smithsonian Institution. It is a public-private partnership group with 42 national service organizations and federal agencies taking part in the mission to protect cultural heritage in our nation’s states, tribes, territories, and local communities from the damages of natural disasters and other emergencies.
The focus of the gathering was “strengthening the role of HENTF members” and the day was devoted to increasing member involvement. Lori Foley, Administrator, Heritage Emergency National Task Force and Emergency Management Specialist at the Federal Emergency Management Agency welcomed the group and opened the meeting. Dr. Richard Kurin, Distinguished Scholar and Ambassador-at-Large at the Smithsonian Institution, provided a stirring keynote address about the ways organizations band together to save historical and cultural treasures in the face of emergencies. The majority of the meeting was devoted to interactive discussion around the three HENTF working groups: Communications, Asset Mapping, and Resource Development.
The Communications working group creates and maintains tools that will help Heritage Emergency National Task Force (HENTF) members, including:
- obtain situational awareness during emergencies and disasters;
- share resources with their constituents and gather damage assessments as needed;
- empower constituents to effectively communicate with the public about cultural heritage and disasters.
Jessica Unger, from the Foundation for Advancement in Conservation (FAIC), co-chairs the Communications working group and is actively seeking a co-chair to join her. If you’re interested in joining the work of this group, please contact Jessica at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Asset Mapping working group develops, coordinates, and strengthens effective outreach networks to support cultural institutions from the threats of disasters and
emergencies. It works to maximize the implementation of existing datasets of domestic cultural institutions – and encourage the development of new datasets where none exists – and to provide timely support and advice to cultural institutions in need or at risk. It will collaborate and coordinate with state, tribal, and territorial cultural agencies to identify the extent and severity of damage suffered by cultural institutions. Among its other activities, the Asset Mapping working group will determine and coordinate best practices for outreach and damage assessment efforts before, during, and after emergency situations. It will encourage closer coordination between HENTF constituents to help streamline outreach and assessment processes. Andrew Robb, from the Library of Congress (LoC), is the co-chair of the Asset Mapping working group and is actively seeking a co-chair to join him. If you’re interested in joining the work of this group, contact Andrew at email@example.com.
The Resource Development working group examines existing resources and identifies challenges in disseminating disaster preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation resources before, during, and after emergency situations. The group will also develop a resource toolkit to support institutional resilience and streamline/standardize/simplify HENTF messaging. Ideas for the toolkit include:
- Resources for organizational preparedness (Performing Arts Readiness, Alliance for Response (AFR), etc.)
- Resources for collection preparedness (organized by institution or collection type, to include information on development of emergency kits, etc.)
- Preparedness checklists for imminent threats (similar to what Lori sends before hurricanes)
- Dissemination of boilerplate post-disaster e-mail/links/phone numbers (NHR, RAP, etc.)
- Roadmap to Federal Grants
- Roadmap to Private Grants
The Resource Development working group identifies and categorizes existing resources, and organizes them in such a way to make it easier for small to mid-sized institutions to use them. The group also synthesizes information gathered regarding existing resources and known challenges to identify short-, medium-, and long-term solutions. Tatiana Ausema, from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), is the co-chair for the Resource Development working group and is actively seeking a co-chair to join her. If you’re interested in joining the work of this group, contact Tatiana at firstname.lastname@example.org.