The Tyee: Michael Kluckner about the importance of Kogawa House and The Land Conservancy of BC

The Tyee: Michael Kluckner about the importance 
of Kogawa House and The Land Conservancy of BC
Michael Kluckner is a writer/painter and heritage advocate.  He has done 
wonderful things to promote the heritage of BC, documented in his book
and his works titled  Vanishing British Columbia.  In a recent article by 
Charles Campbell in The Tyee, Kluckner talks about the importance of 
Kogawa House and the wonderful work by The Land Conservancy of BC.


On the virtue of taking individual heritage preservation initiatives out of government hands:

Land Conservancy
is one of the partners in the heritage legacy fund,
and they're going out and doing things like this marvellous high-wire
act with the Kogawa house
[where Obasan author Joy Kogawa lived before the Second World War
internment of Japanese-Canadians]. In a sense, they are showing how
some public money, put into an endowment administered by a private
foundation, with private fundraising, can really make a difference. You
think of how significant the Kogawa house is as a site on the cultural
map of Canada. They're able to save this in the hottest real estate
market that Vancouver's ever seen.

“Politicians come and go, and
they're focused on their term of office. Stewardship is a longer-term
commitment. The National Trusts in Britain and Australia have never
been governmental organizations. There are governmental organizations
in England that perform really good roles, but I think the evidence is
that governments, whether they are left or right, can't be counted on
to have consistent policies that allow for stewardship.

grassroots desire to save the Kogawa house — this is not something
that was seen by the Liberal or Conservative governments federally as
being important. But there were obviously people all over the country
who said 'This is important.' The people are ahead of the government on
that. A mechanism that allows this to happen is often much more
flexible. The reality is that in Australia, England, Scotland, you get
people's interests reflected through an organization more than you get
people's values reflected through a government. Governments have other
fish to fry.

“The city is somehow way more accessible to people.
What's missing is the idea of heritage that is more holistic. Going
back to the walk-up apartments on South Granville — somehow these
buildings have to be recognized holistically as being part of the
city's future as much as they are a part of the past.”

On British Columbia's two solitudes:

then you get out into the countryside, and you've got the two
solitudes, the urban and the rural. In the city, most of the change is
due to development. The city's rich, and it can make choices, and most
of the time they are pretty good choices. But out in the countryside,
change is due to abandonment, and there's no money. And so that layer
of human settlement is just disappearing off the landscape, and I think
the province is impoverished due to the loss of that layer.

terms of heritage planning and inventories, the province has actually
been quite proactive at finding money. And now the energy's going into
the so-called keynote buildings, because of the development of the
national register of historic places. Planning to a certain degree
works in communities that are organized. You see it in Kamloops and
Kelowna to a certain extent, in terms of retaining these layers.

then there's these almost folkloric places. For example, Doukhobor
community villages in the Kootenays. There are just a handful now
instead of a hundred. This is the evidence of the largest communal
living experiment ever in Canada, and fascinating from that point of
view. You then get The Land Conservancy [of B.C.]
coming in and helping to buy one of the key places. The land
conservancies are one of the most positive of the initiatives that have
come along, and they've come along privately. The TLC is just a
remarkable organization. The Nature Conservancy of Canada is very good too. And they've gotten into cultural sites, as has the land conservancy.”

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