This is the first of a two part segment with Blake Stough, of the recently established blog, and movement known as “Preserving York (PY).” Walk with us as we explore the origin of the group, its current state, and what’s coming up next. If you would like to hear from Blake more often, please let us know with a comment, as we are exploring the possibility of creating an ongoing segment!
(YAFCA) How did you initially get involved with being interested in the history of York?
(PY) Following the death of my grandfather in 1997, my siblings and I received family heirlooms from his estate. Included were large, framed portraits of people from my grandparents family. Over time my father passed my grandparents entire photograph collection down to me, which included images from as early as the 1860s. I passionately worked to learn the identity of the subjects and how they connected to our family.
As my interest in genealogy grew, I found myself researching the areas where my family came from, which was York County on my father’s side. It didn’t take long before I became fascinated with all areas of local history.
(YAFCA) What lead up to the beginnings of your blog “Preserving York?”
Over the years I had attempted to create a number of different websites about York County history. Despite my attempts, none of them really “took off” and I moved on to other projects. Even during those early years, I wanted to include history that was submitted by others, which would do nothing but educate visitors even more.
As the use of social media grew I felt it was a great time to work on another local history project. Creating a blog seemed like a great pace to start. Despite my mediocre performance in writing classes during high school, I feel do a great job at getting my message across while including my own personal touch to each story.
After a slow start the blog really started to pick up steam, especially after I created the Preserving York group on Facebook. This is an extremely active local-history forum where members interact with others who share similar interests. Barely one one year old, the group is home to over 270 loyal members who consider each other family.
(YAFCA) You had a few events last year. Is there anything that stands out?
The First Annual Preserving York Picnic was truly the highlight of 2012. The idea for this event started as a simple picnic for members of the Preserving York “community”. The plans quickly evolved into a fundraiser that would support two local preservation groups. I had initially thought we would have 100 people attending, but the exposure given by the local newspapers caused interest to grow exponentially. We were fortunate to entertain over 200 guests who listening to several speakers and viewed displays from local historic groups. A catered meal was provided and as requested, guests brought their own pot-luck dishes for others to enjoy. Guided tours of the former distillery estate, Historic Shady Lane, were also given to guests who were eager to explore the 34-acre property.
Several thousand dollars of food and equipment were generously donated by local businesses and many volunteers helped throughout the day.
There is no doubt that social media is an essential component in today’s marketing. Can you share how this is part of the PY play book?
At the present time Preserving York is 100% an online entity. The marketing of PY is obtained through the use us several social media avenues including Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Currently, the only PY social media account is found on Facebook in the form of a group page, which is discussed in another question. I’m struggling with the need to create additional accounts on other social media networks.
Because Preserving York relies heavily on the internet for exposure, it is virtually unknown to those who prefer printed media and have no access to the online world. While this may be an insignificant factor to some, it’s extremely important to a group specializing in local history. Elder members of our community who may not be “online” are a resource that I cannot ignore.
With that being said, PY needs to explore ways to capture that group of people, whether through a column in the local newspaper, a printed newsletter, or some other means.In your experience, would you say there are things that stand to make York’s history unique? If so, which of those are most significant, and why?
Every area of the United States and abroad has their own form of uniqueness, and York County is certainly no different. The problem we encounter is defining which piece of history is more significant than the next. Personally, I feel that each piece of history is significant, but I’d never put the importance of one in front of another….
Thank you for reading the first segment of our interview with PY. Come back next week for more, and be sure to check out the links in this article to learn more in the meantime.
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