Project Feature: Kaitlin Scharra and Public Outreach

This week’s series blog is a look into the public outreach activities that I have been leading as a member of the Unearthing Detroit project. This post is a glimpse into the tasks I’ve accomplished this summer and a sneak preview of upcoming plans for this fall. Spoiler alert: There will be events this fall that everyone can participate in and get a firsthand look at the archaeology of Detroit!  Also, please take a moment to let us know what your interested in seeing more of on the Unearthing Detroit blog.

Introducing the public to archaeology has always been important to me.

Introducing the public to archaeology has always been important to me.

Over the course of the summer, I have been working hard to give the Unearthing Detroit project a public presence. My first step was to create a digital footprint for the project.  This has included writing weekly blogs about our progress, and using social media to engage with other similar research initiatives. On July 11th, 2014, I participated in an international program called Day of Archaeology. This is a yearly program that links together archaeologists and non-archaeologists all over the world by creating a forum to share information about our discipline, projects, and careers.  The Day of Archaeology blogs are an excellent way to see just how diverse the field of Archaeology is, and I encourage everyone who enjoys our blog to check it out. On behalf of the Unearthing Detroit project, I wrote a Day of Archaeology blog post, which mapped the excavated features of the historical RenCen neighborhood within the current office building’s structure [view the post here].  On the Day of Archaeology, Unearthing Detroit was featured on the University’s daily news page, Today@wayne, thanks to our colleagues, Jessica Archer and Anna Harden,  of the marketing and communications department of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.

I have also been working hard to create some in-person events for the Unearthing Detroit project. There are three types of programs I am working with project members to develop:
(1) An archaeological tour of the downtown Riverfront area. This tour will build from the historical information “unearthed” from multiple archaeological collections along the waterfront, including Hart Plaza, Cobo Hall, and of course the RenCen.
(2) A public open day to during our fall semester dig site at Roosevelt Park where people of all ages will be invited to participate in the ongoing archaeological activities and view a excavation first hand.
(3) A school program geared towards elementary aged-children and aimed at introducing the importance of archaeology and cultural preservation.

Of the many aspects of the project I’ve worked on to date, I must say that my favorite is developing the school-aged program because I especially enjoy the challenge of creating a sense of identification between students and material culture of their location’s past.  I’m looking forward to keeping everyone up to date on what we’re discovering.  As always I would love to hear what you find most interesting about the Unearthing Detroit project and what sort of information, posts, or images you would like to see more often or in more detail.

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