Massachusetts Historical Commission - 2012 Preservation Award Winners
Department of Conservation and Recreation's Terra Firma Technical Bulletin Series • Statewide

Department of Conservation and Recreation's Terra Firma Technical Bulletin Series • Statewide

Education & Outreach

Since 2005, the Terra Firma publication series has brought up-to-date, non-academic technical information to landscape stewards of all backgrounds, breaking down barriers between landscape professionals and non-professional advocates interested in preserving our common landscape heritage. The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) developed Terra Firma to address a critical need for knowledge of landscape preservation best practices; target audiences include advocates and managers of historic parks, cemeteries, and civic grounds. When the technical bulletin series was in its initial stage of development, a survey helped to inform content, form, and distribution decisions. The series is the first of its kind: conversations about issues related to landscape preservation usually take place in professional forums, most of which are inaccessible to the average person. Through concise, familiar language and high-quality design, Terra Firma empowers a diverse audience to preserve historic landscapes.

Terra Firma is developed and written entirely in-house, with support from outside topic experts and sister public agencies as needed. The series is cost-effective to produce and is offered free of charge both online and in hard copy. The bulletin template is designed to be flexible, attractive, and compact. Issues range from ten to sixteen pages and include graphic devices to enhance content and readability. Each bulletin identifies an issue, provides background or historical context, lays out planning recommendations, and highlights tools or successful case studies. Within each issue, sidebars note additional information or related resources, photographs and captions illustrate ideas without being repetitive, and call-out boxes help to balance the main narrative with related, but separate, concepts. Published one to two times per year in runs of 3,000-3,500 copies, the series is funded through DCR's capital budget, as well as grants from partners. Each issue is distributed in hard copy to more than 2,600 people, and is posted online. The mailing list grows each year, with requests for past issues continuing long past their initial run. Over the course of ten issues the Terra Firma series has gained national and international appeal, serving as an invaluable reference tool for historical commissions, local libraries, friends groups, and other organizations.

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