Why This Matters:
Why This Matters:
The months of February & March 2017 mark ten years since HERA Atlanta was organized and founded after a series of Alliance for Response forums!
WHAT IS THE ALLIANCE FOR RESPONSE?
Floods, hurricanes, fires and other disasters can harm or destroy irreplaceable cultural and historical treasures. The institutions that safeguard books, documents, photographs, artifacts, and other historical collections can prepare for emergencies to avert or at least minimize damage. One of the keys to preparedness is a relationship with first responders and emergency managers. They are first on the scene at any event that threatens life or safety, and they represent a local system for planning, response, and recovery that has often overlooked a community’s cultural and historic assets.
Alliance for Response brings together cultural heritage and emergency management professionals at forums at the local level. Disaster response originates at the local level and the local networks foster vital partnerships in each community. The Alliance for Response formed in 2003 and began holding forums in various locations. AFR Forums increased interest, participation, and membership in the AFR network membership. Local networks formed and at present, there are twenty-six national AFR networks.
In the beginning, generous support from the Fidelity Foundation enabled Heritage Preservation to launch Alliance for Response in 2003 and sustain the program through 2009. The funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has enabled Heritage Preservation to continue to build on the momentum begun in those first six years of the successful programs and take it into the future. The AFR forums and initial meetings lead to new partnerships and initiatives to enhance the protection of cultural heritage collections at local levels.
HERA ATLANTA FORMS
In February of 2007 Alliance for Response held one such forum at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and some eighty attendees came together. As a result of this event, HERA Atlanta was formed. After the initial meeting at the High Museum of Art, a follow-up meeting of eighteen attendees happened in March of 2007 at the Columbia Theological Seminary, where members brainstormed about everything from defining the local mission to gathering up an emergency supply cache. The primary aim of HERA is to mitigate the loss of cultural heritage materials in the event of a disaster.
HERA Atlanta had its first test in March of 2008 when an EF 3 Tornado struck downtown Atlanta and members responded to help the Atlanta Daily World Newspaper. The Atlanta Daily World is the oldest and continuously published African American Newspaper in the US, being published since 1928. The Atlanta Daily World’s roof had collapsed and its collections were damaged by flooding. Over a two-week period, 21 HERA volunteers from 9 organizations volunteered to help pack out damaged historical and business records. Since the 2008 disaster response, HERA members have since participated in various disaster recovery efforts across the Southeast.
HERA membership has developed a strong network of communications to ensure all members are informed of disaster events, training opportunities, meetings or educational events. HERA Atlanta has 114 members from some thirteen counties, a set of Bylaws and cooperative relationships with sister state organizations to our South such as Savannah Heritage Emergency Response (SHER) in Savannah. Cultural Heritage professionals continue to come together with First Responders to educate each other on the best ways to protect Georgia’s Cultural Heritage collections from disaster, either natural or manmade.
HERA Atlanta holds at least two hands-on educational events each year and holds quarterly steering committee meetings. Our membership comprises professionals working cultural heritage fields. We continually work together with our local first responders to educate ourselves and our community on the best practices and measures to protect our state’s cultural heritage.