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Native Plants, Historic Cemeteries

  • 1.  Native Plants, Historic Cemeteries

    Posted 04-21-2020 13:35
    April 21, 2020


    One of my prior nonprofit projects involved helping to create South Texas Natives, a native plant development project focused on South Texas ranches and roadsides. A few years later, I was living and working in San Antonio during the prior economic downturn (2011-2013). I took time to explore the city from end-to-end. By way of background, I have a longtime interest in history and served on the nonprofit foundation arm of the Texas Historical Commission for five years. During that challenging time, I re-discovered some of our state's most important historic cemeteries lie in San Antonio.

    Idea: could we restore/landscape these historic sites with native, low-water using plants; upgrade those sites that have been let to deteriorate to make them more enticing to heritage tourists; ask Google Maps to geo-locate individual graves; ask historians to research those who who lay buried and tie that information to Google geo-locations, to create convenient "walking tours" via smartphone; develop historical/educational information based on the knowledge shared by historians to share with the public via websites and/or professional K-12 curricula (not to mention helping university students obtain advanced degrees by conducting this important work); encourage the development of businesses around historic cemeteries (build up area economies - cafes, shops); create via all this "pollinator corridors" (and more honey/beekeeping businesses perhaps); and generally make historic cemeteries genuine mainstream tourism sites: not places we ignore and visit once in a while.

    Few people realize heritage tourism is one of the leading income generators in Texas. Plus, our state also faces serious water shortages as population grows and climate changes brings hotter weather. I have shared this concept on my blog - it is the first project noted on my "angel list" portfolio. This kind of multi-partner effort requires sophisticated coordination, and funding. It would be a long-term effort and would also boost the native plant and "xeriscaping" industry in our state. I would like to see the Texas State Cemetery be one of the first historic cemeteries to adopt this new win-win approach, and serve as an example to other sites across Texas. 

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    Carolyn Appleton
    carolyn@carolynmappleton.com
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  • 2.  RE: Native Plants, Historic Cemeteries

    Posted 04-22-2020 21:38
    Heritage tourism and historic preservation are passions of mine.  I would love to talk more.

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    Teia Collier
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  • 3.  RE: Native Plants, Historic Cemeteries

    Posted 04-23-2020 10:06
    Edited by Carolyn Appleton 04-23-2020 10:06
    Texas is evidently #2 in the nation for heritage tourism. Here is a link to a guidebook that provides more information, from the Texas Historical Commission. ​

    The native plant restoration project for historic cemeteries could be profitable for Texas, as well as add to the knowledge of the history of our cities and towns. I like adding a tech twist to it and making it a topic where university students can learn and earn degrees by participating. While some cemeteries, including some Jewish cemeteries I have visited, are very well maintained, I find most of them are not. And even the well maintained ones rely on standard grass which is a water hog. When visiting the Texas State Cemetery recently, the grounds crew were watering the standard grass and they left one big hose to literally gush until it made a huge soppy wet area of ground. That is wasteful and we shouldn't be allowing that. I also know some fear "xeric" means "weedy," but today's native plant developers and landscape professionals know how to make attractive landscapes that look beautiful and that do not require a lot of watering. I would like to put in a good word for dwg here in Austin. Nonprofits and for-profits might be engaged in the project - dwg has done amazing work and I have learned directly from them.

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    Carolyn Appleton
    carolyn@carolynmappleton.com
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