Earthwatch Institute, Maynard, MA, 14 May 2007 - About 90 people gathered on the evening of Wednesday, May 9, at the Armenian Cultural Foundation in Arlington to hear architect Jane Britt Greenwood talk about the current building boom in the historic city of Gyumri, and strategies for preserving this area's unique architectural heritage.
'There is great potential for economic development here, but in the quest for modernization, Armenia's distinct heritage and character is being lost,' says Greenwood. 'The skill and ingenuity of the people who want to contribute to the built environment is great, and we can help those voices get heard.'
Greenwood, a professor of architecture at Mississippi State University, is leading an architectural research expedition this summer through Earthwatch,
a global volunteer organization headquartered in Maynard, Massachusetts. Earthwatch is providing a grant to Greenwood to document culturally significant buildings and styles throughout the city, which Greenwood then plans to provide to local planners to help retain Gyumri's character and
In addition to providing monetary support, Earthwatch also recruits members of the public to help researchers gather the information they need, which
was part of the goal of this event.
'You don't even need to be able to draw a straight line,' said Greenwood to the assembled group, as she described the volunteer tasks on her project. 'I will teach you everything you need to know.' Volunteers will help Greenwood sketch, measure, and photograph historic buildings, clean and construct artifacts damaged by earthquakes, do archival research, and interview local residents about the histories of their homes and neighborhoods.
Several members of the audience were inspired to sign up as volunteers on Greenwood's 'Armenia's Architectural Heritage' Earthwatch expedition.
Jeannette John plans to join the expedition with her great-nephew, Michael Daniel, a ninth grader at Tyngsborough High School. 'Michael has never been to Armenia, and he wants to be an archaeologist or an architect, so this expedition seemed like a perfect opportunity,' said John, who also plans to make time to see family in Armenia.
Many of the attendees were excited to contribute to rebuilding Gyumri, and made donations to support the work of Greenwood and Earthwatch. There are still spaces available for four expedition dates in June and July 2007.
The evening included delicious Armenian hors d'oeuvres, with traditional Armenian music by Garo Papazian on the dumbeg (drum), Harry Bedrossian on
the keyboard, and Joseph Kauyoumjian on the oud.
Speakers were introduced by Dr. Robert Mirak, President of the Armenian Cultural Foundation, and included Ed Wilson, Earthwatch's President and CEO presenting information about Earthwatch, Greenwood presenting slides on her work in Armenia, and Jason Sohigian of Armenian Tree Project.
If you would like to find out more about this expedition call an Earthwatch Expedition Advisor at 800-776-0188.
For press information, images, and interviews contact:
John Jorgenson, Director of Marketing & Communications
Notes to Editors
Earthwatch scientist Jane Britt Greenwood is Associate Dean and Associate Professor at Mississippi State University's College of Architecture, Art, and Design.
Earthwatch Institute is an international environmental organization whose mission is to engage people worldwide in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment.
Earthwatch was founded in 1971 and is based in Maynard, Massachusetts. Affiliate offices are based in the UK, Australia, and Japan.
Earthwatch makes research grants of over $6 million in support of around 130 projects each year. Earthwatch recruits volunteers from the general public
and partner organizations to share the costs of a research project, and to join it as research assistants.
In the past 30 years, Earthwatch field assistants have contributed 10 million man-hours to research internationally.
Earthwatch projects are divided into four primary research areas: climate change, resource management, sustainable cultures, and oceans. Earthwatch welcomes proposals for long-term support. Around 18 percent of Earthwatch projects have been supported for over 10 years.