Last week, I spoke to a local historic preservation group about how to use social media to advocate preservation causes. Considering the vast majority of the audience were retired people, the doubtful expressions were expected. There was one face, however, that was encouraging and attentive.
But then again, attention to the needs of preservation and people has always been Saidee Newell’s trademark.
Although I didn’t know “Ms. Saidee” all that well, the loss I felt on hearing of her death Easter Sunday was very real. It’s the same loss being felt by preservation folk all around the world.
Saidee was good at figuring out people’s talents and calling on them when a need arose. It’s how she got so much done, and why she had such a wide circle of friends.
Occasionally, she would call on me to promote some cause or another. I’d jokingly ask her what “hat” she was wearing at the time. The world may never know how many boards, memberships, consultancies, etc., she was actively involved in. One thing you could be sure of is that she was guarding cultural heritage in some form.
As a fellow native on Saidee’s hometown, Natchitoches, La., I wonder if an obsession with protecting heritage is hardwired into our DNA. There’s so much to be proud of. And still so much to do. She knew that. She may not have heard of social media before my presentation but, judging from her questions afterward, her mind was clicking on its potential to get younger generations involved in preservation.
So in launching a site featuring heritage journalism, our first blog post dedicates this endeavor to Saidee’s legacy–a legacy that is still tangible because of her efforts. And one we hope to continue.