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Twitter Tips

By Deanna Beacham May 26, 2015

Ed: The Living Landscape Observer is fortunate enough to have Deanna Beacham manage our twitter account (@landscapeobserv). Below are some great tips Deanna crafted for us on how to make the most out of only 140 characters!

  • The best tweets are those with a handcrafted lead or headline and an illustration (embedded) or context (usually included via link.)
  • Don’t use other social media apps, like Facebook or Instagram, to source or push your tweets. It results in fragmented headlines, which are annoying.
  • Avoid making your readers click on links from other apps. They may not have accounts on that app, and it’s frustrating to find they can’t see the content. Corollary: no links to commercial news sources that have a paywall, or require an account or login.
  • Tweets with an embedded picture always have a higher read and retweet ratio, so put pics in as many tweets as possible, even if it means adding your own.
  • Unless the source is a commercial publication, a good ratio of retweets from other sources vs. one’s own original tweets is above 10:1.
  • Never beg or ask for followers. If you’re good enough, you shouldn’t need to, and it’s demeaning.
  • Cultivate good sources of content that fit your account’s philosophy. Make friends with their content providers, and retweet their best stuff, so they will be more likely to retweet your tweets in return.
  • Don’t try to elevate your content or status by giving your content headlines with All Capitalized Words. It’s pretentious.
  • Most Twitter sources go on a binge now and then and send out an overload. That’s expected, but be aware of your binges, and try to limit them.

Deanna Beacham is the American Indian Program Manager for the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay. When not at her job, she manages the Living Landscape Observer Twitter account, and advocates for various Native, conservation, and environmental causes. You can follow Living Landscape Observer at @LandscapeObserv, or Deanna at @ndngenuity.

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Presquile National Wildlife Refuge: An Indigenous Cultural Landscape

By Deanna Beacham April 1, 2012

Presquile National Wildlife RefugePresquile National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is located on a 1329-acre island in the James River south of Richmond, Virginia. Part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Eastern Virginia Rivers National Wildlife Refuge, it was established in 1953 to protect habitat for wintering waterfowl and other migratory birds, and at the present time is open to the public only on a very limited basis. What is now Presquile (formerly “Presque Isle”, or almost an island) was once a peninsula inside one of the James River oxbows. It became an island when a channel was cut through the peninsula in 1933 to make navigation easier for large boats. The island includes open meadow that was formerly farmed, extensive wetlands, brushy areas, and mixed forest

However, this place is more than just a wildlife refuge: it is also serves as an example of a new concept of place known as an Indigenous Cultural Landscape. Developed as part of the planning for the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, the concept is intended to represent large landscapes from the perspective of American Indian nations at the time of their first contact with Europeans. These landscapes comprise the cultural and natural resources that would have supported the historic lifestyles and settlement patterns of an Indian group in their totality. The concept attempts to demonstrate that American Indian places were not confined to the sites of houses, towns, or settlements, and that the American Indian view of one’s homeland is holistic rather than compartmentalized into the discrete site elements typically used in our language today such as “hunting grounds”, “villages”, or “sacred sites”.

The island of Presquile, now protected as a wildlife refuge, was at the time of English Contact a peninsula within the aboriginal territory of the Appamattuck Indians. John Smith mapped an unnamed town near the base of the peninsula. Cultural resource surveys of the refuge have identified a large area considered likely to contain evidence of Late Woodland American Indian occupation and prehistoric archeological sites ranging from the Late Archaic through Late Woodland. The concept of the Indigenous Cultural Landscape looks at the natural resources still present on the land: the good agricultural soil, sources of fresh water, 
transportation routes on the river, accessible landing places, 
and the resources still present in the marshes, brushy areas and primary or mixed deciduous forest

These resources along with the documented American Indian presence provide outstanding interpretive opportunities to look at place in a new way. Presquile NWR is currently in the process of updating their comprehensive conservation plan, with the possibility of more public access in the future. An environmental education center for youth, managed by the James River Association, is also being developed on the island. The refuge is one of those increasingly rare places where the landscape of the past merges with the present. The hope is that telling this story will expand our sense of stewardship of place and our understanding of the diverse people that share this space.

Deanna Beacham (Weapemeoc) is the American Indian Specialist in the Virginia governor’s office and serves as an advisor, consultant, and speaker on mid-Atlantic American Indian history and contemporary concerns. She is an Occasional Observer for this web site.

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