Community meeting at Lexington
Community meeting at Lexington, MA
Courtesy Massachusetts Archives/Jennifer Fauxsmith

The devastation of recent hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes dramatizes the need for a coordinated response by the cultural community to area-wide disasters. But all disasters must first be addressed at the local level. It is crucial, therefore, that communities mobilize to build and maintain the vital relationship among cultural heritage stewards, emergency managers, municipal planners, and town officials. In 2012, thanks to a Hazard Mitigation Grant awarded by FEMA and MEMA to COSTEP MA and administered by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, COSTEP MA has begun mobilizing communities around the Commonwealth.

One of the most important lessons we’ve learned from disasters is that cooperation, collaboration, and communication are of vital importance to saving cultural resources. A meeting in your community will provide:

  • An opportunity for the local cultural stewards and emergency managers to meet, perhaps for the first time
  • Recommendations on how to foster these vital relationships
  • Resources to help cultural institutions respond to an emergency or disaster
  • Resources to help emergency managers respond to emergencies at cultural institutions
  • Information on completing an institutional disaster plan
  • A preview of additional training opportunities made possible by the Hazard Mitigation Grant

The time to exchange business cards is before an emergency, not after one. Let COSTEP MA help you develop the relationships and put the tools in place that will help you weather an emergency.

For more information on setting up a Community Meeting in your town or city, click here.

2011 Mitigation for Memory: Safeguarding Massachusetts Cultural History


In 2011, COSTEP MA was awarded a Hazard Mitigation Grant by FEMA and MEMA to conduct a three-year public awareness project on mitigation damage to cultural collections and essential government records in the state. The project, called Mitigation for Memory: Safeguarding Massachusetts Cultural History, is designed to educate emergency management professionals, municipal planners and officials, Regional Planning Agency directors, and cultural custodians about the importance of including cultural resources in hazard mitigation planning. The grant is being administered by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

Mitigation for Memory had three objectives:

  1. To host at least 14 community meetings to educate cultural stewards, town officials, and local emergency managers about the importance of mitigation for cultural collections. 
  2. To sponsor half-day meetings with Regional Planning Agencies (RPAs). From the 14 communities, up to seven pilot communities will begin working with their RPA to incorporate cultural institutions and historic properties in mitigation planning.
  3. Conduct four risk assessment workshops. Using assessment tools developed by Heritage Preservation, an emergency management professional will be paired with a preservation specialist to demonstrate how to conduct a risk assessment of a cultural institution. The goal: to educate staff at cultural institutions about mitigation actions they can take that will result in reduced loss of cultural property.

2011 AbstractDownload

This Abstract, available for download, summarizes the Hazard Mitigation Grant awarded to COSTEP MA by FEMA and MEMA to increase public awareness — particularly by cultural stewards, emergency managers, municipal planners, and other town officials — of mitigation actions that could safeguard cultural collections in their municipalities. The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners is administering the grant.

Final Report

There were a number of deliverables for the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), but in many ways the most important were the community meetings and the Risk Assessment and Mitigation Planning workshops.  This Final Report, available for download, delineates the process of achieving these deliverables over the course of the three-year grant.2014 Mitigation for Memory Final ReportDownload

Framework for public release

When working with the cultural and emergency management communities to ensure that cultural resources are not forgotten in times of disasters, it is crucial to open the lines of communication long before a disaster hits. This Framework outlines ways in which these lines can be opened and maintained on a statewide, regional, or municipal level. It bears repeating that “all disasters are local” and “it is far better to exchange business cards across a table in advance than at the scene of a disaster.” This Framework, available for download, provides the tools to address both these issues.2015 Mitigation for Memory FrameworkDownload