I spent my summer interning at Greater Portland Landmarks in Portland, Maine. The local nonprofit hired four graduate-student interns to survey two neighborhoods in the city that will be impacted by rising sea levels. This climate change survey was the first of its kind in the state!

For each building (over 900 combined) we noted characteristics that made the historic property vulnerable to climate change. For example, we recorded whether a building had low utility meters that could flood, fire escapes that could be blown off in a storm, or any living spaces in basements. We also completed historic structure forms for each building to be added to the state historic preservation office’s database. Greater Portland Landmarks will use the information to provide recommendations to property owners on how to make their historic properties more resilient to a changing climate.

Portland, like a lot of coastal cities, is increasingly concerned about rising sea levels. We spoke with a lot of property-owners who were curious to hear about our work and wanted to share their personal concerns. Two local news channels also covered the project! As part of my internship, I participated in an informational workshop about rising sea levels and attended the launch of the city’s new climate action plan.

It was amazing to use my historic preservation skills to contribute to Portland’s preparations for climate change. Through one internship, I was able to simultaneously champion (and intertwine) two causes that I feel very passionately about.