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Topic: Millennial Research Report

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1.  Millennial Research Report

Posted 10 days ago
Happy Thursday, All!

I was just reading the new Millennial Research Report released recently by the National Trust, and as a millennial myself, I'm curious if those of you who work with the millennial/young professional communities in your area see these results playing out in real life. I know that I personally have a ton of friends who find value in historic preservation and see it as cool, or even trendy. Are you seeing that play out in your work? And here's the real question -- have you been able to harness that enthusiasm? Curious to hear any thoughts you have about the report or your experiences!

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Rebecca Bice
Associate Manager for Forum Member Engagement
National Trust for Historic Preservation
Washington DC
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2.  RE: Millennial Research Report

Posted 9 days ago

Rebecca,

 

Thank you for posting an interesting study, but as a Gen X...wait, no now its Xennial...no wait, perhaps I'm back to Gen X – I think the labeling of segments like this doesn't help the cause. Labels like this Gen X, Millennial, Baby Boomer are all just labels as a way to divide up those that appreciate history and historic buildings. I have friends who "find value in historic preservation and see it as cool, or even trendy." So why are we different? My parents have friends who find value in historic preservation...etc." So why are they different?

 

The real issue here is how do we harness a world that has moved from looking up at (as Paul Simon said) "angels in the architecture" to looking down at the latest snapchat post. How do we break the technology pacifier? How do we take the thirst for honest, authentic experiences that seems to be missing in the hearts of people today and show them that it still exists? How do we take a world where everything seems to be moving a mile a minute and slow down to experience the places and buildings that generations of craftspeople labored to create and celebrate the art of construction?

 

My point is – don't get stuck in the idea of us versus them. We are all the same. Don't pander to particular groups. Supporting one group over another is going to backfire for those that aren't being supported.

 

Thanks

 

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Aaron Marcavitch, Executive Director

Maryland Milestones/ATHA Inc.

MAILING: P.O. Box 367, Hyattsville, MD 20781

PHYSICAL: 4318 Gallatin Street, Hyattsville, MD 20781

 

301-887-0777 (p)

301-887-1077 (f)

www.marylandmilestones.org

 

**Support Maryland Milestones with a contribution at GoFundMe**

 






3.  RE: Millennial Research Report

Posted 9 days ago
In my admittedly limited experience with millennials, and acknowledging that their individual tastes and preferences are not uniform, they tend to be more global in their outlook and attitude than previous generations due to travel travel and exposure to students of other countries in high school and college. They, therefore, are receptive to, and tend to favor, a more European social experience involving walkable venues for personal interaction and entertainment over the more traditional suburban, car-dependent experience of older generations. While they may not always associate the more urban, global form with historic preservation that makes it possible, it does make them receptive to becoming supporters of the tools necessary to achieve the form they are drawn to, even if unconsciously. The challenge is to translate this potential advocacy into action in the face of cynicism regarding any advice coming from older generations which seem intent on destroying the world they will inherit.

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Jim Sparks
Living At Home LLC
Glasgow, KY
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4.  RE: Millennial Research Report

Posted 5 days ago
Hi Rebecca,

As the Executive Director of an organization that works exclusively with teens and young adults, I can definitely say I'm familiar with the audience. I would say there is a definite hesitation to engage with historic places, because these groups are so often exposed to the narrative that history can be boring. However, we have found time and time again that after bringing teens to historic sites we see responses such as these:
  • We've had students say that their exposure to historic preservation has influenced the type of career they're considering as they choose a college major
  • We've had students work as volunteers with us after attending these field trips, because they loved the experience so much
  • We've had students recruit (in some cases) several friends to join in for future events and programs
  • We've had students say that they were not excited about the program prior to participating, but afterwards rated their opinion of historic places significantly higher than they did before participating
I will say that I can't agree that we should treat each generation equally and focus instead on larger engagement issues. After continued exposure to students in this age bracket, I've come to realize that they are an entirely different kind of human than those before them. These students have never known a world without a constant connection to other nations and cultures. They learn in entirely different ways, because they absorb information at up to three times the rate of prior generations due to their adapted ability to learn quickly, and they can problem solve faster than any generation before them on average. They are majority non-white, more religiously diverse than prior generations, and speak more languages than prior generations (for instance, last year only 18% of students we served were White, and over 70% were bilingual. Granted we are in the Los Angeles area, but this is a demographic shift being documented nationwide.) There is much more research to be done, but what I can tell you is that they are very different than prior generations, and if we want to reach them we have to do so in very different ways.

We have found that the students we work with are extremely receptive to historic preservation when its tied in with conversations about equity, racial and religious discrimination, science and technology, and civic engagement. As a result, you'll notice that if you visit our website the words "historic preservation" rarely appear. Instead, we describe our programs as social justice programs that draw from historic places to teach us lessons about what stories our city tells, and how we are writing new stories every day. Our students find this approach very engaging and often return to participate in our programs time and time again.

Though there isn't necessarily anything wrong with "historic preservation," I do think the traditional approach in itself needs to be combined with another subject they find relevant to their present life in order to truly get their attention. And once you have their attention, they're dedicated and will support you in multiple ways. This is definitely an audience worth captivating!


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Katie Rispoli Keaotamai
Executive Director
We Are the Next
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5.  RE: Millennial Research Report

Posted 3 days ago
Thank you all so much for such thoughtful comments. This really does spark so many conversations outside of just the report and more towards how we see preservation changing (or not) in the future.

@Aaron Marcavitch - I hear what you're saying about making unnecessary divisions and creating a harmful us vs. them mentality, and that's absolutely important to keep in mind. Thank you for making that point. I also understand your concern about technology absorption. Personally, I still see and know people who stop to smell the flowers, whatever age, and I also see technology enhancing understanding and appreciation for the world around us. Since I don't think these technical addictions are going away, I do think we can work with them to our advantage. Though we will need to be intentional and thoughtful about how we do that. I don't have the answers, but am open to anyone who has additional thoughts on this!

@Jim Sparks - Similar to Aaron, I appreciate your point that one generation cannot be branded as uniform. It's a good thing to keep in mind as we think about how to make preservation more relevant for upcoming generations. To your point about a social/walkable lifestyle, I know my lifestyle and that of my friends is very much that way, and based on how my appreciation for my surroundings certainly went up when I was outside all the time, I think that's great for preservation. I do wonder, however, if the conversation around millennials gets stuck in this "urban norm". I'm sure many in my generation live in rural or suburban areas where walking isn't an option. It's a bit of a sidebar -- but how do we make sure we're engaging those people as well? And, like you mentioned, how do we motivate any of them--rural, suburban or urban--into action?

@Katie Rispoli Keaotamai - Really interesting observations! Thank you so much for sharing. I love the idea of working to tie historic preservation in more closely with conversations around race, equity and inclusion. Of course, we see the connections with social justice all the time, but it's definitely something we as a field can highlight more often as part of what we do. And from what I see, so many preservation groups have already latched onto this idea and are working hard to make that happen, which is so encouraging. Shameless plug: the Forum blog series on social justice started yesterday, which starts to dig into this exact issue. Would love to hear thoughts on it!

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Rebecca Bice
Associate Manager for Forum Member Engagement
National Trust for Historic Preservation
Washington DC
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6.  RE: Millennial Research Report

Posted 2 days ago
My perspective on millennials comes from observing my son and his friends growing up up in a small town halfway between Louisville, KY and Nashville TN.  After college about half his friend went north, and the other half, along with him, went south. I watched with trepidation as they found  jobs and rent-sharing living arrangements using social media tools I didn't know existed, and he and his friends coordinated their activities to lessen the cost of on-demand transportation services to make up for Nashville's inadequate public transportation. When I visit him, we Uber to check out trendy restaurants (which doesn't correspond with being the most expensive) which is always in an older neighborhood with an ethnically and economically diverse population.

None of what I've described would seem out of the ordinary to millennials, but it was eye-opening to me. Meanwhile back in the small town he left, millennials are trying to create the urban form they are drawn to in small, empty downtowns by supporting sustainable farmer's markets and downtown restaurants using locally-grown products. They attend live concerts in the old movie theater, and show their art in the downtown gallery that was once a department store. All this with very little direction or support from the older leadership generation which seems more interested in destroying each other along with the planet.

I continue to be impressed with the attraction of the millennial generation to environmentally-aware settings and inclusive social interaction. While I may be more interested in the physical aspects of the old buildings and neighborhoods we visit, and my son more interested in the activities taking place in them, they are both essential components of historic preservation. I believe we should help them, not try to lead them when we have no moral authority to do so.

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Jim Sparks
Living At Home LLC
Glasgow, KY
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