preservationFUTURE: A Reading List

By Melita Juresa-McDonald posted 10-01-2015 15:47


PF2015_300x250_PHASE2The third track of the PastForward conference will look at ways to make preservation more relevant in communities nationwide. Over the past year, many preservation organizations, government agencies and non-traditional preservation groups and individuals have been discussing the future of historic preservation as part of the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act. The conference will continue these discussions and focus on planning for the next 50 years of preservation. The preservationFUTURE TrustLive will also include opening remarks by the National Trust’s president Stephanie Meeks, who will discuss how we make preservation relevant, who we partner with, how we take our work to scale for greater impact and how we, as a movement, change, adapt and grow.

The preservationFUTURE learning labs will build upon the ideas introduced in the TrustLive presentation. For example, the “Legacy Business and Intangible Heritage” Learning Lab will discuss the need to become more engaged with traditional “mom and pop” local businesses, many of which are struggling to stay open in the face of rising rents and competition from massive chain stores. In “The Preservation Connection: Music, Food, Arts and Pop Culture,” presenters will discuss innovative preservation strategies and tools for saving not only places, but also intangible heritage assets such as music, cuisine and other cultural traditions. And at the “The Future Becomes You” Learning Lab we will reflect on these conversations and ask you to share your own thoughts and ideas.

The following reading list will help you get started.

In the PreservationNation blog post “It’s Time to Tell the Whole Story,” which also appeared as an Op-Ed in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Stephanie Meeks expands on the speech she gave at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center in Atlanta, titled “A More Perfect Union: Toward a More Inclusive History, and a Preservation Movement that Looks Like America.” She emphasizes that historic preservation has to continue to grow so as to be a more inclusive movement and must bring forward stories and voices from many the communities and places that have not received the attention they deserve. She also urges that in advocating for preservation, we recognize the important cultural history of places often overlooked in order to “move beyond the traditional determination of a place’s historic significance.”  “America has been good at saving grand and beautiful buildings in the past, and that is important. But sometimes the places that matter most are simple and unadorned,” she says.

In “The Pro-Development, Anti-Historic Preservationist,” Michael Allen discusses the evolution of preservation and how the current generation of people who may not even call themselves preservationists want to save buildings—not just the buildings of “dead famous people,” but also the buildings of “unknown people,” whose stories are just as important. Many people he interviewed for his article emphasized that preservation should stop being reactive, but rather proactively identify important resources and engage in their preservation before “a condemnation notice is stuck on the front door.” He also discusses the need to be more inclusive and diverse both in identifying the resources we are trying to protect and reaching out to and engaging a wider audience to show them that those resources are important.

Max Page’s article for the most recent issue of the Boston Society of Architects’ quarterly magazine, ArchitectureBoston1, analyzes the decades following the enactment of the National Historic Preservation Act and proposes several solutions on how preservation movement can become more progressive. He notes that preservation has to stop being exclusively about architecture and must include the “complete story,” no matter how controversial or difficult, of a more diverse America. It also “should save and reuse old buildings because demolishing them contributes to the problem of climate change, no matter how high the LEED rating of their replacements” and has “to show that it is a path toward economically just communities.”

 A Legacy Business Historic Preservation Fund (Prop J) campaign sign, featuring the 1948-established Vesuvio Café located in a 1913 building. More info on Yes on J. | Credit: Yes on J.
 A Legacy Business Historic Preservation Fund (Prop J) campaign sign, featuring the 1948-established Vesuvio Café located in a 1913 building. More info on Yes on J. | Credit: Yes on J.
In his Preservation Leadership Forum blog “Raising the Bar on Preservation,” Anthony Veerkamp looks at global examples of preserving intangible culture, such as food, drink, and music establishments, in particular the San Francisco Heritage “Legacy Bars and Restaurants Initiative,” which recognizes historical culinary and drinking establishments and encourages San Franciscans and tourists alike to visit them. What started as an honorific program continues to evolve and attract attention. In their 2014 post “Mobilizing to Sustain San Francisco’s Living History,” Mike Buhler and Desire Smith from San Francisco Heritage write about their policy paper “Sustaining San Francisco’s Living History: Strategies for Conserving Cultural Heritage Assets,” which recommended legislation to protect the “legacy business” resources in San Francisco. You can learn more about these efforts and a recent ballot initiative at the “Legacy Businesses and Intangible Heritage” Learning Lab. To learn more about the challenges faced by legacy businesses in the ever-changing landscape of San Francisco, read these two Next City articles “San Francisco Tries to Combat the Business Side of Gentrification” and “Is a Community-Minded Business Model Doomed in Gentrifying San Francisco?

Another Learning Lab, “Creative Placesaving,” looks at using artisanal and cultural strategies to promote extensive community engagement in revitalizing neighborhoods and supporting large restoration projects. Before hearing about the creative strategies to save the Cincinnati’s Union Terminal, check the post “Advocacy through Lobbying: Winning Issue 8 and Saving Union Terminal.” Also, you may view this series of blog post to see which creative preservation strategies the National Trust and its partners have used prevent Dominion Virginia Power from installing a transmission line across the James River near historic Jamestown.

Eager to hear from the next generation of preservation professionals, the National Council for Preservation Education, in partnership with the Trust, has challenged students in preservation programs to submit papers for a chance to present them at PastForward. The four winners2 will discuss their papers and ideas on Thursday, November 5, in a Learning Lab called “New Thinking, New Perspectives in Historic Preservation.” Discover how new tools, perspectives, problems and solutions, and potential roles will affect the next decades of the preservation movement.

Lastly, the Fall 2015 Forum Journal: Looking Forward: The Next Fifty Years of Preservation will be available to Forum members just in time for the conference. The Spring 2015 Forum Journal: Why Do Old Places Matter, is available to everyone—see this Preservation Leadership Forum blog for instructions on how to download it. Also, don’t forget to check the Why Do Old Places Matter? blog series that preceded and inspired the journal.

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