Reading List: Prepping for Town Halls at PastForward Online 2020

By Forum Online posted 10-14-2020 10:15


One of the new features this year at PastForward Online 2020 (October 27-30), are three live Town Halls. Using digital tools, these interactive sessions will provide a forum for open discussion and give you an opportunity to share your own beliefs and ideas for action. Each of these Town Halls are one step in an ongoing conversation about how our movement needs to evolve to be both relevant and resilient.

As one of the largest convenings of our nation’s preservation movement, PastForward provides an opportunity to answer the field’s call for change, while also beginning to develop a platform in community with one another


As Renee Kuhlman, senior director for outreach and support at the National Trust says, "we face the complex and intertwined challenges of a national pandemic, systemic racism, and a changing climate. Individually, we are all working hard to address these problems, but imagine how much more effective the movement can be if we join around a common, National Impact Agenda. Such an agenda should be equity-driven, developed collectively, and help evolve the field. Let’s discuss what might be included in such an agenda at PastForward Online 2020 and beyond.”

As in years past the team here at Preservation Leadership Forum pulled together a list of resources to prep attendees and others in the preservation movement for the annual meeting. Below you will find a few quick readings, podcasts, and videos, as well contextual statements from our session leads to help you come to the Town Halls with ideas, questions, and the energy to build a more inclusive and forward-thinking preservation movement. 

We look forward to seeing you!

Note: We still want to hear from you! An exciting moment in these Town Hall sessions will be a collection of videos featuring voices from the preservation community. Learn how you can be a part of the program at PastForward Online 2020.

Town Hall: Equitable Development (October 28, 2020)

Leslie Canaan, Senior Field Officer, National Trust for Historic Preservation
Di Gao, Senior Director of Research and Development, National Trust for Historic Preservation

The discussion at the Equitable Development Town Hall is guided by a central question: How can preservation be a force for advancing equitable development and social justice? These definitions will be used in the discussion:

Equity refers to the intentional reduction of inequality among groups of people to reach more just and fair conditions, whether groups are defined socially, ethnically, racially, economically, geographically, or any other affiliation.

Promoting equity means supporting policies and actions that explicitly reduce inequality both in the process of decision-making and implementation, and in terms of positive community outcomes such as ownership of financial assets and real property.

Equitable Development refers to a process of sharing authority in decision-making to deliver place-based public and private investments, programs, and policies that meet the needs of residents and reduce disparities—while considering past history, and existing conditions. 


Town Hall: Mitigating and Adapting to Climate Change (October 29, 2020)

Lisa Craig, Principal, The Craig Group
James Lindberg, Senior Policy Director, National Trust for Historic Preservation

Every day brings us a fresh reminder that we are the midst of a deepening climate emergency. At any given moment, residents and communities across the nation are dealing with the impact of wildfires, hurricanes, floods, heat, and drought. The global scope and complexity of climate change can overwhelm our sense of agency, as humans on the planet and as preservationists in our communities.

Yet the preservation movement can play a significant role in mitigating climate change through building conservation and reuse that avoids the need for carbon emitting new construction. As place stewards with long term vision, we can help develop and implement solutions to adapt older buildings and communities to the impacts of climate change.


Town Hall: Preservation and Relevancy (October 30, 2020)

Bonnie McDonald, President and CEO, Landmarks Illinois and Chair of the National Preservation Partners Network
Renee Kuhlman, Senior Director of Outreach and Support, National Trust for Historic Preservation

How relevant do you feel preservation is today? The debate on this question has raged for years. By definition, relevance is about being practical and socially applicable at this moment. A 2019 National Trust for Historic Preservation survey indicates that almost every one of the 1,052 respondents felt that we need innovation in preservation. We believe everyone should benefit from our work, however not everyone is benefitting. This fact has led not only the general public, but also preservationists, to have misgivings about our intentions and outcomes and to question the fairness and applicability of our practices. 

 Preservation is not alone in this self-analysis and reckoning. Other humanities-based practices are wrestling with how their work responds to greater challenges facing society. Which of our methods are necessary, which must be adapted, and what new practices can we adopt to be relevant? We invite you to join the discussion at the Relevancy and Preservation Town Hall. We hope that you will leave energized, optimistic and having taken the pledge to be a part of this collective action. 


  Want more reading lists? Check out A Reading List for Change and Working with Your Community from earlier this year.