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By Katie Williams Anacostia is a predominantly Black neighborhood in Washington, D.C. endangered by decades-long disinvestment and the tensions between the need for economic investment and the risk of displacing long-time residents. It is a community that cares deeply about the heritage of their historic neighborhood—Anacostia was the cherished home of Frederick Douglass—and wants to see it preserved and revitalized, just as white, wealthier neighborhoods in DC have been. Recognizing this ...
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The latest issue of Forum Journal captures the proceedings from PastForward Online 2021 . The theme for the 2021 conference was Lead the Change , which shares a name with the National Impact Agenda for the preservation movement. In the introduction, Katherine Malone-France, chief preservation officer of the National Trust for Historic Preservation contemplates the impact of conference themes and the valuable stories learned from keynote presentations bringing about needed changes to make ...
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Editor's Note: Every year we provide space for recipients of a National Preservation Award to share a piece of their work. This story is from Jordan Ryan, the recipient of 2021 American Express Aspire Award , which recognizes an emerging leader in the preservation field who has made significant achievements in preservation. You don’t know what you don’t know, and that's one of the many attractions of the archives for me. Since receiving the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s ...
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The National Trust Preservation Fund, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s small dollar grant program, has been providing catalytic funding to organizations across the country for more than 50 years. In the February 2022 round, the National Trust received 64 eligible applications and awarded a total of $275,173 in grants to 47 organizations in 20 states and the District of Columbia. Read more about these projects below, and learn how you can apply to our June 1 grant round here and ...
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Fire poses one of the greatest risks to historic places, but its prevention and extinguishment can also present a high risk to historic materials. Installing a traditional sprinkler system can negatively impact the character of a historic place, and the high volume of water used to quell fires can oversaturate fragile features. In the 1990s, a new solution was developed in Finland to mitigate the risk of fire, reduce subsequent water damage, and prevent major disruptions from installation: HI-FOG ...
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With contributions by Lindsey Wallace, Di Gao, and Priya Chhaya Lying at the intersection of climate change and racial equity, climate equity addresses issues related to health, affordability, accessibility, cultural preservation, community capacity, and accountability. Climate equity asks us to examine the unjust burden on racially oppressed and/or economically oppressed communities, typically Black and Indigenous communities, in terms of climate change. As global temperatures rise by 2 degrees ...
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The Reuse Imperative

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“The urgency of reducing embodied carbon emissions inverts common perceptions about older buildings and climate change. Rather than outdated structures that we hope to replace, older buildings should be valued as climate assets that we cannot afford to waste.” From “Avoiding Carbon: Mitigating Climate Change through Preservation and Reuse” in Issues in Preservation Policy: Preservation, Sustainability, and Equity . Last month’s report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel ...
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The National Trust for Historic Preservation works closely with many lawmakers on Capitol Hill to advance preservation policy priorities. In the spirit of Women’s History Month, below are profiles of three key female legislative champions—Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández (D-NM), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), and Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL). While not a comprehensive list, the National Trust would also like to recognize the work of Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Lisa Murkowski ...
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In 2020, as the covid epidemic raged, black lives continued to be lost to police brutality, and systemic racism and entrenched white supremacy became impossible to ignore, many historic preservation organizations across the country carved out the time, resources, and discomfort to put matters of equity and inclusion at the center, or at least toward the center of their work. Two organizations, Providence Preservation Society and Baltimore Heritage, Inc . went even further. They undertook unprecedented ...
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By Matthew Ahern, Brooks Becker, Kelli Gibson In the summer of 2021, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in collaboration with the National Commission of State Historic Preservation Offices (NCSHPO) and the National Alliance of Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (NATHPO), created and distributed a survey to State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs), and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (THPOs) located throughout the country. The goal of the survey was to understand how many SHPOs ...
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By John Garrison Marks Editor's Note: This piece has been updated to reflect the release of the findings from the "Reframing History" project. Understanding the public history community in the United States requires an almost kaleidoscopic perspective. The country is home to more than twenty thousand history organizations, a dizzying mix of museums, historical societies, preservation organizations, and other related institutions. Whether public agencies, private nonprofits, or some combination ...
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For 26 years George W. McDaniel served as the executive director of Drayton Hall, a National Trust Historic Site located in Charleston, South Carolina. Drayton Hall is an 18th-century unrestored plantation house established by John Drayton, a white man whose wealth came from more than 100 plantations worked primarily by enslaved labor. Over his two and half decades at Drayton Hall, McDaniel led a transformation of the site’s interpretation, emphasizing how history and place can, as he says, enhance ...
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During a 2021 interview I did with author and poet Clint Smith , we discussed the origin of the title of his book How the Word is Passed. In that conversation he said, “For many people, history is not about empirical evidence. It is not about primary source documents. It is about a story that they have been told. And it is a story that they tell, it is an heirloom that is passed down across generations, across family, across community.” As preservationists we recognize just how imperative it ...
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By Chris Morris, Rena Zurofsky, and Scott Mehaffey This past year laid bare our growing racial and economic inequities, but also systemic societal inequities that disproportionately affect women of all identities and backgrounds. While we celebrated women’s leadership skills and political prowess, we also confronted the reality that women still face enormous hurdles in our ongoing efforts to achieve economic, professional, medical, and political parity. We in the preservation community also are ...
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As we enter 2022 and the second half of the 117 th Congress, it is important to note the preservation accomplishments of the past year and the federal preservation priorities that still need to be addressed. This year marks a crucial midterm election year where both the House and Senate will look to advance legislation of great importance to the preservation community. Historic Tax Credit Enhancements Throughout 2021 the National Trust for Historic Preservation advocated for enhancements to ...
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By Katherine Malone-France On Main Street in New Iberia, Louisiana, there is a restaurant called Preservation. The first time I ate there, I asked the bartender about the reason for the name and he said, “Everything we do here is about the process of preservation.” He meant, of course, the techniques and cultural traditions of smoking, salting, fermenting, and other ways to preserve food, but that phrase—the process of preservation—has stuck in my mind ever since. In the face of all the challenges ...
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Just over a year ago Marisa Brown put together her seven resolutions for 2021 , a clarion call against a return to “normal” after two years of upheaval related to the existential and systemic challenges to the field, particularly in regards to justice and equity. In this story Brown stated, “By year’s end we will begin to know which organizations have instituted meaningful change and which haven’t.” I’ll state up front that there is no magic wand for this work; rather it requires sustained, committed ...
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The National Trust Preservation Fund, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s small dollar grant program, has been providing catalytic funding to organizations across the country for over 50 years. In the October 2021 round, the National Trust received 51 eligible applications and awarded a total of $186,850 in grants to 31 organizations in 17 states and the District of Columbia. Read more about these projects below, and learn how you can apply to our February 1 grant round here and sign ...
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According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition report T he Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes (March 2021) , “only 37 affordable and available rental homes exist for every 100 extremely low-income renter households." In the summer of 2021, as the affordable housing intern at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, I wrote a report that evaluated affordable housing provisions in select state historic tax credit (SHTC) laws. State historic tax credits are a legislative means ...
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In 2014, I challenged students with a mock exercise: How would you develop a cost-benefit analysis of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA)? Using the Clean Air Act as an example, I demonstrated how a periodic cost-benefit analysis, mandated by law, examines the direct and indirect effects of the legislation. Metrics range from the purely economic to monetized social and environmental indicators, like asthma prevention and better view shed visibility. What would be the metrics—social, cultural, ...
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