PastForward 2015: Three Ideas about Preservation

I was excited to see four of my #ThisPlaceMatters shared on the big screen during #TrustLive!
I was excited to see four of my #ThisPlaceMatters photos shared on the big screen during #TrustLive!

Last week, I joined preservationists around the country in Washington, DC for PastForward, the National Preservation Conference. Three full days of networking, workshops, receptions, monuments, and more! Kaitlin over at Preservation in Pink is recapping the conference over several posts, but I’ll break it into two posts, a programming and photo recap! If you didn’t follow #PastForward on twitter, you can see the highlights from the National Trust’s storify recaps of WednesdayThursday, and Friday.

Over the course of three days of TrustLive, Learning Labs, and Power Sessions, I took away the following three ideas about the preservation movement:

  1. Preservation vernacular: there was significant, reoccurring discussions surrounding the language and terminology of preservation. There was even discussion of “rebranding” the preservation movement, into something such as “heritage conservation.”
    • My Reaction: The idea that preservation is seen as high brow or exclusive that could be dampened by changing our language might seem like a solution, but I see it as potentially confusing. Why don’t we instead focus our efforts on continued education and outreach?
  2. Our stories are powerful: how do we connect them with wider audiences? By increasing the diversity of the movement, we will engage new voices and broaden our reach.
    • My Reaction: I now understand the value increasing the diversity of places we save as the best way to grow the preservation movement. I think the story of the “old rich white man’s mansion” isn’t one that is compelling to today’s audiences. Finding stories that resonate with wider audiences and sharing those places will be key moving forward.
  3. Preservation of places should be community-driven. How do we help identify these places? Does this mean we save different places?
    • My Reaction: If a community does not see value in preserving the place, it can be difficult to come to a preservation solution. How do we engage with community members to find the places they will value and rally around?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these ideas & any other thoughts you have from the conference.

2 Comments

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  1. Hi Raina – I wasn’t in attendance (not technically in the field but I’m a huge advocate!) but I am enjoying reading about it. I worry that the word “preservation” seems boring to people, and that their eyes glaze over when they hear about it. I’m of course just referencing people who aren’t in the field or aren’t closely involved with preservation efforts. That’s why I like #savingplaces and #thisplacematters because it’s focusing on the importance of place vs. “preserving” something (which is of course what we want).

    • No, I think you definitely are right, that “preservation” has connotations that really, truly doesn’t capture the field as a whole. I agree though — #savingplaces and #thisplacematters uses much more positive, active language that I think is great!

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