Monday, September 24, 2012

PNC Conference Recap

Last week was the annual Preservation North Carolina conference in Asheville. In case you missed it, I thought I would share a few key points discussed throughout the various sessions as well as some things I took away from the event.

But before I get to that, let me just say that ASHEVILLE. IS. AWESOME. Just plain incredible. This was my second year to the city during the fall and we plan to go if not every year at least every couple of years. (For some photos from our previous visit, click here.) From the the the art the beauty of the mountains and nearby outdoor adventures, it is definitely one of my favorite places to visit every autumn. Period.

Visit to the Biltmore Estate in 2011

Okay, so back to the PNC conference. Here are some interesting thoughts and points made during the lectures that I feel are worth revisiting:

  • The time is ripe to engage folks in the movement who may not consider themselves "preservationists" in order to give historic preservation a broader base of support. Lots of diverse people are actually doing preservation and they don't even know it. We have to make sure they know there is a name for what they are passionate about.
  • According to recent research from the National Trust, 65 million people care about culture and historic places!!!!!!!  They feel that the "soul of the community" is important to where they live. What they don't realize, is that this "soul" or "sense of place" and even "pride of place" would not happen without historic preservation.
  • We as preservationists need to rid ourselves of the typical stereotypes. We must STOP being known as the hall monitor type with "a culture of no" or the "paint police," "hysterical preservationists," or any other type of elitist organization that emits negativity. We must change our culture in order to change the national culture.
  • We can learn a lot from the conservation movement. The green movement has now moved into the mainstream, and the preservation movement can easily do the same as long as we work hard and take the right steps. We must make ourselves accessible and look to accomplish things not through enforcement. We must be relevant, and we must lead with the vision and not with the rules.
  • Demographics in the preservation community are rapidly changing. Young people are moving back into downtown (and traditional neighborhoods) and they no longer desire to live in the suburbs. They desire community, real community. They want walkable, vibrant communities with mixed use buildings, a corner pub, a local food co-op, etc. and a safe place where people hang out on their front porches and know your name.
  • We must be problem-solvers as preservationists. We must think like a marketer and manage our message well. We must be knowledgeable about real estate and be approachable. We MUST show that preservation is a better kind of economic development and that it is preservation that revitalizes communities, economically and aesthetically.

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts about this. If you love old architecture, if you are passionate about saving our historic places for future generations and want to retain the "soul" of your town, or maybe you are more fiscally supportive of downtown revitalization because it brings jobs and boosts property tax values -- Do you consider yourself a preservationist?

If not, why is that so? 


  1. I wish I could be one! Hubby and I have already agreed we're not buying a new house when we are looking next spring! We want an oldy!

    1. Yay!! Good for you! You can already be a preservationist just by supporting and being passionate for the cause. You don't have to live in an old home. There are so many ways to volunteer to support preservation.