Calling for “Smart” Sessions for National Preservation Conference in Indianapolis

Posted on: February 5th, 2013 by Preservation Leadership Forum Staff 3 Comments

One of our goals here at Preservation Leadership Forum is to be sure that wherever you go, you are the smartest preservationist in the room. The National Preservation Conference is one of the best ways for us to do that and the best way for you to not only learn but to share your smart and innovative ideas, projects, and programs. We are now accepting educational session proposals that contain challenging content aimed at preservation leaders and emerging leaders and that offer cutting-edge strategies and tools. We are planning a program in Indianapolis that offers a rich exchange of ideas and that sets a new direction in the following areas:

Mapping a New Policy Agenda
For a half century, federal legislation, for good or ill, has been the major driver behind preservation efforts. The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and the Highway Transportation Act of that same year established a regulatory framework that required the consideration of historic resources in all projects where federal money or licensing authority was involved. Later, the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit and Transportation Enhancements served to incentivize preservation and bring much-needed financing to the table. But in 2013, are these broad policy mandates still sufficient to address current threats? We seek sessions that question existing policy, propose new policies, or share successful legislative initiatives. We are especially interested in sessions that identify specific barriers to preservation at the local, state, and federal levels, and possible solutions for overcoming them.

Paying for Preservation
To greater and lesser degrees, every preservation challenge is really a funding challenge. Whether we are trying to rehabilitate a building, list a neighborhood, or protect a cultural landscape, we must make an economic argument. The recent recession and attendant government budget cuts brought that reality home. We are seeking sessions that help us understand the economics of preservation, reveal innovative funding strategies and business models, especially for historic site stewardship, and address the long-term sustainability of historic resources through energy-efficiency retrofits, economically successful reuse approaches, and incentive programs for preservation.

Ed Session CoverRebooting Preservation for New Audiences
The types of historic resources we seek to preserve have broadened immeasurably in the past decade. Mount Vernon is joined by Hinchliffe Stadium, Charleston, S.C., by Roxbury, Mass., and Gettysburg Battlefield by Selma, Ala. With every addition, our nation’s story is richer and wider and more inclusive. The “way” we undertake preservation and who we work with to accomplish our goals have changed just as dramatically. We seek sessions that showcase ventures outside of conventional preservation practices such as virtual charettes, crowdsourcing for advocacy, building or business pop ups, and unexpected partnerships. Sessions should teach participants how to think outside the box and leverage new technologies, new media, and new voices for preservation.

To submit a proposal go to and follow the detailed instructions. Deadline March 1, 2013.

Know someone who might like to submit a session? Send them this Call for Proposals.

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3 Responses

  1. Harsha Munasinghe

    February 5, 2013

    We always consider preservation as an additional thing, still believing in Ruskin’s “artistic and educated people” or some other intellectual minority. Preservation shall be conceived as the first step as well as the main guide of development. My proposal is to discuss the sustainability of preservation. I am also interested in shaping up a tool, perhaps a revised version of ecological footprint to assess the sustainability of preservation.

  2. Dr.Prof.

    February 6, 2013

    I’m concerned with the largely profit-centered, mob models of preservation. It is sad to see a site “preserved” in this way; where only the facade is refaced but the interior is a jumble of Plexiglas covering, partially exposed structural elements, drywall, and pieces of machinery taken out of context (not to mention the gift shop adjacent to the ticket counter). Of course, the best way to preserve something is to keep it in use as it was designed. Perhaps a hybrid approach/incentive model is better suited to attract people who are more willing to preserve a historic place or retrofit it for a modern use similar to its historic one.
    Certainly politics and theory matter, and there is no shortage of social political theory being taught to future preservationists in school. But economics and future use will ultimately determine the path a community takes, so maybe preservation students and future leaders need a greater understanding of competing resource models and a crash course in pragmatism. ‘Selling’ – business and political leaders the idea of preservation in a language they can understand – without ‘selling out’.