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Restore Oregon Gains Perspective at the PastForward Annual Conference

In November, Restore Oregon’s Preservation Programs Team attended the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Annual Conference, PastForward. For those of us in the business of saving places, the PastForward conference provides excellent educational programs and an opportunity to network with preservation leaders from around the country.

Exciting news from the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) was announced at the conference when they released their Five Year Strategic Plan: Preservation10-Next. According to the NTHP, “it is an ambitious and comprehensive overhaul of our organizational strategy, priorities, and activities, setting us on a course to increase our impact and scale by a factor of 10.” Read the full plan to learn how they plan to get there.

For Restore Oregon, our goal at the conference was to share best practices and gain insight from historic preservation organizations around the country to bring back home to Oregon. Here are staff highlights from the conference that can positively impact Restore Oregon:

Peggy Moretti, Executive Director:

  • Preservation is people saving places for people (not as artifacts).  How preservation advances goals of re-urbanism, cultural diversity, economic development, and affordability dominated conversations and session topics.
  • The preservation movement has shifted focus to diversity and equity.  Many organizations in rust-belt cities are using their real estate revolving funds to revitalize depressed neighborhoods, teaming up with housing advocates.  Places associated with civil rights, immigrant, and LGBTQ communities are being celebrated and nominated for historic designation and protection.
  • Funding and financial incentives for preservation such as the federal Historic Tax Credit are urgently threatened.   Tremendous efforts are being mounted to organize grassroots political outreach, especially in Republican districts.  Loss of the HTC would cripple preservation projects nationwide and here in Oregon.  The good news is that preservation is non-partisan.

Dan Everhart, Preservation Programs Manager:

  • The American story is diverse. If the historic preservation movement is to protect and promote the American story, then the historic preservation must itself embrace diversity. It must tell the stories of every American not despite our differences but because of our differences. The places that tell these stories and the people that represent these stories must be welcomed into the historic preservation movement.
  • Historic preservation is not stuck in the past but is looking to the future. New scientific discoveries about the power of historic places to change human physical and mental health are exploring the frontiers of man’s need for preservation. The powerful relationship between place and well-being may alter the traditional concept of historic preservation as a well-intentioned nicety. (This documentary tells the story of human health and its ties to place from the perspective of those who evacuated and then returned to the region of Chernobyl – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3XF56BaxF4)
  • Historic preservation is about connection. While we often speak of the ties between people and place, the national preservation conference is an opportunity to remind ourselves of the ties between preservationists as friends and colleagues. The conference is a place to spark the imagination and learn from one’s peer. Conversation and collaboration are key to conservation.

Lydia Ness, Preservation Programs Representative:

  • Professional development opportunities such as a training on a preservation training program called ARCUS
  • Opportunity to make connections with other preservation professionals across the country to gain ideas and inspiration to bring back to Oregon
  • Another highlight was attending a daylong session on diversity and inclusion in preservation. It discussed what is currently going on in preservation throughout the country, but also the future of preservation and how preservationists need to start highlighting all stories of our history. I’m excited to continue the discussion in Oregon.

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Statewide Partner of the National Trust for Historic Preservation