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Mapping a Preservation Ecosystem

As the field of preservation ages and reaches its 50 year anniversary, the scope of work extends to decades which had previously been ignored. The built enviornment continues to develop and preservationists are tasked with having to decide which period in history to focus on. Often, this creates an environment of conficting histories which requires careful navigation in order to best preserve the diverse stories contained within a specific site.

In this period of self-examination, the field must progress to view preservation with a wider lense that allows for multiple histories to play a role in interpretation. This requires collaboration between supporters from across the spectrum, but too often these constituencies are not in the same room, or, if they are, they are arguing about the primacy of one value over another.

For some, the sites are the focus:

  • How do we preserve them?
  • How do we sustain them, economically and ecologically?
  • How do we use them to teach about history, architecture, culture, sustainability?

And for others, the stories are the focus:

  • How do we make them visible?
  • How do we render them in all of their complexity?
  • How do we use them - including the loss of their sites - to teach about history, access, culture, sustainability? 

This year's programming will create a space for conversation that acknowledges the divides, and provides an opportunity to consider other points of view, with a goal of inviting engagement, understanding, and collaboration among all those who care about the history of the built environment, both that which still stands and that which once stood.