Community Involvement

Historic preservationists aim to preserve, protect, remember, and share the past with the present while recognizing the value of the present with consideration of the future and how the future will view our current present and past.

(Excuse the mouthful.)

Why is all of this done? Preservation is for the people, for descendents, for ancestors, for the communities. Historic preservation is a public service profession, in many facets, that aims to improve the quality of life for the present and the future.

In my own town, historic preservation plays a large part in town discussion and choices – or at least the appearance of preservation or shall we say charm plays a large part. (You have to start somewhere, right?) The streetscape of historic Broad Street with the shops and trees and the railroad track down the middle provide a pleasant atmosphere for annual parades and festivals. Currently, town members have taken it upon themselves to act before the 11th hour in order to save a plot of green space. This space which adjoins the playground, tennis courts, and basketball courts, was previously the police station. For reasons I do not know, the building was demolished and since then (about 1.5 years) it has been a part of the park. Residents want to keep this space open and have begun a petition in order to show how they feel.

Another series of events going on in town is called Rock the Plaza. This Thursday was its first showing and it will continue every third Thursday of the month through September. First Fridays are similar and continue through the winter. Rock the Plaza took place in a small courtyard of shops in downtown Southern Pines. The surrounding shops and coffee shop stayed open past five o’clock, until eight o’clock! (This is a rare event.) A local band played while people shopped and mingled and ate food from local vendors, including Dog Nation, the new hot dog stand that opened up in an old Esso gas station. Some local business women even organized a small fashion show.

Rock the Plaza did not appear to be well advertised, at least not as well as First Fridays, yet, a surprising number of people turned out for the event. There was barely room to walk in the plaza. This event presented a chance for locals to run into friends or meet up at an outdoor event downtown. Being able to attend a fun summer outdoor event is rare, since most the stores close by 5pm. In fact, Jennifer Kirby, a local realtor and friend, commented that just a few years ago nothing like this would have occurred in Southern Pines. Clearly, the local business owners have come a long way in terms of local support and involvement. In this case, there is a clever blend of businesses encouraging true community participation in our historic setting. Subconsciously more people will take note of and appreciate the historic value of the town (even if it is for the charm.) In turn, an inevitable controversial issue appears, historic integrity will have greater support because people appreciate the atmosphere and what the buildings and their surroundings have provided for them in the past.

Here’s to the people who love what historic preservationists do (whether or not they realize all of its effects.)