Hey Buffalo, Wish I Were There!

This week is the annual National Trust for Historic Preservation conference in Buffalo, NY.

I haven’t been to a NTHP conference since 2005 in Louisville, KY and before that, 2004 in Portland, OR. These are large conferences with many events, lectures, field sessions and meetups to choose.  They were interesting when I was in college, but at that time, I always felt that the National Trust catered to more experienced professionals. As a college student and a newbie to the preservation world, I remember feeling out of place, despite my passion for preservation.

Over the last few years, I’ve noticed that the National Trust has been changing its attitude and encouraging the younger crowd of participants. Young professionals are all a-twitter at this conference (pun intended), and I would have loved to have met fellow preservationist, particularly those who I only know through the blogging world. Maybe next time?

Meagan at HISTPRES compiled her picks for young preservationists attending the conference. Twitter was filled with #presconf hash tags all day today, as was the young preservationist meetup.

So, now, I’m wondering — does the National Trust seem to be encouraging more “young” preservationists because I’m older (i.e. no longer a college kid) or because that is the trend. I’m thinking it’s the latter, but college kids, please correct me if I’m wrong.

Anyway, unable to attend? The Preservation Nation blog put together a list of highlights and links so we can follow along. Those of you attending, hope it’s a blast!

5 thoughts on “Hey Buffalo, Wish I Were There!

  1. Mark says:

    Hi there,

    you raise an interesting point. The people I ran into, or dealt with in formal preservation groups, were definitely older, more established people. On different occasions I was told, ¨oh, its so nice to see young people getting involved in preservation.¨ Except that I wasn´t all that young; I was only relatively young. Today I see a proliferation of young people getting involved in preservation and I see an explosion stuff on the internet relating to built heritage and preservation. The young´ens seem to be taking to the net to show their enthusiasm and involvement, which is great because they´re getting the message out. All of this poses another question though: do we have too many keyboard preservationists, and not enough people with hammers in their hands ?

  2. Kaitlin says:

    “Keyboard preservationists” — excellent term, Mark. The good thing is that we need an extreme amount of publicity for preservation in order to make it seem applicable and relevant to everyone. Even as I gain years in the field, it surprises when someone seems confused when I say I am a “Historic Preservation Specialist.” In my opinion, preservation is a lifestyle as well as a profession, so while we can talk and talk about ideas, we have to live them as well. If those young’ens are living like the preservationist they talk about, then all is well. But I think there might be a shortage of that.

    If we’re talking literal hammers, then most definitely we have not enough people with them. Preservation trades are constantly in need of new students and professionals. Unfortunately, in our society, few acknowledge the trades are equivalent to a higher degree.

    Excellent questions – we could expand this conversation. Thanks!

  3. Mark says:

    Ya, I didn´t mean to throw down the gauntlet at the feet of young people, necessarily. But what I do see is a large burgeoning industry involved with preservation, and i wonder if the increased participation is resulting in a commensurate number of buildings being saved ?? My hunch is that its not, but its hard to quantify that.

    On the flip side, new people are needed, they´re going to be the life blood of communities. My own initial experiences w. preservation weren´t all that positive – I had a keen interest in the field, but i wondered why most of the people already involved were of the hoary, stodgy variety ? If this is going to fly on a meaningful level, then there needs to be a real groundswell of support from all segments of society.

    • Kaitlin says:

      I’d say that support for and involvement with preservation depends on where you live and in which circles you live. In a small town, if preservation is a thought, it is most often going to be older folks. In a big city, your chances of finding the younger generations are much better.

      As far as buildings being saved in relating to an increase in people, I don’t know either. However, preservation has expanded in meaning and scope, which may not always mean buildings.

      Misconceptions of historic preservation are very common, still, and those unfamiliar with it often think it’s about what colors you can paint your house or working in a museum or never changing/updating anything. The younger, internet-savvy crowd is helping to change that initial impression of preservation.That is exactly what we need.

      I think the keyboard preservationists, of all ages, are wonderful, as long as they are practicing what they preach. My pet peeve is people who bash certain big box stores and understand the harm they cause society, but then go ahead and shop there anyway. Hypocrites, in my opinion.

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