This Friday I will deliver a keynote address titled “Path To The Future” at the National Trust for Canada conference in Calgary. The conference is titled “Heritage Energized” and the setting is the boomtown West, the kind of place that easily disregards the past in a rush toward the new.
Or is that just a stereotype? It is hard to find a city in North America or Europe that has not seen an economic “boom” from its historic buildings, especially if those buildings are conserved in enough concentration to spark revitalization. From Denver’s LoDo and Seattle’s Pioneer Square to Manhattan’s SoHo and Chicago’s Printers’ Row, it seems every town has an historic district that has turned into an economic engine. Continue Reading
Aaugh HELP they are tearing it down!!! NOW!!
One of the many benefits of my three years in Silicon Valley, buttressed by 30 years of serving on non-profit Boards of Directors (I whittled it down to four recently. Well, five.) is that I have been steeped in strategic thinking and strategic planning. While this may seem like a normal exercise to the MBA crowd, it is something that tends to be lacking in the historic preservation/heritage conservation field. Continue Reading
President Lincoln’s Cottage, Washington DC
Last week in this blog I presented some concepts on how we can create a more democratic, diverse and inclusive heritage conservation in the United States, largely by applying the lessons of international heritage conservation over the last twenty years, notably the Burra Charter. Preservation is a process, not a set of rules. Continue Reading
Prince Charles of England, who famously got involved in the world of architecture and urbanism nearly 30 years ago with a notorious speech to architects deriding modernism, has released last month in Architectural Review a list of ten principles for urban planning and design. Those of us in the heritage preservation world have generally been fond of Albion’s heir and his advocacy of the virtues of tradition in architecture, although most of us become uncomfortable pitting tradition against modernism, fearing both the superficiality of style and a reduction of our cause into a formalist debate. Continue Reading
San Antonio is a beautiful town
This is the title of a presentation I did for the Office of Historic Preservation, Centro San Antonio and over a hundred luncheon attendees in San Antonio last week. I went through four thematic reasons WHY we save things: Identity – Community – Economy – Education.
I then detailed the HOW, which includes National Register designation and local landmark status and so forth. I focused on my mantra, which readers of this blog are familiar with: Preservation Is Not A Set of Rules But A Process. Continue Reading
I was re-reading one of my blogs from nine years ago (430 posts now – I guess I am about consistency and endurance whether I like it or not) and was struck (again) by my (consistent) non-ideological approach to heritage conservation. That blog “Heresy and Apostasy” basically took to task the concept that preservation had some kind of ideological purity and that those who didn’t try to save absolutely everything all the time were not “true” preservationists.
I recalled my youth in the field, when I did come close to that position, but it was never one I was completely comfortable with. First, ideologies sit outside of history and thus fail all tests of time. Second and more to the point, I began my career working on a heritage area – the first in the U.S. – and the goals there were historic preservation, natural area preservation, recreation, and economic development. Preservation was part of planning for the future. Preservation was a wise economic decision, especially in a post-industrial economy. Continue Reading
Sustainability has been a popular buzz word for quite a while now, and the basic meaning is pretty clear: do things in such a manner that you can continue to do them.
When it comes to natural resources, it means using them in a way that does not deny the next generation the opportunity to use them. When it comes to economics, it means a system of effort and reward that can bring prosperity to the next generation, not just the current one. When it comes to society, it means that social structures, human rights and livable communities are likewise structured in a way that they can be passed on to the next generation. You get the basic idea: Do things in a way that allows you to keep doing them. Continue Reading
It has been six years since I wrote about stepwells, those amazing structures found throughout the Indian subcontinent. Communal water sources, stepwells range from simple community structures to elaborate complexes replete with stunning architectural detail. When I wrote six years ago I described the Adalaj stepwell in Ahmedabad, but I only included a single image, so I am remedying that here. Continue Reading
Last week at the invitation of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation I participated in a conference on youth unemployment in Greece. The first day featured leading labor economists defining the scope and depth of the problem, which is quite staggering in a nation where youth unemployment reaches 60%. The keynote was by Jeffrey Sachs, who discussed the particular place-based challenges of youth unemployment and the challenge of technology, especially robotics. He proposed focusing on export, which includes tourism. A variety of other scholars and professionals also spoke, including Alan Krueger and Richard Freeman, who proposed that Greece target the growing Chinese tourist market. Many, including Robert Lerman, talked about how to train or educate youth for the next economy. Continue Reading
Acting with cupidity
In understanding the motivations of various actors in a social economy, the mantra “follow the money” is used by analysts of many political and economic persuasions. After all, both Karl Marx and Adam Smith were materialists who saw the basic economic relations within a society as the best predictor of behavior. The corollary is that actions inspired by faith, love, loyalty, or other belief systems are less important.
Now, we all know that you can manipulate a whole collection of belief and identity systems to get people on one political side or another in defiance of their own economic interests. That’s not what I want to talk about, because the endgame there is a political point and I want to follow the money, especially when it leads us away from the fantasy of the false dichotomy. Continue Reading