A few months ago, I was talking to my sister, Sue, about "This Place Matters" – the National Trust for Historic Preservation's online photo sharing campaign designed to help people celebrate places that matter to them in their local communities.
At the time, we were gearing up for our 2009 photo contest announcement. In our planning, I noticed that we were a little short on entries from the Southwest, including Arizona (where Sue lives and works as a Spanish teacher). I e-mailed her and asked if she’d do me the favor of submitting a photo. I even suggested that she might want to do a submission in Spanish. Little did I know the conversation that would start!
Sue, who speaks Spanish like a “Tica" (she learned the language while on a year-long stint with World Teach in Costa Rica), suggested that our Spanish translation read “Este Lugar si Importa.” However, when I asked an Argentinian colleague, she informed me in no uncertain terms that it would have more impact to say “Este Lugar es Importante." It was at that point that I began to understand why my “simple” request to get a sign in Spanish was anything but simple.
Since my foreign language experience is limited to four years of high school French, I asked my 14-year-old son who was taking Spanish. He grunted (in Spanish, I think) as 14 year olds are wont to do when questioned by their mothers. No help there. So I sought out the National Trust's Director of Diversity, Tanya Bower, who clued me into the fact that, in Spanish (just like in English), there is more than one way to express a passion for place.
So, I'm very happy to report that we now offer both Spanish versions of our "This Place Matters" sign for download, as well as versions in French, Japanese, and Dutch (recently used by our Executive Vice President David Brown when he traveled in the Dutch Antilles on a National Trust Tour). There is even a blank sign that you can customize with your own message.
We hope you’ll check them out along with this great story about Wyvernwood; it's the first large-scale garden apartment complex ever built in Los Angeles. Today, the local Latino community is using “Este Lugar es Importante” as their rallying cry to save this special place.
Dolores McDonagh is the vice president of membership at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.