Preservation Round Up: The Alphabet Soup Edition

Posted on: January 24th, 2011 by Jason Clement 1 Comment

Good afternoon, Nation, and welcome to the Monday edition of the Preservation Round-Up, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s twice-weekly digest of preservation news and notes from around the country.

Today, we start with a question: Do we, as preservationists, have a communications problem? Random as this may seem, I promise it's not unfounded; check out the (hilarious) clip below that got my wheels turning.

As I was sharing this on Facebook (and perhaps mimicking the "Yes!' gesture a few times), I had a thought: Do I like this video because I see myself -- and the preservationists I surround myself with -- in it? We are, after all, a jargon-loving people. Take, for example, our unique blend of alphabet soup. We have CLGs, CDEs, THPOs, HDCs, COAs, HBCUs, MOAs, NHLs, EAs, SHPOs, and RODs to name a few. Factor in words we made up (i.e. McMansion) and words people think we've made up (i.e. viewshed), and what you've got is a pretty complicated vocabulary for a very simple idea -- saving places that matter.

While the work of preservation often takes place on our desks, over our phones, and in our e-mail exchanges, there are times -- lots of them, actually -- when our issues reach fever pitch among people who don't know the difference between NEPA, 106, NHPA, 4(f), and ARPA. When that times comes, are we good at dejargonizing ourselves? And beyond that (read: when the bulldozers aren't coming), are we as effective as we should be at communicating the very basics of why preservation matters?

So, as I (someone whose job it is to be a storyteller for preservation) work my way through an existential crisis over this, please share your thoughts -- and maybe even some self-deprecating examples. I'll aggregate some of the comments shared here and on our social networks (bring it on, tweeters) in Thursday's post.

And while that, let's (quickly) dish some preservation.

First and foremost, the years-long battle to protect Virginia's bucolic Wilderness Battlefield from becoming a Walmart superstore kicks into high gear this week with a Tuesday (as in tomorrow) court date. Stay tuned here for daily debriefs from Orange County, and if you haven't already, please take action. We can't let this happen.

In other news, Drayton Hall is going public, historic Augusta gets some love, New Orleans continues to struggle with blight, and ground may soon be broken at Easton's Shovel Shop (a 2009 11 Most Endangered listing). In Michigan, one of our colleagues sets the record straight on HDCs (the soup returns!), while in blustery Buffalo, things are looking up for the shuttered Statler Building.

And speaking of our host city for the 2011 National Preservation Conference, check out these fantastic shots of Shea's Buffalo Theater taken last week by the National Trust's resident shutterbug, Mr. Pepper Watkins.

Jason Lloyd Clement is an online content provider for He is ready to go the Buffalo right now.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Jason Clement

Jason Clement

Jason Lloyd Clement is the director of community outreach at the National Trust, which is really just a fancy way of saying he’s a professional place lover. For him, any day that involves a bike, a camera, and a gritty historic neighborhood is basically the best day ever.

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One Response

  1. PreservationNation » Blog Archive » Preservation Round-Up: The You Say It Best Edition

    January 28, 2011

    […] to this hilarious video, Monday’s round-up was all about self-reflection: Are we good communicators? It’s an important question to […]