Main Street + Preservation: Daily Debrief from Des Moines, Day 3

Posted on: May 25th, 2011 by Julia Rocchi

You've heard that Main Streets are the future. You've heard the call to grown your entrepreneurial spirit. And today -- the last day of the 2011 National Main Streets Conference -- you'll hear how Main Street can influence and contribute to the preservation movement.

National Trust President Stephanie Meeks delivered the closing plenary, and her theme was how Main Street can help achieve the "dynamic, visible, broadly inclusive movement" we envision. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Last year the Trust recognized Main Street Iowa’s leadership with an Honor Award, and we’re so pleased to be here in Des Moines to help you celebrate your 25th anniversary and mark the remarkable achievement of $1 billion in private investment raised.
  • We’re tremendously grateful for all you’ve done to support this event, especially the record number of in-kind contributions you’ve raised. Your success is a testament to the credibility and partnerships you’ve developed in the state over the past 25 years.
  • As Main Street leaders, all of you are ambassadors for preservation in your local communities, doing the work day in and day out that it takes to build a preservation ethic and create a network of local activists who understand the connection between preservation and economic development.
  • So our first challenge is to make preservation more accessible to people—to build an even broader grassroots movement ... we’ve learned is that one group in particular, the local activists, are of central importance in our efforts to build the movement.
  • It is one of my goals in this job to shift the perception of preservation, to make people inside and outside the field think of us as the ‘movement of yes’ rather than no. My hope is that the Trust’s work on this at the national level will support your efforts at the local level, so that it’s easier for you to make the case in your communities.
  • The Trust is working in partnership with preservationists and advocates at the state level to defend important preservation funding sources, including Main Street programs.
  • Main Street programs offer some of the most compelling proof that preservation works as a tool for economic development—and a very efficient, cost-effective one at that.

Watch the full video of the Closing Plenary here:

Webcam chat at Ustream

General Session

The second General Session focused on "Overcoming Challenges to Growing Your Community." Watch the video for terrific advice from veteran Main Street managers Jeanine Rann, Cristina Sheppard-Decius, and Doris Tillman.

Video streaming by Ustream

Education Sessions

There was just one education session slot today, but a lot of interesting options. Here's what we covered:

  • "What Makes That Building Special? Learning How to 'Read' the Buildings Along Main Street." Presenter: Molly Myers Naumann, architectural historian. (on @PresConf)
  • "Cheap Rent Isn't Always Cheap: Thinking Like a Downtown Property Owner." Presenter: Diane Williams, Business Districts, Inc. (on @estewartdc)
  • "Pop-Ups: Would They Fit On Your Main Street?" Presenter: Kennedy Smith, Community Land Use and Economics Group. (on @NatlMainStreet)

Our Favorite Tweets

Today's tweets almost all quote from Main Street managers, who have a lot of advice and encouragement for their counterparts around the country. Thank you to everyone who tweeted their notes and feedback throughout the conference!

  • @PresConf Tillman: Want to shock your community? Put in a roundabout.
  • @PresConf Tillman: Raising money is like going for a colonoscopy. Who really enjoys it?
  • @PresConf Audience member: When I don't believe in myself, I believe in this program.
  • @NatlMainStreet Sheppard: Dont ever be afraid to ask someone in the [Main Street] network how to do something. Someone has already done it somewhere.

Aaaand ... that's it. Conference is over, and we're on our way home. Please join us next year in Baltimore to celebrate your community and learn from the network!

Julia Rocchi is representing the National Trust's Digital + New Media team at the 2011 National Main Streets Conference.  She has eaten more pie in the last three days that she consumed in the entire year previously.

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.

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi is the director of digital content at the National Trust. By day she wrangles content; by night (and weekends), she shops local, travels to story-rich places, and walks around looking up at buildings.