Written by Meagan Baco
As a young preservationist, now is the time to be in Buffalo, New York.
In one week, the National Preservation Conference will bring over 2,000 preservationists to the city. The buzz surrounding this conference has energized existing preservation organizations, sparked new participation by young Buffalonians from many diverse backgrounds, and filled our local media with positive preservation features.
One new group that began as a result of the conference buzz and has filled a true need is Buffalo’s Young Preservationists. We are a group of emerging professionals, architecture and planning students, and preservation-minded young citizens that meet regularly to discuss revitalizing Buffalo through preservation. We’ve volunteered at the Buffalo Central Terminal and CityBration, and we are co-hosting the Young Preservationists Rendezvous at the conference. Another new group is Preservation-Ready Sites, yet another is Painting for Preservation, and many more.
In my personal preparation for the conference, I have been brushing up on my preservation history for an education session on preservation careers that I’m presenting with my partner, Laura Burghardt, at HISTPRES. What strikes me most is the grassroots, citizen-led, and shamelessly romantic initiatives that saved some of the most iconic places in American history; Ann Pamela Cunningham and the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association to Jane Jacobs protesting with the Action Group for Better Architecture at Penn Station. It is that same romanticism that pushes many of us in Buffalo to not only be preservation professionals, but artists, advocates, and activists.
While this emotional connection has in the past been critiqued as misdirected or frivolous, especially by architects and architectural historians concerned with high-style architecture, it seems to be working for the young folks that choose to live, play and work extremely hard in Buffalo. It is the collection of loosely linked initiatives, like Buffalo Green Code, Emerging Leaders in the Arts Buffalo, Social Media Club Buffalo, and Young Citizens for ECC, along with the preservation organizations, that has continued to fuel (cleanly) the rising of Buffalo.
Exploring the past and future of the preservation movement has made clear that no matter where your Buffalo is, it is always the right time to be present and engaged in its romantic revitalization.
Want to meet this dynamic group of young preservationists? Buffalo’s Young Preservationists is excited to be the local host of the National Trust for Historic Preservation-sponsored Young Preservationists Rendezvous, an informal networking event to be held after the Opening Reception of the conference. Bring your best ideas to engage young preservationists and share your local preservation initiatives with us. The event is free and open to the public. RSVP on the group's Facebook page.
Meagan Baco is a Historic Preservation Project Assistant at Clinton Brown Company Architecture in Buffalo. She is presenting at the Conference for HISTPRES.COM on trends in preservation education and employment. Meagan is a founding member of Buffalo’s Young Preservationists and Painting for Preservation. Welcome to my homeland!