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Join us in Austin for the 2010 National Preservation Conference!About a month ago, I spent two weeks in Austin. While there, I dropped more money in the local economy than I realized (until the credit card bills arrived), tried a broad variety of cuisine (ate the best sushi I have ever had), experienced one of the most challenging bike rides of my life, saw some incredible places, and essentially became a temporary Texan.

I wasn’t alone, either. Several colleagues joined me on my adventure, each experiencing Austin in their own way. Farin traveled to San Antonio and saw Texas’ Latino heritage up close. Pepper walked the walk downtown with architects, planners, and preservationists, and saw firsthand Austin’s pressures, challenges, and successes. And Jason returned to his home state and alma mater, where he saw his favorite town through the National Trust’s eyes (and camera lenses).

You too will have a chance to see Austin in your own way when you attend the National Preservation Conference this fall, Oct. 27-30. But before you even arrive, we plan to whet your appetite with plenty of great stories, updates, and information. For instance:

  • Explore historic Austin on our interactive Google map, which features conference hotspots, local attractions, and field session sneak peaks.

  • Learn more about our partnership with Next American City magazine.
  • Take advantage of the wide variety of continuing education credits – including AIA, USGBC, and APA – available through the conference.

  • And just wait until you actually get here. Austin is a popular destination and a crossroads for the entertainment industry. It’s host to the famous and extremely influential South By Southwest music and media festival, the Texas Book Festival, Austin City Limits Festival, Austin Film Festival and Conference, and dozens of annual gatherings both mainstream and offbeat.

    Even during the nationwide recession, Austin continually ranks in several publications as the number one metropolitan area creating and sustaining jobs and economic growth – a mark of its resilience and creativity. In addition, Austin is consistently ranked among the most affordable cities to visit; as a tourist or a conference attendee, you’ll get more bang for your buck in Austin than in almost any other city.

    Austin prides itself on its independent attitude and quirky local flavor, so, not surprisingly, the preservation movement in Austin has charted a unique course. The city was a relative latecomer to the preservation movement, adopting its first historic landmark preservation ordinance in 1974. The designation of individual landmark properties was the only viable preservation tool until a program to enact Local Historic Districts was put on the books in 2004.

    The draw of Austin’s vibrant economy and enviable quality of life has contributed to doubling its population every twenty years for the past 100 years. That pace is expected to increase, putting heavy pressure on the city’s historic resources.

    Local preservationists work to embrace the thriving Central City commercial and residential development that provides opportunity for the adaptive use of historic buildings which would otherwise languish. And through it all, they staunchly maintain that no great American city has been revitalized by sacrificing its most cherished and significant historic features.

    Overall, sustainable growth and heritage protection are co-existing in Austin, and a tremendous pride of place has emerged as the city’s preservation program grows. Come to Austin this fall and see this unique approach for yourself. And until then, keep your eye on the blog for more Austin and Conference updates!

    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.


    It’s time to start talking about Austin.

    Guero's Taco Bar (Photo: Austin CVB)

    Maybe it’s because as I write this, I’m hungry, but I’m thinking about food. So I’m going to talk about food - food is what I live for, and in my occupation and the travel that goes along with it, when I’m in a city of great restaurants in cool historic buildings, I feel obligated to check them out, you know, as a loyal employee of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In this, most definitely, Austin delivers. Start your list now for October, when the National Preservation Conference descends on Austin, and you’ll be a leading… eater. I’m talking about the Clay Pit for modern Indian food, the romance of French Aquarelle, the mod and edgy Wink, the Italian Carmelos (you will smell the garlic between sessions at the Hilton), and you can’t talk Austin food without mentioning Guero’s Taco Bar on South Congress. I’ll leave an examination of Austin’s Food Trailers for another post.

    I love my job.

    If I’ve made you hungry for more Austin, check out the new conference website. We’ve been doing a lot of work behind the scenes to make Austin, well, different. We recently did an extensive survey of our audience (current, potential, also those that used to come to the conference regularly, but had not been in a few years), augmented that data with in-depth interviews with leaders in the field, and developed a new format and fresh approach to the conference.

    You’ll get an idea of what we’re doing on the conference site, but here is a taste:

    • It’s a full day shorter. Official conference programming (other than Field Sessions) starts at 4pm on Wednesday, October 27.
    • Thursday and Friday mornings will begin with a point-counterpoint session, playing off the conference theme “Next American City, Next American Landscape,” followed by guided breakout sessions to explore those subjects in greater depth.
    • We’re partnering with the organization Next American City on an urban focus area, and they will be sponsoring one of their URBANEXUS Salons during the conference.
    • Education sessions will be more interactive and of greater variety, to include discussion sessions, issues sessions, solutions sessions, how-to sessions, success sessions and foundational sessions.
    Diners at Guero's. (Photo: Austin CVB)

    Diners at Guero's (Photo: Austin CVB)

    Submission of proposals for Education and Field sessions for the conference is now open through March 1 on the conference page of the website. We are looking for exciting, fresh ideas to build an interactive, exciting conference in Austin. Contact us for information, or just to chat about the new format.

    Our audience has never been shy about sharing their opinions, so we hope to hear what you think about our response to the surveys and feedback – and we look forward to receiving your interactive, engaging session submissions by March 1… and maybe some restaurant recommendations too, because a good preservation conference travels on its stomach.

    Lori Feinman is the associate director for conferences & training in the Center for Preservation Leadership at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

    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.

    Q: How Much Music Can Fit into the National Preservation Conference?

    Posted on: September 29th, 2009 by Lori Feinman


    A: Lots and Lots.

    If I may employ an overused colloquialism, this is the calm before the storm. The weeks just before a National Preservation Conference are eerily quiet – registration happens online; the final program is at the printer; the set up instructions have been sent to the various venues; everyone pretty much knows what they are doing; and other than really really wishing that we could influence the weather, all is well.

    Dave Berg

    Dave Berg

    Over the past year of planning and getting to know the city, one of the things that surprised me most about Nashville is that, although known by many people as the center of country music, it is really the center of the entire music industry. It’s entirely possible (even likely, considering that there are concerts unaffiliated with the conference going on all that week) that we’ll run into any number of famous musicians while there. But there are the famous faces, and then there are the songwriters we probably won’t recognize. Songwriters come to Nashville because of the creative atmosphere and the population thick with musicians and other songwriters. One of these artists -- ASACAP’s 2008 Songwriter of the Year, Dave Berg -- will join us at the opening plenary session on Wednesday, October 14, at the famous Ryman Auditorium. Dave will sing for us, and also talk a little bit about the history of country music and of the Ryman.

    To get ready for this special event, check out some of Dave’s songs: Somebody, performed by Reba McEntire; If You're Goin' Through Hell (Before The Devil Even Knows), performed by Rodney Atkins; Stupid Boy, sung by Keith Urban; Emerson Drive's #1 hit, Moments; Rodney Atkins latest #1, These Are My People; Blake Shelton's top 15 single Don't Make Me; Sarah Buxton's debut single Innocence; Chris Cagle' single What Kind Of Gone; and Bucky Covington's latest single, It's Good To Be Us. (Berg's version of a few of these tracks can be found on his MySpace page.)

    Wow. That’s a lot of hits.

    Mcdonald Craig

    McDonald Craig

    Other musical acts confirmed for the conference include Amy Jarman, a traditional vocalist who will light up Christ Cathedral for the Preservation Story of Nashville and Middle Tennessee on Tuesday; HalfBrass, who will do non-traditional second-line style music at the Opening Reception at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts; and Last Train Home, performing at the Friday Night Fling party. Thanks to our friends at Middle Tennessee State University, we’ll also have music for you Wednesday through Friday at lunchtime in the Convention Center, including bluegrass (Off The Wagon), roots rock (Rollo Greb) and traditional country yodeling (McDonald Craig, who also lives on a Tennessee Century Farm). So, if you like music, you’ll really enjoy Nashville. If you haven’t registered, there is still time to do so at a discount, but that preregistration discount ends on October 9.

    And if you're looking for me, I’ll be the one in my orange (yes, orange) cowboy boots dancing up a storm.

    Lori Feinman is the associate director for conferences and training in the Center for Preservation Leadership at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The 2009 National Preservation Conference will take place October 13-19 in Nashville.

    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.


    Nashville's 2nd Avenue by night.

    Nashville's 2nd Avenue by night.

    Despite a long-simmering crush on Johnny Cash (that I’ll have you know existed long, long before he was portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix in Walk the Line…  not that there was anything wrong with THAT), I vehemently deny any affection for country music. And, for that reason, Nashville has never been high on my list of Cities I Must Visit. So when the time came to go to Nashville for the conference department’s annual site visit, when we “dry run” all the field sessions, I looked forward to the barbecue more than anything else.

    Friends, I was WRONG, so very, very, wrong.

    Over the next few months, the staff of the National Preservation Conference will be blogging about our experiences during this trip in Nashville. What we found was a city rich in history, yet amazingly hip. That music industry -- the one I thought of as Hee-Haw writ large -- transcends genres and displays infinitely more talent than you’ll find in the Billboard Top 40. The neighborhoods are charming, and tell stories of decline and revitalization, of visionaries who fought for a diverse and vibrant urban fabric. Civil War history is thick there -- The Battle of Nashville and the Battle of Franklin await discovery only miles from Lower Broad, where honky-tonks offer live music all day long and Hatch Show Print sells vintage letterpress posters alongside those for the hottest shows currently on tour. Fisk University helps tell the story of the civil rights movement and the important strides that were made in Nashville. The compact downtown includes icons such as the Ryman Auditorium, churches where Presidents worshiped, live music, residential lofts, the Tennessee State Capitol, live music, a state of the art symphony center, several historic hotels, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and live music. And preserving all of this -- the buildings, the history, the culture, the landscapes -- is a priority to the city and to the residents. This is a town of proud and extremely hospitable people, who made us feel welcome everywhere we went.

    So, to prepare for Nashville, I recommend that you go get yourself some Jack Daniels and read our blog as we’ll be periodically filling you in on special Nashville places and stories. You can then make your own lists of “must-sees,” and “can’t misses” (because those are the only categories I came up with after two weeks in town).

    And I wasn’t wrong about the barbecue. There is plenty of good ‘cue in Nashville, too.

    Lori Feinman is the associate director for conferences and training in the Center for Preservation Leadership at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The 2009 National Preservation Conference will take place October 13-19 in Nashville. Registration opens on June 1.

    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.

    Oklahoma's capital, Guthrie. Or, not.

    Posted on: July 3rd, 2008 by Lori Feinman


    img_2305.jpgYou've heard the story of the movement of the US Capital from Philadelphia to the humid, swampy, cow town of Washington. But that was all about the federal government being independent of the states, being able to secure itself, yadda yadda, yawn. The much more interesting and positively scandalous story is that of the move of the Oklahoma state capital from Guthrie to Oklahoma City. Hear that, and all of a sudden the incredible Victorian building stock in this town makes perfect sense. As does the pride and hard work that the residents of Guthrie have put into preserving the character of the town. On the Guthrie field session, you will join native Charles Scott on a walking tour of the town, hearing historical tidbits related to the buildings as well as learning about the tools that Gutherians (did I just make up a word?) use to maintain and support their NHL district. Outside of Guthrie, the tour visits what really must be one the of the most unusual adaptive use properties in the country- a former Masonic Children's home from the depression era, reused as a combination office, home, and event space, each function succeeding wonderfully. Lunch will be served here before the in-depth tour, the details of which I will keep to myself - you'll have to attend to hear about it all. A full day in Guthrie is surprising and inspiring, like all of this part of Oklahoma.

    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.

    Getting Kicks: Route 66 East to Galena, Kansas

    Posted on: June 30th, 2008 by Lori Feinman


    Ever see the movie Cars? It's an animated feature film done by the magicians at Pixar Studios, and it rocks Route 66. Everyone considering coming to Tulsa for the conference should go down to your (local, independent) video store and rent it, then sign up for the Route 66 West and Route 66 East field sessions. Because when I rode along last Monday with Kaisa Barthulli, the Park Service's Route 66 Empress (not her real title), I actually met people who inspired the Pixar team and influenced the characters, AND was able to see the real vehicle on which the character of Tow Mater was based (and met the colorful local resident who inspired its personality).

    We saw the original roadbed, several excellent bridges, and heard from our tour guide, author of several Route 66 Travel Guides, Jerry McClanahan, the stories of the rise, fall, and resurgence of this only-in-America landscape.

    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.