We've All Gone Local: Conference Digest, Day 1

Posted on: October 20th, 2011 by Julia Rocchi 1 Comment


Preservationists gather on the mezzanine level at historic Shea's Performing Arts Center for the National Preservation Conference opening plenary.

You may notice this post is coming to you on Thursday, but don't be fooled -- it's really about Wednesday, the day the 65th annual National Preservation Conference kicked off in Buffalo, NY.

We've been covering Buffalo a lot these past few months, both here on Preservation Nation and through our Buffalo Unscripted web documentary project. But once you arrive, and you're standing in Niagara Square with the newly restored Statler Hotel over one shoulder and the gorgeous Art Deco City Hall over the other, you're struck by the power of being in a place where preservation is not only applauded, but encouraged -- even expected.

This power certainly isn't lost on the record-breaking 2,500 attendees who have trekked from all over the world to learn from this city and its people. Even though the conference didn't officially begin until 4 p.m. this afternoon with the Opening Plenary, everyone fanned out across Buffalo from 8 a.m. onward with their respective tours, affinity sessions, and on-the-ground case studies, eager to begin.

By the time we reconvened for the plenary, everyone was more than ready to settle into Shea's Performing Arts Center -- the largest intact movie house in the world -- to hear what Buffalo mayor Byron Brown, National Trust president Stephanie Meeks, and keynote speaker and author James Howard Kunstler had to share.  (We've linked to their individual speeches, but you can browse the full Ustream channel here.)

Of particular note was Stephanie Meeks' address, in which she outlines the National Trust's new focus on local preservationists. Not sure what we mean by that term? Here are the fast facts:

  • There are roughly 15 million people in the United States who share our values and are already taking action on behalf of preservation.
  • They have been flying under the radar. They rank preservation lower on this list of charitable interests than our preservation "grasstops" leaders -- more like number5 rather than number 1.
  • They also tend to think of preservation in a larger context -- as a subset of their commitment to culture, community, and sustainability.
  • When it comes to how they spend their time, however, local preservationists take almost as many preservation-related actions as leaders do. As Stephanie put it, "they are kindred spirits."
  • Overall, they are younger, more plugged into technology, and more diverse economically, culturally, and in their level of education.

Pretty exciting stuff, and something I anticipate will be discussed in much more detail in coming weeks and months.

The other revelation of the day wasn't in a speech or a session -- it was online. Turns out that the number of actively tweeting preservationists has jumped exponentially since last year's conference. I'm not sure if more folks know about Twitter or simply more people have smartphones, but the #presconf hashtag was off the hook the whole day as people posted photos, shared tips, and debated viewpoints.

Here are some of my favorite tweets from throughout the day:

And my personal favorite ...

Ok, that's it from me for now. Time to dive into day two of the conference. Stay tuned for more posts and vlogs from our team of roving reporters, all the way from Columbia University. It will be PresConf in a whole new light!

Julia Rocchi is on the Digital + New Media team at the National Trust. She is thrilled to be back in the Queen City for now a third season.

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.

Preservation Round-Up: 'Twas The Day Before Conference Edition

Posted on: October 18th, 2011 by David Garber


'Twas the day before Conference, and all through the nation
Pres-fans were buzzing, displaying elation.
Dreaming of places in need of repair,
Knowing the Conference soon would be there.

The Buffalomentum is rising. Thousands will descend on the Nickel City tomorrow. And here's a round-up of articles to help you prepare.

From's article "Buffalo's heritage takes center stage": "Hosting the National Preservation Conference - and the recognition that comes with it - is seen as a sign that Buffalo has arrived as a leading destination for late 19th and early 20th century architecture. "Every city is looking for an edge, for its story to tell, and this is Buffalo's," said Ed Healy, vice president of marketing for Visit Buffalo Niagara. "This amazing collection of American architecture is our point of difference."

NBC News 2 spoke with Ed Healy of Visit Buffalo Niagara about the ways to take part in the conference events and festivities. Ed noted that "This is an opportunity to raise awareness about preservation," said Healy. "Preservation is an economic development tool. It's a tool that communities can use to help save and interpret their history." highlights some of the tours taking place this week: "The preservation movement in a lot of people's minds is still about the iconic structures, and we're lucky to have some fantastic ones," said Anthony Armstrong, program officer with Local Initiatives Support Corp. "But more and more nationally, and I think here locally also, people are learning that preservation is as much about preserving the historic context and in many ways the lifestyles of these older neighborhoods."

Buffalo Rising has a piece on Buffalo's tax-credit properties and is excited to show them off to all the preservationists coming to town. "The tax credit- assisted projects have helped save some of Buffalo's landmark properties, leveraging tens of millions of private sector investment while creating hundreds of construction and permanent jobs, thousands of square feet of commercial space and hundreds of apartments.  The polished jewels will proudly be on display for 2,500 preservationists from across the country this week."

In their article "Preservation group to honor Martin House," Buffalo Business First notes that the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Darwin Martin House, now restored, was vacant and in disrepair as recently as the 1990s.

Sure, the conference is centered in and focused on the city of Buffalo. But Niagara Falls is getting a little preservationist love, too.

The Buffalo Lighthouse, the city's oldest continuously-located building, will be open to the public this week. WNED Buffalo Toronto reports that "the area around the lighthouse has been fenced off from the working base and there's a new sidewalk allowing access to the historic structure and providing benches for visitors to view the Waterfront and other historic buildings with maintenance by Erie County."

Did you know we've been making a documentary highlighting Buffalo's passionate local preservationists? Jason Clement, the film's director, wrote for Buffalo Rising about how Buffalo is "a place where, if you're willing to un-tuck your shirt and get really dirty, you can get it done. And by "it," I mean that idea that has always been in the back of your head - a restored home, a better block, your own artwork, a new business." Information on the premiere of Buffalo Unscripted: A City Speaks is on the Buffalo Unscripted blog.

David Garber is a member of the Digital and New Media team 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.

Six Public (and Free!) Events at the Buffalo Conference

Posted on: October 17th, 2011 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment


If free is your favorite price point and you live in the Buffalo metro area, then you should definitely check out the six free and open-to-the-public events happening at the National Preservation Conference this week in Buffalo.

Opening Plenary
Wednesday, October 19, 4-6pm
Shea’s Performing Arts Center

Event will feature a provocative keynote speech from James Howard Kunstler, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (invited) and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown will welcome conference attendees. National Trust President Stephanie Meeks will provide an update on the state of preservation in the country and National Trust activities.

Thursday General Session: Preservation in the Age of Sustainability
Thursday, October 20, 8-9:30am
St. Paul’s Cathedral

In 2009 the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities was created to improve access to affordable housing, create more transportation options and lower transportation costs while protecting the environment in communities across the country. Come learn more about how this program works and how preservationists can get in on the action.

National Trust Preservation Honor Awards Ceremony
Thurs, October 20, 5:30–6:30pm
Kleinhans Music Hall

2011 National Preservation Awards, a gala tribute to the best in preservation.

Friday General Session: Thinking About Shrinking
Friday, October 21, 8–9:30am
St. Paul’s Cathedral

A conversation among national thought leaders on the process of right-sizing a city and the role preservation should play in that process.

Buffalo Unscripted Premiere:  A City Speaks
Friday, October 21, 6-9:30pm
Market Arcade Film & Arts Centre

This summer, a film crew from the National Trust took to the streets of the Nickel City with one goal in mind: Let Buffalonians tell it like it is.

Closing Plenary
Saturday, October 22, 10:30am-12pm
Statler Hotel

Pulitzer-prize winning author Isabel Wilkerson will close the conference with a discussion of African-American migration, inspired by her best-selling book “The Warmth of Other Suns.”

Check out our local partner Preservation Buffalo Niagara's blog post on other tours and events happening in Buffalo this week, and make sure to read last week's blog post on ways to stay connected to the conference happenings online. Better yet, Register here to join us in person!

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.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Catch National Preservation Conference Highlights Online

Posted on: October 11th, 2011 by Julia Rocchi 3 Comments


Ah, the joy of the Interwebz -- allowing us to connect across the miles and delve deeper into our shared love of preservation at the National Preservation Conference! Though we much prefer to have you see the Nickel City for yourself, we understand if you couldn't make it in person this year, and we still want you to be involved from your corner of the world.

This year we are featuring conference highlights on several channels:

  • Right here on the PreservationNation blog. We have the great good fortune this year to have students from Columbia University's Historic Preservation program acting as our roving reporters for the conference. Watch the blog for timely posts and vlogs featuring their on-the-ground view.
  • Twitter. National Trust staffers and our #builtheritage chat friends will be busy bees capturing the most salient session points in 140 characters on Twitter. Watch the hashtag #PresConf (or the official @PresConf account) for the latest news and notes. And if you tweet, by all means, join in!
  • Facebook. Keep an eye on the PreservationNation Facebook page for announcements, photos, updates, and more.
  • Flickr. A picture is worth a thousand blog posts, and believe me, Buffalo is one photogenic town. Check in periodically to our Conference Flickr group and see exactly what attendees are seeing as they traverse the city.
  • Buffalo Unscripted. This summer, a team from the National Trust hit the streets of Buffalo to tell the real story of a city that everyone seems to have an opinion about – whether they live there or not. Now we're debuting footage from the project at an interactive public screening event during the conference. Learn more about the project and watch the videos on the project's Tumblr.

Of particular note: We're livecasting the plenaries and general sessions on Ustream! Here's the schedule:

  • Opening Plenary (with keynote speaker James Howard Kunstler)
    Wednesday, Oct. 19
    4-6 pm EST
  • General Session: Preservation in the Age of Sustainability
    Thursday, Oct. 20
    8-9:30 am EST
  • General Session: Thinking about Shrinking
    Friday, Oct. 21
    8-9:30 am EST
  • Closing Plenary (with keynote speaker Isabel Wilkerson)
    Saturday, Oct. 22
    10:30 am-12 pm EST

You can catch these livestreams -- as well as links and feeds for all the other sites I mentioned -- on the National Preservation Conference homepage. Thanks for joining us there!

Julia Rocchi is a member of the National Trust's Digital and New Media team. She's up to her eyeballs in pixels at the conference.

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.

Countdown to the National Preservation Conference: 14 Days!

Posted on: October 5th, 2011 by National Trust for Historic Preservation


Written by Priya Chhaya

The Final Program for the National Preservation Conference. Click to download.

I feel like it was just yesterday that we were all sitting in the Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas as the lights dimmed for a peek into our next gathering in upstate New York…and then this began to play.

Now with only 14 days left, tasks are being checked off, speakers are being reminded, and plans for lunches are being finalized. So I thought I would put together a daily reminder list for myself, including some advice for my fellow conference goers.

October 5: (Day 1) Read and post Countdown to the National Preservation Conference: Fourteen Days To Go!  Some of these have to be easy to complete!

October 6: (Day 2) Download a copy of the Final Program (paper versions will be available on site) for an initial read. What are the sessions I want to check out? What sites do I want to make sure I see?

October 7: (Day 3) Look up information on the special speakers, James Howard Kunstler and Isabel Wilkerson. Give in to the history geek in me and read Isabel Wilkerson’s book about the Great Migration. (I’m a fast reader, if all goes well I’ll have it done before I get on the plane on the 16th).

October 8: (Day 4) Question to my readers—did you buy all your field session tickets and luncheon tickets? At this point these are going fast! Don’t forget to buy them before you get to Buffalo! For a list of sessions visit the trip planner at That’s what I’m doing today!

October 9: (Day 5) Today I’ll be working on final touches for the Forum Lunch. If you are a Forum Member, don’t forget to sign up for the interactive Forum Lunch on Saturday October 22, I promise you it will be the perfect way to cap off the conference.

October 10: (Day 6) Make sure to bookmark the National Trust Facebook page. This is just one of the social media platforms we will be using to keep those unable to attend the conference up to date. Which reminds me of another important bookmark—the National Preservation Conference homepage. More on this in the coming week, but trust me—if you are unable to attend the conference, this is where you’ll want to be for all the livecasts, tweets, and other social media goodness.

October 11: (Day 7) Make sure materials for the first ever Forum Unconference are ready. What is the Forum Unconference? Check out page 48 of the PDF (46 in the program) for the full description. The short version: The Forum Unconference provides an alternate track where you determine the topics and issues for discussion. This conference within a conference allows you to set the agenda, ask the questions, meet the people, and get the ideas most critical to achieving your preservation mission. Friday, October 21   1:15-5:15pm.

October 12: (Day 8 ) Run around the Office to the Rocky Theme. One week to go. Ahhhh!

October 13: (Day 9) Set my DVR. For the next week television doesn’t exist. After all when you’re about to interact with over 1500 preservationists who has the time to stare at the boob tube?

October 14: (Day 10) Since I’m blogging about the National Preservation Conference on my personal blog, I need to make sure I have my camera and my computer. I also need to make sure to bring my personal tweeting device so that I can communicate out about the great sessions to my fellow preservationists at home. Are you plugged in and are tweeting from the conference? Use hashtag #presconf or follow us @PresConf.

October 15: (Day 11) Pack. Pack. Pack. Electronics charged? Fall weather gear packed? According to the average temperatures for the week are low 60’s. Note to self—bring the Emergen-C. There is no way I’m pulling a Nashville where I got sick for the whole conference.

October 16: (Day 12) Fly out to Buffalo! Pssst. Today is the last day to Pre-register for the conference. Prices go up with onsite registration!

October 17: (Day 13) First day of set up! Study the map of Buffalo so I can give directions to attendees. Everything is very close by, but it doesn’t hurt to keep one close at hand. Open boxes, help set up registration, which opens today at 3!

October 18: (Day 14) Preservation celebrity sighting day! Watch as attendees trickle in to pick up badges. Catch up with colleagues from across the country.

October 19-22:  Drumroll please ... Let the 2011 National Preservation Conference begin!!

As conference staff I know I won’t be able to attend as many sessions as I would like, but there are a few special events on my MUST ATTEND list: The Opening Plenary and Reception, both General Sessions, The Awards Ceremony for the National Preservation Awards, The Premiere of Buffalo Unscripted, and the Closing Plenary—and if you are coming on Tuesday swing by The PLT Pub Quiz (proceeds go to the Preservation Leadership Training scholarship fund!)

Finally I thought you would want to check out this article about how Buffalo has been gearing up for our arrival—if the level of excitement in the preservation world for this conference is slowly is gathering steam, the preparations from Buffalonians is roaring forward.

See you in two weeks at the National Preservation Conference, and keep an eye on this channel for information on how you can participate in the conference from the comfort of your living room couch, or office chair, or coffee shop ... anywhere you want.

Priya Chhaya is a Program Associate in the Preservation Division at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. While she is really, really, excited about the conference this year (no seriously: really, really excited), she wants to know where July, August and September went. How is it October already? 

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.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Countdown to Buffalo: Inside the National Trust Conference Office

Posted on: September 7th, 2011 by National Trust for Historic Preservation


Written by Priya Chhaya

Outside the Colored Musicians Club in Buffalo. (Photo: National Trust for Historic Preservation)

Wow. We’re about forty days away from the National Preservation Conference - where exactly did 2011 go? After a full year of dedicated planning, we’re finally at the homestretch - which means that these next few weeks are the busiest for my colleagues in the National Trust Conference Office as they work to pull together one of the biggest preservation events of the year.

As I pondered what to write in this week’s blog post I thought it might be nice to glance into the office and see what everyone is working on, along with a few tips for our intrepid conference-goers.

Charlotte, our education maven, is editing and scrutinizing the final program. It’s a huge task involving much more than looking at grammar and word choice. While it is very close to being shipped off to the printer, making sure that dates, times, rooms and directions are in place is like putting together a giant puzzle. In addition it’s her job to keep an eye on field sessions to see what tours are close to selling out, and what sessions are still available.

Are you thinking of going on a field session? Here are a few options:

  • October 19: Urban Agriculture in Emerging Neighborhoods
  • October 19: Public School Reconstruction Tour
  • October 19: West Side Community Development Tour
  • October 19: Hidden from Sight-Honoring the History of Native People
  • October 20: Green Makeover of the Market Arcade Building
  • October 21: "Sanctuary to Speakeasy": A Model for African American Heritage Tourism

is in charge of the conference scholarship program. Coordinating a group of first- and second- time conference attendees is a huge task. Plus, she is ardently working on scheduling some great speakers from the Buffalo-Niagara area.

Personally, I’m psyched that the scholarship program mixer (which takes place at the Statler Building on October 20, following the National Preservation Awards Ceremony) is going to include live entertainment by musicians from the Colored Musicians Club. Everyone is welcome to attend!

Jacquie also just told me that sessions have just been approved for USGBC credit, making it the fourth partners in Continuing Education Units that are being offered at the National Preservation Conference. Here is the full list:

  • Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System (LA CES) (New!)
  • American Planning Association (APA)/American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP)
  • U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Education Provider Program
  • American Institute of Architects (AIA)... Read More →

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.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.