Written by Priya Chhaya
Those of you that read this blog regularly know that I am a huge cheerleader for the National Preservation Conference. I believe that there is no better time to gather together and get the lay of the land, make new contacts, and solidify existing professional relationships — not to mention gathering new tools to be a successful preservationist.
And like a broken record, I know that I say EVERY YEAR, that this year’s conference is going to be better than the last one. (And yes, I did just hear the mutterings of “Buffalo—really?” through the internets.)
Super powers aside, I will be the first to admit that five/six months ago, I would have been right there with you. So what changed? I started listening, and reading, about our host city while thinking about the dramatic changes and issues that preservationists have faced in the last year. And I realized that all that talk about Buffalo being a living laboratory for the preservation field is completely true.
Fact: PUSH Buffalo (People United for Sustainable Housing), recently won an Ashoka Changemakers award for the development of a Green Development Zone (GDZ) on Buffalo's West Side. This GDZ concentrates investments in green affordable housing, geo-thermal and solar energy, green jobs training, and urban agriculture. In order to accomplish this vision for the GDZ, PUSH engaged in an extensive community planning involving hundreds of neighborhood residents.
Fact: Buffalo is the home to Steel Winds, a successful alternative energy project which is built on 30 acres of a former industrial (and Superfund) site, and serves as a model of how future sustainable projects can work without engaging in preservation concerns. (Learn more about this in the next issue of Forum Journal due out later this month.)
Fact: Buffalo Public Schools are in the final phase of a one billion dollar (yep, you read that right) project to integrate green technologies into Buffalo’s historic school system.
Fact: Buffalo is home to magnificent Olmsted Parks, along with striking rehabilitation and adaptive use success stories in architecture by American greats Frank Lloyd Wright and H.H. Richardson.
So while one my posts last year looked back at conferences of years past, this year I am aiming to look forward and talk about opportunities.
I believe that if you come to Buffalo for this year’s National Preservation Conference you will have the opportunity to look at preservation through the eyes of a city that is embracing the future through its past. The work that the community and preservation organizations are accomplishing involves taking a realistic view of the changes in our economy and a way of life—and understand that change does not only mean building new, but also looking at new ways to use existing assets to revitalize a city that many have long since written off.
So come visit Buffalo for the first time with me this October and we’ll all cheer together: Buffalo! Buff-alo! Buff-a-lo!
By the way: Early Bird Registration ends on July 31. Register early to save money!
Priya Chhaya is a program associate in the Partnerships Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.