When it comes to preservation, be it a local restoration project, an advocacy campaign or a large-scale historic rehabilitation, partnerships are key. One person, organization or even constituency can’t do it alone, nor should they have to. Preservation as an ethic, not just a vocation, intersects with a lot of different components, from history, culture, planning, zoning, to taxes, finance, development and more. Aligning with different partners is important as we look to broaden our view, understanding and perspective on the historic buildings, the stories, (told and untold) and experiences that make up our communities and how that is reflected in what is preserved and how.
Preservation truly takes a village. Yet many times people can feel like they are the “lone voice” in the wilderness when it comes to preservation, not realizing there are a lot of potential partners who have “been there, done that”. Sometimes it’s hard to stop and look beyond our own boundaries (geographic, mission or project focused) to see who else is out there and what potential collaborations exist. But it is important, because you soon find out that someone out there has gone through the same issue, faced a similar challenge, succeeded or failed and they have lessons to share. Or they have the same goal as you, whether it is to revitalize a community center, preserve history, tell a story, and partnering with them will enhance your efforts. There is strength in numbers, solidarity and, camaraderie.
This past June, Jim Igoe and I traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio to attend the inaugural meeting of the National Preservation Partners Network. This new “network” is the evolution of the former Statewide and Local Partners program that was administered by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. For the past two years, this group has worked to become its own organization with the purpose of being a source of support, education and communication for preservation organizations nationally. Though the network is still in its very early independent stages, it is an exciting time! Being in a room with like minded and like missioned organizations is hugely empowering, inspiring and educational.
There were a lot of take-aways from Cincinnati that will hopefully support and enhance our preservation work here in Massachusetts. But it’s always great to know that our mission of preservation is supported by partners nationally, regionally and statewide. And to be in a room with others who have “been there, done that”, get what you are going through, and who can offer a little bit of insight and inspiration can be so critical for anyone, from a local volunteer to preservation professional.
So, when you feel like you’re the lone voice in the wilderness… you are not. Reach out to others in your community, even just to introduce yourself, your group or your project. Reach out through the Massachusetts Historic Preservation Listserv, Facebook, websites or other communication tools. If you’re not sure of who to reach out or how, contact Preservation Massachusetts and we’ll work with you to help you find and cultivate those partnerships that are quite often the key to preservation success.
For more information on the National Preservation Partners Network, click here:
To contact Preservation Massachusetts about finding partners in our state, click here: