Last week I attended the Revitalize Washington Conference in beautiful Chelan, WA. I got to see some old friends and old buildings, I met some great people, and I came away with some great new knowledge and inspiration. And of course I have to share! Read on for my top five take-aways (which apply to Washington and beyond!):
- Rightsizing and Legacy City Preservation. Cara Bertron, of the Preservation Rightsizing Network, gave an inspiring talk on rightsizing and preservation in legacy cities (don’t know what I’m talking about? Check out the video below!). Some of the most important ideas here are applicable no matter where you are. For example, thinking about how to manage population changes in cities while preserving the culture of that place. Watch the Preservation Rightsizing video here (it’s great!).
- Preservation is more about people than places. If you follow me on twitter, this may sound familiar, but it’s so good and so important, I had to say it again! Preservation too often gets brushed away as the stuffy history of high style architecture, but it is so much more than that! Preservation is about culture. Preservation is about people. (Cara Bertron and the Preservation Rightsizing Network are strong on this point!)
- Know what makes your place special. Use it. Cheryl Hargrove gave an interesting keynote speech about heritage tourism. She made the important point that every place has something unique and should take advantage of it. No town should pretend to be something it’s not (be careful, theme towns!).
- Find It, Fix It. Have you ever walked down a street and seen a damaged historic light post? Or the same trash in the same place two days in a row? The Alliance for Pioneer Square does many things to make their historic district a better place to work, live, and visit. Among other things, they encourage reporting things like damaged street lamps. I thought, who has the time? But it turns out Seattle has an app for that! This may not be as much of a concern in small towns, but in large cities, when a street lamp can go unchecked for years, this is a really interesting method to keep things running.
- Pascagoula, Mississippi, as a Main Street success story. The main street movement takes root in historic preservation and encourages small businesses and community members to invest in and revitalize their historic main streets. Pascagoula found a second life for over a dozen Katrina cottages (built by groups like Habitat for Humanity as quick housing in the wake of the hurricane) as spaces for small businesses to take root. The cottages were moved to an area on Pascagoula’s main street, benefiting the main street, the community, and the longevity of the cottages. A Gulf Live article discusses the reused cottages in Pascagoula, here. You can read more about Main Street America, here.