PastForward Online 2021: Lead the Change

Historic preservationists are change-makers dedicated to strengthening communities, yet we are all grappling with significant, overlapping challenges, from pandemic shutdowns and economic shock to racial injustice and a changing climate. Today, the preservation movement’s work has never been more important and more vital. However, meaningful changes are needed in many aspects of our practices and policies, from how it is determined which historic places are preserved and interpreted, to how we can evolve our practices to ensure the full American story is being told.

The complexity and scale of these challenges require all preservationists to become even more innovative, nimble, and collaborative, bringing together our diverse perspectives and values to create positive change. We must discover our own role in leading the change.

Join us online November 2-5, 2021, to network, learn, and be inspired at PastForward Online 2021. Registration is open!

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PastForward Online 2021 will convene the preservation movement’s leading change-makers.

Building on the success of PastForward Online 2020, preservationists from across the country and all walks of life will come together virtually at PastForward Online 2021, the country’s only national preservation conference, to ask ourselves important questions and identify ways to take action based on our shared values and priorities, such as:

  • Trying times demand collaborative action. What abiding values are shared by the preservation movement? Like a compass, how can these shared values guide our action, collectively and individually?
  • A renewed call for social justice has led to an overdue examination of preservation practices and policies within our governments and within our own organizations. To achieve equity, what long-term remedies should we institutionalize?
  • Recent climate-related crises have vividly demonstrated new approaches are needed to adapt to a changing climate, but how can we collaborate with a new Administration and Congress to benefit our communities? What can we do at individual historic properties to model adaptation and support resilience?
  • The pandemic has led to creative adaptations in our preservation practices, from how we do community outreach to how we operate historic sites, but how should we retain the positive aspects of these changes in a post-pandemic world?

At PastForward Online 2021, the expansive preservation movement—which encompasses grassroots advocates; stewards and interpreters of historic sites; and local, state, and federal government officials, to name just a few—will come together to thoughtfully discuss new ways we can coordinate our actions to make significant changes and build stronger communities.

Here are the conference’s subthemes:

  • Promoting Equity and Justice Through Historic Preservation. An increased awareness of the inequities in our society created by our nation’s history of discrimination means the preservation community is confronting its own roles, both positive and negative. We seek to evolve our work to better support equitable development, tell the full American story, and support stronger, more inclusive communities. This subtheme will provide opportunities for listening, understanding, and learning from diverse perspectives and innovative community-led initiatives.
  • Sharpening Essential Practices of Preservation. Sessions in this subtheme will help participants take a fresh look at essential preservation tools, learn about innovations implemented in response to the pandemic, and discuss opportunities for greater collaboration and impact. Whether new to the practice of preservation or a long-time advocate, these sessions will help you expand your skill sets and gain practical knowledge that directly impacts your work.
  • Adapting to a Changing Climate. The complexity and global scope of climate change can overwhelm our sense of agency. Yet preservation has an important role to play in both mitigating the impacts of climate change and adapting to its effects. This subtheme will highlight innovative approaches and provide practical guidance to help preservationists move from climate concern to climate action.

Please join us at PastForward Online 2021 as we gather to Lead the Change for the preservation movement.

PastForward Online 2021 National Steering Committee

  • Jeffrey Andersen, Chair, Executive Committee, Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios program, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Connecticut
  • Jackie Barton, Cultural Heritage Partners and Birch Wood Planning, Ohio
  • Samuel Collins III, National Trust Advisor, Texas
  • Vedet Coleman-Robinson, Association of African American Museums, D.C.
  • Lisa Craig, The Craig Group, California
  • Scott Demartino, Dentons and DC Preservation League, D.C.
  • Carl Elefante, FAIA 2018 American Institute of Architects (AIA) President, D.C
  • Erik Hein, National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers, D.C
  • Cindy Heitzman, California Preservation Foundation and board member, National Preservation Partners Network, California
  • Beth Henriques, Chesterwood Advisory Council, Stockbridge, Massachusetts
  • Sojin Kim, Ph.D., Asian & Pacific Islander Americans in Historic Preservation / Smithsonian Center for Folklife & Cultural Heritage, D.C
  • Elon Cook Lee, Director of Interpretation and Education National Trust, D.C.
  • Jennifer Meisner, Advisor, Historic Preservation Officer, King County, Washington
  • Elizabeth Rosin, Rosin Preservation, Missouri
  • Edward Torrez, Advisor and Architect, Bauer Latoza Studio, Illinois
  • Lindsey Wallace, Main Street America and board member, National Preservation Partners Network, Illinois
  • Matt Shoen, recent University of Vermont graduate, Vermont
  • Raina Regan, author and creator of Uplifting Preservation, National Trust, D.C

Applications for the Telling the Full History Preservation Fund grant program are due December 15, 2021.

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