October 26, 2021

Leading the Change Together: A National Impact Agenda for the Preservation Movement

Calls for change in the preservation movement have become increasingly urgent in recent years in response to national and global events including the ongoing pandemic, climate-related disasters, and acts of abhorrent social injustice. In response, the National Trust is facilitating the development of a national agenda for change, titled Leading the Change Together. The draft agenda reflects ideas and recommendations raised by hundreds of preservationists from across the movement over the past year (read the acknowledgements document to learn more about our outreach so far). While not everyone is in full agreement on all issues, we heard areas of common ground that offer us a path forward. We have noted desire for change in several key areas and a sense that although we are already working in these areas, change needs to be accelerated through increased collaboration.

This draft framework for Leading the Change Together includes emerging findings reflecting what we have heard to date from people across the preservation movement. Our outreach has identified a growing set of guiding principles that reflect the distinct yet interconnected motivations that guide the preservation movement in our work today. These guiding principles in turn informed a series of goals for change in the next 3 to 5 years, reflecting steady-state positive outcomes that the preservation field strives to reach, along with crowdsourced case studies and ideas for concrete action to achieve these goals. This framework will continue to grow and shift through more public input. Read the framework to learn more about the specific components of the national impact agenda.

Leading the Change Together: Goals for Change Preview

  • Growing, Collaborative Networks
  • A Representative Movement
  • Climate Resilience
  • Modernized, Expanded Tools
  • Equitable Communities
  • An Engaged Public
  • A Truer History

We hope Leading the Change Together will encourage both individual and collaborative actions in the next few years, resulting in a more inclusive, empowered preservation movement that is accountable to making the world a better place.

Graphic chart of the impact agenda guiding values.

Leading the Change Together is an iterative process of listening, reflection, and revision. PastForward Online 2021, with its theme of “Lead the Change,” will include opportunities to share existing work and ideas from around the country that demonstrate what leading the change in preservation means today, in its many different forms. During PastForward Online 2021, conference participants will hear more about Leading the Change Together during the Opening Plenary, the Morning Welcomes, and the closing event. All conference attendees are invited to share feedback and their own ideas for change with the field in the following ways:

  • Review the draft framework and offer your thoughts to shape the agenda as it continues to evolve,
  • Join a breakout discussion during PastForward on Thursday, Nov. 4 at 4PM Eastern Time, just before the National Awards Ceremony,
  • Leave your comments on a dedicated conference “Wall” available throughout PastForward and for several weeks after the conference as an online space for conference attendees to share ideas,
  • Send us an email at NationalImpactAgenda@savingplaces.org with your feedback and suggestions.

We are very interested in hearing from you at PastForward and beyond, and we look forward to working collaboratively with you over the next few years to amplify our collective impact.

Looking Ahead

The National Trust will commit to actions to address these goals over the next 3 to 5 years. We hope other organizations will identify areas where they are already taking the lead, as well as making additional commitments of their own. Following PastForward Online 2021, we plan to create a web presence for Leading the Change Together on the Saving Places website and Preservation Leadership Forum. Annual PastForward conferences will provide ongoing opportunities to reflect upon the goals and our shared progress toward meeting them. Join upcoming discussions and learn more about how we can collectively continue converting these ideas to action.

Di Gao, Leslie Canaan, Renee Kuhlman, Jim Lindberg, Rob Nieweg, and Amy Webb are all staff of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

By: Di Gao, Leslie Canaan, Renee Kuhlman, Jim Lindberg, Rob Nieweg, and Amy Webb

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