The second week of May has been reserved as National Preservation Week ever since 1971. Some areas celebrate preservation the whole month of May. Every city begins with an overarching theme and celebrates the month differently. Some have tours, open houses, contests or clean ups.
May is the prime time to elevate the visibility of neighborhood conversations and workshops so more area residents can learn how to share and celebrate their own neighborhood stories. To find out what cities are doing this year, conduct an Internet search by using “celebrate National Preservation Week” as the keywords. Listed below are sample ideas to get you started.
Recognition by award
Identifying a generous donor, an elected official who advocates in your behalf, a dedicated volunteer, a builder who implemented a successful restoration project (for example) or a reporter sensitive to your cause who continues to provide accurate coverage, is an excellent way to recognize individual contributions.
Consider what local businesses can do to support neighborhood preservation. Window displays? Host workshops at their location? Become a sponsor of your neighborhood tour to help support creation of signage and other promotional materials? What restaurant can serve a traditional menu from a long past era as a special event?
Involve schools (primary and high school) in creating essays, art work or photography depicting their neighborhoods. Engage high school or college students in problem-solving. What are possible adaptive uses for buildings that lay vacant? Encourage students and residents to research the community over a specific period of time and document how it has changed.
Partner with your local library and businesses to create exhibits of artifacts, photos, maps, designs and other memorabilia that tell the broader story of your community. What memorable buildings or structures (even open spaces) used to exist that live now only in photos?
Workshops, speakers, tours and special events
The If This House Could Talk workshops fit within the realm of special events. Other ideas include inviting expert speakers to town, conducting living history programs, a children’s history day with period games and clothing to try on.