We asked members of the Preservation50 team who attended the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s PastForward conference in Washington DC from November 3-6 2015 to write a blog about a session that they felt corresponded to the Mission & Goals of P50 or to our Leverage Lessons Learned topics.

The below is a blog by P50 Management Team member Eden Burgess on session New Thinking, New Perspectives in Historic Preservation which took place on November 5, 2015 from 9:45-11:00am.

Panelists Discuss New Perspectives in Historic Preservation

A panel of four speakers, selected competitively from graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in the nation’s 59 academic historic preservation programs, presented their papers to the PastForward audience at a Learning Lab on November 5 entitled New Thinking, New Perspectives in Historic Preservation.

The session opened with Betsy Frederick-Rothwell’s paper on interpreting historic indoor conditions and the challenges presented by modern temperature control systems, followed by Bethany Emenhiser’s discussion of hidden communities in DC’s historic alley dwellings.

Of particular interest to Preservation50 was Katie Rispoli, founder of the Los Angeles-based nonprofit We Are The Next. Ms. Rispoli discussed the importance of engaging youth in the built environment, and of making the case to lawmakers that preservation is a worthy investment. She stressed that the communities need to show the cultural benefits and the financial returns of preservation, rather than relying solely on an emotional appeal. If preservation activists can make the financial case and show that historic preservation does not hinder progress or development, Ms. Rispoli expects we will see more success in saving important places.

Eden blog photo

To close the Learning Lab, Kendra Parzen discussed international heritage, the politics of preservation, and potential for virtual reality technology to enhance heritage tourism experiences. Ms. Parzen stated that while technology like the Oculus Rift – a popular virtual reality headset invented by 23-year-old Palmer Luckey and bought by Facebook in March 2014 for $2 billion – cannot offer a fully realistic sensory experience, and thus cannot wholly replace in-person visits, it has enormous potential to enhance the educational impact of cultural sites and to serve as an interpretive tool for heritage tourism.

We at Preservation50 look forward to following these New Perspectives in 2016 and beyond!