Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Built Heritage Chat on Sustainability

Today was the second #builtheritage chat. This month's chat focused on sustainability. The majority of the chat focused on the links between sustainability in the heritage field and the environmental movement. A complete transcript is available here.

The first portion of the chat focused on the question What do the heritage #preservation and the environmental movements have in common? A number of interesting similarities we brought up and a emphasis was placed on the idea of the two movements working together. This portion of the chat also highlighted the importance of seeing heritage preservation as something beyond reusing buildings and as something with can be beneficial to the environment. The participant @wanderu made a great point that both movements focus on cultural landscapes. This point seems symbolic of the overarching commonalities of heritage and environmental movements.

The second question raised in the chat was How are the #heritage #preservation and #environmental movements different? This responses to this question highlighted many of the seeming contradictions between heritage preservation and environmentalism, such as: buildings been seen as obstacles in environmentalism, and private ownership in the heritage movement and the public nature of the environment. Chat moderator @jonaskayla pointed to the Banff Wheeler House as an example of the environment and heritage in conflict. Despite these seeming conflicts the general feel of the chat still emphasized the similarities of the two movements.

The third portion of the chat focused on the question What can we as heritage professionals and advocates learn from the environmental movement? The responses emphasized the need of the heritage field to learn about promotion, the use of statistics, marketing, and highlighting the benefits of heritage preservation. One of the most retweeted points in this section was from @perkinswill_PR and emphasized that it is necessary "Separate preservation from obstructionism! Preservation is about the FUTURE, not putting the past in a pickle jar." Preservation needs to be made relevant to present and future concerns.

The final segment of the chat focused on how the movements can work together to achieve sustainability. Some general themes which came out of this discussion included: the need to network outside of your own field, the benefits of finding common ground in policy and political advocacy initiatives, and the need for give and take on both sides.

Overall, this chat included a lot of great ideas, positive thoughts, and points to consider. It was interesting to see that the overwhelming majority of participants believed in the benefits of combining heritage and environmental preservation movements. The next #builtheritage chat will be on May 4th at 4pm and will focus on building a career and job hunting in the preservation field.

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