The Preservation Rightsizing Network endorses this statement. It is a modified version of a statement authored by Max Page and Brad White on November 18, 2016.
The discussion around the progressive preservation movement continues. To learn more and get involved, visit the Progressive Preservation Network Facebook page or sign up for the email listserve by writing firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are preservationists because we believe that historic buildings and landscapes matter, that they anchor individual and communal connections to the past, they are the basis for telling the complete and often painful American story, they can be the building blocks of equitable economic development, they are central to any sustainable environmental future, and that they hold within them values that stand above and beyond the market.
We are pleased that our movement, which has long been accused – not without reason – of being elitist, the domain of the wealthy, little interested in the homes and neighborhoods of people of color, the disadvantaged, and the excluded, has begun a dramatic shift. Leading organizations have put their rhetoric and their resources toward expanding the movement to include preserving and interpreting sites central to the lives of racial, ethnic, religious, and LGBTQ communities, long victims of oppression in our society. We are proud that our movement has turned steadily in the direction of celebrating our diverse history, confronting our most violent pasts, and stands committed to building a more equitable and just society through the vehicle of old places.
If ever there was a moment to stand with our allies in the Latino community, the African-American community, the refugee and immigrant community, the disability community, the LGBTQ community – indeed, stand with the majority of Americans offended by the overt racism, bigotry, misogyny, and xenophobia of the Trump campaign and members of the new administration – that time is now.
Our call to preservationists is not based on Trump’s views on historic preservation narrowly construed. We don’t care that he was involved in the restoration of the old Post Office in Washington, DC. We do not know what his specific preservation policies might be. What we do know is that the candidate, the campaign, and now his administration have deployed, in a calculated and relentless way, a hostility and intolerance toward the very groups our movement is hoping to include.
By making a statement condemning this hatred, we stand with the members of these communities and refuse to normalize Trump’s bigotry. Despite his wishes, America is going to be a more gloriously diverse nation than it has ever been. We want a preservation movement for that nation.
Our profession’s commitment to an equitable and inclusive preservation movement is receiving an important test. We invite preservationists to choose this moment to stand, forcefully and openly, against the administration’s bigoted policies and for a truly inclusive preservation movement.