See You in Tulsa
By Richard Moe | From Preservation | July/August 2008
In a few months, members and friends of the National Trust for Historic Preservation will make their way to Tulsa for the 2008 National Preservation Conference. If previous years' figures are any indication, more than 2,000 people will attend what is unquestionably one of the most important events the National Trust organizes—and one of the highlights on every preservationist's calendar.
The conference is actually older than the National Trust itself. Its origins can be traced to a 1947 meeting in Washington, D.C., convened by the newly formed National Council for Historic Sites and Buildings, the parent of today's Trust. From this very modest beginning, the conference grew and matured into a densely packed agenda of workshops, tours, education sessions, and social events stretching over many days. If you're a conference veteran, you know what I mean when I say there's nothing quite like it; if you've never attended, start making your plans today. You won't regret it.
Conferences are all about education, of course, and ours amply reminds us that learning takes many forms and occurs in many settings. Dozens of education and field sessions, at venues across the host city and around the region, cover topics from securing rehab tax credits to preserving highway heritage, making effective use of the media, and raising money.
Over the years, we've held memorable conferences in metropolises such as New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. But we've also met in smaller places—like Fort Worth, Tex.; Louisville, Ky.; and Portland, Ore.—that many attendees had never visited before. In every host city, we've explored historic places we didn't know about and discovered unexpected treasures. I predict that Tulsa's art deco marvels (featured in this issue) will top this year's list of dazzlers.
I can sum it all up in a single sentence: The National Preservation Conference offers something rewarding for everyone. Keynote speakers inform and inspire; workshops clarify preservation challenges and show how to deal with them successfully; tours open our eyes to off-the-beaten-track landmarks and open doors in neighborhoods that we might not have discovered on our own; exhibitors showcase useful products and services; social events allow us to catch up with old friends and make new ones. The result: Discussions are sparked, questions answered, networks for support and information-sharing established—and ideas are born.
Conference attendees go home reinvigorated, better informed, and better prepared to protect and celebrate the places that matter in their own communities. I've seen it happen year after year, and I'm certain it will happen this year, too. Experience it for yourself: Join us in Tulsa.
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