Thank You and Farewell
By Richard Moe | From Preservation | January/February 2010
It was a bittersweet moment when I stood before the staff of the National Trust recently and announced that I would be retiring this year. I think it's the hardest decision I have ever had to make, because I absolutely love this institution, its people, and the cause that it represents. Yet after 17 years, I instinctively knew it was time to leave—not just for me, but more important, for the Trust. It was time for a generational change, time for someone younger to come in with a fresh set of eyes and ideas to take the Trust to a new level.
I feel very good about what we have accomplished together. As a means of improving the quality of life in communities all over America, preservation is more widely embraced every day. Demolition of older structures is no longer the first option when redeveloping an area; rather, adaptive use is increasingly a viable, and profitable, choice. Countless downtowns in the country have been revitalized with preservation playing a lead role. And growing numbers of people are traveling to American places that have maintained their character, that are authentic, that tell stories. We can all feel proud of this progress.
But the greatest personal satisfaction I have experienced over these years has come from seeing firsthand, in all 50 states and beyond, preservationists at work in their communities, striving to save important pieces of the past to serve the future: an old woolen mill in New Hampshire; a historic riverfront revitalized in Minneapolis; the landmark buildings of Silverton, Colo., used as the town's primary economic engine; and perhaps most poignantly, scores of shotgun houses in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, brought back to life after Hurricane Katrina.
The people who have made these things happen are community heroes, and I am constantly inspired by them. Many of them are working through state and local preservation organizations that the Trust has helped fund and nurture over the years, and the result has been the creation of a true preservation movement in America.
But so much remains to be done. We need these kinds of organizations in every community, large and small. We need to figure out how house museums, most of which are struggling, can stay alive and better serve their communities. We need to demonstrate to skeptics that preservation can be an effective tool in fighting climate change. We need to convince every American, especially newer and younger Americans, that he or she has a stake in preserving our shared heritage.
I thank you for helping us accomplish what we have over these 17 years—there's no way we could have done it without you—and I hope you will continue to put your heart into the cause.
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