Director's Column

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May is Preservation Month, and this year, the National Trust for Historic Preservation launched an ingenious campaign that resonates in every community of every size, everywhere. 

The theme and tagline: "This Place Matters" – along with the simple "prop" of a poster – provides an easy photo-op for creative community activists from coast-to-coast.  All you have to do is get an 8.5 x 11 photo copy of the "This Place Matters" sign, a camera, and decide… which place matters to you?  

Anyone reading this column would agree that Main Street is a "place that matters."  We spend countless hours in meetings, making marketing pitches and presentations to state "the case" for our places and programs.  Often, we have (quite successfully) made the case in economic terms, (see reinvestment statistics on page 3), matching – or exceeding – the national impact measured in numbers. Without those numbers, Main Street can be a "tough sell" to funding sources, city officials, taxpayers, property owners, and business people.  Everyone wants to know that this is time and money well spent.

But let's stop for a moment and think about these very people. Imagine yourself at a meeting, in front of one of these groups. What would inspire them to join, contribute, work for, or support Main Street? Numbers help, to be sure, but after more than 25 years of collecting and using statistics nationally, we are constantly reminded that numbers only tell part of the story… and only persuade some of our stakeholders.

For all of us who have spent our careers in this unique, quirky, and unconventional field we call Main Street, we know that "the case" for why Main Street matters is often at the gut-level – an emotional impact that we all feel – that drives us to persevere every day.  And it is the stories that we tell, through "case studies," examples, and anecdotes – that get our point across.  (For an example, see the "New Hampshire Clock Tower" photo below).

And that's the beauty of this year's Preservation Month theme. "This Place Matters" can be a picture that tells more than a thousand words, a story that touches hundreds of lives, or a combination that is both powerful and enduring. With the simple act of this bold pledge, we are not only building a vibrant center for our community, we are proudly carrying our banner, (or in this case, our 8½ x 11 paper!) – inviting the world to join us and make Main Street a place that matters for everyone.

For more information, go to www.PreservationNation.org/ThisPlaceMatters to upload your story or view other places that matter.