I recently attended a very inspiring conference in Gettysburg, the 7th Annual Conference of the “Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area,” which had such an intense focus this year on sustainable growth and heritage tourism that I and a number of my fellow heritage area directors decided to set aside the time to attend. This turned out to be a great decision!
The best takeaway for me was about getting the Stewardship message across. More than one speaker told us that the biggest threat to preservation is not really the factors you expect (economics, developer greed, somebody wanting to make a fast buck), but it is lack of awareness. If made aware of the real meaning and value of our precious historic buildings, landmarks, and cultural landscapes, our unique built environment, the incredible wealth of our natural resources, our decision-makers want to do the right thing. It is our job to highlight what is important and valuable and irreplaceable about our heritage, to watch out for the threats, and to educate one another — the public, our students, our stakeholders, decision-makers and legislators — to help us all gain a heightened awareness of the roles we all must play in the Stewardship of our heritage. Thanks to the conference organizers for sharing this powerful Stewardship message, and the examples of precious resources lost and others saved : awareness will make the difference.