Sunday, April 26, 2009

Progress versus Historical Preservation

This month we reviewed the history behind environment preservation, and today I conclude this brief look at conservation with a call for communities to preserve their history.

It may not surprise you to know that my family picked its hometown due to the historic and small hometown feel of Mainstreet. Ten years later Mainstreet remains, but it has changed in the name of “beautification” and progress. The town moved or tore down historic buildings significant to the community and approved big chain businesses to build on open land and former farms. Like most of America, I appreciate the convenience of a short drive to a store with everything. I also recognize the economic benefits to a community and reflect on a national outlook that does not put historic preservation first.

In our relatively short national history, the pioneers of this great land had little time or concern about building many permanent structures as they constantly moved toward progress. Today this spirit of growth and change for the better remains in many communities, especially recently as they try to survive economic hard times. The cost for the convenience of big stores, big chain restaurants, and more shopping centers is the loss of open space and historic landmarks.

Recognizing the importance of growth as part of our national heritage and as part of community survival, I urge communities to also plan for preservation of their history. Do not tear down our history, incorporate it and make it part of your town’s unique identity. If buildings must be moved, create history preservation parks like the one in Littleton, Colorado or 4 Mile Historic Park near the heart of Denver.

Finally, this summer make it a priority to take the family on some mini-vacations or day trips and visit national treasures near you. The National Parks Service web site and this map collection by the University of Texas are great resources about parks preserving the environment and history. Additionally, most states including my own, Colorado, have great web resources about historic landmarks and places of interest to visit. An important lesson I learned from my Grandfather Chatnick is that by exploring the past with our children we can make stronger connections to the past while looking to the future.

1 comment:

K. Freeland said...

And then you have Flint, Michigan, where the county treasurer is proposing the consolidation of residents and demolishing of entire streets and neighborhoods in an attempt to remove blighted neighborhoods and save the city. It's very sad. NY Times: An Effort to Save Flint, Mich., by Shrinking It