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What You Can Do in Your Community
to Promote Preservation Planning
Learn about planning in your community.
- Check out information on who does planning and how to find your local planning office from the American Planning Association.
- Learn how your community plans for growth, land use, housing, the environment, transportation, tourism, and other efforts that shape your community’s future.
- Learn how historic preservation issues and concerns can be integrated into those planning efforts.
- Get to know staff in city hall and in the planning department, and learn how the planning, zoning, and development review processes work.
Get involved in the planning process.
- Attend planning meetings and workshops to share information about historic and cultural resources that are important to the community and how they can be preserved.
- Remember that planning is just one component of the preservation process.
- Always consider planning’s effect on historic buildings, landscapes, landmarks, archaeological sites, and other cultural resources in your community.
Encourage others to get involved.
- Sponsor a neighborhood meeting to discuss and learn about preservation and planning topics.
- Invite community officials and staff to share information about their activities.
- Develop networks among neighbors, preservation organizations, and your local government planning office.
Inventory the special places in your community.
- Understand that it is difficult to preserve historic resources if their existence and importance are unknown.
- Identify the places and characteristics that make your community special.
- Volunteer with your local or state historic preservation office to conduct a survey of the important historic and cultural resources in your community.
- Collect photos, maps, and other historic records to document the changes that have taken place in your community.
- Help your community planners incorporate the results of your surveys into local planning efforts.
Know and educate your elected and appointed officials.
- Recognize that these are the folks who ultimately make the decisions about whether or not historic and cultural resources are preserved.
- Get to know the staff who recommend how these officials should decide certain issues.
- Explain to staff and local officials why it is important to protect your community’s heritage.
Serve on boards and commissions.
- Learn about the process by which members of boards and commissions are appointed by local elected officials.
- Understand how these bodies make a valuable contribution to the local decision-making process by providing opportunities for the public to share their views and by evaluating public and staff information to develop recommendations for action.
- Volunteer to serve on your local preservation review board, planning commission, or other similar body to make sure that preservation issues are addressed effectively in the decision-making process.
Understand the trends affecting your community.
- Learn how changes in economic conditions and demographic trends influence your community’s character and vitality.
- Understand how preservation can help meet the goals of other efforts, such as:
- economic development,
- affordable housing, and
- open space protection
- Explain these relationships to community leaders, elected and appointed officials, and planners.
Develop community leadership.
- Look for leadership programs offered by local colleges, chambers of commerce, and other organizations.
- Participate in these programs, and encourage others, especially young people, to do the same.
Get to know your local media.
- Become familiar with your local newspaper, radio, and TV reporters who regularly cover:
- historic preservation
- land use
- comprehensive planning
- the environment
- and other related topics
- Provide them with accurate and interesting stories about your community’s heritage and efforts to protect it.
- Write articles for newspaper, radio, or TV programs.
- Celebrate your community’s heritage and preservation by organizing and participating in special events, such as:
- a history fair
- an award ceremony
- a public lecture series
- school poster contest
- other activities that get people involved
This information has been adapted from the following sources:
- “Ten Things You Can Do Right Now to Improve Your Community.” American Planning Association, Chicago, Illinois (no longer on APA’s web site by July 2010; some of it has been incorporated into "Planning in Your Community," on-line;
- From the concluding chapter in the Center for Rural Pennsylvania’s Planning for the Future: A Handbook on Community Visioning, on-line; and
- “Taking the Initiative: What You Can Do to Protect Archeological Sites,” Strategies for Protecting Archeological Sites on Private Lands, on-line.