Unlike the environmental movement, which has many national organizations devoted to its many and varied causes, historic preservation has just a handful. When something happens at one or two of them, it can significantly shape what’s happening at the state and local level. This year promises seismic shifts because of transitions occurring at three national organizations: Preservation Action, the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation has been undergoing tremendous transformation since 2009, when Dick Moe’s long 17-year tenure as president ended. Stephanie Meeks, a former executive with the Nature Conservancy, took the helm and introduced a new strategic plan that narrowed its work by closing most of its regional offices, cutting Preservation magazine from six to four issues a year, closing its Save America’s Treasures office, reorganizing the National Main Street Center as a wholly-owned subsidiary, and cutting its ties with state and local preservation organizations. The plan (sometimes called Preservation 10X) also prompted a turnover of much of the staff through reorganizations and layoffs and put in place a new management team, most of whom are outside the field of history or preservation, suggesting a major retreat from its leadership position in historic preservation.
This year the focus at the National Trust seems to be on raising cash to survive. The last fiscal year ended Continue reading