Providence Symposium: Whose Places Matter (And Why)?

Published in Announcements, Programs.

The modern historic preservation movement came of age in the era of redlining, urban renewal, and fierce debate about the future of our cities. This crucible of “progress” resulted in more deeply entrenched racial, economic, and philosophical divides and a preservation practice that protected the interests of the privileged and powerful. 

Today, we live with structural injustices baked into our society — into the buildings that remain and the very way our cities work. Choices made generations ago are laid bare in our segregated neighborhoods, biased housing policy, generational class inequalities, geographic health disparities, and civic processes that reflect the interests of the few. And in addition to its complicity on these issues, the preservation field has a long way to go in lifting up buildings and landscapes that reflect the full American story.

So where do we go from here? What kind of future do we want for Providence? How do communities participate more fully in the conversations about the shape of our city and the places we celebrate? And what is the role of preservationists in helping to restore healthier, more equitable communities where everyone’s history matters? 

This year’s Providence Symposium will explore the systems that have shaped our built environment and the communities that inhabit it. As we heed the calls for urgent institutional change, a field based on the power of preservation must consider how to tear down and build anew. PPS invites community conversation and visioning about which places matter and why.

All-Access Symposium Pass / $20

(Full schedule + a la carte registration below)

Headline Speakers 

Pascale Sablan, founder and executive director of Beyond the Built Environment
I Was Asked to Stand 
November 12 / 5:30 pm / $10
Register / More info

Katherine Levine Einstein, associate professor at Boston University
Neighborhood Defenders: Participatory Politics and America’s Housing Crisis
November 16 / 5:30 pm / $10
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Jerald ‘J Coop’ Cooper, founder and creative director of @HoodMidCenturyModern
Pop Culture and Representative Preservation
November 18 / 5:30 pm / $10
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Angie Schmitt, author of Right of Way: Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America
The Pedestrian Safety Crisis in America: Why it’s happening and what we can do about it
November 19 / 5: 30 pm / $10
Register / More info
Presented in partnership with Providence Streets Coalition and WalkPVD

Other Virtual Events

Who Decides What’s Worth Saving?
November 13 / 3:00 pm / Free
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Session generously sponsored by Artpack Services, Inc.

Sherry Frear, Chief of the National Register of Historic Places & National Historic Landmarks Program, National Park Service
Claudia Guerra, Cultural Historian, City of San Antonio Office of Historic Preservation
J. Paul Loether, Executive Director, Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission and Rhode Island State Historic Preservation Officer
Stephanie Ryberg-Webster, Associate Professor of Urban Studies and Historic Preservation Certificate Coordinator, Cleveland State University
Moderated by: Elaine Stiles, Assistant Professor of Historic Preservation, Roger Williams University

What Needs to Change?
November 17 / 3:00 pm / Free
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Desiree Aranda, Co-Chair, Latinos in Heritage Conservation
Catherine Fleming Bruce, Activist and award-winning author of The Sustainers: Being, Building and Doing Good through Activism in the Sacred Spaces of Civil Rights, Human Rights and Social Movements
Sarah Marsom, Heritage resources consultant and organizer of #DismantlePreservation
Jeremy Wells, Associate Professor, Historic Preservation program in the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at the University of Maryland, College Park
Moderated by: Bonnie McDonald, President and CEO of Landmarks Illinois and Chair of the National Preservation Parners Network of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

Bite-Sized Preservation: Climate Justice and Preservation
November 19 / 12:00 pm / Free
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Featuring Leah Bamberger, Director of Sustainability, City of Providence and Monica Huertas, member of the Racial and Envoronmental Justice Committee

What Do We Want for Providence?
November 20 / 3:00 pm / Free
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Session generously sponsored by AIA Rhode Island


All-Access Symposium Pass / $20

This year’s symposium will take place virtually over several days. Tickets will remain available until the morning of each event!

The 2020 Symposium is generously sponsored by:

© 2023 Providence Preservation Society. All rights reserved. Design by J. Hogue at Highchair designhaus, with development & support by Kay Belardinelli.