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 them. 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.