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Get involved in historic preservation

Dear Editor:Regardless of the outcome of Ordinance 30, if you are a historic preservationist, there has already been a very positive occurrence, and that is the interest, discussion and focus by our governmental leadership and the public generally in the subject of historic preservation. That is a giant step in the right direction.Aspen seems unique in its reliance almost exclusively on its Historic Preservation Commission for all historic-preservation matters, whereas other cities have supplemented their city agency with many other resources, and it takes all available resources to be effective in preservation.First, most cities have a tax-exempt, nonprofit corporation, composed of interested members of the public, which participates in all areas of historic preservation, from education to policy development to advocacy for specific projects. It complements and supports, and sometimes opposes, the governmental agency, but it is a strong second voice – and the voice of the people – on historic preservation.Second, another job of that entity is to galvanize the philanthropic community toward historic preservation. Aspen is fortunate to have generous giving from its foundations, nonprofits, businesses and individuals, but not much is going into preservation (the family purchase of Explore is a wonderful exception). No matter how much our local governments contribute, the philanthropic part of our community has to participate actively for truly effective preservation. (For example, I don’t believe there is a single miner’s cabin or other Victorian where the public can enter and see how our ancestors lived during Aspen’s formative silver mining days – and there should be!)Third, so many towns have a populace that understands the value of their historic structures and is willing to take the time, attention and effort to support preservation. Until recently there has been very little visible interest on the part of anyone other than HPC in preservation, except for the activities of developers in converting our Victorians into second homes. No matter what good work HPC does, and we should all appreciate the efforts of its staff and members, it is not enough – preservation should be grassroots, from the bottom up rather than the top down.Maybe the time is right. If you have any interest in helping form and becoming a member of the Aspen Preservation Centre, please send an e-mail to joeandjennine@comcast.net.Joe MyersAspen


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