Every year, America devotes time for communities to honor the past and take pride in preserving it for the future. As government spending on preservation programs continues to decline drastically-in 2007, the budget will be cut by $15 million-May's National Preservation Month highlights the critical role that individuals and communities will have to play in protecting our country's history. It is through involvement in local preservation efforts such as saving the oldest drive-in movie theater, the Admiral Twin Drive-In in Oklahoma, or restoring Hogback Bridge in Iowa, one of the famed Bridges of Madison County, that citizens can do their part in restoring and revitalizing their communities.
There are several easy ways to get involved.
VISIT THE LIBRARY-Every community is infused with local and historical significance; most of us have just not taken time or don't know how to research it. A good place to start is the library. Make an event out of it-take the family for an afternoon and challenge one another to identify street corners and houses you're familiar with that hold historical significance.
TAKE A LOOK AROUND-When you see a landmark that looks like it is in need of restoration, tell someone. There are a number of organizations that recognize the importance of preserving communities throughout America. For example, Hampton Hotels' Save-A-Landmark™ Program encourages people to submit a community landmark for consideration to assist in revitalizing and refurbishing. Submissions can be made online at www.hampton landmarks.com or mailed to Save-A-Landmark at 8730 Sunset Blvd., Fifth Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90069. It's an easy way to make a big difference.
SUPPORT MAIN STREET -Many store owners have been in business for generations. By supporting these establishments, you're not only helping to protect any historic buildings they might be housed in, you're also encouraging the economy and helping a fellow community member. Not to mention that if they have been in business that long, they must have something great to offer.
GET INVOLVED-Join national, statewide or local organizations dedicated to preservation. A good resource to help identify these is the National Trust for Historic Preservation, where you can become a member online or research preservation groups and projects in your area.
A crew of volunteers is hard at work refurbishing one of the Bridges of Madison County as part of the "Save-A-Landmark" program.