At a recent marketing collaboration workshop arranged by Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling and the Office of Civic Investment, community stakeholders met to discuss Beaufort's "image" and how to best convey that message. After hearing an interesting presentation about Greenville's successes by Nancy Whitworth, Greenville's deputy city manager and director of economic development, attendees were divided up into six groups.
Each group was asked to come up with a list of words or phrases that best described Beaufort. The one word that was repeated most frequently was "historic." We all agree Beaufort is historic; that's part of its charm and what makes our city unique. But it also reflects the fact that our residents do recognize the importance of our history in making our community so special. There are many towns and cities with great historic resources that go underappreciated and underused.
Beaufort's recognition of the significance of its history is one of the key factors that attracted the National Trust for Historic Preservation's attention. In July 2011, Historic Beaufort Foundation announced Beaufort had been named as the host city for the National Trust's Preservation Leadership Training.
PLT is conducted only once a year. Among past cities to host PLT are Portland, Maine; Birmingham, Ala; Mount Vernon, Va.; and Astoria, Ore. The PLT program specifically is designed for community leaders who are in positions to influence preservation activities in their states, regions, towns and neighborhoods. Participants typically include staff and volunteer leaders of private, nonprofit preservation organizations; staff of state and local government agencies; and members or staff of commissions from across the country. National, state and local experts in preservation and organizational development comprise the workshop faculty, and will give the 50 select preservation professionals a balanced national perspective and a network of statewide and local resources for the future.
We were pleased to learn from Susan West Montgomery, director of information and training at the National Trust, during her reconnaissance visit last week, that while there have been many recent changes at the National Trust, fortunately the Preservation Leadership Training program has evolved in a way that will be even more beneficial for Beaufort.
PLT views the host city as a living laboratory, but now instead of focusing on one "at risk" structure as in past years, attendees now will be focusing their skills and attention on an entire city block. The weeklong program emphasizes the most up-to-date, effective preservation techniques, including training in current preservation best practices, issues and action strategies. This year's program will include classroom lectures on issues that relate directly to Beaufort, as well as tours, team projects, role-playing and participatory learning experiences. The proposals resulting from these study activities are thorough and well-developed and will detail optimal uses for the subject area. We look forward to their making a useful contribution to the vitality of Beaufort and our community as a whole.
The conversation started at Keyserling's workshop can be nothing but beneficial as groups such as Historic Beaufort Foundation, the Redevelopment Commission, the Office of Civic Investment and PLT participants work together to continue to make Beaufort an even better "historic" place.
Julie Good is the executive director of Historic Beaufort Foundation. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.