The Purpose of the Vision for Civic Conservation is to provide a framework of guiding principles with which to address progress and growth in local communities, primarily from within Historic Districts. An alternative to academic preservation, which is based on a Modernist philosophy, the VCC is inspired by grass-roots organizations that support the local traditions of places and their cultures. Historic Districts were created not as bastions of architectural conservatism, but rather sanctuaries for progressive traditionalism. Environmental goals, economic goals, and civic goals are interrelated and must be treated holistically. We are collecting signatures and stories from people around the world who are seeing the ill effects of Modernism in their villages, towns, cities, and countryside. We are organizing, mobilizing, building chapters and coalitions. We invite you to sign the vision and leave your email address to stay in touch.
At the core of Civic Conservation is the belief that we should strive to live harmoniously with Nature - that the health and sustainability of the City depend on the health and sustainability of the Countryside. Modernism in town planning has wreaked havoc on both. By creating car-dependent sub-urban sprawl, it has exacerbated our oil dependence. Decimating neighborhoods with crosstown highways, it has damaged communities. We have only begun to recover from its legacy, but we are making progress. Civic Conservation believes that cultivating the unique characteristics that make each special place different from the next - be it a nature preserve, a collection of farms, a village, town, or city - will assist in the healing of our communities and our environment. It promotes the tried-and-true sprawl-reducing principles of walkable town planning as exemplified by the Congress for the New Urbanism (US), the Prince’s Foundation (UK), and INTBAU (international). Change doesn’t always have to be bad. Recent projects prove that it can be for the better, even in places that are already beautiful.
Historic Districts are not characterized by their intangible histories; they are places of outstanding, and durable architecture. Be it a village, a town, a neighborhood, or a city, a place’s character is driven primarily by its architecture. Modernist “interventions” achieve everything they intend: purposeful incongruity. (Preventing them was the reason Historic Districts were created in the first place.) A District's character and charm can survive additions and the renewal of outdated buildings, but only if designed in compatible styles. Some Districts have only one or a limited number of styles, others have many. Civic Conservation promotes durable architecture in Historic Districts because, through their shared use of traditional principles, moldings, elements, and motifs, the traditional architectural styles have more in common with each other than with any of the Modernist styles. Civic Conservation believes that if the special architectural character of a place is worthy of being preserved, it is worthy of being enhanced.
We can neither preserve buildings nor make new ones worth preserving without our local building arts. With each passing decade the quality of construction of new buildings is getting worse: buildings built in the 1950s need replacement today, as do buildings built during the ‘60s and buildings built during the ‘70s. In the future, we might not have the resources currently at our disposal. Instead of building for only 30-40 years, we should be building for the next several generations. Thankfully we still have the technology at hand to do so. And it’s not industrial technology; it’s the technology of our local building arts. Our shared inherited architectural culture consists not just of a collection of buildings but also all of the principles, traditions, and practices that go into making them. Like buying local, building well promotes jobs that are meaningful, jobs that help form a healthy, hopeful economy, jobs that contribute to society’s future. We should be preserving both our existing good buildings and the culture of building well.