The New Preservation: A Vision for Civic Conservation


"By now we are all accustomed to the idea that local agricultural and culinary traditions provide more sustainable alternatives to the unhealthy and unsustainable industrial food systems. When it comes to architecture, the unhealthy, unsustainable industrial building systems still reign, while the traditional architecture movement, miscast by architects as conservative and nostalgic, is overlooked. Tradition is not the blind copying of some past culture’s artifacts; it is a progressive, multi-generational feat wherein useful ideas are retained and bad ideas are discarded or improved upon. Local building traditions, just like local culinary traditions, developed in response to the geography, climate, natural resources, and local economies.  Why not learn from them, not by riffing on them, or making abstract versions of them, but by directly engaging them?"    -


     It is with these ideas in mind that we have launched "A Vision for Civic Conservation" at  The purpose of is to provide a framework of guiding principles with which to address growth, change, and progress in local communities, primarily from within historic districts.  An alternative to the academic preservation based on Modernist philosophy, is inspired by grass-roots organizations that support the local traditions of places and their cultures.  Environmental goals, economic goals, and civic goals are interrelated and must be treated holistically. 

     None of the ideas of are based on nostalgia or on a particular political ideology.  We are working from data, study, and common logic.  For the professional world, this is an avant-guard and counter-cultural movement, but for many we are simply putting words to things they already know through experience.  

     When you visit Civic Conservation, be sure to spend some time exploring the three main components of Civic Conservation - Town PlanningArchitecture, and the Buildings Arts - each linked from the homepage before going on to see What's the Matter with Historic Preservation and how Local Traditions Build Sustainable Communities.

     At Sign the Vision, you can read and become a signer of the Civic Conservation Standards.  We are also collecting signatures and stories from people around the world who are seeing the ill effects of Modernism in their villages, towns, cities, and countryside. If you have any stories, pictures, or questions, or if you would like to know how you can get involved, please write to: civicconservation(at)