Matthew Francis, Manager of Municipal Heritage Services with Alberta Culture’s Historic Resources Management Branch, is live-blogging from the U.S. National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Annual Main Street Conference. The conference is attended by leaders from hundreds of historic main street communities across North America.
Sunday Afternoon / Evening
After a flight delay in Denver, I arrived in New Orleans just in time to arrive at the Conference’s opening plenary session. This event is always an enthusiastic kick-off to the conference, which (in addition to being educational) has the feel of a mega pep-rally. Each coordinating program brings in its delegation and waves placards announcing the place they are from. For instance, the delegation of Main Street communities from Wyoming was almost a hundred strong on its own! Clad in matching purple T-shirts, the Wyomingians proudly announce that they represent “the Wild West” in New Orleans.
The opening keynote presentation was given by Jeff Speck, author of Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, and described some of the benefits of looking at revitalization of downtown areas from a pedestrian perspective. (I’m pretty sure these princiles apply in Canada too). Walking is healthy, sociable, and environmentally friendly. It was an enlightening presentation. To increase walkability in our cities and towns, Jeff described how there needs to be:
- A reason to walk
- A safe walk
- A comfortable walk
- An interesting walk
So many factors go into increasing the walkability of our communities, but it is definitely worth taking a good look at becoming more walkable.
After the keynote, three communities were awarded the honour of “Great American Main Streets.”
I will devote another post to saying more about these unique communities, and what we in Alberta could perhaps learn from them. In the meantime, here is a photo of some of our fellow Canadians at the Conference in New Orleans.