Outgoing AKCHO board president John Chaney expressed these thoughts at the AKCHO annual meeting on January 29.
Challenges and our natural strengths to create opportunities from them.
Challenge 1: There is talk at the Federal Level of major budget reductions in programs that I truly appreciate and know give real value to our communities and culture. I’ll listen carefully to our President and Congress but I hope they are not penny wise and pound foolish. We need to keep our congressional delegations informed of our work. Just do it!
Challenge 2: Reduced revenues and the requirement of a balanced budget in Washington State may see the reduction or elimination of programs that have greatly benefitted our historical organizations. Our legislature needs to help preserve our culture and we can all tell them our stories and ask for their help. Just do it!
Challenge 3: King County has fully allocated the (HB 1386) document recording fee funds to support and save the King County Historic Preservation Office, again this probably eliminates funds from this source for 2013 and 2014. Additionally, no King County General Fund support is budgeted for Historic Preservation or heritage programs or organizations. We need to keep King County Executive Dow Constantine and our County Council members informed of our work. They all need to be on every e-mail distribution for events, programs and donor events. Don’t just contact them at budget time, but all year. Just do it!
Challenge 4: 4Culture has a secure funding future but the next few years will see them using the endowment to help continue their support for our organizations, projects and programs. Remember to contact your legislative delegation and key leaders about the good value of both past and continuing investments from the Lodging Tax. Just do it!
Challenge 5: Many Cities have reduced revenues and have tightened the belt. Like the County Council, our local leaders need to know us and our programs. Talk to them, invite them, make friends and keep them informed. Just do it!
To say these are still challenging times is truly an understatement. As guardians of our past we know the importance of collecting and saving the understanding of our past as part of the path to a brighter and informed future. We need action by our leaders, boards and membership. Together we are a major constituency, divided we are just a voice in the wind. Speak often, speak with conviction and strength, speak through many people including your members and friends. We need all of our voices to make a difference. Remember we are the guardians of our past, we speak for people and their legacies, our voice speaks for so many who can no longer speak and for those not yet born.
How do we survive and thrive in these times? I don’t know the answer but have a couple of modest thoughts.
Opportunity 1: Find ways to employ our community. Some organizations are losing employees, but active volunteer programs can help engage the retiring baby boomers, give work experience to the unemployed and provide valuable experience for young people, especially those just entering the work force. We can renew our efforts to make working with our organizations a fulfilling part of people’s lives. Many of our organizations are all volunteer; this is a time to grow our volunteer workforce. Do not underestimate the value this will have to those new individuals and remember the very best future donors will come from people who know us, first hand, and believe in our missions.
Opportunity 2: Our region is continuing to grow in population and our work helps integrate those new folks into our collective culture. We need to ask ourselves how we can get them engaged and how we can help them become a valued part of our community. I am convinced our work is relevant to them, now we just need to continue to sell ourselves. Sell, sell, sell; Tell, tell, tell. We need to quite hiding our great stories and stuff, get out there and show it off, now more than ever. I am convinced that If more of the public and policy makers knew what we have and do, we would be overwhelmed by success and be the talk of our towns.
In the end, let’s not lose our ability to enjoy what we do. I know that I am engaged in preservation because it feeds my soul. I bet that is true for all of us. Let’s bring the smiles, joy and our laughter to our communities, these challenging times can use them and you know how to deliver those good feelings. Keep it up.