In 1978, downtown’s iconic Central Library was at risk of being demolished,which blows my mind a little bit: it’s hard to imagine downtown without it. In response to the library’s impending destruction, a group of citizens began public debate and negotiations with city council that eventually led to the library’s preservation and restoration, a project that took fifteen years, ending with the library’s grand re-opening in 1993. The group that made the restoration work possible was the LA Conservancy, who, since their founding in 1978, have continued to advocate and educate in order to keep LA’s history accessible.
Bob's Big Boy in Downey - winner of the LA Conservancy's 2010 President's Award for Preservation
The Conservancy does huge amounts of programming and advocacy in and around the city. They offer walking tours of downtown architechture; they run the ever-popular Last Remaining Seats film series, that brings audiences into rarely-open historic theatres; they work with specific neighborhoods to have areas designated local, state, and national historic districts; and actively work to save buildings of historical or cultural interest that are in danger of demolition. While the preservation buildings may not, at first glance, seem to a terribly pressing social concern, it’s important to remember that the spaces in which people live and work and play can be vital sites of community and cultural identity, and that with the loss of culturally, socially, and historically important spaces, we risk losing parts of the story of this remarkable city. It’s one thing to preserve history in photographs and books, but actually being able to visit the places where things happened can, I think, really keep it vital and alive.
So that’s why I think you should give to the LA Conservancy. They’re encouraging folks to make holiday donations to their Presevation Advocacy Fund. The money donated to this fund supports the Conservancy’s efforts to advocate for the preservation of historic buildings by taking on developers and governments, by working with local historical societies and neighborhood associations, and by providing educational initiatives that teach the public about LA history. You can also become a member of the Conservancy (or maybe buy a gift membership for that special someone!), giving you access to special events, or you can volunteer some time – the Conservancy needs help with everything from advocacy to photography.
This post is part of Sweet Charity: Blogging.LA’s Guide to Giving
Bob’s Big Boy picture courtesy of Andy Perkins of Flickr.