Blog of the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office

Add this to your summer reading list! #preservationhappenshere – PA’s Statewide Preservation Plan – is ready for you

Picture yourself – lounging poolside, lakeside, or on the beach – with your tablet or smart phone (or even good old-fashioned paper) enjoying the hottest summer publication that hasn’t yet made the New York Times bestseller list: #preservationhappenshere, Pennsylvania’s next statewide historic preservation plan.

Statewide plan cover with colorful diamonds and text

Cover page for the statewide plan.

The Highlights

I’m not going to give it all away – after all, we want you to read the plan – but I will share some highlights of this new plan with you. You can also check out the plan’s webpage for more.

plaque saying "New & Approved"

  • The name! It’s a hashtag!
  • There is an executive summary this time around.  We will have printed copies of the executive summary to distribute later this summer.  Both the summary and the full plan can be read online.
  • The plan is organized a bit differently.  We decided to use the NPS’s approach to large planning documents and introduced the “Foundation Document” approach.  All of the background, context, and factual info that doesn’t ever really change lives there.  In addition to that, the plan includes the introduction materials, the Action Agenda, and a Supporting Tools section that will evolve and change as we add more resources to help Pennsylvanians.
  • The Highlights of Pennsylvania Archaeology section is back!
  • The Action Agenda includes the goals, objectives, and action items but we’ve added a few new parts: guiding principles as touch points to help with decision-making and “what you can do” ideas.
  • Crowdsourcing! To help generate the “what you can do” tasks for implementing the plan, we used ideas from the survey, public meetings, staff, and Planning Partners.  These suggestions are intended to help users understand not only the range and types of activities that will implement the plan but also help them understand how the plan is relevant to them and their work by illustrating the wide variety of simple to more complex, traditional and non-traditional things they can do.
  • An implementation plan! More on that later…

It is important to remember that we, the PA SHPO, are simply the leaders and facilitators of the statewide planning process and the generation of the plan.  This is Pennsylvania’s plan, not a PA SHPO work plan.  It’s for everyone!

Postcard and text

We hope Pennsylvanians will use this plan as a resource.

So what’s the deal with the hashtag?

We know it may seem a bit unusual but yes, we did use the hashtag #preservationhappenshere as the name of the statewide plan.  Some may say that we were punchy from plan fatigue but, in reality, it’s because the hashtag embodies the philosophy, hopes, dreams, and forward-looking ideas that are the basis of the plan.

hashtag #preservationhappenshere

This catchy hashtag is the title of Pennsylvania’s statewide historic preservation plan for 2018 through 2023.

First, the most obvious reason to use one is because everybody uses hashtags.  Check out Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and you’ll see them used as a tool to describe pictures, activities, states of mind, and much more.  What better way to show that we understand how the world communicates today? Why not jump into the fray and make sure our message is going out through all ways possible?

Second, the hashtag captures what we learned and realized during the time it took to put this plan together: that historic preservation is happening in Pennsylvania every day.

Throughout the survey, Open Houses, and planning meetings, we heard most often about things that were going wrong, dire situations, and the lack of tools to help preservation to survive and thrive at the local level.  That’s ok – to realistically tackle Pennsylvania’s challenges we need to understand what’s happening (or isn’t) and what people need and want.

On the flip side, though, we also heard many, many positive things about the places Pennsylvanian’s care about, the little things that help sustain a historic place or encourage a community, and how preservation is happening while so many of us don’t realize it.

As PA SHPO’s director points out,

It might be as subtle as shop owners moving into a vacant downtown storefront or as obvious as carpenters repairing an original wood porch. Preservation successes are not always called out with big signs or press releases, but they are happening everyday nonetheless.

#preservationhappenshere shines a spotlight on the good things people across the commonwealth are doing every day but never think of as preservation. And, it has the added bonus of helping us track the success of the plan with just a quick online search using the hashtag!

Vintage postcard with hashtag

Greetings from Pennsylvania – where #preservationhappenshere every day!

Cut to the chase! What are our goals for the next five years?!

Ok, I will give you a teaser for what’s in the Action Agenda.  Check out the plan to get the full scoop on the goals now and be sure to read our blog and follow us on social media because I’ll feature posts about each goal and more throughout the summer and fall.

Goal 1: Implement the statewide historic preservation plan as a resource that provides solution-oriented steps for preservation outcomes.

Goal 2Use the power of planning to transform Pennsylvania’s historic places into vibrant and diverse communities.

Goal 3: Position Pennsylvania to better respond to new preservation challenges and opportunities in the 21st century with proactive planning and education.

Goal 4: Invest in the future of Pennsylvania through the commonwealth’s historic places and the people and programs that protect and celebrate them.

What’s next?

Well, lots. I told my colleagues the other day that our approach to implementing the plan and achieving the goals is from one of Aesop’s fables, “The Tortoise and the Hare”: slow and steady wins the race.

We have five years, which may seem long to some and too short to others, to make progress toward more preservation outcomes and greater preservation awareness in Pennsylvania.  There are things we can do right away to start implementing the plan and there are others that will take time, resources, patience, and perseverance.

Over the next several months, we will regroup, brainstorm, and develop a plan for moving forward.  Stay tuned to learn more!

What you can do now!

Someone asked me the other day what are the top 5 things that Pennsylvanians can start doing right now.  Here are my recommendations:

The image shows a white number 5 on a blue background.

  1. Read through the plan!  Take the time to read through the full Action Agenda and get familiar with the Executive Summary.
  2. Start using the #preservationhappenshere hashtag in your agency, organization, or personal social media accounts to illustrate how you see preservation happening in your world.
  3. Make a list of the things you, your agency, or your organization are already doing and can do to help implement the plan.  Use the implementation ideas!
  4. Bookmark our blog and sign up for our newsletter to get the latest on the plan, publications, and new tools and resources.
  5. Share the news! We don’t want this to be Pennsylvania’s best-kept secret.  Tell your co-workers, friends, and neighbors!

Most importantly…

This plan is truly the result of a statewide effort and benefits from the time, energy, and ideas of everyone involved in its creation. Special thanks go to many groups and individuals – particularly my colleagues here at the PA SHPO and our Planning Partners – for their commitment to developing a relevant and inspirational plan.

A special heartfelt thank-you goes to Pennsylvanians like you across the commonwealth who offered their time, ideas, and opinions to the planning process. Whether through the online survey, by following the PA SHPO blog, or attending one of the Open Houses or focus groups, Pennsylvanians who care about the past—and the future—of the commonwealth and its communities made this plan possible.



  1. prestamos

    Wonderful site. I wish you success.

  2. Renee Dolney

    Hi this is really all too confusing. I need to speak with someone about preserving a 19th century road and bridge. They were never paved and thus it is actually like walking into the 19th century. this is a section of the old Northern Pike so it actually dates back to the 18th century but the bridge was built in 1870’s

    I am struggling to figure out how to preserve this and I do not have time to figure out the hashtag thing or read your plan. I am just a regular citizen and i have found everything about this too confusing to navigate.

    Can I please just speak to a person? Please dot no send me to yet another website which may make sense to an expert in the field but makes no sense to an average citizen. Thanks

  3. Barbara Mobarak, Principal, Preservation Research Institute

    This is very good. Please send me link to the full document when you finish.

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