Friday, April 30, 2010

Essex Heritage Joins National Awareness Campaign


Essex Heritage Joins National Awareness Campaign

A couple of weeks ago, Essex Heritage organized a rally in at the replica sailing ship, Friendship to bring attention to the plight that Heritage Areas and other preservation based organizations find themselves in today. We along with others find ourselves in a difficult situation with proposed federal budget cuts on the horizon. That rally proved to be quite successful as a large number of our friends and partners came to the National Park Service site in Salem to express their concerns at the proposed reductions. On that morning we gathered many residents and Phoenix School students from the region that dropped what they were doing and came to our assistance. Several pictures were taken showing concerned citizens holding signs that said “This Place Matters”. Many of those photos found their way into local newspapers and several editorials were written in local newspapers supporting the posture we had adopted and also rallied to support our effort. Since those plans proved to be successful more such efforts are being planned both at the local level by Essex Heritage and nationally by the Alliance of Heritage Areas.

At a recent meeting of the Alliance of National Heritage Areas (ANHA) a plan was developed to support building awareness at both a national and local level of the importance of Heritage Areas. It was decided that in order to accomplish this task, public awareness of National Heritage Areas had to be brought to the attention of the United States Congress, and to financial supporters and partners at all levels. A positive message had to be developed that would compliment those advocacy efforts and increase awareness of National Heritage Areas across the country. In developing this strategy two questions had to be answered. What is the message that will make the Heritage Area case, and how do we get that message out? How do we raise the awareness of the vital work that Heritage Areas in general and Essex Heritage specifically bring to our communities and our region and how can this raised awareness make the biggest impact? It was decided that our message had to answer the question…So What?

The Heritage Area message clearly has to relay that Heritage Areas are practical, smart models for creating economic development in our communities. So, how are Heritage Areas going to accomplish that task? A plan was developed nationally and will now be implemented locally by Essex Heritage. A series of public relations activities will be undertaken across the many regions that are served by Heritage Areas and will culminate with a major rally/event in Washington in June 2010. A date and location for the National Rally will be announced shortly. On that day, the Alliance on National Heritage Areas will be holding a press conference to hopefully announce the passage of a resolution for a National Heritage Day and the announcement of the National Heritage Area Legislative Caucus. The national organization and Essex heritage are confidant that a large group of representatives from Heritage Areas across the country and many of our local supporters will travel to the Nation’s Capital for the event, also taking advantage at the same time of an opportunity to visit with Congressional offices. At the press conference and rally we are going to provide hats, banners, buttons, etc., for the participants. We will also be developing a press kit to distribute which will be a thumb drive with information on the Heritage Area federal platform as well as a story and images from each Heritage Area including this region that is represented by so many wonderful partner organizations...

The tag line/slogan for our campaign will be “National Heritage Areas: Smart, Green and Working. The slogan is clean, simple and marketable, and it speaks to the case that we are trying to make to Congress and to local funding sources. Although all Heritage Area are different from one another in our focus and operations, this tag line fits every Heritage Area including Essex Heritage. We have built off of the concept of the National Trust’s “This Place Matters” campaign that encourages people in the communities to take photos of their with a sign. For the Heritage Area campaign, Essex Heritage will ask all of our partner organizations to take pictures of their treasured site along with as many members of the organization that can be gathered for the photo with our tag line “National Heritage Areas: Smart, Green and Working.” and mail those photos to us at Essex Heritage. We will then compile these photos and upload the images to a digital picture frame and provide one to each congressional offices to place in their Washington and local offices. Essex Heritage is planning several other individual events and Public Relations concepts and as those events are planned we will certainly keep you posted.

Northeast Regional Economic Summit

On Wednesday a large group of local community activists gathered at the Crowne Plaza in Danvers to participate in a program organized by the five institutions of higher learning in this region. The event that focused on regional collaboration featured a presentation from Massachusetts Lt Governor Tim Murray and many of the management team from the Patrick/Murray administration. The presentation all focused on the assets that are in place in this region and how the many organizations involved in the region can accomplish much more by working together collectively. The message of the day was that although Massachusetts is not “out of the woods” yet, the economic conditions in the Commonwealth are improving. Murray touted the many projects around this region that have been put in place or will be put in place soon, by the Governor’s office, all with an eye towards job creation. This is a critical component of any recovery plan as since the recession started Massachusetts has lost over 150,000 jobs, but the current outlined projects have added 25,000 workers back to the work force. The presenters focused on several regional projects all over the North Shore and the Merrimack Valley that was the section of the State represented at the meeting. Information was provided on innovation, education, infrastructure improvements and Stimulus spending that are all hallmarks of the program, to get the region back on its feet.

Cape Wind Farm Approved

Yesterday, US Secretary of the Interior and Governor Patrick announced that the long awaited decision on the Cape Wind project has been made and the project will proceed as planned. The decision to proceed with the development of a130 wind turbine project to be located in Nantucket Sound was received with great hope by the supporters of the project and promises by the opponents of the project to stop the progress of the project. It appears that the resolution of this important clean energy project might still be awhile away before resolution.

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