|Photo of the Richmond Aqueduct by Dennis Stierer, Lockport, NY|
If heritage defines our culture and tells us who we are, why is it so often ignored in our communities or considered of little importance? Why is it that our historic sites and landmarks that represent our common past are given no significant attention, investment or interest when it comes to preservation? Why is it not being seen as an opportunity to satisfy an emotional need that would give us a connection to the place we live and the potential to enhance our lives. Wouldn’t it follow that when our lives are enhanced our community would appear less depressed and experienced as a healthier and more stable place to live.
Imagine if the Statue of Liberty or Mount Rushmore —the very symbols of the American nation—were damaged and destroyed through neglect or mismanagement. Loss and destruction is the status quo for many of our most significant national treasures that helped form our country are being ignored in our smaller rural communities, but no less significant. Over time our cultural and historic sites have been damaged and ignored of their importance. Much of this loss can be controlled through better planning, community involvement, and management, but these are often missing in smaller communities where the need is the greatest. Often we see our small towns and villages as insignificant with no ability to do anything about it blaming it on lack of manpower and money so we lapse into a powerless, conditioned pattern of thought that it’s useless to even try. What we are giving up on is our duty and responsibility and the power we have to preserve our heritage for future generations. We are giving up on our greatest asset – our human potential to make a difference and serve our communities with our inherited gifts and abilities. We need to wake up to these abilities and find creative ways to come together on how to accomplish this. We need to let our elected officials know that we care and that we are here to use our skills and creative ideas to support and lend a hand to preserve what is important to us.