Annual Conference: Open to the Public – Making Our Story Heard!
Posted by Historic Districts Council on Friday, February 3, 2017 · 2 Comments
Attendees will set the agenda at our first-ever participant-driven conference on

Saturday, March 4th, 2017
9:00AM to 4:00PM
New York Law School – 185 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013
Join the Historic Districts Council for our first-ever Participant-Driven Preservation Conference:
Open to the Public – Making Our Story Heard!
Featuring a Keynote Address by Gina Pollara

New York City is home to the country’s first municipal plan, strongest landmarks law and largest preservation community… so why does real estate development drive municipal government?

This day-long Conference will dive deep into current campaigns to preserve communities throughout the city, with sessions led by the participants themselves.


Host a public discussion about a preservation issue or campaign you care about, and attend open sessions to learn what other grassroots activists are doing to take back our city!

Curious About The Format? Watch Our Explanatory Video:

What’s a “Participant-Driven Conference”?
Unlike traditional conferences in which attendees listen to panel discussions or lectures from experts, topics in a participant-driven conference are suggested and led by the attendees themselves. While some may choose to come prepared with a topic for discussion, all attendees should be prepared to be active participants, meeting new people, sharing ideas and helping to shape the discussions they’re in. This way, the event will truly reflect the interests and ideas of all attendees, not just a few pre-determined speakers.

How does it work?
All attendees are invited to lead 45-minute sessions on any topic of their choice related to historic preservation in New York City. Those who sign up to lead sessions may do so in any format of their choice: Power Point presentation, round-table discussion, game, you name it! Leaders are also invited to bring a buddy to co-lead a session or assemble a panel of a few people willing to speak on a given topic.

On the morning of the Conference, leaders will sign up for their proposed session – including their name, session title and format – on a large board in the main event space. You must post your session by 9:30AM for it to be included in the roster. After brief opening remarks and a keynote address, attendees will then vote for the sessions they find most interesting. The sessions with the most votes will be arranged on a grid, which will form the schedule for the day’s events.

There will be 12 possible sessions: 4 timeslots in 3 classroom spaces. Each attendee will be able to attend 4 sessions – one in each timeslot. However, if you’re not happy with the discussion or wish to move around from room to room, you’re welcome to do so. There are no rules!

Will I have a chance to mingle with other attendees?
During registration, coffee and pastries will be offered as attendees get settled, sign up to lead sessions and/or find their seat for the opening remarks and keynote. The event will also feature an hour-long buffet lunch in the middle of the day, during which attendees can mingle, socialize and keep the conversations going.

During breaks from the sessions, civic groups from across the five boroughs will participate in the annual Preservation Fair – a fun way to meet people and learn more about preservation campaigns in specific neighborhoods across the city.

Are there other associated events with the Conference?
Stay tuned for information about a series of walking tours offered throughout March and April highlighting Conference themes. This will be a fun way to reconnect with other Conference attendees and to learn more about preservation efforts in our historic city!

Got other questions? We’ve got answers.
Feel free to reach out to us for feedback about your proposed session topic. While we can’t guarantee that your session will be picked on the morning of the Conference, we’re happy to help you brainstorm!
Call us at 212-614-9107 or email us at
Support is provided in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and by the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Additional support is provided by City Council Members Ben Kallos, Rosie Mendez, Mark Levine, Inez Dickens, Vincent Gentile, Corey Johnson, Stephen Levin, Margaret Chin, Daniel Garodnick and Rafael Salamanca, and by New York State Assembly Members Deborah Glick, Richard Gottfried and Daniel O’Donnell.