30th Alumni Retreat: What We Learned



Last month, 45 good friends, colleagues and staff – both past and present – gathered on a perfect Saturday afternoon in Boulder at Chautauqua in a retreat to honor the first 30 years of Colorado Preservation, Inc.   We asked everyone to roll up their sleeves, work in small groups and dive into four signature action areas driving the work of our organization.  They brainstormed and debated.  Critiqued and challenged.  Laughed and reflected.  Mostly, the groups looked ahead and visualized.  The small group reports revealed a variety of essential recommendations we are already putting to use in guiding our efforts ahead.  Afterwards we celebrated, collaborated and caught up with drinks, good food and a group photo.  To those who joined us and for the rest of you who were unable to make the trip to Boulder, this summary captures the top takeaways and a number of fresh, achievable ideas:

Endangered Places Program:


  • Streamline the nomination and review processes and make both more transparent; use technology!
  • Showcase Saves with positive PR
  • Publish and promote the entire list and consider limiting the total number of EPP sites
  • Secure creative program funding such as sponsorships

Innovative ideas:

  • Develop a mentorship program including board engagement and “Saved” places who mentor other endangered sites
  • Funding sources could include online crowd funding and Kickstarter (etc.), preservation license plate proceeds, individual site sponsors, conference session  sponsors
  • Build an active and extension network/directory of skilled resources statewide

Savings Places Conference:


  • Connect attendees to a longer-term membership/supporter relationship with CPI; CPI must be branded and identified first as the conference owner/host/creator
  • Expand/enhance the Marketplace with creative partnerships for a higher quality experience
  • Provide more tours, more offerings
  • Consider moving the conference dates out of February

Innovative ideas:

  • Provide and offer a live webinar for a fee or record for later viewing, also for a fee
  • Query all sponsors to determine the most attractive benefits of a sponsorship package
  • Provide multiple tours that appeal to a broader preservation constituency

Preservation Services:


  • CPI to more fully develop its fee for service programs (manage projects, write grants)
  • Utilize projects as teachable moments (sustainability, youth training, technology)
  • Educate about and manage tax credit projects
  • Reinforce need for maintenance

Innovative ideas:

  • Work with technology companies to provide more high tech methods to conduct surveys and geo-caching projects
  • Investigate latest software to ease tasks of project management
  • Link (piggy back) with new/established partners (Main Street, Creative Communities, Scenic & Historic Byways, regional and local groups)
  • Connect board members with projects statewide
  • Re-establish On the Road program; CPI to be leaders in statewide

Public Policy/Advocacy :


  • Educate, inform and engage County Commissioners
  • Aim to increase membership/supporter numbers through Advocacy outreach efforts and, subsequently, build a robust army of effective, passionate advocates (position CPI as The Voice of preservation as the statewide advocate)
  • Expand geographic base to all areas of the state
  • Re-message “preservation” to the value of connecting citizens to “place” and making preservation relevant to citizens statewide

Innovative ideas:

  • Develop a program to train preservation leaders of all ages and at all levels (local, state and federal) best practices in effective, classic grassroots advocacy methods
  • Connect with allied organizations and share database information for advocacy purposes
  • Explore funding mechanisms used by other statewide preservation organizations to support their Public Policy/Advocacy missions
  • Develop a robust, effective, and coordinated outreach campaign means of communicating with supporters including social media.

A huge thank you to everyone who came out, brainstormed, remembered and encouraged! We will be working to ramp up our programs to focus on the priorities and innovative ideas that came out of this exercise. Cheers to the next 30 years!

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One Comment

  1. Rick Cronenberger
    Posted October 30, 2014 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    To increase membership, require everyone who attends the CPI conference, to become a member, perhaps for only 1/2 year at a reduced price. Then CPI can market these new members and encourage them to become full time members.

    Reach out to preservation boards, and develop a way to have the boards become members, perhaps through a BOARD membership. It is amazing how many individual board members, that make preservation decisions, are not members of CPI.

    I would support moving the conference to a different time of the year. The only issue I would have, is that it has been in february for a few decades, and is ingrained in the attendees. But is would resolve some of the weather related issues.

    Perhaps look at messaging and changing the preservation terminology. The word PRESERVATION, has a negative connotation with property owners. It is really an action that is taken on a building. If the messaging where to be about Cultural or Heritage protection, it broadens the idea of preserving history, and then preservation becomes the action for actual work on a resource.

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