Can Poetry Save Our History? (Page & Turnbull, Preservation Month 2021)

19th-century Carson Block Building, Eureka, California

Did you know that May is nationally designated as Preservation Month?

If not, you’re not alone. There’s too little awareness of the 31-day celebration that first debuted as Preservation Week in 1973 — and not enough attention to the pressing need to save historic buildings and art, say a group of architects and historians at California firm Page & Turnbull.

That’s why the firm decided to make a little noise – using the poetry form of haiku – and creating one haiku every day in May to boost appreciation of Preservation Month in 2021.

Created to raise awareness of the importance of saving historic treasures, the designation is meant to inspire action that protects physical, cultural icons, says Ruth Todd, president of Page & Turnbull (and one of the haiku poets). As the U.S. National Park Service states, “During the month of May, many events are planned to promote historic places for the purpose of instilling national and community pride, promoting heritage tourism, and showing the social and economic benefits of historic preservation. Thousands of people participate annually in Preservation Month celebrations.”

Well, Page & Turnbull wants to make it millions of people. In support of Preservation Month’s ideals, during May, the internationally recognized architecture, planning and preservation firm established nearly a half-century ago, Page & Turnbull, will rally attention on the value of preservation with 31 posts of haikus on Instagram – one on each day of the month – that commemorate noteworthy historic buildings and preservation efforts, as written by a team member. To sum up the effort, haiku-style, says the firm:

31 days
Promoting preservation
And its practitioners!

Historic Aronson Building, San Francisco, California

“Like haiku itself, conserved heritage such as historic buildings and adapted landmark structures offer poetic expressions of who we are as a nation, and what we value in terms of beauty, culture and ideals,” says Ruth Todd, FAIA, LEED AP, AICP, president and principal of the firm. “Sharing iconic projects and influences of historic preservation through the distilled, inspired voice of daily haikus is a fun way to highlight how preserving buildings’ architectural heritage contribute to cultural values, community prosperity and everyday pleasures.”

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona