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The National Trust For Historic Preservation: Bringing Places 'Back To Productive Use'

12/22/2010 05:42 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The National Trust for Historic Preservation helps provide leadership, education, advocacy and resources to endangered historic places across America. They were one of six winners in the first round of funding from Members Project from American Express and took home $200,000 to continue their work to revitalize communities in the United States.

We spoke with David Brown, the National Trust's executive vice president about their involvement, their use of social media and what he thinks is the best part of their work.

Social media helped the National Trust for Historic Preservation think about social media in a new way...

Well we already had a strong social media program because we had been doing online work for a number of years, but Members Project really helped us increase our use of social media and we tried different ways of reaching out to people. We tried different messages, including some humor. And the whole idea was that we wanted to reach newer groups that perhaps were involved in preservation but may or may not be members of the National Trust to support our work. And we think that it in fact, did work.

How do sites earn historic preservation status, what is the process?

You know we try and reach people through our website which is preservationnation.org. We reach out to people and ask them to tell us about places that matter to them that we can work on together. But we also have a staff of 300 people we have 6 regional offices and a lot of partners so we're also doing a lot of outreach, finding these places all around the country that we can assist with as well.

Can you tell us about a surprising place you've added to the list of historic preservations?

This year we listed Hinchchiffe Stadium, and it is one of the very few remaining negro-league baseball stadiums that's standing in America. It's in New Jersey. And you know it's not the kind of place that a lot of people think about when they think about historic preservation in the 1920s, 1930s art deco style structure. It's in very very bad shape but it really tells an important story about an important part of American history when major league baseball was segregated and so negro leagues were there to allow African-Americans to have a place to play.

For you, what's the best part of the work you do?

The most rewarding for me is helping someone locally that has a passion for a certain place. Helping them find the tools, find the money, find the resources to be able to save that place and then to see it being put back into productive use.

The Members Project from American Express and Take Part is an innovative new way to give back: it's an online philanthropy contest that is open to anyone and lets the public decide who wins.

If you want your favorite charity to win big, register for the Members Project, and cast your votes to help 5 charities win a total of $1,000,000.

This article is part of a series of interviews with winners of the first round to get details on their charities and how they hope to use their new funds.

And be sure to stay tuned to American Express and Take Part's Members Project, because there's new voting every three months and new winners at the end of each voting period. You're just a click away from making a difference.

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