Writing a letter to local, state, and national officials is a crucial part of preservation advocacy. It is one of the most effective tools we have for having our voices heard and effecting change in our communities. I often get asked if there is a form for a certain letter, and while maybe someday soon there will be an effective AI tool for that, it isnโ€™t available yet. The personal touch of a well-crafted letter continues to carry the most weight.

Advocacy letters are a crucial part of preservation advocacy and have proven to be a powerful tool for voicing our concerns and effecting change in our communities. Keep scrolling for tips on drafting an effective letter and how to gather support within your community!

Historic Preservation Advocacy Letter Format

Date
Addressees
– Supervisor, Chairman/woman of the Board, Senator, etc.
Address

Re: Name Topic of the Letter

Dear xxxx,

Opening Paragraph
Start with a brief introduction, identifying yourself and your interest in the historic site or preservation cause. Identify if you are a constituent or the role you play in the community.

Body
Position Statement – begin with a concise statement that formally details your position on the subject project or legislation.ย  Provide reasoning that can be bulleted and elaborated on in the rest of the body of the letter.

Supporting Facts: highlight main points of concern. Clearly articulate the action you are requesting from the recipient, supported by reasons why they should support preservation efforts. Include historical facts, logic and data.

Make It Personal-Personalization is key to making your advocacy letter impactful. Share personal anecdotes, experiences, or connections to the historic site to convey its significance to you and your community. This makes your message more compelling and memorable.

Closing
Reiterate the action you are seeking, express gratitude for considering your views, and if appropriate offer assistance. Indicate your willingness to further support preservation efforts.

Thank the addressees for their attention to the matter.

Invite them to contact you with any questions or concerns they may have.

Salutation

Gather Support!

One voice may not have a lot of power, but if you gather a group, especially if you are communicating within a small community, change becomes possible. One way to have your voice heard is to write one letter as a community with multiple signatories. This is an easier way than asking each individual to write a letter. The power of an individual letter is that it is easier to convey a personal connection to an issue.

Identify Spokespeople: Identify individuals who can effectively communicate your message and serve as spokespeople for your cause. This could include organizations like Preservation Long Island or your local historical society.

Amplified Impact: When individuals come together to advocate as a collective, their impact is magnified. Each letter represents a voice in support of preservation, making it harder for decision-makers to ignore.

Preservation advocacy is a collaborative effort that depends on the active participation of community members. By leveraging the power of advocacy letters and effective communication strategies, we can ensure that the preservation message is heard loud and clear by decision-makers at all levels.

In addition to writing letters, consider attending local planning, historic preservation committee and zoning meetings. There is usually an opportunity for public comment regarding different issues. It is also a great opportunity to stay up to date on issues in your community.

By Tara Cubie
Preservation Director
Published May 8, 2024

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