I, Preservation take thee, Progress, to have and to hold from this time forward, with the purpose of working together on this common goal of joining opposing factions in a mutually beneficial journey forward, and to cherish and honor this bond till hell freezes over, or Maine experiences a real spring season.

Both endeavors are positive in nature, offering forward movement in life and growth, and each bringing an optimistic attitude and common cause to the marriage.

Now, put them together, united in a long-lasting marriage, directed toward success, sharing and pleasure. It’s a balancing act in perpetual motion. Progress strives for growth, accomplishment and evidence, while preservation wants to maintain, protect and achieve. What’s bad about any of this, I ask? They seem perfect for each other.

The answer could lie in circumstances, such as politics, greed, impetuosity, ignorance and complacency. Lately these two admirable purposes of progress and preservation have been pitted against each other, while in essence they are working together for the good of all, much like a good marriage. They can accomplish goals that not only benefit the residents of this city but also offer a desirable palette to exciting new business opportunities. Developers with plans that engage efficient, contemporary and environmentally friendly buildings could merge with protecting our architectural history.

You wouldn’t want to live where there was one without the other. Progress needs to move forward, and preservation needs to move in place. Both are relevant and have an equal place and voice in any environment. They simply need to establish effective, ongoing communication, e.g., one mate checking with the other before making a major decision.

So, do we need a marriage counselor to remind us of what we have and what we will be missing if we don’t take stock of our situation and do something constructive?

Imagine, Portland, a relatively small city that is fast becoming a megalopolis, but within the same original boundaries designed by our forefathers. Do you think they envisioned where we are today?

As we grow in stature we are faced with overcrowded areas, congested traffic and damaged roadways, but one of the most vulnerable and sensitive concerns facing us today is with allowing progress to continue in our historic districts without boundaries, and how we can preserve their integrity while we continue to grow and diversify.

Within these treasured historic districts are stately homes that say who we are, where we come from and how we wish to remain in the future. Yes, remain, to preserve that which is our history, our foundation, Portland’s identity – a historical seaport with a rich and varied tableau.

Unless you’re a criminal on the run, who among us would choose to lose their identity? Look what happens when we misplace our Social Security card, driver’s license or one of our credit cards – hell. we’ve lost ourselves!

Who we are makes us an individual, a person possessing specific features, personality traits, sex, fingerprints and DNA. All of this applies to our city as well. It has an identity in the design of our country. As with ourselves and our growth trajectory, development and preservation, our city requires the very same opportunities, the same nurturing, the same protection and, of course, a face-lift when needed. Call it infrastructure.

As with children, our city requires personal growth, guidance, advice, protection and constant cultivation. Currently, we have the Portland Historic Preservation Board, Greater Portland Landmarks, dozens of volunteer Friends groups and many citizens who simply care about saving Portland’s history.

Therefore, in our quest to move forward with our progress and at the same time protect our historical treasures, we need to provide good parental guidance to oversee the relationship. This, rather than allowing these two positive endeavors continue to be pitted one against the other. That would be like a marriage sitting “on the rocks.”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Portland could set an example with this marriage and establish a clear-cut working relationship between preservation and progress?

Gee, I hope this marriage works!


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