Heritage Futures International utilises the dynamic power and processes of the global philosophies and practices of Asset Based Community Driven (ABCD) Development to inspire and engage residents to identify, connect and utilise their local heritage assets to help shape, strengthen and build their communities while practicing ongoing dialogue, building leadership, embracing diversity, and creating a sense of community.

The ABCD Process Entails;

• Discovering and mapping the diverse range of local community heritage assets.

• Connecting these assets to work together.

• Creating opportunities for these assets to be productive and powerful together.

There are Six Levels of Community Assets;

1. Individuals Assets - Including gifts, skills, passions and hopes.

2. Physical Assets - Including land, rivers, buildings, equipment, parks.

3. Associations Assets - Including community groups, clubs, youth groups and voluntary networks.

4. Institutions Assets - Including schools, libraries, universities, government, non-government agencies.

5. Economic Assets - Including local businesses, work of individuals, consumer spending power.

6. Heritage Assets - Including culture, history, values and stories.

Globally, Heritage Tourism has evolved as one of the remarkable economic and social drivers of the 21st century, and when done correctly helps conserve and utilise heritage assets, celebrates cultures, respects differences, helps alleviate poverty, empowers women, enhances education, creates jobs, and improves the well-being of local communities, regions, and nations.

Heritage Tourism focuses on the experience of visiting a place with genuine historic, cultural or natural significance and differs from mainstream mass tourism in generally attracting more discernible travelers. These travelers want safe destinations, unique products and customized experiences, meaningful and authentic experiences, the ability to ‘participate’ rather than ‘observe’, opportunities to support good environmental and socially responsible practices, and to be able to experience the lifestyles of local people, their history, art, architecture, religion, and other elements that helped shape their way of life. The quality and integrity of the setting is what’s most important to someone wishing to experience the heritage of another country, region, or community and sites are not designed for the sole purpose of tourism – they are a “road” to discovery and a way to learn about a community’s land, people, culture and history.

Heritage Tourism sites are based on five key principles:

1. Authenticity and Quality.

The story of an area is built on its unique natural environment, the contributions of past generations, its history and culture. Combined, communities can make their areas truly unique destinations.

2. Conserving and Protecting Resources.

When natural, historic and cultural heritage assets are the heart of local tourism plans, it is necessary to preserve their valuable authenticity and quality for future generations. This takes creativity, ingenuity and cooperation.

3. Creating Partnerships.

Success depends on working cooperatively to develop themes and opportunities, pool resources, save money, and expand marketing potential.

4. Making Sites Come Alive Through ‘Living History’ Techniques.

The human drama of history and the unique qualities of a local environment are what visitors want to discover. Messages must be creative and exciting. Whatever means are used, getting visitors involved helps them appreciate the significance of an area.

5. Finding the Fit Between Heritage and Tourism.

Local conditions will determine what a site needs to do and can do. Travelers are seeking distinct and authentic experiences.

‘Living History’ is an activity that incorporates historical tools, activities and dress into an interactive presentation that seeks to give visitors a sense of stepping back in time. It started in Europe over a hundred years ago and today is flourishing around the world at sites as diverse as historic farms, agricultural museums, small historic house museums, recreated Victorian Tearooms, old mills and factories, precincts, military sites and battlefields, heritage railways, maritime museums and more. The human drama of history and the unique qualities and significance of a place or site are what visitors want to discover – not just names and dates, and to effectively tell these stories they must be true, educational and stimulating.

Authenticity, quality of experience and interpretative facilities cannot be compromised if repeat business is to be received. Designing and implementing a living history program involves clarifying aims, historic research, concept development, script & character development, planning of location / costumes / props, staff training, trialling, evaluation and marketing. A number of practical methods can be utilised to achieve this including: History re-enactments / staff daily wearing thoroughly researched reproductions of period clothing / staff role-playing and speaking as a specific character from the past / working antique machinery, vehicles / live farm yards / authentic heritage seed vegetable gardens / traditional food / authentic signage / well informed tour guides leading tours. The challenge of interpretation is to tell compelling stories – stories of individuals, of the drama of human sacrifice, of dreams, valor, ingenuity, corruption, bravery, fear, and freedom. From societal to personal scales, the natural and cultural landscapes of a community deserve to be powerfully interpreted. The advantages of operating a ‘Living History’ attraction include; The use of social history to present different views of people, land, work and the past; The techniques engage visitors; A grassroots view of history can be presented; Visitors are jogged out of a passive “museum stroll” through history; Presents how a community or group of people lived, worked and interacted together; Provides an exhilarating and satisfying experience for the visitor; Allows volunteers to do varied work from behind the scenes to working with groups of visitors; Objects or artifacts can be used in a setting and time period in which they were originally used; Shows that people of the past were people like us, giving the interpreter the ability to compare; Shares knowledge of history and the past in a way each visit becomes a new experience; Exhibits and activities become more interesting to children and families; Allows interpreters to use period tools and techniques in the practice of trades and crafts; Provides ongoing research into the methods of the past, preserving skills for future generations; Modern day interpreters can be a personal bridge between the present and the past; and visitors can have fun and a good time!

The Creative Placemaking Program (CPP) leverages the creative potential and power of local culture, arts and heritage assets to strengthen villages, towns and communities while driving a broader agenda for change, growth and transformation in a way that also builds character and quality of place.

The Program is a community building process used by communities and villages to engage local residents, enhance public space and contribute to developing healthy, sustainable and connected communities. It involves improving community appearance, well-being and prosperity while also fostering conditions for villages to define, draw attention to and distinguish themselves on a global scale.

The Creative Placemaking Program sparks an exciting re-examination of everyday settings and experiences in resident’s lives. It enables people from various civic stakeholders such as government agencies, community sectors, private investors, not-for-profit organizations, artists and citizen groups to realize just how inspiring their collective vision can be, and enables them to look with fresh eyes at the potential to shape the physical, cultural, social and economic character of their areas, parks, waterfronts, plazas, neighborhoods, streets, markets, town entrances and public buildings.

The outcomes and resultant relationships that evolve from such placemaking activities build safer and more activated and welcoming places. As a place becomes more active, local businesses are more likely to respond in terms of their services, thus giving people even more reasons to be there.

When people enjoy a place for its special cultural, social, physical and economic attributes, and are supported to influence decision-making about that space, then genuine creative placemaking can be seen in action. This Program seeks to animate public and private spaces, rejuvenate structures and streetscapes, improve local business viability and public safety, and bring together diverse people to celebrate, inspire, and be inspired.

Meaningful and lasting community change always originates within and local residents in that community are the best experts on how to activate that change. ( Peter Kenyon )

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