SPI and Upcoming Cultural Heritage Events in Europe

Sustainable Preservation Initiative is heading to Europe. Founder Larry Coben will speak at ICOMOS’s 17th General Assembly, “Heritage, a Driver of Development,” convening in Paris, France from November 28th to December 1st, 2011.  ICOMOS, the International Council on Monuments and Sites, is the only global non-government organization working for the conservation and protection of cultural heritage sites.

What does SPI hope to bring to the ICOMOS Assembly?

SPI focuses on the communities at places with heritage at risk. We believe in empowering communities to create their own businesses and local jobs that are tied to the preservation of an endangered archaeological site. It’s two for the price of one. It’s win-win. And it’s the only paradigm that sustains both long-term preservation and community development.

“People can’t eat their history,” says Larry Coben, founder and CEO of SPI, “we need to provide an alternative to other potential economic uses of archaeological sites, such as looting, agriculture, grazing, residential and commercial uses. That enables us to help people better their lives and gives them a powerful economic incentive to preserve our shared heritage.” And this is exactly what Coben will address in Paris with his talk, “Toward a Locally-Based Ownership Paradigm: Case Studies in Sustainable Preservation and Development” on Tuesday, November 29th.

Other upcoming cultural heritage events:

Tomorrow (Tuesday, November 22, 2011), the World Monuments Fund presents: “From Babylon to Bauhaus: Conservation and Interpretation” in Florence, Italy – Tuesday, November 22, 2011.

For more information: http://www.wmf.org/get-involved/events-exhibitions

From November 24-26, the British School at Rome is holding “Our Future’s Past: Sustainable Cultural Heritage in the 21st century.”

For more information:


Los Angeles and New York City: Event Photo Gallery

Check out the gallery and slideshow below for more photos from our two most recent events in Los Angeles (October 27-28, 2011) and New York City (November 10, 2011), which celebrated SPI’s initial successes at San Jose De Moro, Peru.

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Coast to Coast: Sustainable Preservation Initiative in LA and NYC

Peru, Jordan, and now…Los Angeles and New York City. From one coast to the other, Sustainable Preservation Initiative is generating more buzz and excitement about its new paradigm of archaeological preservation.

On October 27th and 28th Sustainable Preservation Initiative (SPI) hit the city of angels, first with an event at the Getty Villa. On the evening of October 27th, esteemed Professor and Director of the Brown University Petra Archaeological Project (BUPAP) Susan Alcock presented “What to do with a Wonder of the World? The Puzzle of Petra.” Cut into high sandstone rock formations near the Wadi Araba, the spectacular ancient monuments of Petra are Jordan’s most popular tourist site. Petra, ancient capital of the Nabateans, reached its apex as an oasis and trade center in the early 3rd century CE, but remains an enigma to archaeologists today. “Although Petra is most famous as a trade emporium, its people still had to eat. How did Petra feed and, even more vitally, water itself? Where did people live and work outside the monumental urban center?” writes Alcock.

However, the problem of understanding the site historically was only of the issues discussed at the Getty event. Despite its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (since 1985) and more recently, as one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World,” Petra is also poorly presented to visitors and suffering from a lack of preservation due to erosion, weathering, improper restoration, and unsustainable tourism. SPI Founder Larry Coben was invited up to discuss SPI’s unique model of preservation. Instead of focusing on one-time acts of conservation on monuments, as other preservation programs do, SPI invests in locally owned and controlled businesses whose success is tied to the continued preservation of local archaeological sites. “People can’t eat their history,” says Coben, and this investment scheme provides local communities with a realistic incentive to preserve their cultural heritage sites.

SPI Founder Larry Coben and Professor Luis Jaime Castillo Butters discuss SPI's results at San Jose De Moro.

The next evening, a crowd of 40 to 45 gathered at the home of Patricia Wheeler and Jon Schotz for a cocktail party to celebrate SPI’s initial successes at San JoseDe Moro, Peru. Coben and Professor Luis Jaime Castillo Butters, director of the SPI project at San Jose De Moro, announced that in addition to employing over 20 members of the community to construct a new workshop, exhibition and store facilities, and visitors center, SPI’s investment employs 12 residents from the town. Having been trained by ceramicist Julio Ibarrola, these new entrepreneurial artisans make and sell replicas of ancient Moche fineline ceramics. In high demand, these replica pots sold out during a silent auction held at the party!

SPI supporters bid on fineline Moche replica ceramics last night in New York City.

The trend continued last night on the opposite coast, the fineline ceramic replicas selling out once again at SPI’s celebratory cocktail party in New York City. At the home of Katie Ford amidst a crowd of 50 supporters, Castillo Butters and Coben discussed SPI’s results at San Jose De Moro. They also announced SPI’s proposed expansion at two new sites in Peru and its new partnership with Tuck Global Consultancy to further research the feasibility of projects in Jordan (see previous post here). All in all, the two events were a huge success. “We exposed the SPI paradigm to a brand new audience,” Coben said, “and there’s an increased level of excitement among both past and new supporters.” And with SPI’s new paradigm of preservation on the rise, there should be.

“People Not Stones” in Jordan: Sustainable Preservation Initiative’s Partnership with Tuck Global Consultancy

From South America to the Middle East: the Sustainable Preservation Initiative (SPI) is looking to extend its unique paradigm of preservation to Jordan! By empowering local communities to embrace their local cultural heritage as an economic asset, SPI simultaneously preserves endangered archaeological sites and transforms lives. It’s about people, not stones.

Recently, SPI announced its partnership with Tuck Global Consultancy (TGC), a program of international consulting services offered by the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, to investigate the feasibility of the SPI model at specific sites in Jordan. “The Global Consultancy started in 1997, 14 years ago. In that time, we have completed 155 consulting engagements for 95 clients. We’ve been in 50 countries, and to add another figure, we’ve been on 6 continents,” John Owens, Program Director said. TGC will carry out an on-the-ground market assessment of the proposed sites to determine the potential for SPI initiated or partnered eco-tourism at several sites in Jordan.

Potential sites to be considered include (but are not limited to): Tel Madaba, located in central Jordan near the modern town of Madaba (known for its sixth-century mosaic map of the Holy Land), an archaeological site with continual inhabitance down to the Bronze Age; Tel Dhiban, also in central Jordan, located just off the Desert Highway and minutes from the beautiful Wadi Muji; World Heritage site Umm el Rasas, known for its stunning floor mosaics in the Church of Saint Stephen; and Little Petra / Baida, a narrow canyon filled with tombs, triclinia, and cisterns and nearby Neolithic and later Islamic villages, just northwest of the monumental core of Petra proper. (The site of Petra was the capital of the ancient Nabateans and is most famous for its narrow gorge, the “Siq,” which leads into the ancient city and where a scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was filmed).

A team of second-year Tuck MBA students are carrying out the consulting project, led by Team Advisor John Vogel, T’61. Vogel has served on the Faculty of Tuck Business School since 1992 and has been named one of its “Outstanding Faculty” members by Business Week Guide. With an extensive consulting practice of his own, 20 years of experience on several non-profit boards, and author or co-author of over 100 Harvard Business School or Tuck case studies about real estate, non-profit management, or entrepreneurship in the social sector, Vogel brings a wealth of experience to the project. We look forward to collaborating with TGC to maximize the potential of SPI’s preservation model in Jordan!

For more on Tuck Global Consultancy, check out the video at the link below, which features a 2010-2011 project at Machu Picchu in Peru.