[10 on Tuesday] 10 Tips for Organizing a Community Tour


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As we head into warmer weather, historic tours can be a great way for local history-lovers and preservation groups to bring a community together around beloved places (or the desire to sneak a peek inside that big house on Main Street). Are you interested in coordinating one for your town? Here are 10 tips to get you started.


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[10 on Tuesday] 10 Tips for Organizing a Community Tour

  1. 1. 10 Tips for Organizinga Community Tour Photo courtesy National Trust for Historic Preservation
  2. 2. Photo courtesy Carol Lemlein1. Know your goals.If you’re planning a tour on behalf of an organization, makesure your planned activity ties back to your organization’smission and has a clear focus, whether it’s fundraising,awareness-building, or inspiring action.
  3. 3. 2. Decide on a format.Most communities offer myriad options forhistoric tours: homes, neighborhoods, gardens,etc. Each comes with a unique set of challenges-- including timing and staffing -- so beingspecific early on will help keep you on track.Tip: If doing an organized tour seems toodaunting, consider the “If this house could talk”model pioneered by the Cambridgeportneighborhood of Cambridge, Mass., in whichhomeowners shared their history on handmadesigns.Photo courtesy President Lincolns Cottage
  4. 4. 3. Identify partners.A homes tour can be a massive undertaking requiring manyvolunteers and supporters, and partnerships can help ease theburden. Consider reaching out to your local government, civicorganizations, schools, and cultural groups for help. Photo courtesy Historic Selma
  5. 5. Photo courtesy York Towne Centre Main Street4. Determine oversight.Establish a steering committee with members of thesponsoring organization and partners with the authority toapprove budgets (both expenses and projected income), planschedules, recruit volunteers, and the like.
  6. 6. 5. Develop a marketingplan.The only way for your event to be a success isfor people to attend, so it’s important todetermine who your audience is for the tour, andhow to let them know it is happening. Reachingout to local media, preparing signage forparticipants and local businesses, and gettingthe word out on social channels should all bepart of your plan.Photo courtesy lumierefl, Flickr
  7. 7. 6. Select the homes/gardens/walking tour stops.There are many ways to handle theselection process, but having atheme -- an architectural style, era,neighborhood, or other unifyingthread -- makes it easier to chooseplaces. Once you know what you’relooking for, you can solicitnominations or make selectionsbased on appropriate criteria. Photo courtesy National Trust for Historic Preservation
  8. 8. Photo courtesy Arkansas State University7. Research the history of the places selected.Homeowners, in many cases, can shed some light on the story oftheir house, but a trip to the local library to find additionalbackground on any relevant details (architect, prominent pastresidents, role in local history) is going to provide a richerexperience for tour attendees. (Check out these additional tips onresearching a property’s history.)
  9. 9. 8. Prepare the tourbrochure.Take all those great historic nuggets you’veunearthed and turn them into a brochure thathighlights the theme of your tour. Include a mapand any information the tour-taker will need tosuccessfully navigate the tour. Be sure toinclude a hashtag for the tour to make it easy tofind and share photos and tweets about theevent during and after the fact.Photo courtesy inju, Flickr
  10. 10. 9. Recruit and train volunteers.Start with a job description for each of the volunteerpositions, including docents (who can either lead formal tours or beavailable for ad-hoc questions), greeters, ticket-sellers, and anyother positions you need to fill. Hold a training session before thetour to make sure everyone is comfortable with their role. Photo courtesy National Trust for Historic Preservation
  11. 11. 10. Manage logistics.On the day of the tour, be sure tohave supplies -- including a cashbank, tickets, a contactlist, volunteerassignments, refreshments, first-aidkit, etc. -- on hand in a centrallocation so they can be dispatchedwherever needed on short notice.Have a few extra staffers orvolunteers on hand to cover anygaps in coverage. Photo courtesy Madame Meow, Flickr
  12. 12. Ten on Tuesday features ten preservationtips each week. For more tips, visitblog.PreservationNation.org.