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Conference studies impact of history on state Featured

historicDay one of the Historic Preservation Conference ended with a panel discussion of speakers sharing their thoughts about the day. Speakers included (from left) David Abbott, Holly Hawkins, Jessica Crawford, Belinda Steward, and Malcolm White and (seated in the back) George Bassi and Larkin Simpson.

The Listen Up Historic Preservation Conference kicked off Thursday at Studio 230 in Cleveland with speakers giving updates on many historic places and landmarks across Mississippi.

A few of the speakers included director of Mississippi Arts Commission Malcolm White and Bureau Manager of Visit Mississippi Mary Margaret Miller White.

Each shared strategies on ways to help save and renew Mississippi's historic places so they can continue to tell their diverse, inspiring stories that will bring visitors from across the globe.

One of the main questions asked throughout the conference was how are we going to save these historic places in Mississippi.

White talked about his self-published book "Little Stories: A Collection of Mississippi Photos," which shares his life view of Mississippi in photography and prose.

White said reading from his book, "What I present in this little book is how I see my postage stamp of earth; the place I call home and where I have made my life."

White said he wanted to try and demonstrate how special historic places in the state really have an importance in the story they tell.

Margaret, who grew up in the Mississippi Delta, gave a summary on Mississippi's Heritage Tourism Program and how Visit Mississippi is structured.

"A lot of great innovation has come out of Mississippi," Margaret said, adding, "Mississippi for a long time, we let other people tell our story, I think we are in this great moment now where we're beginning to tell our own story from our voice."

One of the highlights of Margaret's speech was when she showed the audience a video titled "Tourism Throughout the Years" which was a compilation of Mississippi commercials dating from the 1970s to present times.

She also talked about today's youth and ways to get millennials interested to traveling to Mississippi.

"Visitors to Mississippi tend to be older, so we all have to start thinking about how to draw in younger visitors to Mississippi, very important to the future of this realm of economic develop," Margaret said.

Margaret gave information on millennial travelers showing a chart of how uninterested they are in traveling to Mississippi.

She said millennials interest in old homes and mansions are at 1 percent, historic sites and churches are at 5 percent, and rural sightseeing for millennials was at 3 percent.

"I think there are things we can do. I think programming is a really big part or reaching millennial travelers because they are all interested in experience," said Margaret.

Both agreed on their dedication and committee to telling the full Mississippi story.

White said, "Let me just say that as we spend this day together, that we collectively ponder our common denominator the value of the historically built environment and it's role in cultural heritage tourism and community development."

Other speaker's from the conference included Hydrologist Sarah McEwen from Friends of the Mississippi River Basin Model, Director of Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, George Bassi, and David Abbott from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

The two-day conference ended Friday evening with a tour on Eustace Winn's Baby Doll House.

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