**Please note** The following are my own words and opinions. They are in no way associated with the organizations for which I volunteer or am employed.
Dear Ms. Curtis:
I’d like to start by thanking you for all the work you have done to rejuvenate the dilapidated housing stock around the Twin Cities and elsewhere. The work you do is incredibly important and I admire your courage in completing projects in neighborhoods which others have written off. These communities are worth investment, and I’m glad that you have highlighted how strong and vibrant they are, regardless of what we might hear through the media. I believe that your efforts will contribute to a renaissance in these neighborhoods, and for that we should be grateful.
I, too, consider myself a preservationist. I’ve been volunteering with the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota and Preserve Minneapolis for over four years; I graduated with a master’s degree in Historic Preservation last spring and I’m currently working in my role at Minnesota Housing to help homeowners fund projects to update and restore their homes. I wish I had your knack for home renovation, I certainly do not (I recently replaced a light fixture in my house and I’ve been riding the high of doing that all by myself for weeks), but I try to contribute to the preservation effort in any other way I’m able.
When I first discovered your TV show, I was excited – I thought, how awesome is it that we have this person in Minneapolis, showing off our fabulous city! But, as I followed you, read your posts and watched your show, I’ve become disenchanted. I struggle with the way that you present your opinions and beliefs, sometimes so abrasive that I feel compelled to defend the people you are attacking, although I otherwise agree with your viewpoints. It’s an odd dichotomy for me, because I want to support you in your efforts to restore the beautiful homes around the Twin Cities, but I just cannot defend your behavior. I cannot understand how publically attacking our elected officials will help us gain traction in the effort to preserve our existing buildings. I feel that your conduct is doing nothing but further dividing our community into two groups: those for preservation and those against. This seems ludicrous to me because common ground does exist. We should be working to find and cultivate our shared interests in the future growth and development of our cities, rather than lobbing insults at one another, burning bridges and impeding discussions before they even begin.
You have become a public figure with a large following and great influence, but you are using it in way that spurs animosity and distrust. I believe that you have an opportunity to change that, however. Instead of focusing on the times that we failed to save a historic home, let’s talk about our triumphs. Let’s talk about the places and buildings that thrive as a result of preservation. Let’s show the world that preservationists are more than NIMBY naysayers standing in front of a wrecking ball and that we deserve to be a part of the process of planning for a city’s growth. Let’s highlight the times that the city council got it right and give credit to those individuals working on preservation projects and strengthening their communities around the country. Let’s promote preservation organizations and attend their events, speak to groups about optimism and hope for future of the communities that successfully balance preservation and growth. Let’s bridge the gap and find a way to work together, the result will be dynamic city neighborhoods that generate pride and economic stability.
If you take the time to read this and consider my viewpoint, I thank you. Your work is important, but just as important is the way that you use the influence you have developed. You have a unique opportunity to effect real change, but I fear that if you continue down the road you are on, preservation as a movement will suffer.
**UPDATE: MARCH 4th 2015**
Below is the response I received from Ms. Curits regarding this Open Letter. She commented on my post on my personal Facebook page. I responded to her comment with a comment on that post and subsequently sent her a direct email, to which she never responded: