Creator of “Tiny Activist Project” to Be 2020 Keynote Speaker

Sarah Marsom as 2020 Keynote Speaker "Pushing Preservation Forward"

Missouri Preservation is excited to announce that Sarah Marsom, creator of the “Tiny Activist Project” will be joining us in Jefferson City as the keynote speaker for the 2020 Missouri Preservation Conference!

Sarah will be speaking on “Pushing Preservation Forward,” following our conference theme of overcoming adversity.

Not all buildings are easy to preserve and not a histories are easily interpreted. The work you do is valuable and should be valued by your community. For historic preservation to be relevant (and its practitioners to be appreciated), we must think outside the traditional constructs of how we save buildings and educate people on the past.

Relevance can be cultivated through creative approaches and an ability to learn from failure. “Pushing Preservation Forward” will weave personal anecdotes with examples of forward thinking initiatives in preservation today, highlighting strategies to connect with new audiences and turn that National Register of Historic Places from a dusty document to a place activator. Crafting connections through art, pop culture, and empowerment leads to new allies in the preservation fight. Not every tactic will be a home run, but our willingness to try something new and learn for these efforts is key to the future of the preservation. Let’s expand our toolkit, our understanding of who is a preservationist, and empower each other for the future of our communities.

Pat Jones poses with a Tiny Jane at the 2018 Missouri Preservation Conference in Sedalia

The Tiny Activist Project was created by Sarah to provide scholarships for emerging professionals wanting to attend the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s PastForward Conference. The program began with an entirely hand-sewn “Tiny Jane” Jacobs doll that Sarah created after wondering what the infamous activist would think of Houston, location of PastFoward 2016, where Sarah was to present alongside fellow members of the Rust Belt Coalition of Young Preservationists. The adventures of Tiny Jane Jacobs around Houston were documented on the Rust Belt Coalition of Young Preservationist’s Instagram (@rustbeltyp).

People were curious about the little grey-haired doll, giving Sarah an opportunity to educate others on Jane Jacobs and her impact on advocacy. Much to her surprise, many were interested in owning a Tiny Jane of their own!

With the design assistance of her illustrator friend, Shannon May, the official Tiny Jane doll was born! Dolls began selling in early 2017 — always with the intent of funds providing scholarships — and have helped aspiring professionals attend the PastForward Conference in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

“With only 8% of designated historic sites representing the history of minority populations (women, people of color, LGBTQIA), the Tiny Activist Project seeks to highlight lesser known stories of people who fought to save cultural resources. Through hand sewn dolls and workshops the Tiny Activist Project works to connect urbanism, heritage, and community activism to diverse age groups. Every item sold contributes to a specific preservation cause.”

Sarah Marsom, Tiny Activist Project

Sarah’s involvement in preservation and advocacy goes above and beyond. She helps moderate the Historic Preservation Professionals group on Facebook, plans events with the Rust Belt Coalition of Young Preservationists, and runs a Tiny Activist Project instagram all alongside her work as a preservation consultant.

For more information on Sarah, the Tiny Activist Project, and her other work visit sarahmarsom.com

2020 Keynote Speaker sponsored by our friends at

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