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  • COVID-19 Update (Weekly bulletin, 3 April 2020)

    Posted on April 3, 2020

    Latest news from the INTO Secretariat

    With thanks to the Bermuda National Trust for the photo of their Waterville HQ

    I’ve just come off a teleconference with our Board of Trustees. And they wanted me to pass on their support to you all at this challenging time.  Both to you personally and to your organisations. As leaders of their own trusts, they understand the challenges you are facing and stand in solidarity with you.

    This call gave us the chance to share experiences (in shutting down properties and offices, communicating to supporters, keeping solvent); to hear inspiring stories from across the world (like our colleagues at BPPI sending vitamins to rangers looking after wildlife in the Indonesian forests) and to be moved by heroic endeavours (such as the US National Trust shutting down all their properties in one day or the CCFU’s WhatsApp group to combat anxiety).

    This is difficult.  We are all worried about the future.  But I am so uplifted by what our INTO members are doing.  And the generous way you are seeking to strengthen the ties between the trusts of the world.  By sharing your expertise so that we can all make our resources go further, increase engagement and deal with change.   Please ‘steal with pride’ from the tips and examples of good communications below.  Keep well and safe.

    – Catherine and the Secretariat team


    FAI’s little film is inspired by Jean Luc Godard’s movie A Bande Apart, in which the main characters race through the Louvre in 9 minutes and 47 seconds!Total Positivity at Belle Grove in the northern Shenandoah Valley near Middletown, Virginia, USA

    The National Trust for Jersey’s mysterious sign, which they have left in place as a good suggestion!

    NTEWNI: “With your help, we’ll be here when this is over, helping people and nature to thrive.”

    NTEWNI property staff in quarantine

    INTO members have been quick to provide alternative offers to their members and supporters while their properties are closed.   Here is a small selection of communications – please share yours!

    FAI has created #ItaliaMiManchi (I miss you Italy)

    Under the banner of #ItaliaMiManchi, FAI – Fondo Ambiente Italiano, The National Trust for Italy, is sharing lots of great online content with its members and supporters, including this wonderful virtual visit.  Introduced by our friend, Daniela Bruno (who you may remember from INTO Cambridge 2015), it’s a five-minute tour of Villa Panza.

    The INTO Trustees visited Villa Panza in 2016 and were struck by the juxtaposition of modern art in the 18th Century property.  I remember being taken quite aback at James Turrell’s Skyspaces – openings cut into the ceiling and wall that frame the sky.  But as Daniela says, it’s not a museum, it’s a home.  I love that this film also highlights that FAI members get in free (at this and every other FAI property) – and that it finishes “we’re waiting to see you as soon as possible”.

    FAI’s latest member newsletter contains some other good ideas.

    How places save and sustain us all!

    The US National Trust for Historic Preservation has been sharing lots of wonderful content and resources around visiting your favourite historic place, supporting local businesses, keeping your family engaged with learning. All with a focus on the power of place.

    And I really liked reading INTO Trustee, Katherine Malone-France’s take on virtual tours, like this one of James Madison’s Montpelier which “like thousands of historic places across the nation, embodies our capacity to persevere, adapt, and endure in ways that are incredibly inspiring, especially in a time of crisis and uncertainty.”

    Total Positivity

    Katherine also just mentioned on our call this lovely twitter feed from Belle Grove, one of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s historic sites.  They are using TP or Total Positivity as a banner for posts about anything uplifting from rainbows and signs of spring to news from the community and local businesses.

    Mysterious sign

    National Trust for Jersey is just finishing it’s ‘Things to Do’ pages, including children’s activities and some nice walks and trails.

    Staff have been sharing photos of their new office views (all incredibly beautiful it seems).  CEO Charles Alluto also reported a mysterious sign which had appeared at one of their properties advising people to all walk around clockwise to ensure social distancing.  Some of their self-catering property is also being made available to people who might need to self-isolate.

    The Lady with the Unfortunate Shoulders

    Personally, I’m loving the Bermuda National Trust’s exploration of items in their collection, including Who was the Lady with the Unfortunate Shoulders, Where to Park a Prominent Posterior and The Mystery of the James Madison Tea-set!

    It’s quiet without you …

    The ‘places sustain us’ sentiment of the US National Trust is echoed by the National Trust of England, Wales and Northern Ireland in its latest video.   The message is simple: “Nature, beauty and history are for everyone. With your help, we’ll be here when this is over, helping people and nature to thrive. It’s quiet without you … and we can’t wait to welcome you back. Until then, be inspired online at”

    Many NTEWNI colleagues are contributing to wider civil society and community efforts, particularly now they are on temporary leave.   They have been devising rotas to phone elderly and isolated volunteers, picking flowers from closed gardens and leaving out bouquets for people to collect, donating leftover food from tearooms to local communities.  And there has been some light-heartedness as well.  I love this re-interpretation of the 1st Viscount Bangor at Castle Ward!

    Through it all, NTEWNI is encouraging multi-voice dialogue: so lots of friendly social media flow from individuals (like simple daily updates from Ranger Toby), inviting people to share their memories of past visits and encouraging followers to share and respond to one another’s stuff.

    What do people want?

    We were reminded on our Trustee call that many countries are focussing on basic survival at the moment.  And heritage conservation is not high on government agendas.  But it was good to hear from CCFU that they are researching stories of how communities have survived epidemics in the past.  That the Indian Trust for Rural Heritage and Development is supporting craft workers who have lost their incomes.  And BPPI (Indonesian Heritage Trust) is writing a book about the value of traditional culture.

    INTO members that rely on membership income and property visitation highlighted the following as important for their supporters:

    • Families want simple solutions for parents under pressure – have a look at these children’s activities from the NTEWNI as it pivots its ’50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ programme for the Easter holidays
    • Mature adults want to maintain connection and stave off boredom
    • INTO member organisations can provide added member value to defend against cancellation through the promise of special online content to give them things to look forward to and fill their diaries with!
    • Members and supporters want to feel connected to their local places and people (so INTO members can focus on bringing nature and history into people’s own homes when they can’t actually visit)
    • But remember, they are not really expecting much from us as they already have so much else to think about so let’s not bombard them with irrelevant content!

    And finally … 

    We also talked with the Trustees about how INTO should be responding, as a global family of national trusts.  Last Friday I told you about a shared document we had created for your queries and ideas.  Well, to be honest, I don’t think that was what you needed.  So, today’s conversation with the Trustees was really helpful as it has thrown up some other suggestions around joint campaigns with a particular focus on World Heritage Day – watch this space!

    We will continue to share good practice as we find it – either via our social media channels if appropriate @intoheritage or through this weekly bulletin.  So, if you have anything you’d like to share with other INTO members, do please email it to me directly.

    I’m afraid we know most about what the NTEWNI is doing given our proximity so do please share what your organisation is up to so that we can share the love!   I realise of course that everyone’s primary concerns are for those who are suffering or working on the front line.  And I agree. But we also know how much our work contributes to people’s wellbeing.  History, culture, beauty and nature definitely work alongside kindness, compassion and feeling part of something bigger.  So, I hope this note will help you feel part of the INTO family as we work through this together.

    The International National Trusts Organisation (INTO) is a non-profit organisation registered as a charity England and Wales (No 1175994). The Secretariat is based at our registered address, 20 Grosvenor Gardens, London SW1W 0DH, UK.

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