Preserving a Legacy

Magazine ,

By Josh Gold, CAE, CMP

Executive Vice President

The World of Coca-Cola museum in Atlanta boasts a movie theater, 200 artifacts including an 1896 syrup urn, and a secret formula vault. Disney World displays original sketches, costumes, and plenty of memorabilia at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and other attractions. The Levi Strauss Visitor Center in San Francisco displays a pair of jeans from 1890. 

While your organization may not be an institution of American culture, it does have a history that may well be worthy of commemorating. An upcoming anniversary or another company milestone is a good opportunity to honor your legacy. Preparing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Florida Apartment Association turned out to be a fascinating — albeit sometimes frustrating — undertaking.  

As we began the planning process, we researched what other associations and organizations had done. The results ranged from publishing a couple of articles and a few photos to producing a glossy coffee-table book, from designing a new logo to launching a new product or initiative. We settled on a special insert in this magazine; a timeline to appear in the magazine insert and be displayed at the 2021 FAA Annual Conference & Trade Show; a video to present at that event; and a redesign of the FAA logo – which hasn’t been updated since 2007. 

If you have ever undertaken a large project, you will not be surprised to learn that this project grew exponentially, from a 16-page insert to a 24-page standalone piece to a 44-page perfect-bound publication. Similarly, more than two dozen videotaped interviews yielded far too many treasures to include in the brief video we are planning as part of the conference opening session. In order to include as many as possible, we’ll be sharing nuggets throughout the conference as well as on social media. We’ve also been sharing remembrances of past presidents and others on the FAA blog at faahq.org/news/50th-anniversary. Check them out, if you haven’t already.

We believe we have curated a robust depiction of FAA’s first half-century that will stand the test of time. It has been a team effort involving everyone on FAA staff and then some, as well as numerous volunteer leaders, past and present. If you are considering celebrating a milestone at your company or organization, here are some lessons that may be helpful. 

Don’t delay getting started. Especially if there is a specific target date for a celebration, start sooner than you think you should. FAA staff have been talking about our 50th anniversary since not long after I became executive vice president in 2014. We had documents and board minutes that covered the entire 50 years, as well as boxes of photos, magazines, conference programs, and more. We launched the project in earnest more than a year before our target date — the 2021 FAA Annual Conference & Trade Show. We hired a historian and writer to peruse minutes and magazines, and we began scanning photos, magazine covers, and conference programs. We are quite pleased with the resulting magazine supplement, and we’re excited to finalize the video and displays for the conference. Still, we could have continued working on this project ad infinitum.

Involve others. We sought out contributions, memories, and insights from as many past and present players as possible. We shared “Throwback Thursday” photos on social media and included a link where members could upload their own photos from the past. We contacted past presidents, hall of fame inductees, and influential members from both the management and supplier sides of the industry. Many of them shared their thoughts in writing, by telephone, or in videotaped interviews. These memories make up the heart of FAA’s history.  

Know that it will never be perfect. We knew from the outset that several years’ worth of photos and magazines were missing, most likely having been lost or left behind during a move from one office to another. Not surprisingly for a 50-year-old organization, many past presidents are no longer with us. What was surprising: The very first president, Rolfe Duggar, is still working in St. Petersburg – at 90. He was interviewed during FAA’s spring governance meetings at the Don CeSar Resort in St. Petersburg, and was able to stop by the meeting of the FAA Board of Directors – what a treat!

No doubt, we missed some significant occurrence or legislative battle, as well as individuals who were important. We continue to welcome stories and photos to be uploaded at faahq.org/share, and we will share them throughout the summer and maybe even after this year’s conference. We appreciate everyone who has already participated in this legacy project, whether a volunteer leader past or present, a hall of fame inductee, or an involved member. Without you and ALL of our members, not only would this 50-year celebration have been impossible, so would the very story of the Florida Apartment Association. After all, it is ultimately YOUR story and your celebration. We salute you!