2016 Groves Award Winner

We’d like to help celebrate this year’s Groves Award Winner! Andy Blake, City Manager for the City of Ranson, West Virginia, will receive the 2016 Groves Award, given annually by the Congress for the New Urbanism and the Transect Codes Council to recognize outstanding leadership and vision in the promotion of Transect-based planning.

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Suburban Retrofits: A deep dive

A couple weeks ago, Ellen Dunham-Jones produced a Placemaking@Work webinar that she described as a deep dive into the suburban retrofit case studies, with an hour-long lecture in preparation for the 23rd Congress for the New Urbanism in Dallas, April 29 through May 2. This session is free until the beginning of the CNU here, but in the mean time, I had a few follow-up questions that she kindly answered for me.

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The Human Scale

This weekend, I again watched The Human Scale, a film from 2013, and got more stoked to meet Jan Gehl at the 23rd Congress for the New Urbanism (#CNU23) in Dallas in April. Jan will bring the Congress an update on his human scale work since the film was complete, but the ideas are timeless. The film is on Netflix in Canada. I’m not sure if it’s also available in the U.S., but it will be screened in Texas before CNU 23. Until then, here are memorable statements from the film, and the Twitter accounts of the speaker, when I could find them.

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Urbanists Soak Up Buffalo: PlaceMakers empty their notebooks

The 22nd annual gathering of the CNU wrapped up Saturday night, June 7, in Buffalo. We’re looking forward to the recordings at cnu.org over the next few weeks to fill the inevitable gaps, since the competing sessions and hallway conversations presented the usual embarrassment of riches.

Rather than go for a tidy narrative, let’s just share some random observations and sound bites from the four days.

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CNU21: Insights and Highlights from Salt Lake City

Git ‘Er Done | Hazel Borys
This year’s CNU was all about doing again, unlike the past few years where we’ve focused on stop-gap measures to redirect our investment choices to more resilient patterns. Looks like they might be starting to pay off. Still, we have plenty of hard work ahead to remove both legal and financial hurdles.

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Meet Your ‘Makers: Where we’ll be at CNU 21 Salt Lake City

It’s that time of year again, fellow urbanists. The Congress for the New Urbanism, perhaps the country’s most comprehensive gathering of city planners, city builders and city lovers. This year, the 21st, is themed Living Community which, according to organizers, “balances the demands of physical, social, economic, and environmental values by connecting people to place. It awakens a stewardship for our land and each other. It is measured by how well we care for the people around us, the places we make, and the land that hosts us.”

As always, you’ll find us there. And to keep it easy, we’ve compiled this handy compendium of everything we’re up to. Come find us, and let’s get into something.

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This Just In from CNU20: World not yet saved

The Congress for the New Urbanism’s annual convergence of giganto ideas and fine-grained pragmatism wrapped Saturday night with a party in a bar. The four days in West Palm Beach, Florida, marked the 20th anniversary of such gatherings, most of which also involved spill-over debates in venues with liquor licenses.

As usual, the CNU20 agenda was packed with passion and ambition, with a smidgeon of apocalyptic visioning to dampen out-of-control hopefulness. So what’s on the minds of the NU designers, planners and fellow travelers these days?

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CU@CNU?

PlaceShakers gets put on ice this week as we, together with most of the urbanists we know, head to West Palm Beach, Florida, for CNU 20: The New World, this year’s installment of the annual Congress for the New Urbanism.

Will you be there?

As summarized by the CNU, “The New World confronts the challenges of peak oil, climate change, and growing wealth disparity, along with worldwide adjustments in the financial, housing, retail, transportation, and energy markets. Taken collectively, these challenges are drastically changing how we do business in the 21st Century, and opening new opportunities for the New Urbanism.”

This comes on the heels of last year’s Congress, where Next Generation urbanists brought fresh ideas and approaches to the wet blanket malaise of the sagging economy. Scott Doyon wrote about some of them in advance of the gathering while Howard Blackson followed up with a post-game analysis.

There’s no reason to believe this renewed momentum won’t continue to grow in West Palm Beach. Interested in connecting while we’re there? Leave a message here in the comments or flag us down in the hall.

PlaceShakers returns next Monday.

‘Show Me the Money!’ New bumper sticker for the New Normal?

There hasn’t been a New Urbanist Council gathering for a while. Which is why a lot of pent-up anxiety — and hope — found release in Council sessions in Montgomery, Alabama, October 14-16.

These regionally organized Councils are intended to grapple with topics that should be on the table for annual Congress for the New Urbanism meetings but require give-and-take from a smaller group to better focus issues. So some 50 or so folks came to Montgomery to critique recent ideas and projects and to wrestle with propositions to position New Urbanism for the New Normal.

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Now What? CNU 17 Addresses the New Era Economy

The irony is unavoidable. Interest in Smart Growth and New Urbanist topics has never been higher. Check out this May 2 column in the Washington Post; or David Brooks’ opinion piece in the New York Times from May 4. Yet the economic downturn has sucked the energy out of innovative projects in both private and public sectors. Lots of will, less way. At least for the moment.

image002And this is the moment in which the 17th national gathering of the Congress for the New Urbanism takes place. CNU 17 begins June 10 in Denver. Early registration ends today.

Before the bottom dropped out of the economy, CNU attendees were expected to be talking a lot about greening the movement. Now, the hot topics will be about adapting to new realities.

While the downturn may seem like a reason to skip this year’s gathering, it may be the best reason for scraping together the resources to get to Denver. If ever there was a time to share great ideas, this is that time.

Already the energy is producing cool stuff, particularly the award-winning video that makes the convincing argument that cul de sacs spell the end of civilization as we know it. Here it is:

We’ll see you there. If you have time, check out the discussion I’m moderating at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 13. It’s an invitation to  “Embrace the Convergence” between the goals of creating compact, walkable comunnities and strategies for addressing public health, environmental, and demographic challenges. On the panel: EPA’s Tim Torma, the CDC’s Dee Merriam, and former AARP staffer Michael O’Neal.

- Ben Brown