Name any professional conference where a relative newcomer can come in, either invited or uninvited, state that at a certain time and certain place, they are going to put out an idea, record said idea and have a parent of a movement show up and give you props on what you said, even though you’ve never met before?
That’s how the Congress for New Urbanism has been for me, for the past 5 years. It’s a conference that has changed my life and career in many ways.I’ve since written a lot about the Congress gathering itself, most of which you can find here.
And now, as I look to my fifth congress in five years, this is what I’m looking ahead to the most:
- Being integrated into a city that embodies grit and imperfections. Plus, it’s the city my aunt’s called home for over 35 years and because of that, I’ll be crashing with her and my mom has decided to join us too! So for the first time, CNU is a family affair. I’m looking forward to having them come to the closing party and festival.
- Bringing some nuance to the gentrification discussion. My main role this year, besides reporting what I see on the ground, is debating AGAINST the concept that gentrification is our biggest social justice problem. I’m not going to spoil the argument for you, as you’ll be able to either watch live, Friday at 8 eastern or you can join us at Detroit Beer Co (1529 Broadway). You can also watch me fumble through a debate on automobility from CNU 23 here.
- Seeing people who have led me to so many articles, charrette opportunities (including my recent stint in Birmingham!), and lasting friendships.
So two questions before I start this journey into urbanism nerd camp this year:
Why am I not on the convention floor?
First of all, in a decision that CNU has been debating for years,there’s not a convention floor! In order to integrate ourselves into the life of Detroit, namely downtown, we are doing our big presentations at big theaters and doing a lot of cool stuff at bars, parking lots and at local businesses. We are also crossing the border into Windsor, Canada and hanging out with some of our Canadian friends. You’ll still get your certification trainings and your big bold speeches, but not in a convention center. Also, because this idea, pioneered in our NextGen project management is actually mainstream now, there are more opportunities for you to try out parts of the congress, like my debate on Friday, for free.
When will you actually be able to see me at CNU 24?
This question speaks to my arrival on Friday morning and not last night or this morning. I’ve got a few work obligations to take care of, but I’ll be around just in time for these things:
- Small Developer Meetup (tail-end) on Friday morning
- Jane Day presentations, namely the morning ones.
- The Debates– again, come hear me talk about gentrification and why there’s more to it than just that one word.
- A portion of the dance party
- The Civic Tech Forum
- The Chapter Party
- The Pecha Kutcha
- The Closing Party
- Other events as determined by my time and schedule. As always, the best way to find me is to tweet at me @blackurbanist and also check my Instagram and Facebook feeds for pictures of where I’m at. Some of you also have other ways to contact me. Use those as well. My phone number is still the same. And none of the events are in their proper order, so again, check the official schedule for dates, times and locations.
I have no doubts that this won’t be another awesome gathering of all kinds of place-related and practicing people. If you cannot be there in person, either in whole or part, the #CNU24 hashtag is a great place to start, to get photos, thoughts and maybe video from the festivities, along with links to pages like this with conference commentary.
Photo above from Wikimedia Commons