5 Years of the Congress for New Urbanism: CNU 24 Conference Preview and Where and When to Find Me There!


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:

  • 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

About Kristen Jeffers

I'm Kristen. Almost five years ago, I got tired of not seeing black women as nerded out about trains, better streets, riding bikes, walking not just out of necessity, tall buildings, old buildings and honestly a lot of other things. I was in grad school for community and economic development (ok, it’s actually an MPA), and I wanted to make sure people knew I existed and that I could help them do this thing called placemaking better. Five years later, I’m still doing that, although not from my hometown of Greensboro, NC, but from Kansas City, MO. I spend most of my time in Kansas City promoting better biking and walking infrastructure metro-wide with BikeWalk KC and the Kansas City B-cycle. But I also wrote a book A Black Urbanist (you can grab that over on the right) and sometimes I give speeches and help other communities tell their stories at design charrettes and public meetings. I’ve also written or appeared in all of the major “urbanist” publications, either as a subject or as a writer, as well as most of my hometown papers as subject or writer as well.