My second full day here in Buffalo was amazing. I really enjoyed the insights expressed in the morning plenary, especially by Harriet Tregoning, former DC Planning Director and working with HUD with their Sustainable Communities grants. Both presentations made it clear that millennials (i.e. the next generation) are here to stay and need to be enabled. Hold those thoughts.
At lunchtime, I split my time with the initiatives of the CNU Next Gen, from sounding off a bit on a North Carolina CNU on the Strong Towns Podcast taping and catching the tail end of the presentation of The Next American Urbanism, the first of the pieces coming from the Place Summit held in Louisville last fall and to which I was unable to attend, but contributed a chapter to our upcoming book.
After an afternoon conversation with Original Green‘s Steve Mouzon on writing and finding the right perspective on our work as placemakers, I took some time to check in on the efforts of those hoping to remove freeways built in error in our neighborhoods. I missed the Charter Awards due to a necessary nap. Yet, I was awake and ready for our NextGen event out at Silo City.
As we drove into the complex, I was amazed by how much major industrial activity was still active and working on the river fronts. Even though some say domestic manufacturing is dead, I beg to differ, especially with the sites of several active silos. That cereal smell? General Mills and their active silos. The one we spent time with has been transformed into a tactical urbanism space, complete with the requisite food trucks. We heard from a couple of other speakers, then the man of the hour Andres Duany.
I expected an esoteric design-focused talk, but instead, I got a pep talk. The talk itself, while rambly at parts, had at its core the need for both the older and younger generations to learn how to work together. With the economic crisis and its exposure to the mainstream of the evidence of devastating poverty, along with the recent natural disasters and the real estate bubble pop, the talk underscored the need to go back to a solid work ethic. I believe Andres was inspired by the setting of Buffalo, as much mention was made to the blue-collar ethos and to the uniqueness and creativity of the Silo City venue. At the end, I was hit by the idea of my generation having great organization, but needing to be more disciplined. I also appreciated the championing of my generation and our skills, but also the emphasis on the need for boomers and other older folks to mentor and gradually give over the keys such that no two parties were left out in the dust.
For more images, and commentary, check out the Storify link here.
See you around the conference center and tonight at the Pan American Grill at the Hotel Lafayette, for our NextGen Pecha Kucha and Debate, along with the New Urbanism Film Festival.