CNU, Seeing the Future

Three major things are going on with me right now. The first is that I completed my masters of public affairs! For the last two years, I’ve been studying urban policy from the inside out with a wonderful group of classmates and challenging teachers. It was in an urban policy class that I decided that it wasn’t enough to wax philosophical about placemaking, I needed to tell the world that I was a proud black urbanist.

That declaration led to an article in Grist, which led to a week of sharing ideas last year in Madison, Wisconsin that changed my life. This year, I’m about to get on a plane to West Palm Beach, FL to do it all again.

That gathering, the Congress of New Urbanism, is celebrating its 20th gathering this year. Anyone who has been knows that this is not your average trade show. From bringing back the traditional small town to putting a tent over a bus stop to make it a more humane place to wait, to people who recognize the public health benefits of a more vibrant, dense lifestyle, this thing we call urbanism or placemaking extends past the bricks and the sidewalks and into the hearts of many attendees.

That’s what I will be talking about on Saturday morning in a session on Tactical Urbanism, Economics and Community. My presentation, Killing the Civic Inferiority Complex, will offer steps to help communities of any size and stature take the resources they do have and put their minds together to make them awesome. I’m presenting with a number of place-making rockstars. I’m not sure about video for this session, but if you are in West Palm Beach, you should come to our session after the Saturday plenary at 10:45.

I’ll also be keeping a journal of my experiences at CNU 20 for Next American City. Be sure to bookmark the site for my twice-daily dispatches from West Palm Beach(and the various destinations in-between). I’ll also post teasers here so you won’t miss a thing. And check out this CNU 19 recap while you are at it.

After I get home from WPB, I’ll start my tenure with the NC Humanities Council on the 15th. Looking forward to helping communities find the funding to bring museum exhibits, neighborhood histories and neighborhood book talks alive, among other things. This job will also allow me to live, work and play in Downtown Greensboro.

So here it is, three weeks, three life changing events. Thanks again for reading folks and I look forward to seeing many of you later this week!