Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Congress of New Urbanism (courtesy of Yelp!)

Last week, Buffalo hosted the 22nd Congress for New Urbanism. With a constrained conference budget, I was planning on just scoping out the (numerous) public events. Then conference funding came through from a surprising source. I actually won free conference registration via Yelp! (yes it pays to  be elite). I am not sure what it says about academia when we have to look to social media to help with our research funding but I was happy to get in the door!

CNU 22 was a mixture of the inspirational and the mundane. It was amazing to see people from all over the country (and particularly so many from Buffalo) coming together to think about how to improve your communities. I bathed in the local pride (feeling the Buffalove as we say around here) and heard inspiring tales about efforts in Toronto, Minneapolis, DC, and Milwaukee. But nothing was actually radical. In some ways this is an encouraging story. It no longer seems crazy to argue that suburban sprawl is destroying community. I really didn't need convincing that we should have more walkable or bikable cities. There seems to be general agreement on what elements make for a thriving urban environment and largely agreement from the attendees on how to get there (community involvement, form based codes, economic development). Thus, while I enjoyed myself and met some fascinating folks I left the conference with an empty notebook. Maybe I just attended the wrong sessions, but I wonder what types of legal changes we might need, what type of property tools we can use, and of course who is gonna fund it all. Any suggestions?

Community Design, Community Economic Development, Conferences, Downtown, Economic Development, Form-Based Codes, New Urbanism, Pedestrian, Planning, Smart Growth, Sprawl, Urbanism | Permalink


Jessie, You and others interested in the future of new urbanism might want to check out the recently released Second Edition of the Charter of the New Urbanism ( There are several really nice reflective pieces that talk about the movement's ups and downs. I would especially recommend Peter Calthorpe's essay in that collection where he discusses that one of the movement's difficulties is its generalness, but that is also the movement's power.

Posted by: Stephen Miller | Jun 12, 2014 8:33:54 AM

A needed post. Lots of legal questions to be answered around the future of small scale inner city redevelopment and the appropriation of vacant properties by locals. For example, if growing a garden can be considered the default, base mode of reentering an economy and rebuilding personal wealth .. then.. is there a right to dig for soil on inactive lots? Cheers.

Posted by: @glasgoh | Jun 16, 2014 2:18:02 PM