The Congress for the New Urbanism’s annual convergence of giganto ideas and fine-grained pragmatism wrapped Saturday night with a party in a bar. The four days in West Palm Beach, Florida, marked the 20th anniversary of such gatherings, most of which also involved spill-over debates in venues with liquor licenses.
As usual, the CNU20 agenda was packed with passion and ambition, with a smidgeon of apocalyptic visioning to dampen out-of-control hopefulness. So what’s on the minds of the NU designers, planners and fellow travelers these days?
PlaceShakers gets put on ice this week as we, together with most of the urbanists we know, head to West Palm Beach, Florida, for CNU 20: The New World, this year’s installment of the annual Congress for the New Urbanism.
Will you be there?
As summarized by the CNU, “The New World confronts the challenges of peak oil, climate change, and growing wealth disparity, along with worldwide adjustments in the financial, housing, retail, transportation, and energy markets. Taken collectively, these challenges are drastically changing how we do business in the 21st Century, and opening new opportunities for the New Urbanism.”
This comes on the heels of last year’s Congress, where Next Generation urbanists brought fresh ideas and approaches to the wet blanket malaise of the sagging economy. Scott Doyon wrote about some of them in advance of the gathering while Howard Blackson followed up with a post-game analysis.
There’s no reason to believe this renewed momentum won’t continue to grow in West Palm Beach. Interested in connecting while we’re there? Leave a message here in the comments or flag us down in the hall.
PlaceShakers returns next Monday.
There hasn’t been a New Urbanist Council gathering for a while. Which is why a lot of pent-up anxiety — and hope — found release in Council sessions in Montgomery, Alabama, October 14-16.
These regionally organized Councils are intended to grapple with topics that should be on the table for annual Congress for the New Urbanism meetings but require give-and-take from a smaller group to better focus issues. So some 50 or so folks came to Montgomery to critique recent ideas and projects and to wrestle with propositions to position New Urbanism for the New Normal.
It’s officially over.
The flush era for planners and designers, when utopian villages and new towns could grow from dreams and piles of private sector cash? Long gone. Now comes the revolution.
What the revolt will look like is under debate. And not surprisingly, the most intense discussions are joined by those who have always been arguing about one thing or another, even as they designed and built places that, at least in part, defined neighborhood and community character during the flush times.
Western Canada’s form-based codes are missing.
This is no small problem. Those of us working in the region are continuously grilled by municipalities with the same question, often delivered with a suspicious, cocked eyebrow: “Where are they? Where in Canada have they, or any other alternative zoning regulation, been enacted?”
The answer we’re obliged to offer is unfortunately neither reassuring nor helpful: “We’ve turned up little evidence,” we mutter quietly. Little enough, in fact, that a comparable municipal mentor is typically unable to be found.
A mystery is at hand. Continue reading
This week I’d like to share a few thoughts on infill and sustainability that coalesced while preparing this week for another Pecha Kucha presentation on Retrofitting Suburbia.
I’ll begin with a little background. My daughter came home from her International Baccalaureate Elementary School with a new sticker in her daily planner proclaiming her an “Eco-Warrior!” Continue reading
A couple months ago I rambled on here about my inability to purchase a particularly critical item of men’s apparel during an extended tour of new urban projects throughout the southeast. Modesty was not my problem. Rather, despite healthy commercial activity most everywhere I went, I could find no walkable stores catering to such day-to-day basics.
Food and drink? Sure. Tchotchkes and novelties? You betcha. Skivvies? Not a chance. Continue reading