“Lean Urbanism” and the environment featured in CNU 21 Plenaries
Every year, CNU selects innovative thinkers on key topics to headline the Congress’ plenary sessions. This year’s speakers are looking deeply at the challenge of creating a “Living Community,” connecting people to a place and balancing the physical, social, economic and environmental values of a community.
Richard Louv, celebrated author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder, kicks off the Congress. Louv’s new book, The Nature Principle, says that the adults also need to learn to reconnect with the natural world, and those that do will build smarter and more sustainable businesses, communities, and economies.
New Urbanism in the 21st Century
On Thursday morning, Andrés Duany—founding principal at Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company (DPZ), a widely recognized leader of the New Urbanism, and a founding member of CNU—takes the stage to discuss the prospects for the New Urbanism in the 21st century. Under the theme of Lean Urbanism, he outlines several promising techniques suitable for adaptation to climate change and economic constraints, including Tactical Urbanism, Code-Free Zones, Original Green, and Light Imprint. Duany suggests that planners in the 21st century have a lot to learn from the Mormons, a group that has inaugurated and sustained over five hundred successful cities, towns, and agricultural villages in just the fifty years from 1855 to 1905—the Congress convenes in Salt Lake City, after all.
And on Friday, residential architect Sarah Susanka talks about how she has connected her “Not So Big” philosophy with New Urbanist principles. Her latest publication, The Not So Big Life, extends her outlook into the surrounding community.
Adding value to cities
“Adding Value to Cities” is the theme of the closing plenary, featuring Charles Marohn, the voice behind Strong Towns. Marohn is a civil engineer who once advocated for and built oversized roads, taxpayer-subsidized development and wasteful utility extensions. Today, he speaks out about these wasteful practices that have driven many towns toward bankruptcy.
CNU’s CEO and author of The Wealth of Cities John Norquist joins Marohn to moderate the discussion, along with investor and entrepreneur Mark Gorton. Gorton is taking his entrepreneurial acumen and applying it to cities – transportation in particular. Gorton believes in the importance of designing our world around the needs of people rather than the automobile, and saving money in the process.
Join us at this year’s plenaries for what will sure to be a series of stimulating presentations!
Note: This article is in the April-May 2013 print edition of Better! Cities & Towns.