Urban planning would be a whole lot more fun if only we subscribed to the Ben Hamilton-Baillie axiom: Cities are about increasing the supply of money, sex and art. If that is NSFW, then the G-Rated translation would be: Cites are about increasing economic activity, social capital, and culture. True as Ben’s words may be, we must now think more expansively about how our cities can solve our energy challenges, heal our social discord, and repair the harm to the environment humans have caused.
When the Walk/Bike/Places conference convenes in New Orleans this September 16–19, we will be examining the possibilities for making our urban areas more sustainable and adaptable to changes in climate, the economy and our social fabric.
We are currently seeking experts to help us investigate the following topics:
- High performance infrastructure. In denser cities between one-fifth and one-third of land is allocated to streets. Mostly those streets don’t do much more than store cars, contribute to stormwater runoff and flooding, capture and convect heat, and chase away social activity. Shouldn’t we expect more from this public space? What would it take for streets to help recharge aquifers, reduce urban temperatures, and support greater social interaction?
- Local food production. Eating local is popular at both ends of the economic spectrum. The benefits are manifold and include strengthening the local economy, reducing grocery bills and that sense of satisfaction which comes with coaxing something green from the ground. Urban agriculture and community gardens have the secondary benefits of strengthening neighborly bonds and reducing runoff. Have you planted your Victory Garden yet?
- Energy self-sufficiency. Our energy portfolio is changing by becoming less carbon-intensive and more locally sourced. Is it time to think seriously about photovoltaic roads or should we first focus on reducing demand and adopting more conventional solutions such as solar rooftops and energy efficiency?
- Social order. For cities to continue being viable we must better learn to live with one another. We have sharp political differences, uneven distribution of wealth and education, disparities in health and longevity, and we are disparately served by our civic institutions. How can we ensure our rising sea level lifts all lifeboats?
- The sustainability dividend. Doing the right thing is so much easier when there is a monetary payoff. But the payoff for sustainable planning and transportation decisions may not be immediate or even realized within our lifetimes. What performance metrics, economic models, public policy and decision-making models can be used to deal with this inconvenient truth?
Does your agency or organization have experience addressing any of these topics? If so, please join us and share your experience by applying to present at Walk/Bike/Places 2018. Begin your application here and when promoted select ‘Breakout Session Panelist’ and choose ‘Urban Sustainability’ as your topic.
Submit your proposal by 8 pm Eastern, February 2, 2018 to be considered for the program.
Helpful links and information:
- “Resilient New Orleans: Strategic Actions to Shape Our Future City,” City of New Orleans, 2015.
- “L.A.’s Mayor Wants to Lower the City’s Temperature. These Scientists are Figuring Out How to Do It,” LA Times, February 9, 2017.
- “Whose Streets, Our Streets: Democracy Still Lives in Public Spaces,” Project for Public Spaces, 2016.
- “Press Release: PM Commits to Government-wide Drive to Tackle Loneliness,” United Kingdom, January 17, 2018.
- Post-Disaster Infrastructure Equity Analyst and Housing Project Manager. A job announcement.
Walk/Bike/Places is North America’s largest active transportation and placemaking conference. Urban Sustainability is only one of many topics that will be addressed by our conference program. For more details about our Call for Proposals and conference outcomes, please visit www.walkbikeplaces.org/proposals. The deadline for all proposals is 8 pm Eastern, February 2, 2018.
For information about becoming a conference sponsor or exhibitor please contact email@example.com. For the latest news follow us at Walk/Bike/Places. Walk/Bike/Places was established in 1980 and is produced by Project for Public Spaces.