Monday, May 14, 2012

Hit with a mind bomb, my first Congress for the New Urbanism

I just got back to the cool breezy air of LA and Santa Monica yesterday after a week in the tropical climate of South Florida for the 20th annual Congress for the New Urbanism in West Palm Beach. The wealth of information I learned from both speakers and the rich dialogue with fellow attendees has left me feeling like a I've come back to California with a whole new brain. A feeling that is quite impressive to me given that I had already read many works by those involved in the New Urbanist movement.

I was also a little surprised at how many people there recognized who I was without introduction and despite this being my first time attending. I guess my blogging and twittering is really starting to get around. Although it was my first time, it also felt good to be able to have a unique perspective and add to the discussion with my own insights. It was not a one way relationship of absorbing information, and that is part of CNU's strength, it's a culture of back and forth that encourages everyone to share what they have to add.

Prior to CNU, and now immediately following, I am in the trenches of overtime hours at work, so my time to share more details are limited. However as soon as I am able to I'll process some of my detailed notes, audio recordings, and photos, and share more highlights here. My update for LA Streetsblog this week, written after day 2 of the 4 day conference, includes my initial impressions from CNU20.

It was an absolutely incredible week, and my thanks to the organizers, the speakers, and everyone who attended and who were so ready and willing to discuss ideas. From the almost legendary architects and urban designers that have written numerous books, to the humble first time attendee, everyone was approachable and willing to chat, and all had valuable and unique insights to add. Getting some one on one time with some authors who have been very influential to my thinking in recent years was alone worth the trip, but that was only a fraction of the value I got out of the experience.

There is nothing else like it that I have ever attended, and I'm sure I'll find my self drawn to CNU again in the future. Forget the left/right political divide, perhaps the best hope for our civilization's future can be found in the broad vision of principles and practices advanced by the New Urbanists.

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