Why I Attend the Congress | Jason King and Victor Dover




It's no secret that the annual Congress for the New Urbanism is the leading venue for New Urbanist education, collaboration and networking. Every year, the top minds and practitioners from around the globe travel to the CNU event to engage with the ideas that give shape and meaning to the communities we inhabit. By congregating a diverse collection of thought-leaders, planners, architects, academics, government officials, students, and citizen-activists, CNU creates a community for the design of ideas, and readies them for application.

Why I Attend the Congress is a series dedicated to sharing the first-hand experience and insight gained from attending the yearly event.

The following contribution comes direct from Jason King and CNU Board Chair Victor Dover, of Dover, Kohl & Partners.

The Congress for the New Urbanism’s annual gathering is June 1-4 in Madison, Wisconsin. The below are a few of the reasons we continue to attend the Congress every year, and are but just a few reasons for you to consider attending CNU 19: Growing Local as well:
  1. New Ideas: CNU is the brewery for big ideas that change everything. For example, you are familiar with the “growing local” movement and strategies for maintaining rural character, but agricultural urbanism is a design-based integration of community-supported agriculture into the weave of neighborhoods and regions. In several new towns across the country like Serenbe GA, and Hampstead AL, as well as in major cities like Atlanta, Montgomery and Madison, the movement is taking root. Design approaches that address the challenges of rising fuel costs, health problems due to inactivity, the social balkanization of America, and climate change, are coming from the CNU. What’s more, it’s a Congress, not a conference: delegates vigorously debate the ideas, and challenge each other to advance the state of the art. You’ll have a chance to engage directly with other thinkers, not just sit through panels.
  2. Familiar Goals But With Better Renderings: All the planning favorites are at CNU: Livability, Sustainability, Walkability, Bikeability, Context-Sensitivity, Affordable Housing, Making Infill Work, Reshaping the Suburbs, and so forth. But the New Urbanists make the effort not just to talk about them but to integrate them and show how they work, even packing all of the ideas into ONE plan or watercolor rendering. You’ll leave CNU inspired to draw (if not a rendering, then a 2D plan) every time.
  3. New People: It’s a comfort to go the local chapter meeting at a national APA and know everyone, but there is something to be said for meeting new people. Ask someone at your CNU chapter’s meetup during the Congress to introduce you. Your favorite thought-leaders are presenting at both APA and CNU, but are far more likely to stick around for all the sessions and social events of CNU. The consultant or new addition to your department that you'll be looking for next year or the year after next is probably going to be there.
If CNU works for you, go even further and become a member. We’ve taken the opportunity to attend conferences on architecture, historic preservation, public works and even code enforcement. The same yearly conference of any kind can get redundant , but attending CNU19 can open up a whole new professional worldview.

- Jason King and Victor Dover.




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