Congress Impressions: Interview with Howard Katz

We interviewed some of the conference attendees to get their feedback on this year's Congress.

Name: Howard Katz

Occupation: Law School Professor, Charlotte School of Law

From: Charlotte, NC

Question: How many Congresses have you been to?
Answer: This is my fourth.

Q: What are your main reasons for attending?
A: To get updated and see people. You can think about these ideas, e-mail people, occasionally talk to them on the phone, but coming to the conference and spending time with them, going to lunch, having random side conversations, it reignites my interest. When you talk to people, you get fired up, the conference is reenergizing.

Q: What have been some of the highlights of this year’s Congress for you?
A: The sessions have been pretty good as a whole. I’ve been to several sessions this time that aren’t simply updates with no new thoughts; instead, they’ve offered a new take on things. Some of the really good sessions I’ve attended have been Andres Duany’s, Peter Calthorpe’s, and the session, “The Battle Over the Public Realm: Fighting for Civic Life in Privatized Streets and Parks.” Also, the Carolinas chapter meeting was really interesting. It’s been a good conference.

Q: Any take home lessons?
A: There are some issues to think about in different ways. I’m interested in the way CNU is wrestling with dealing with the macro scale. If CNU is just an advocate for public policies that move urbanism or affordable housing forward, then it won’t tap into the unique expertise of the people in the CNU. We do have unique knowledge, we’re not just another interest group.

Q: Any suggestions for next year’s conference?
A: I think we need to talk about schools a little bit more. I think there’s more than can be said in just one session, there’s more than one topic. I also think it would be good if all sessions were posted as podcasts. Sometimes it’s very difficult to choose between sessions and podcasts would help. Of course, you wouldn’t get the visuals that way, which means that the conference organizers don’t need to worry about podcasts taking away from the audience of the live talk, but it would be very good for people who want to go to more than one session simultaneously. I also think that CNUers could do a better job of reaching out to the new people at the Congress and making them feel welcome. That would be part of educating more people about New Urbanism. These are people who run charrettes for a living – and most of them all know each other, so newcomers may feel uncomfortable. CNUers should understand how important it is to welcome people on the first day of the Congress.


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