Theme & Tracks

THEME: Growing Local

Drawing on the close relationship Madison has with its agricultural neighbors, CNU 19 will build on the theme of “Growing Local”. The conference will explore linkages that urban communities have with local food production, the food economy and the infrastructure that has developed around this symbiosis. It’s not just about growing food though. The conference will extend the “Growing Local” theme to include the nurturing of non-agricultural local economies and local connections — from Madison’s burgeoning bicycle industry and bike culture to its commitment to community involvement and participation, and pursuit of growth that reinforces a distinct sense of place. The region’s balance of vibrant urban life, rural charm, and natural beauty make Madison an ideal backdrop for CNU 19. Confirmed speakers include author and urban historian William Cronon, Trek CEO John Burke, Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, among others.

Our Program Tracks

  • Implementing the New Urbanism: Design and Economics
    New Urbanism makes sense from a sustainability and quality of life perspective, but New Urbanism also makes economic and political sense. This track makes the case for good urbanism and smart development. Participants will learn how to overcome regulatory obstacles, obtain financing, and sell the idea of New Urbanism to a diverse audience. Let’s face it: in today’s economic climate New Urbanists need an ever more innovative and comprehensive set of arguments and tools. This track will arm practitioners with the skill set they need to move beyond the development status quo and make New Urbanism the obvious choice.

  • Agriculture and Urbanism
    Food is a necessary part of any human settlement. Today, we obtain much of our food from thousands of miles away, a system that relies on cheap oil, pollutes the environment, and shifts profits away from the local economy. The local food and community garden movements, combined with new laws that allow for growing food in the city and major advances in urban agriculture efficiency have created a renaissance in the urban agriculture movement. It’s not just about growing food though. Local businesses are another focus of this track because they provide local jobs, a unique sense of place, and inspire community pride and investment. We will examine how these ideas fit into New Urbanism and how they can be promoted through design, policy, and development practices. The sessions in this track will cover everything from earthworms and hydroponic technology to food distribution systems and pro-local policy at all levels of government.

  • Sustainability: Water and Energy
    New Urbanist communities don’t have to work hard to be more sustainable than their sprawling peers, but creating walkable, mixed-use communities isn’t enough. Stormwater runoff, green building technology, passive green and local climate sensitive vernacular architecture, and other technologies are all tools New Urbanists can employ to build a sustainable future. This track also addresses regional issues such as transportation systems, watershed management, sustainable food supplies, and renewable energy.

  • International
    This track emphasizes the best of New Urbanism around the globe with a focus on two main themes: public space and affordable housing.

    New Urbanism has never been a purely North American movement. Throughout the world, new urbanist principles have been used to address unique, place-based issues of public space, affordable housing, and sustainability. In this track, you will learn the innovative and creative ways New Urbanism has informed development in places as diverse as South America and the Middle East, Australia and China, London and Seoul, northern Scotland and southern Italy.

    Fred Koetter, one of this year’s Athena Award winners, will discuss his book on typologies of open space in very two different locations: Seoul and London. Koetter is the co-author of Collage City, one of new urbanism’s guiding texts. As a founding principal of Koetter Kim & Associates, Inc., Koetter has worked as urban designer and planner in locations as disparate and challenging as Kazakhstan, Lebanon, and China.

    Dhiru Thadani and Jaime Correa will also discuss their unique experiences working as new urbanists in all corners of the globe. Correa will discuss the challenges and pleasures of working in South America, the Middle East, and China. Thadani, winner of this Year’s Seaside Prize, will share the lessons he’s learned through town and university planning in Europe and Asia, especially in the wildly growing and expanding India.

    This track will transport you all around the globe to the locations of the most exciting and innovative new urbanist techniques. Guided by experts in the field who have had real experience working around the world, you will discover the ways that other cities, regions, and countries have approached the universal concern of public space and affordable housing in creative ways given their unique context.

  • Architecture and Placemaking
    Madison is the perfect setting for CNU 19 because it contains fantastic mid-century architecture, one of the earliest examples of comprehensive city planning, and Middleton Hills, an award winning new urbanist community.

    Learn how to encourage place making through historic preservation, architecture, government legislation, and comprehensive planning. Then, head outside and experience real examples of successful, integrated, and well-designed public and private spaces. This track will fully engage with the Madison context, using local examples such as Overture Center for the Arts, bustling State Street, and idyllic Middleton Hills as case studies.

    We will explore John Nolen’s planning legacy in Masdion through a dedicated 202 session and a guided tour; we will also discuss Frank Lloyd Wright’s modernist work and the striking similarities between Wright’s utopian planning solutions and the contemporary Landscape Urbanism movement.

    Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from the amazing city of Madison -- college town, state capital, and growing Midwest city -- and the iconic thinkers and planners who shaped it.

  • Bikeability and Transportation
    Walkability, bicycle-friendliness, transit-oriented development: all are familiar terms in the vocabulary of the New Urbanism, particularly when it comes to discussing the local aspects of connecting sustainable transportation with great urban places. But has the New Urbanism clearly defined what these terms mean, not only in theory, but also in practice? And do these terms take on new meanings, and pose particular implementation challenges, in small- to medium-sized cities (like Madison) where the private automobile reigns even more supreme than in larger ones?

    Meanwhile the current economy also invites--and perhaps requires--CNU 19 to give these questions an added financial twist. Do New Urbanists not only need clarify their own approaches to transportation, but also better explain and justify their value to a public that may of late be increasingly skeptical, if not resistant? How do New Urbanists build the case that walkability, bikeability, transit, better managed parking and better designed thoroughfares, far from being expensive concessions or subsidized amenities, are value-generating investments that help make localities and regions more efficient, economically competitive, and financially sustainable?

    In short, how do we demonstrate what transportation that supports great local places is worth--and reinforce practices in local transportation that fulfill the promise of New Urbanism?