What’s next for New Urbanism movement? YOU.
During the Congress in Savannah, I announced an intentional, ground-up effort to identify and articulate an overarching goal for the New Urbanist movement for the next 10-20 years to help us accelerate and fully realize the vision of the Charter. Today I want to invite all advocates and supporters of New Urbanism to join in this effort.
This effort is part of the ongoing self-renewal of strong mission-driven organizations and movements, as they understand how changing contexts require adaptation. Our task now is to set the stage to improve.
Additionally, this is a unique time in our generation. It's a call for action as governments at all levels in addition to private and nonprofit institutions are re-orienting themselves to more locally based solutions. It's an opportunity to seize to accelerate the New Urbanist agenda.
Our movement (and organization) needs to undergo this evolution. In the beginning, our task was reintroducing the timeless advantages of urbanism in an era dominated by suburban sprawl. While identifying and overcoming the barriers sprawl imposed will always be among our goals, new challenges and new opportunities require us to review and refine our thinking and our strategies.
What might that look like? How should we assert who we are and what we do? That’s what we want from this effort. The overarching goal should have several characteristics:
It activates the positive frame, e.g., articulating a vision of what we will achieve.
It provides a vision of an outcome that encompasses a vast majority of New Urbanist values.
It does not overweight a particular subject or solution, e.g., climate change, suburban retrofit, etc. Rather, they are embedded in the articulated vision.
It is motivational, inspiring, easy to remember, and helps provide direction for the movement.
It is inclusive, e.g., many groups within CNU and like-minded organizations who share similar values, see their work as part of achieving this larger goal.
Finally, and most importantly, it is grounded in the Charter and will seek to fully realize its promise.
Determining our movement’s next overarching goal is not something the CEO, the National Board, or even the Founders can do. It needs to be something that is organic and that engages—and resonates with—as many members as possible.
So today we—CNU staff, National Board, and all of our advisors on this effort—are inviting all people and groups to not only send in their ideas but to engage with their friends, colleagues, and co-conspirators. Hold your own retreats, working sessions, conference calls, walking meetings, beer gatherings, and charrettes on what you think the movement’s next goal could be and what you think are the points of maximum leverage for the movement.
We challenge Chapters, Fellows, Founders, like-minded groups such as FBCI, NCI, New Urban Guild, Incremental Development Association, NTBA, Seaside Institute, and anyone else who is active in creating walkable, livable places to send their ideas, thoughts, proposals, strategies to CNU National by February 15, 2019.
To help facilitate this effort, CNU National will launch a webpage that will provide sample agendas, publicize dates of meet ups, and help facilitate conversations on what this effort is and what we are seeking from the gatherings. In the meantime, you can share your ideas here. Feedback will also be compiled and tracked along with social media posts using the hashtag #NUFuture.
Our hope is that by February 15, 2019, there are hundreds of ideas from which to work.
The CNU National Board, with the help of dozens of advisors including the Founders and representatives from aligned organizations, will read, review, analyze, discuss and then articulate what we learned and heard at CNU 27 Louisville. For this effort to be successful, it’s critical that the goal reflects the values, goals, and voices of the larger membership. If you care about the future of the movement, you’ll grab your friends and colleagues and get involved!
We have the potential to make significant impact and create real change. We have a history of identifying the right problems and creating the right tools. Because no other organization has the Charter, which articulates our shared values, which are just as important today as they were 25 years ago:
The Congress for the New Urbanism views disinvestment in central cities, the spread of placeless sprawl, increasing separation by race and income, environmental deterioration, loss of agricultural lands and wilderness, and the erosion of society’s built heritage as one interrelated community-building challenge.
Our members, both current and past, have always been the strength of the movement and organization. Working together with our allies, partners, and new voices we can achieve tremendous progress in the next several decades.
Join us. Give your voice and ideas to this effort. And help take the New Urbanist movement to new heights and greater impact.