Special Conference Features

Optional Workshops, Networking Activities, & Special Events

Several optional sessions, networking activities, and other special features are part of, or are being held in conjunction with the 14th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference. Additional fees may apply and pre-registration is required for some of these events, while others are free to any conference attendees interested in participating.

Networking Reception

Thursday, January 29 — 8:30 – 9:30 PM

The first full day of sessions and tours will be capped off with a dynamic evening plenary and a hosted networking reception. This social event is designed to get our multi-disciplinary audience talking and networking with each other early in the conference.

Mark your calendar to revisit this page in the coming months, as we expect to add more special events and details soon!

Understanding the Challenge – A Poverty Simulation Experience

Thursday, January 29, 2:00 – 5:30 PM
Saturday, January 31, 10:15 AM – 1:45 PM (includes lunch)

More than 45 million Americans live in poverty, according to a 2013 report on “Income and Poverty in the United States” [http://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2014/demo/p60-249.pdf] by the U.S. Census Bureau. One in five children in our country – more than 14 million of our youngest and most vulnerable – experience the hunger, deprivation, mental stress, violence and sense of hopelessness that is so often part of their life every day. And nearly 10% of our senior citizens, aged 65 and older, also fall below the poverty threshold.

Poverty is also greater among our communities of color: Nearly one-quarter of Hispanics, 12.7 million, and more than 27% of African Americans, 11 million, lived in impoverished households in 2013.

As big as those numbers are, the government definitions of “poverty” – annual incomes of less than $12,000 for one person and $23,834 for a family of four – don’t fully capture all of the households who experience the reality of being economically disadvantaged in America.

Join trained facilitators, other attendees and several volunteers in a 3.5-hour Poverty Simulation Experience that replicates the daily challenges those living in poverty experience. Step into the shoes of low-income families, and try to provide food, shelter and other basic necessities while interacting with “community resources.”  See and feel poverty from a new perspective in this eye-opening experiential setting, and take home with you a deeper understanding that can make you more effective in your work.

This unique experience will run twice during the New Partners conference, and is made possible through support from The Annie E. Casey FoundationKaiser Permanente, and the University of Maryland School of Nursing Shady Grove Campus.


Space is limited in each session, so get there early to reserve your space!

More about the simulation…

Technology Fair

Friday, January 30 — 9:30 AM – 3:30 PM


PlacemattersThe 14th annual New Partners for Smart Growth conference will be held in Baltimore on January 29-31, 2015. Back by popular demand, PlaceMatters is partnering with EPA and the Open Planning Tools Group* to host a Technology Fair on the second day of the conference.  From 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM on Friday, January 30th, the Technology Fair is an open house, where providers interactively demonstrate their tools, and conference attendees get the opportunity to meet and collaborate and experiment with the tools to see how they can be applied to challenges you face with projects you’re working on. The Tech Fair is the place to find cutting-edge tools for scenario-planning, opportunity mapping, crowdsourced planning, and community engagement. We hope to expand on last year’s Tech Fair, where 13 different tool providers were able to share their innovative products.

*The Open Planning Planning Tools Group (OPTG) is a consortium of tool developers, academic researchers, and leading public agencies working to document and expand best practice applications of planning tools across a range of domains, including climate adaptation, land use, transportation, and fiscal impacts modeling. PlaceMatters has played a convening role with this group, whose membership includes the National Center for Smart Growth, SACOG, Calthorpe Associates, Fregonese Associates, and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

FREE Transit Passes from MDOT and MTA

Light-rail-at-Camden-Yards-with-Hilton-backgroundThe Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and its Modal Agency Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) are generously providing complimentary weekly transit passes for all New Partners for Smart Growth Conference attendees.

The passes are valid for use on MTA Light Rail, Baltimore Metro Subway and MTA local buses. Participants will be able to pick up their free passes when they check in during onsite conference registration hours at the Baltimore Hilton Inner Harbor Hotel. More details will be included in participant confirmation material sent out in early January 2015.

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Parklets 3.0:  The Parklet Experience

Coordinated by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), New Partners is again bringing the parklet movement indoors to highlight the need for more urban open space. These participatory installations will showcase how a parking spot-sized space can transform into exciting opportunities for creating more vibrant places in your community.  Parklets are small urban parks, often created by replacing parking spots with sod, planters, trees, benches, café tables with chairs – maybe even artwork or bicycle parking. They are designed to provide public place and bring awareness to the amount of public space that is devoted to the automobile rather than to creating vibrant community spaces.

ParkletsThis year’s conference once again includes several intriguing indoor parklet experiences. You will find several parklet installations throughout the conference to illustrate just what you can do in an 8’ x 20’ space. Learn what organizations are doing to enliven their communities and be inspired by simple ideas to increase the communal and vegetated spaces in our city’s streetscapes.

It’s exciting to see a growing number of communities rethinking how to use public space. One of the great benefits of parklets is how easily they can be installed or modified with little capital expense to meet community needs.

- Deborah Steinberg, Professional Practice Manager for the American Society of Landscape Architects

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The Doctor Is In

Prescriptions to Create Sustainable Communities through EPA’s Building Blocks Program

(Year 3 of Getting Your Community in Shape)

dr_inDo your streets need a diet? Are you experiencing unwanted growth? Or maybe a population hemorrhage? Do you need an infill transplant? Have any other built environment ailment?

The EPA, along with a team of national smart growth experts, has created the elixir to your planning and development health ills. It comes in a Building Blocks Toolbox of smart growth-related concepts and strategies that can assist your community in creating better public spaces, more vibrant, mixed-use districts and a healthier attitude toward what it means to be a sustainable community.

The toolbox contains over a dozen resources that can assist communities of all sizes and shapes. During the conference, the EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities will be holding 20-minute “office hours” to match your ailment with a prescription from the toolbox. You will talk with a member of EPA or a national expert on a specific topic.

Appointments are highly encouraged, although walk-ins can be accommodated. Check out the list of tools at epa.gov/smartgrowth/buildingblocks.htm#tools to determine your topic of conversation, then make an appointment. Appointments can be scheduled by contacting Kevin Nelson at nelson.kevin@epa.gov or 202-566-2835.