This annual premier smart growth event organized by the Local Government Commission focuses on providing practical tools and innovative strategies for creating great communities. The 2017 conference featured over 90 sessions and workshops, as well as several tours and interactive conference features, that provided insights about some of the newest, most forward thinking smart growth topics.
I had a hard time choosing what sessions to attend because all of them were compelling! No matter what your specialty, New Partners for Smart Growth is a conference you need to attend at least once in your lifetime.
– Alana Reynolds, Garden Coordinator, Grow Springfield
New Partners provides a wonderful opportunity to explore ways to truly break the barriers of cross-sector collaboration.
– Jett Johnson, Executive Director, Healthy Portsmouth
This is a must attend conference for anyone driven to make their community better.
– Bruce King, Government Affairs Director, REALTORS Association of Northwestern Wisconsin
The NPSG Conference is the premiere space to connect with a wide array of dedicated professionals who are working towards building a more sustainable and equitable America.
– Miguel Vazquez, Healthy Communities Urban and Regional Planner, Riverside
Conference participants and St. Louis residents participated in a protected bike lane demonstration in downtown St. Louis on Wednesday, February 1 before the conference. Sponsored in part by the St. Louis REALTORS, this temporary installation was designed to help show the potential benefits of a permanent protected bike lane.
St. Louis residents and conference attendees came early for this workshop, DIY Great Cities – What to Do, Why Do It, and How to Get It Done. The workshop provided participants with hands-on tools and techniques for community-driven improvements to streets, neighborhoods, parks and more.
Before the conference began the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis and the New Partners conference worked to provide very focused technical assistance to three specific St. Louis neighborhoods. Local and national experts came together with neighborhood leaders to help the neighborhoods develop a realistic implementation plan for tackling a key neighborhood challenge they have identified.
The first annual Smart Growth PechaKucha Night, presented as part of the Local Day activities, featured 10 fast-paced presentations about Smart Growth in St. Louis. Each of these dynamic presentations consisted of 20 slides for 20 seconds, each with topics ranging from “Engaging Community through the Power of Story, Sound, and Image” to “Connecting to Our Rivers, Parks, and Each Other” and “Building a St. Louis Restaurant Ecosystem”.
This years mobile app put the conference at participants’ fingertips, allowing them to get the most up-to-date information about the program and special events, build their own schedule on their mobile device, and easily network with other smart-growth professionals at the event.
Over the course of the three-day conference, there were:
It was inspirational to hear from people who were able to successfully implement the things I have dreamt of.
– Marcus Ricci, Planner II, City of Urbana Planning Division, IL
The kick-off plenary featured speakers – John Thomas, Associate Office Director, Office of Sustainable Communities, U.S. EPA; Lewis E. Reed, President, Board of Aldermen, City of St. Louis, MO; Lisa Sturtevant, President, Lisa Sturtevant and Associates, LLC; and Meea Kang, Founding Partner, Domus Development. They discussed innovative ways to increase our housing supply – eliminating blight and addressing the missing middle.
Meea Kang rocks! Instead of the theoretical, I love hearing about someone making it happen in the real world.
– Lee Steinmetz, Transportation Planner, County of Kauai
375 participants attended at least one of the conference’s 16 optional tours of local model projects. These tours were held on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday and had conference participants seeing St. Louis via walking and bus.
The conference tours are a great way to share best practices in the host cities.
– Linda Moen, Civic Engineer, EFK Moen
On Friday morning, Stephen Hardy of mySidewalk and Tom Schenk of the City of Chicago Department of Innovation and Technology shared how cities can use emerging technology to fundamentally reshape the way they operate to save energy and water, reduce traffic congestion, create more sustainable cities, and bolster local innovation and competitiveness.
The role of data and the potential of large data analysis in finding cost-effective solutions to urban problems was timely. Examples helped identify potential local applications.
– Kamran Mesbah, Planning Commissioner, City of Wilsonville, OR
This year, PlaceMatters teamed up with a variety of tech innovators to offer “Friday Fab Lab” – a dynamic, hands-on event that gave conference attendees the chance to see and explore the newest tools in planning and smart growth. This year the fab lab focused on fabrication technology and the maker movement. A few of the tools presented were, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality in Planning, KaBOOM’s Imagination Playground, 3D-3D (3 Dimensional Drone Deliberated Design), and Pop-up Deign In-a-Box.
This plenary on Saturday morning featured Ryan Snyder, Principal of Active Transportation at Transpo Group and Adam Ducker, Director of Urban Real Estate at RCLCO. They discussed how local governments can plan for the new mobility future by tackling local regulations, land-use implications and considerations about social equity.
This topic completely floored me. It seems so futuristic, but they made it real and now.
– Kathy Dolson, Program Assistant, St. Louis Earth Day
Smart Growth created a significant amount of opportunities for non-traditional partner growth and networking that has already begun to blossom as a result of my conference attendance. I was thrilled to partner in hosting a Nature Explore Parklet that ignited the sense of wonderment and deep connection to nature among conference participants of varied backgrounds, cultures, and ages. This was a phenomenal opportunity to connect people to nature in a meaningful and powerful way!!
– Tamberley Conway, Partnerships, Diversity and Inclusion Specialist, USDA Forest Service
The Nature Explore, U.S. Forest Service, Arbor Day Foundation, and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation presented Experience the Gateway to Trails and Forests! This parklet invited participants to release their inner child by playing musical instruments and exploring creating things that you can do with natural items.
Kaboom, and Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection presented Creating Energy and Excitement in PLAYces. This parklet demonstrated how innovative places that put kids first in public space design not only create sustainable, equitable cities that provide kids with opportunities to play, but also encourage design creatively using elements of energy, art, music, nature and more.
Forest Releaf of Missouri. U.S. Forest Service, and ASLA Student Chapter and Washington University in St. Louis presented Smart Growth Will Protect our Trees and Prairies! This parklet provided a bit of nature in the hotel halls.
Placematters, PGAV Planners, SWT Design, Knox College Office of Sustainability, and Urban Harvest STL presented Healthy Food, Urban Agriculture, and Pollinator Habitat. This parklet featured a small greenhouse, plants for eating and plants that attract pollinators, places to sit, and a bike equipped with a smoothie making apparatus.
The WALC Institute and Placematters presented The Learning Lab. This parklet on parklets explored different ways that communities can repurpose a space mostly relegated to private vehicle storage to something that can help revitalize and humanize the streetscape.
GreaterPlaces presented Taking it to the Streets – Good Planning and Driverless. This parklet pondered what needs to happen to combine livable, healthy and sustainable community design with smart city technology and driverless vehicles.