By bringing together so many different thinkers, practitioners, activists, community leaders and elected officials from an ever-evolving and expanding spectrum of disciplines and innovative perspectives, New Partners has guided a strong and diverse movement grounded in the values of sustainable communities for over a decade.
The origins of this conference can be traced to late 1995 when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency first launched its Smart Growth Program. As part of this effort, the EPA sought to organize a national conference that would focus on environmentally sensitive growth and development.
In December 1997, the EPA, together with the Urban Land Institute, co-sponsored the first “Partners for Smart Growth” conference. Conferences followed in Austin in 1998, then San Diego and finally, in Atlanta. The LGC participated in the San Diego conference, organizing a third day focused on smart growth in the Western States.
The LGC began organizing conferences on “livable communities” somewhat earlier, producing five installments of its highly successful “Putting Our Communities Back on Their Feet Conference” on the East and West Coasts in the mid-to-late 1990s.
In 2001, the LGC partnered with the Centers for Disease Control, the California Department of Transportation and Penn State University to produce a “first of its kind” national, multidisciplinary event titled “Redesigning Community: A Smart Growth Approach to Street and Neighborhood Design, Crime Prevention, and Public Health and Safety” in San Diego.
Immediately following that event, the EPA approached the LGC about merging their collective efforts. Addressing the key issues on the table, the appropriately titled “New Partners for Smart Growth” multidisciplinary conference has now made memorable stops in San Diego, New Orleans, Miami, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, Albuquerque, Seattle, Charlotte, Kansas City, Denver, Baltimore and Portland—building momentum and attracting new supporters every year.
Over the past decade, the basic principles of smart growth have not changed, but the realization of their importance continues to grow as more civic leaders, professionals, and interest groups recognize smart growth as a solution to the challenges in their communities. Thanks to a trail blazed by determined and visionary pioneers, smart growth is now widely and rightfully understood as a necessary, if not sufficient, way of addressing many of the most difficult economic, environmental, and social challenges we face today in communities across the country.
The enduring strength of the New Partners conference comes from the diversity of participants who cross disciplinary lines to share experiences, insights, inspiration, valuable implementation tools and strategies. The 2017 event will continue this exciting trend and welcomes even more new partners who recognize smart growth as a viable solution to the problems they encounter in their professions.
Check out our 10th-anniversary commemorative booklet from the 2011 conference.
With the critical challenges that lie ahead, there are more reasons than ever to join hands with new partners and work toward our common goal of creating safe, healthy, equitable, economically vibrant, and livable communities for all.