Eight Thematic Tracks
NEW for 2018, the New Partners for Smart Growth
The 2018 program will allow participants to go deeper into a topic, while continuing to connect back to broader placemaking efforts with a multidisciplinary group of partners tackling community challenges. Each track will provide participants the opportunity to move through a series of connected sessions with a multidisciplinary peer cohort of practitioners that all leave with an implementation strategy, new tools, models and templates to integrate into their work.
Participants, as always, will be able to attend sessions across tracks – picking and choosing which topics and sessions will provide them the most value – based on their subject interests, experience level or what they want to take away from the conference to apply in their communities back home. Coordinated keynotes and networking activities will also be included throughout the program to ensure that participants are learning and networking with a broad, multidisciplinary national audience.
Sessions within each track are organized by session type. Learn more about session types.
View the full New Partners for Smart Growth
Thematic Track Descriptions
Building Capacity in Small Towns and Rural Communities
This track showcases how rural communities across the country are identifying and re-defining local assets and sense of place, and ultimately building capacity and leadership to create healthy, sustainable local economies.
“One Water” for Resilient Communities
This track takes a holistic approach to water resources and land-use planning that is both responsive and resilient to disruptive forces, changing demographics, and development decisions.
Adapting to a Changing Climate
This track outlines where the United States stands on climate change now and actions for the future – both in terms of mitigating the problem and adapting to its consequences.
Improving Transportation Accessibility and Connectivity
This track covers the status of transportation decisions and investments at all levels of government including emerging trends, exciting case studies, and improving first mile-last mile connectivity.
Designing Healthy Communities
This track considers strategies for overcoming social and economic inequities, addressing housing, practical tools to improve access to healthy environments, and success stories from local and state partnerships.
Creating Housing for Everyone
This track describes the current state of housing affordability and highlights promising case studies that point the way to diverse, equitable and affordable housing choices.
Planning and Designing Smart-Growth Communities
This track examines how smart growth is being implemented in rural, suburban and urban contexts, and unpack some of the emerging new trends based on equity concerns and technological innovations.
Inclusive Prosperity of People and Place
This track provides a multidisciplinary audience with a deeper dive into policies, practices, places and tools focused on creating inclusion and opportunity for diverse communities and their residents.
The “Adapting to a Changing Climate” Track will outline where the United States stands on climate change now and actions for the future – both in terms of mitigating the problem and adapting to its consequences. After setting the stage through a unique” storytelling” format, this track will build your understanding through an eye-opening overview of emerging trends, followed by an engaging showcase of promising case studies that tackle key climate-change issues, illuminating demonstrations of effective tools, and a menu of innovative financing options to implement climate-smart solutions in your community.
The sessions in the Climate Change track will address a wide range of interconnected topics such as extreme weather events ranging from record drought and wildfires to historic hurricanes, emerging climate technology, climate-adaptation policies, equity in climate action, innovative model projects for different situations, public/private partnerships for climate action, retreat from climate-vulnerable areas in an equitable way, and the grid of the future.
You will complete this track with an enhanced understanding of the climate-change landscape, popular tools and useful perspectives on emerging resources for action, and a game plan for accelerating climate action in your community.
From small towns to big cities, finding an affordable place to live can be hard to come by. This housing crisis is national – and it is growing. This track on “Creating Housing for Everyone” will describe the current state of housing affordability and supply, explore innovative strategies to finance and build more housing, and highlight promising case studies that point the way to diverse, equitable and affordable housing choices with access to opportunities, services and community amenities.
The sessions in the Housing track will consider topics covering uncertain federal funding for housing programs, shifting housing preferences, creative financing models, innovative housing strategies ranging from micro units, home-sharing and crowdfunding, the rise of the missing middle and millennial YIMBY movements, reducing local barriers and fast-tracking development, building strong community support for compact, walkable and transit-oriented development, and avoiding displacement of current residents.
Participants will leave with a better understanding of specific financing strategies, promising tools and an implementation roadmap for facilitating more affordable housing across the income spectrum.
Communities cannot thrive without adequate water supplies and healthy watersheds, especially in the face of multiple disruptive forces. This track will take a holistic systems approach to water resources management and land-use planning that is responsive and resilient to disruption, such as extreme weather events, water scarcity, flooding, sea-level rise, aging infrastructure, changing demographics, and development.
We will explore collaborative water management and planning strategies to achieve smart-growth goals while also preserving our natural water resources through the integrated “one water” approach. A key theme across these sessions is the importance of collaboration and public engagement to achieve more sustainable solutions. We will explore many of the disruptors that threaten a resilient water system (listed above) and take a close look at effective responses for better planning and preparedness in an uncertain climate future.
This track’s sessions build on one another, providing participants a strong understanding of the “one water” approach and useful tools to help them achieve integrated, collaborative planning and resource management in their own changing communities.
The Transportation track will examine the current state of accessibility and connectivity of our transportation networks, highlight innovative strategies, and showcase successful examples from communities around the nation that are creating a wide range of equitable transportation choices.
This track will cover topics about the status of transportation decisions and investments at all levels of government; emerging trends ranging from autonomous vehicles to shared mobility; creative value-capture financing and other funding models; exciting case studies from across the nation on city-led transportation plans, redesigning bus networks, implementing complete streets; and improving first mile-last mile connectivity; tactical urbanism demonstrations; and rehabbing old state highways to include bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
Completing this track will provide you with a network of new peers, promising tools and a clearer idea about how to implement and improve transportation accessibility and connectivity in your community.
This track will provide a multidisciplinary audience with a deeper dive into policies, practices, places and tools focused on creating inclusion and opportunity for diverse communities and their residents. This dynamic set of sessions will look at community issues through the lens of institutionalized discrimination, and how to move forward to achieve the all-too-often elusive inclusivity.
The Equity track will explore a wide range of intertwined topics: gentrification and displacement, infrastructure investments and funding sources, equitable distribution of resources, affordable housing, mobility, wealth-building and financing, and environmental justice. These sessions will feature model projects representing a variety of community types and sizes from across the country.
This track will provide you with an expanded multidisciplinary network, a toolbox of action-oriented innovative tools and best practices for racial and spatial equity, and an implementation plan to tackle equity and environmental-justice challenges in their communities.
At its inception in the mid-1990s, smart growth was described as a movement that addressed the three “E”s of sustainable development: environment, economy and equity. As the movement has matured over the past quarter-century, a growing emphasis has been placed on the social components of development – and how to create equitable communities that provide better economic, housing, transportation and social opportunities for all residents.
The Planning and Design track will examine how smart growth is being implemented in rural, suburban and urban contexts, and unpack some of the emerging new trends based on equity concerns and technological innovations. A series of case studies will help us see how meaningful community engagement has led to inclusive implementation. The track also includes a “tools session” focused on both high-touch and high-tech methods to assist with implementing smart-growth programs and development in your community.
Participants will gain a deeper understanding of how smart growth is being implemented and advanced in communities of all types across the country.
What does smart growth mean in today’s rural context? How does it vary across regions and places around the country?
The prevailing national narrative often pits cities against rural and small-town areas in terms of social values, community investments and public resources. Official definitions often create hard lines between “urban” and “rural” (as well as “metropolitan” and “non-metropolitan”) that fail to capture the variations and nuances that represent rural life and economy. Moreover, rural communities continue to grapple with changes in industry, demographics and post-recession revitalization. The restoration trajectory there has been slower in realizing vibrant, economically competitive places.
This track will showcase how rural communities across the country are identifying and re-defining local assets and sense of place, and ultimately building capacity and leadership to create healthy, sustainable local economies.
Topics in this set of sessions will cover the definitions and meaning of ruralism, emerging trends, models and case studies in technology (such as broadband access), community engagement and capacity building, local asset-based and place-based economic development, diversity and inclusion, and farm production and preservation of natural resources.
Participants will leave with a greater appreciation of the wide range of conditions, challenges and solutions in rural and small-town America, and specific strategies, resources and solutions to build local leadership and capacity to advance thriving economies, culture and well-being.
Health, and the role of public health, has become a central tenet of smart-growth communities over the past decade. This track will explore the way in which the Joint Call to Action to Promote Healthy Communities, adopted by eight national associations of architects, engineers, developers and planners, is bringing a new coordinated approach to these challenges along with examples of innovative efforts at the state and local level.
The Health track will consider topics about strategies for overcoming social and economic inequities, the role of health clinics in this effort, addressing the housing challenge, practical tools to improve access to healthy environments, and success stories from local and state partnerships, financing providers and “anchors” that can help create healthier, more sustainable communities.
Participants will leave with a growing understanding of the role of health in smart growth implementation efforts, along with inspiration and ideas for initiatives they can implement in their community.
Session Type Definitions
Sessions within each track are organized by session type. Each track will include six sessions designed to provide context and outline fundamental issues, highlight emerging trends, explore a diversity of model projects and best practices, introduce innovative strategies and tools, feature financing strategies and perspectives, before concluding with a hands-on workshop to implement practical solutions to core challenges within the field.
Context-setting: will define the current state of the topic and related challenges, threats, and opportunities (including funding, political, etc.).
Emerging Trends: will include changing demographics, technological advancements, lifestyle choices and market trends, and implications of trends.
Model Projects/Case Studies: will include presentations of real-world case studies from a range of community types and different geographical locations that illustrate the strategies discussed in each track.
Innovative Tools and Technologies: will feature a variety of tools that might include scenario planning and other visualization tools, engagement and social networking tools, environmental, and/or health impact analysis tools, mapping tools, etc.
Financing & Development: will include financing strategies and fundraising tools, and creative investment strategies and partnerships.
Implementation Planning Workshops: will include facilitated discussions and activities around 3-5 potential implementation policy and program strategies aimed at helping participants develop a preliminary roadmap defining specific next steps post-conference.