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My CNU. #19 - The Best Ever.

Our usual programming is going to be a little disrupted again this week as I get caught back up from being in Madison. In the time I have I'm going to focus on the podcast and getting some of the audio spliced and edited for you. In the meantime, here's some brief highlights from CNU 19, what many long-time attendees have called "the best Congress ever".

Wednesday - NextGen 8

Show up early to meet my peeps. Start off with the Jens. Extend a hand - get a hug in return. Welcome back. Then there's Karja, Edward, Eliza, Matt, Russ, Ian, Jed, Dan, Mike...what a group.

Kristin Jeffers - the Black Urbanist - confirms my hunch that she would be both smart and eloquent. James Rojas was likewise. And who is this Payton Chung? The dude knows his stuff and had a lot of important things to say. What a strong opening act.

Incremental Urbanism. I liked Will Dowdy when I met him last year. This year, I would put him on a short list of Top Young Professionals Worth Watching. He's challenging everyone to see the word the way it is. Refreshing.

Open Source. Is there any problem we can't solve? I'm inspired to work on our Minnesota Chapter of CNU and to go and reach those students. 

Then there's Ethan Kent. Again, I knew he was smart. I knew he was insightful. I knew he had something to say, but I was blown away. Amazing talk. He joins Will Dowdy on my short list of TYPWW.

Thursday - The first full day

Open Source gets its just props and is placed front and center. Love it. And love the CNU Board members participating. Only at CNU can a new, New Urbanist sit down with a founding, New Urbanist and have a valuable conversation. That says something. A lot of things, actually.

Agrarian Urbanism. I love that we are working on this.

The Conservative Caucus lunch. Or should I say, the First Annual Conservative Caucus lunch. A great success, and a work plan to boot. Stay tuned.

Mike Lydon - succinct and passionate. The first, uncommon at CNU. The latter, not so much. I admitted off-line to Mike that I was currently a "No way. No how" when it came to cycling. Used to cycle a lot, but circumstance has put my bike on the rack. To follow up on a promise to Lydon, it comes down this week. First a tune up. Then my commute changes.

And, of course, Petcha Kucha at the Project Lodge. Way too much fun. Thanks Edward, Matt and Karja.

Friday - Glaeser

Edward Glaeser was awesome. Just incredible. That talk was worth the entire cost of admission.

Then to Member's Choice and the high honor of being asked to speak to my peers. Thank you, all.

Speed Kills - cutting edge insights from brilliant practitioners is another reason CNU is not to be missed. What could be better than an engineer who has read the engineer manual and found that it doesn't say what the engineering profession all assumed it did. Now there is a powerful insight.

Saturday - The Great Debate

An Open Source session with new and old friends then a wrap on Open Source with the Jens. The conclusion: O.S. is one of the great strengths of CNU. We're going to do all we can to plus it again in 2012.

Bikability. I love the passion here. And the experience. They make me want to try it for myself.

Urban Agriculture. Steve Mouzon is one of my favorite New Urbanists, and I even got some tips for my own yard. 

And the debate, which turned out to be two interesting speeches. Check out the video on CNU's website.

Lots of goodbyes followed by a long drive home. Can't wait until next year.


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Reader Comments (5)

So I take it you're a fan of Glaeser? Or only after hearing him speak at CNU19? I have not liked the tone (hostile) or substance (place-ignorant) of much of what he's said in the past and especially since the release of Triumph. Did he change his tune for CNUers? I wanted to go but could not... Please let me know what was so great about Glaeser!

June 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterScott Ulrich

Scott - I'm trying to finish up a really interesting (and behind schedule) project for my real job here at Community Growth Institute, but the top of my list of things when I am done is to get that Glaeser talk out in podcast format. Yes, I really enjoyed him and, while I had no heard about the criticisms of him, he got some there and addressed them. He's passionate and won't be confused for a liberal, but you should cut him (and me, for that matter) some slack for being near lone voices for urbanism in a conservative wilderness predisposed to be against cities. I think the people at CNU felt he acquitted himself well. I'll get that podcast up and you can decide. -Chuck

June 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCharles Marohn

Chuck: I didn't mean to bust your chops (sorry if it came across that way), I'm just genuinely interested in what he said that got him such a good review from you (whose opinion I utterly respect).

At the same time, you of all people understand that conservative urbanism does not necessarily lack an emphasis on the value of place -- whereas everything I've heard from Glaeser *so far* goes something like, "Cities are great for all these very rational reasons that fit nicely in my economist box," disregarding anything that falls outside of an x-y axis but are still very economically relevant. "Conservative Urbanism" as you called it hinges on the very inclusion of the latter -- otherwise he's just a blind conservative (or is it blind urbanist?). And as a close follower of Strong Towns and I suppose a fellow conservative urbanist, I hesitate to welcome Glaeser into that camp with open arms simply because he's making an economic case for cities, because it lacks (and very nearly attacks) such a fundamental part of what I think makes conservative urbanism what it is.

I was optimistic about him until hearing him speak on a panel alongside Ethan Kent at an NYU Law event (http://youtu.be/1rvEZgZMY1A) centered around Triumph and although Ethan engaged him in his oversight of the value of place, he wouldn't even touch the discussion of place as a concept. Perhaps since then he has been enlightened -- I suppose that's what I'm interested in hearing in the podcast. Looking forward to it!

Sounds like it was a bad Congress for me to miss! Palm Beach 2012?!?!

June 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterScott Ulrich

Hey Scott - I'm busting my own chops....way behind here. Absolutely no offense taken.

I see your point. He was real cordial on that and, if my memory serves me right, conceded the point to the degree that it was not something he wanted to fight about. I'm going to listen again too and we'll compare notes.

Back to my report....


June 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCharles Marohn


Great to hear you enjoyed MadCong. On Glaeser: He grew up on the upper east side of NYC. His dad was an architect- historian at MOMA and, along with son Ed, a friend of Richard Rogers. Glaeser swipes at Prince Chas. and offers a mixed review of NU in Triumph of the Cities. No doubt his assn. w/Rogers influenced him. Ed has learned more about NU since writing the book and likes what he sees- particularly the professional diversity and market orientation. The CNU 19 program, with Cronon, Glaeser, waldheim/duany, set a high bar for W. Palm. To balance Glaeser's conservatism and to take advantage of S. Fla. as the capital of Latin America maybe we'll invite Fidel and Hugo.

June 8, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjohn norquist
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