In addition to the regular programming at CNU, I've been asked to participate in a couple of related activities in Salt Lake City. Today I want to share one with you called ZipCode Calling: A Gathering for Christians Engaging the Built Environment

I think that is a really important outreach effort to expand the dialog of urban design to a natural, and important, ally in the faith community. As a Catholic living in a small town, I'm continuously baffled by how our church leaders buy up adjacent homes then tear them down for parking lots. (I'm also amazed that a significant number of my fellow parishioners who, having just sat through mass, still manage to display overt signs of aggression when behind the wheel leaving said parking lots -- auto psychology is very powerful.) When I was asked to participate in this event, I jumped at the chance, not only for the opportunity to share but also for the chance to learn how to expand our conversation.

From the event website:

Although Christian pastors and leaders are well trained to care for the spiritual, personal, and community aspects of people’s lives, the average Christian leader has both a blind spot and an empty toolkit when it comes to assessing and interacting with the built environment.  Few leaders, therefore, understand how neighborhoods, villages, towns, and cities---the places we create and inhabit--can be thoughtfully designed to contribute positively to human community and wellbeing (or not).  Or to flip that around, most Christian pastors and leaders miss out on the joy and privilege of participating in the planning, design, and building of livable neighborhoods, downtowns, or cities that help nourish individuals and communities for generations (including the opportunity churches have to contribute to the built environment through their own building projects). 

ZipCode Calling is a one-day event for Christian pastors and leaders that will help rectify this blind spot, or as Rich Sterns describes it, fill in a “hole in our gospel.”  ZipCode Calling will not only help attendees to discover the principles of great placemaking, it will also provide them with tools to help design and build great places, or redesign, retrofit, and redeem hurting places in your community.

Here are the elements included in this event.

  • First you’ll learn abut the principles of good urban design from two world authorities, Andres Duany and Jeff Speck, at the 21st annual Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU21) in Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • Afterward you will participate in small group discussions facilitated by experts.
  • Then you’ll take a guided walking tour through the neighborhoods of Downtown Salt Lake City so you can see and discuss the design principles that you’re learning about.
  • Last, but not least, you’ll meet new friends and become a part of a Christian community that proactively cares about the built environment.

I am going to be joined by two of my good friends -- Eliza Harris and Mike Hawthorne -- for the "expert" small group discussion and then I'll be leading one of the neighborhood tours. That is all going to be really fun. Plus, Eric Jacobsen is fantastic; I'm really looking forward to his talk.

The price is $25, which covers lunch and the cost of the bus. Head over to the website to get registered. And while you don't need to register for CNU to be part of this event, you're going to want to attend the entire Congress so go ahead and sign up for that as well.