Congress for the New Urbanism was founded in 1993 as an urban design reform and education movement. In re-introducing human-scale design and development, and bringing international focus to “sprawl costs us all,” CNU has been revolutionary. iIt deserves great praise.
People and organizations must evolve to remain successful. CNU’s time to change is upon us. This was a theme expressed vociferously among many at the Congress.
For this correspondent, a member since 1997, the new mission is best expressed by Jeff Speck in “Walkable City.” Paraphrasing, he says we know how to build better cities for people (and not just for their cars), but there remains a huge disconnect between what we know about livable cities (and the growing market desire for them), and those who are empowered to approve and finance them.
CNU must lead the effort to make this connection. The days of the Congress being principally an internally focused educational salon need to be behind us.
A couple of examples – CNU gives many awards for project plans, and few for projects built. Planning them is important, but building them is far more so. For those few awarded built projects, where is the general contractor? The lender? The developer and investor? They should be on the stage being applauded.
What instead? CNU must identify all the blockage points to walkable urbanism, identify the key players needed to remove the disconnects, and build the political and business coalition that makes walkable urbanism – not sprawl – the norm.
We must measure our progress toward our goals at each Congress, and re-set our goals for the coming year. The Congress must be almost exclusively about goals and achievement of them. It must become a congress of its members.
The 2014 CNU will be in Buffalo.