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Back from Los Angeles, With New Partners!

I’ve returned from Los Angeles and the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference. There was quite a collection of speakers there and I saw some data presented in a very interesting way.

One particular presentation by David Crossley of the Gulf Coast Institute regarding Garden Cities and the City of Houston stands out in my mind . It’s pretty complicated to explain without a good visual, but I’d invite you to check out Ebenezer Howard’s Garden Cities concept. I think it invokes many of the concepts of New Urbanism and Traditional Neighborhood Development and maximizes open and agricultural space. Plus, the densities are quite high. In the Houston example, dozens of Garden Cities could fit into the boundaries of the City of Houston, with the exact same population – yet with about 200 times more open space (perhaps a bit exaggerated, but impressive). Regional transit would be so easy in this model. I was previously aware of this concept from my days in planning school, but I’d never seen the concept presented in this fashion before.

Another fantastic presentation I attended was led by Dan Burden, Michael Ronkin, and Dan Gallagher on road diets. I volunteered to compile a list of road diets around North America. I will add a section to the site for this list and make a more formal announcement seeking help at a later date. Some have already volunteered to help me.

Speaking of partners, I made some great partnerships down in L.A. We should have some exciting news to announce in the upcoming months. I don’t want to jump the gun on it, but I’m very excited.

Overall, the conference was great. Mostly because of the speakers. The format made for very exhausting days and left little time to socialize and explore the city. The best speakers seemed to be reserved until the end when most conference attendees were worn down. Still, I’d love to attend future ones just because there are so many great sessions to pick from.

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{ 3 comments… add one }

  • John Skinner February 14, 2007, 8:25 pm

    Sounds like a very interesting conference. Did they talk about new planning technologies, such as “visualization centers?” These type of centers offer ways to include more people in the planning process—-more collaboration.

  • Eric Fredericks February 15, 2007, 7:41 am

    Hi John,

    It was a very interesting conference. There were a few sessions related to planning technologies (see: http://www.newpartners.org/agenda.html), but I did not attend any. I’m not sure if they talked about visualization centers. It’s a really cool concept (I checked out your website) and I’ll share this with my colleagues. We’re very big on public engagement early in the process, new visualization techniques (referenced in SAFETEA-LU), and context sensitive solutions that consider what the community wants and needs – rather than trying to “sell” alternatives.

    Looks like you have a great program there and wish you continued success. Just out of curiosity – do you incorporate Web2.0 technologies in your processes (like blogs, video sites, myspace/social networking, others..)?

  • John Skinner February 15, 2007, 1:12 pm


    Thanks. We’ve started to incorporate web 2.0, and are looking at a host of other ways to enhance/advance communication.

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