2014 Highlights

Over 1,200 smart growth thought leaders from across the U.S. — and other countries — came together for the 13th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference, held February 13-15, 2014, in Denver, CO. This premier smart growth event organized and hosted by the Local Government Commission focuses on helping communities build safe, healthy, equitable and prosperous communities. The conference featured 80 sessions that provided insight about some of the newest, most forward thinking smart growth topics. Highlights from the 2014 New Partners for Smart Growth Conference include:

It’s the main conference I go to… because its one of the best places you can go to get the topical knowledge, most up to date information on key issues and best practices.

– Clark Anderson, Colorado Program Director, Sonoran Institute

highlights1The “Extreme Weather, Smart-Growth Forecasts: Finding Opportunities for Implementing Silver Linings” kick-off plenary featured Former Mayor of Moscow, ID Nancy Chaney; Mayor Bob Dixson from Greensburg KS, and Boulder, CO Councilmember Mary Young. Each shared their stories of how their cities have survived and prepared for extreme weather and natural disasters.

“There’s really no great new ideas out there, it’s that with the human capitol and sharing and networking we are able to enhance those ideas and make them better and make them applicable to our own communities.”

– Mayor Bob Dixson, Greensburg, KS

highlights2On Wednesday afternoon, the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems with support from the Kellogg Foundation, LiveWell Colorado and the Local Government Commission, presented a pre-conference workshop titled “Advancing Healthy, Equitable Food Systems: Building Capacity, Partnerships and Resources.” This half-day workshop explored local and regional food systems through the lens of smart growth. The workshop featured many exciting speakers including a closing plenary from Elanor Starmer at the USDA, Judith Bell from PolicyLink and Bridget Dobrowsky from Sustainable Agriculture and Food System Funders.

highlights3This year, New Partners presented Parklets 2.0! Conference participants loved networking, working and relaxing at the four parklets created within the Hyatt Regency Denver. The American Society of Landscape Architects coordinated this effort, with several local, regional and national organizations, agencies and firms participating as sponsors.

“It’s exciting to see a growing number of communities rethinking how to use public space. One of the great benefits of parklets is how easily they can be installed or modified with little capital expense to meet community needs.”

– Deborah Steinberg, Professional Practice Manager for the American Society of Landscape Architects

highlights4One of the visitors to the conference was Smokey Bear, who came to visit one of the parklets put up during the conference. Conference attendees were excited to take their picture with Smokey, including the LGC Staff!



highlights5The always-popular Equitable Development Workshop, “Equitable Development: Smarter Growth through Environmental Justice” half-day explored how low-income, minority, tribal and other overburdened communities are integrating land use and economic development strategies to renew their neighborhoods and build residents’ skills and wealth. The half-day workshop on Thursday, February 13 featured Vernice Miller-Travis, Senior Associate, Skeo Solutions; Joel Beauvais, Associate Administrator, Office of Policy, U.S. EPA; Matthew Tejada, Director, Office of Environmental Justice, U.S. EPA and many more exciting speakers. Nearly 250 participants attended the workshop, and left reinvigorated to promote equitable development in their own communities.

“What’s interesting about the smart growth conference is the diversity of the groups that are here, it’s always a fresh group of people, it’s not a monoculture. There tend to be people that look at the cross connections of different policies.”

Joe Minicozzi, Principal, Urban3 LLC

highlights6Thailand Delegation — For the second year in a row, 10 people from Thailand attended the New Partners conference, representing various sectors, including local and regional governments, a lecturer and representatives from the private and public sectors. As part of a nonprofit, Smart Growth Thailand, the delegates attended the conference to observe and learn about the latest smart growth issues and approaches – many of them for the first time!

highlights7The Friday morning “Successful Transportation Networks: A Driving Force in Smart Growth” plenary featured Gabe Klein, Former Commissioner, Chicago DOT (who participated via Skype due to bad weather preventing his physical appearance in Denver); Phil Washington, General Manager, RTD Denver; and Scot Spencer, Associate Director, Advocacy and Influence, The Annie E Casey Foundation, who talked about the different transportation problems and solutions they have come up with in their regions.

“We are very excited about how we are transforming this North American city through transportation investment.”

– Phil Washington, General Manager, Regional Transportation District, Denver, CO

highlights8The Doctor is In — Once again Kevin Nelson, a.k.a the Building Blocks Doctor, held office with attendees to discuss their smart growth related issues and “ailments.” Eight communities set up meetings with Kevin to discuss ideas and strategies for community visioning, streetscape improvements, green infrastructure, stormwater management, small-lot housing, fostering public-private partnerships, and other topics.

“I find this to be one of the best places to go if you are a planner who thinks outside of particular silos. It brings together many different kinds of folks on the ground doing really important work. Whether you are a planner, a policy person, a community organization, an industry person or a regulator, this is a good conference to bring all those things together.”

– Martha Matsuoka, Occidental College

highlights9The “Smart Growth: A Prescription for Healthy Communities and Vibrant Economies” plenary featured Tyler Norris from Kaiser Permanente, Khanh Nguyen from the Colorado Health Foundation, Clark Anderson from the Sonoran Institute, Mickki Langston from the Mile High Business Alliance and Councilmember at Large Deborah Ortega from the City of Denver explored practical integrated strategies that can improve public health while creating social economic opportunity within a community.

highlights10Public Coffee, a mobile coffee shop, pop ups around Denver serving coffee to start meaningful conversations. It activates spaces to build community and connections, helping strangers get to know the many faces of a community, and functions as an open center for thinkers and creators to bring together different perspectives. During “coffee break” conversations at the conference, attendees dove into these larger ideas with people they might never have connected with.

highlights11Conference participants loved trying out cutting edge tools for scenario planning and public engagement during the Technology Fair, sponsored by PlaceMatters, U.S. EPA and the Open Source Planning Tools Collaborative. Tools included mapping and alternative analysis tools to aid planning, interactive and data rich 3-D visualization, and online tools and mobile apps to engage stakeholders typically not reached through public meetings.

“It’s an incredible place to network with cities that are really trying to do things… this is a place where you can really talk about what’s working when you actually try to implement it and start trying to make the change happen.”

– Andrea Gardner, Senior Technologist-Sustainability, CH2M HILL

highlights12This year’s participants were plugged into social media throughout the entire event. Almost 400 people tweeted about the sessions they were attending, special features, tours, and the people they were connecting with, during the event! All the conference tweets were shown in real-time on a Twitterfalls located in high-traffic areas during the event.

We hope to see you at the 14th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference — dates and location to be announced in March. It will be another great conference full of networking; great speakers, sessions and plenaries; local tours; special features; and more!

“This conference brings together local government officials, planners, health care advocates, bicycle advocates… as the name implies, all the new partners you can imagine, to discuss areas of mutual interest and how we can grow smarter, so that is the great value, brining all those people together working for the same goal.”

– John Frece, Director, Office of Sustainable Communities, U.S. EPA

“One of the most important values of this conference is… the ability to meet people who are struggling with the same issues and some have solutions you can learn from.

– John Frece, Director, Office of Sustainable Communities, U.S. EPA

“The opportunity for networking is like none other, this is a wonderful place to interact with people from all over the country and in fact, all over the world.”

– Former Mayor Nancy Chaney, City of Moscow, ID

“You find out that there really are kindred spirit of people trying and wanting and desiring to make their communities a better place for all of us to live and work and that’s why this conference is so important.”

– Mayor Bob Dixson, Greensburg, KS

“I’m most inspired right now by continuing to see the different partnerships that are emerging in support of building stronger and better communities.”

– Clark Anderson, Colorado Program Director, Sonoran Institute

About New Partners

Conference Organizers

"The challenges of the 21st century will require an unprecedented level of collaboration and innovation. Working together across disciplines, we can create communities that are resilient, prosperous and equitable. The New Partners conference will connect you to diverse experts, new strategies and cutting-edge tools that will help create positive change, starting with your community."
— Kate Meis, Executive Director, Local Government Commission
Michele Kelso Warren
916-448-1198 x308
mkwarren ‘AT’ lgc ‘DOT’ org

Rachael Ryen
916-448-1198 x327
rryen ‘AT’ lgc ‘DOT’ org

About the Event

A Green Conference

Why You Should Attend