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Day Five - Monday

Day Four - Sunday
What's Next?

Day Three - Saturday
New Era

Day Two - Friday
Providence Lights Up

Day One - Thursday
Opening Day

Local host Buff Chace on CNU XIV

Alexander and Krier Receive Inaugural Athena Medals

CNU XIV: An Online Experience Almost as Amazing As Being There

With 1533 registered attendees, the Providence Congress was CNU's largest gathering ever -- and perhaps its most galvanizing as well.

As the Congress turned 14 in Providence and reached a new level of maturity and relevance, anyone who thought this was a boutique design movement specializing only in quaint small-town mainstreets had that idea turned on its ear.

CNU XIV: Developing the New Urbanism was the first Congress to focus heavily on what it takes to bring plans for compact walkable development through to completion: the coordinated interaction of government officials, the public, designers, financiers, and often multiple developers in settings ranging from outlying new villages to dense downtowns.

No small feat, but that wasn't all. As New Urbanism proves itself the only comprehensive contemporary approach to community design and development, the Congress took today's community building challenges head on – from addressing the staggering evolving needs of Gulf Coast communities slammed by Katrina and Rita, to serving the widespread need for affordable housing, to offering development models tuned to an emerging era of tight oil supplies and greenhouse gas accumulation that is exposing the vulnerability of development that requires an automobile trip to reach every destination.

As they assembled the talent and expertise to make real progress on these issues, the local organizers of CNU XIV made a fortuitous decision to forego producing a regional-themed publication and instead work with CNU on capturing the assembled knowledge in a permanent online resource -- the multimedia toolkit that you're about to experience and that we hope you will return to frequently as you move forward in your work.

The Toolkit includes audio and video from nearly 50 Congress sessions, a similar number of slideshows, and reports from the correspondents who covered the Congress for the online Daily NUws. If you have experienced the typical Congress desire to be in two or more places at once (who hasn't?), the Toolkit is your wish fulfilled. To get started, search the Congress schedule for multimedia files or search by session type such as council or urban lab.

CNU XIV's impressive plenary addresses are well represented. There is high-quality video of Dan Solomon's presentation on learning from the strains of Modernism that acknowledge the past while envisioning the future – a speech that kept attendees in their chairs well into the dinner hour and generated a flurry of requests for recordings (requests we're pleased to oblige.) And along with other highlights from the plenary sessions including Andres Duany on New Urbanism at the Tipping Point, CNU is privileged to provide a wealth of clips and materials of this year's inaugural recipients of the Athena Awards, which CNU established to recognize those trailblazers of urbanism on whose shoulders we stand. With his keynote address, Christopher Alexander challenged new urbanists to change the development processes that rob their work (along with most other contemporary development) of soul and life. In the process, he also proved that his ideas have the power to set off days of highly charged listserv discussion. And fellow medal-recipient Léon Krier gave a nuanced but powerful appeal for treating city and town building with humanity and respect.

The big ideas and challenges are all in the Toolkit – urbanism's role in school reform and affordable housing; green urbanism (and more green urbanism) and the post-carbon society with Jim Kunstler and Julian Darley; Mississippi and Louisiana renewal, accessibility, and high-density infill development. There's whistle-to-whistle coverage of the Sprawl Brawl featuring Robert Bruegemann and Anthony Flint and the sessions hosted by New Urbanism's forward-looking Next Generation.

And following this year's theme, there is a storehouse of strategies from developers who are earning reputations as placemakers, including advice on running the numbers, financing mixed-use development, doing well by doing good, and improving the quality of attractively priced production housing. In other words, the Toolkit has tools!

As Boston architect David Dixon told the Providence Journal on the eve of the Congress, "Twenty years ago, planners and architects often worked in entirely separate spheres. Architects designed single stand-alone buildings, while planners did roads, mass transit and other public infrastructure. New Urbanism was the first attempt to put everything from individual house lots to regional planning together into one, internally consistent package." Enjoy the Toolkit; it's part of that package in downloadable form.

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