GLUE Coalition of "Rust Belt" Activists, Artists, and Urbanists Descends on Milwaukee for Second Annual Conference
February 16. Spring Break in Milwaukee has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? From March 12 through March 14, 2009, roughly 75 residents of at least a dozen cities from Buffalo to Minneapolis will convene in the Cream City to share stories, best practices, and highest aspirations about living in older industrial cities of the Upper Midwest as part of the Great Lakes Urban Exchange's second annual conference.
GLUE (www.gluespace.org) seeks to connect constructive, entrepreneurial, and solutions-oriented young leaders across the region, and the conference is an invaluable opportunity for some real-life connecting, learning, and planning.
GLUE co-founders Sarah Szurpicki and Abby Wilson visited Milwaukee in April of '08 for a four-day whirlwind tour of the city's redeveloped brownfields, art spaces, waterfronts, and neighborhood treasures. And they fell in love. Thanks to the hard work of local denizens Juli Kaufman (www.pragmaticconstruction.com/) and Megan Carr (www.linkedin.com/pub/1/149/a7b), a local team is hard at work planning a series of experiences and site visits that will give conference attendees authentic and varied experiences throughout the city.
Speakers and activities are still being added to the agenda, but some of the conference highlights will include:
- A tour of MacArthur Genius Grant Awarded Will Allen's Growing Power, a nationally renowned land trust that develops the Community Food Systems all our cities need (www.growingpower.org).
- A locally-sourced dinner, catered by Kathy Papineau, and tour at Sprecher Brewery.
- Remarks from Common Council President, Alderman Willie Hines, and Carol Coletta, Host of Smart City, the Nationally syndicated radio program, and CEO of CEO's for Cities (www.ceosforcities.org).
- A panel on the major policy challenges and innovations facing our mega-region, featuring Tom Wolfe, Executive Director of the Northeast-Midwest Institute, Kate Rube, Policy Director of Smart Growth America, and Dick Longworth, journalist, senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and author of Caught in the Middle: America's Heartland in the Era of Globalism.
- Education and brainstorming around transit infrastructure with the Transportation for America Campaign (www.t4america.org).
- Tours of some of Milwaukee's most exciting success stories.
- A discussion with Dave Wetzel, President of the Land Labour Campaign, on local funding strategies for public transit (www.labourland.org).
- A presentation on social exclusion in public policy by Lynn Todman, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Adler School's Institute on Social Exclusion (www.adler.edu/about/ISE.asp).
- An exploration of the range of action needed, from the local to the region-wide level, with John Austin, non-resident senior fellow of the Brookings Institution and Executive Director of the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan (www.neweconomyinitiative.org).
- Words of wisdom and documentation throughout by YERT's Mark Dixon, a sustainability expert with a passion for new media and community journalism (www.yert.org).
- Issues research and advocacy strategies with the Northeast-Midwest Institute and Smart Growth America (www.nemw.org and www.smartgrowthamerica.org).
- Community journalism training with the Allied Media Project (www.alliedmediaconference.org).
- Movement-building strategies with experienced GLUEsters.
- Opportunities for all participants to share their work and ideas for equitable and sustainable urban revitalization.
The conference has been funded by the generous support of the McCormick Tribune Foundation and the Surdna Foundation (www.mccormicktribune.org and www.surdna.org).
GLUE, a project of the Tides Center (www.tidescenter.org), is a coalition comprised of post-boomer urbanists located in the "Rust Belt," held its inaugural conference in January of 2008 in Buffalo, NY. The organization was founded to promote the power, aide in the positive transformation, and address the shared challenges of similarly-storied older industrial cities situated in the Great Lakes watershed. Among the ranks of GLUE coalition members are community organizers, urban planners, artists, environmentalists, entrepreneurs, and students living and working in over twenty cities in ten states. GLUE operates on four guiding principles:
- Urbanism: Cities are our world's economic drivers. Decision makers cannot afford to underestimate their value nor overlook their needs.
- Regionalism: Great Lakes urban centers need to overcome outlooks of despair and isolation by forging a shared perspective and developing strength in numbers.
- Storytelling: White papers alone cannot propel an agenda, particularly for the emerging generation of leadership. No need is expressed more powerfully than via human narrative.
- Building Networks: Connecting people and institutions who share challenges and objectives will foster regional collaboration and transfer examples of success throughout the basin.