German Village Gazette

German Village Society

Urban planning conference drawing interest

The Great Placemakers Lab is scheduled for Sept. 16-19 in the Westin Great Southern Hotel


The German Village Society's symposium on urban planning is taking shape, with a list of national and local speakers lined up for the four-day event this fall.

Matt Shad, a professional planner who's coordinating the event for the Society, told the board of trustees June 9 support is growing for the Great Placemakers Lab, to be held Sept. 16-19 in the Westin Great Southern Hotel.

Shad said the conference, which is open to professionals as well as those with an in interest in urban neighborhoods, has already exceeded the goal of $16,000 by $500, with more organizations and businesses voicing financial support.

The event, which has room for 350 attendants, will kick off the evening of Sept. 16 with a speech by Kyle Ezell, a professor at Ohio State University.

Ezell is known for preaching authenticity, urging neighborhoods not to copy each other, but rather accentuate their own characteristics, Shad said.

"We wanted to set the right tone for the rest of the agenda," Shad said, adding that the opening-night festivities are free and open to the public and encouraged trustees to attend.

Jim Diers, a Seattle-based educator and author of the book Neighbor Power: Building Community the Seattle Way, will be the featured speaker the morning of Sept. 17, the first full day of the conference.

Diers will speak about empowering neighborhood residents, building capacity in the community and creating incremental steps for success, Shad said.

That afternoon, participants will have the opportunity join one of several discussion groups, with topics ranging from economic impact to implementation techniques to the value of authenticity, Shad said.

The following day, the groups will visit different neighborhoods to see how they are meeting challenges and building models for success.

The final day of the conference, speakers will discuss livability and walkability of urban neighborhoods, promoting multimodal transportation, living in high density areas and the value of economic development, Shad said.

Shad said the conference had to me moved up three weeks because of conflicting conferences in Columbus.

Shiloh Todorov, executive director of the German Village Society, said the neighborhood has a story worth telling at the conference.

"We need to share it," she said.