CNU 32.Cincinnati Comes to Town

Next week, urbanists will descend on downtown Cincinnati for The Congress for the New Urbanism’s annual Congress event. The three-day CNU 32.Cincinnati conference will feature social events, neighborhood tours, main stage sessions, and workshops led by today’s leading thought-leaders and practitioners of New Urbanism.

The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) is a nonprofit organization that “champions better design of cities and towns to improve lives and strengthen communities for all.” The 30-year old organization has 19 state and regional chapters across the country. Their flagship Congress event is held in a different city each year and draws about 1,400 people from across the nation to share stories and ideas of New Urban development.

CNU defines New Urbanism as “a planning and development approach based on the principles of how cities and towns had been built for the last several centuries: walkable blocks and streets, housing and shopping in close proximity, and accessible public spaces.”

This approach to urban planning manifests differently in different contexts but the goal is, essentially, to create human-scale communities—places built for people. 

Bringing CNU to Cincinnati

The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr. Foundation is one of the local Special Event Sponsors of CNU 32. John Yung is the Program Manager for Civic and Community Giving at The Haile Foundation. He’s been in this role for only a few months, but he’s been involved in New Urbanism initiatives for over 15 years.

Yung attended his first Congress in Buffalo, NY in 2014 and helped found the CNU Midwest Chapter in 2015. He and local architect Jeff Raser started the initiative to bring CNU to Cincinnati. They secured the bid in 2022.

“Personally, CNU speaks to me because it is a group of people who are passionate about building great, human-scaled places. These places help enhance the economy, health, community, and vibrancy of our cities, towns, and villages,” Yung explains.

“This is a movement that leads the conversation in how we approach community change. What is great about the Congress as an event is that it’s meant to be a forum for ideas and innovation, not a standard conference where people attend. Congress-goers are delegates and encouraged to contribute their voice to the conversation.”

What to expect from this year’s Congress

The focus of this year’s CNU is Restorative Urbanism, the practice of urban development that “heals the past harms inflicted on the built environment, natural landscape, social condition, and economic opportunity.”

Lauren Mayer, Communications Manager for CNU, says that the theme of Restorative Urbanism is “incredibly relevant” to Cincinnati residents.

“From the role of infill development in conserving environmental resources, generating economic investment, and reknitting social fabric to the preservation and renewal of historic buildings, districts, and landscapes to affirm the continuity and evolution of urban society, New Urbanism is already playing a large part in how Cincinnati will continue to develop,” she explains.

This is one reason why Cincinnati was such a great location for this year’s Congress.

“Cincinnati was chosen for its history, distinct neighborhoods, unique communities and places, and how it has been rebuilt harnessing its own diversity to overcome adversity.”

She continues, “Cincinnati is also at the crossroads of rivers, commerce, and culture and is well-suited to bring together New Urbanists from around the U.S. and around the world.”

Don’t miss it!

CNU 32.Cincinnati will take place from May 15-18, with most of the programmed events held at the Hilton Netherland Plaza hotel downtown. Tickets are still available. They can be purchased here.

For urbanists who want to make the most of the week, the second annual Strong Towns Gathering will be taking place in conjunction with CNU 32 on May 14 & 15, 2024. Don’t miss it!

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Liz McEwan is a proud wife, mama, urbanite, musician and blogger. Follow her at The Walking Green and on twitter at @thewalkinggreen.