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IMCL presentations will include health, equity, street and suburb retrofit, affordability, and more

Updated: Mar 8, 2021

Our June 2021 conference will feature a diverse lineup of 80 accepted breakout presentations, plus 18 plenary talks, receptions, tours, and many other events

The IMCL Board of Stewards, including mayors, senior planners, academic leaders, and practitioners, many of whom will offer keynote talks.

The re-opened period for submitting presentation abstracts for the 57th International Making Cities Livable (IMCL) conference closed on March 15th, and we accepted twenty more excellent abstracts, making a total of 80 accepted presentations. We are looking forward to a very exciting IN PERSON conference in Carmel, Indiana, June 8-12.

We are of course watching closely the restrictions caused by the pandemic, but conditions at present look very favorable. More encouraging US vaccination news was offered by President Biden on March 2nd, when he reported that “we’re now on track to have enough vaccine supply for every adult in America by the end of May.”

New coronavirus variants, while a continuing cause of concern, still seem likely to be controllable by the vaccines, and by continued social distancing. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the USA's top infectious disease expert, recently stated that the vaccines' efficacy against the variants remains at an acceptable level, and "still within the cushion of effectiveness."

Nonetheless, the IMCL will certainly offer generous provisions for social distancing as well. Our spacious 1,600 seat concert hall with state of the art audio and video will have ample room for social distancing in comfort for our 300 attendees. The conference will also feature many outdoor activities.

The timeline for international travel is less clear, and may depend on vaccine rollout in the home countries of potential participants. Interested parties are encouraged to monitor their vaccine rollout status, and the status of international travel restrictions, as we move into spring.

When notified about their acceptance, many of the participants expressed enthusiasm about joining a live conference after such a prolonged period of professional isolation. "I’m excited about attending the conference," said professor David Brain, a sociologist whose presentation will be on civic innovations to address perceived weaknesses in current public involvement methods. No doubt speaking for many, he said wryly, "I’ve had about enough of meetings on-line."

Other presentations will discuss the lessons from COVID-19, and the challenges of equity, affordability and gentrification, homelessness, social isolation, social capital, and urban resilience, that have been brought into sharper focus -- and in some cases exacerbated -- by COVID-19. On the other hand, the pandemic has also spurred promising innovations in urban adaptation. Many of these emerging and fascinating lessons will be shared at the conference.

Other breakouts will cover techniques to fund and support main street businesses, solutions to homelessness and declining affordability, low-cost tactical urbanism methods for neighborhood revitalization, strategies for improving parks and streetscapes, redesigns of streets, new code approaches, life beyond the car (and considering the prospect of autonomous vehicles), improving urban resilience, new methods of urban measurement, and many more frontier professional topics.

Keynoters will include Ellen Dunham-Jones, who will discuss her new book on Case Studies in Retrofitting Suburbia (with co-author June Williamson); Patrick Condon, author of the new book Sick City: Disease, Race, Inequality, and Urban Land, exploring the economic dimensions of livability and equity in a post-COVID world; Doug Kelbaugh, author of the new book The Urban Fix, who will discuss emerging solutions to climate stress and urban resilience; and Richard J. Jackson, MD, MPH, Professor Emeritus of Public Health, UCLA, and former Director of the US National Center for Public Health at the Centers for Disease Control, discussing the urban lessons of COVID-19, among many others.

And of course, we will examine lessons in Carmel first-hand, comparing notes too with those of other cities. The conference will feature tours and keynotes by Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard and other local experts and implementers, as well as participation by other mayors and senior planners from the US and internationally. (Due to pandemic-related international travel restrictions, some of these may be via remote video.) International senior-level participants include Sven von Ungern-Sternberg, former mayor of Freiburg, Germany; Paul Mugambe, Mayor of Kampala, Uganda's Nakawa Division; and George Ferguson, former mayor of Bristol, UK, and Past President of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

We share the growing enthusiasm for the terrific lineup of speakers (many representing leading national and international institutions), the opportunity to attend an in-person event to share peer-to-peer lessons first-hand, and the ability to enjoy the public spaces of a beautiful city that has been transformed in instructive ways. We hope you will join us!

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