Released today: Meeting of the Minds Annual Report

By Jessie Feller Hahn

Jessie Feller Hahn is the Executive Director of Meeting of the Minds. She is an experienced urban planner, specializing in urban-regional policy with a particular focus on sustainability and clean energy. Previously, Jessie launched the successful Regional Energy Policy Program at Regional Plan Association in New York City. She has written numerous articles which have been featured in RPA’s Spotlight on the Region, The Hartford Courant, Urban Age Magazine, The Record, NPR, among others.

We are excited to release our 2016 Annual Report with results from all our year-round programming. I think you will find the Annual Report helpful as you think about Meeting of the Minds’ impact in 2016 and how to engage with the Meeting of the Minds global leadership network in 2017 and beyond.

Inside the report, you’ll find interesting statistics and summaries related to the events and resources that we organized over the last 12 months. Webinar attendance was particularly strong this year, and user surveys consistently placed webinars and other digital resources (such as the CityMinded.org blog) as some of the most important formats we provide.

Download the 2016 Annual Report

A survey of our network also allowed us to pinpoint the most urgent topics, challenges, and opportunities for leaders working in urban sustainability, innovation and connected technology.

In addition to our digital resources, Meeting of the Minds organized a number of in-person workshops and roundtables, all of which are summarized in this report.

In the second half of 2016, we took a temporary break from our monthly meetups. The meetup.com group continued to grow, however, and our sister meetups in New York and Detroit continued to meet. After many requests for the events to return, we restarted our monthly San Francisco urban sustainability meetups this month. Our next meetup will be February 2nd – more info here.

These are just a few of the pages, summaries and statistics available in the Annual Report. Please download your copy and continue to engage with us throughout 2017.

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Read more from the Meeting of the Minds Blog

Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology

Downtown Revitalization Efforts Create a Market for Contractors

A recent study by the International Downtown Association reports that vibrant downtowns contain around 3% of citywide land, but contain 14% of all citywide retail and food and beverage businesses, and 35% of all hotel rooms. This results in $53 million in sales tax per square mile, compared to the citywide average of $5 million. Not to mention that downtown residential buildings also add to the tax base. In the 24 cities included in the study, residential growth in these downtowns outpaced the rest of the city by 400% between 2010 and 2016.

Partnerships between city officials and contractors result in new and visionary downtown destinations. Along with large vertical construction projects, there are opportunities for countless other projects, including parking structures, enhanced Wi-Fi, landscaping, pedestrian and biking paths, and traffic improvements.

The Future of Cities

Ordered city geometry that is built today is meaningless for energy cycles. Resilient networks contain inherent diversity and redundancy, with optimal cooperation among their subsystems, yet they avoid optimization (maximum efficiency) for any single process. They require continuous input of energy in order to function, with energy cycles running simultaneously on many different scales.

Short-term urban fixes only wish to perpetuate the extractive model of cities, not to correct its underlying long-term fragility!

Showing Results Will Win More Funding for Transit Projects

TDM, when employed, works. TDM agencies around the country use a treasure’s trove of strategies to get people out of cars and onto trains, buses, and bikes, which is something that has to happen if we don’t want our roads to become unusable due to traffic and environmental congestion.

But one major problem with the practice of TDM is that it has had a hard time making the case that it is a cost-effective alternative or at least add-on to big infrastructure projects. It seems pretty obvious that teaching people, educating them, about how to use our systems will make those systems run more smoothly. But there has never been a great way to back up that assumption with hard numbers.

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