As the restraints of the pandemic wane, SSDN’s staff have stretched their legs and participated in two events that will allow the network to grow its connections, knowledge, and share its successes.
SSDN’s Executive Director, Meg Jamison, presented in Oklahoma City on March 25, 2022 at the Congress for New Urbanism’s annual congress. This event, which was attended by nearly 1,000 people, is focused on the organization’s mission of creating human-scale urban design; and creating strong, connected communities, with people-centered infrastructure and community spaces. The conference presented ideas to connect the next generation of New Urbanists, and Jamison presented on ways that local governments can play a more aggressive role in supporting sustainability and resilience that goes beyond urban planning and design.
The presentation fit in well with several other sessions, including one from former HUD Secretary and CNU Charter signator, Henry Cisneros, where he stressed that more integration of the core concerns that confront our society, more urgency, more inclusion, and more intentionality on equity must be a part of the CNU agenda.
The next CNU Congress will be in one of SSDN’s own member communities: Charlotte, NC from May 31 - June 3, 2023.
Also in March, SSDN’s Network Manager, Vanessa King, joined over 400 rural leaders from across the state of North Carolina in Raleigh at the 2022 North Carolina Rural Summit. The event, hosted by the NC Rural Center, focused on building and sustaining equitable communities and the interconnectivity it takes to ensure a thriving future.
Although she attended many breakout sessions, a presentation by Dr. Jim Johnson, a Professor of Strategy & Entrepreneurship at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, was specifically thought provoking for her. He presented on the 2020 census and what we can learn from it. Revealing important changes and continuations of trends across the state and nation, and what the census results could mean for North Carolina's future. Highlighting the fact that the Southeast is the only region in North America that is growing in population rather than decreasing, and therefore job creation, housing stock, and resilience planning couldn't be more important than it is today for our region.
The closing Keynote Speaker, economist Rebecca Ryan, outlined strategies in planning, economic development, and workforce development that could be used to help communities better prepare for the challenges to come, and closed her presentation out with a comment about something we all know very well “You can’t go back and move forward at the same time. The future is what we decide to start building today.”
It was great to learn that like us at SSDN, many in small, rural communities are talking about sustainability and resilience and what a resilient future looks like for them in rural North Carolina.