Posted by: Sarah Szurpicki | June 24, 2009

Summit Results

The summit conveners would like to extend our sincere gratitude to all of the speakers and participants who joined us in Buffalo last week.  We are currently processing the results of the conference, and will be posting, over the next few weeks, notes from the sesssions, reflections from participants, and even speaker powerpoint presentations.  Keep checking back for more information, and thanks again.

Posted by: Sarah Szurpicki | June 18, 2009

The Summit Has Launched!

Despite rain, burst water mains, and on-campus construction, over 120 speakers and participants are at the Bulger Communications Center right now, discussing community development, metropolitan cooperation, green roofs, and green jobs.  While online registration is closed, you are still welcome to join us.  Please register in the lobby of Bulger, at 1300 Elmwood Ave.  We need your voice!

Posted by: Sarah Szurpicki | June 11, 2009

Our Opportunity

Yesterday a piece in Buffalo’s Art Voice shared the multiple reasons for our fast-approaching summit.  A central theme emerges: we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to re-shape the interaction between our cities, states, and the Federal government, if only we shout loud enough.  A snippet is below, and the full article is here.

Armstrong feels that Buffalo is in a unique position to embrace and promote change because of its shortcomings. “When you look at Buffalo statistics, we unfortunately show up on all those ‘worst of’ lists and our national reputation reflects that,” he says. “It’s only when you really get into the community and see vitality and excitement being generated that it becomes, ‘If it can happen in Buffalo, it can happen here.’ This is an opportunity to really spread the message of citizen initiative.”

The strengths of all these cities—and Buffalo in particular—and their greatest possibility for change lies with its grassroots organizations. Bartley feels Buffalo must stay in the loop when it comes to regional advocacy efforts, which is why connections to organizations in other cities is so important.

“We have some of the most dramatic problems we can showcase,” Magavern says. “We have them in a form that’s about as visible as you can get. But we also have some good things going on here like grassroots community redevelopment organizations doing block-by-block renewal on the West Side and working with inner city churches on the East Side. We have some good models to showcase.”

(Anthony Armstrong, a Program Officer at LISC Buffalo, Aaron Bartley, the Executive Director of PUSH Buffalo, and Sam Magavern, a lawyer who teaches at Buffalo Law School, are all members of the leadership at the Partnership for the Public Good, one of this Summit’s co-conveners.)

Posted by: Sarah Szurpicki | June 10, 2009

Reasons You Should Register for the Summit Today

The Great Lakes Metros and the New Opportunity Summit is eight days away, on June 18-19 in Buffalo, NY.

Here are a few reasons why YOU should register today:

1.  BECAUSE OF THE SPEAKERS. Miquela Craytor, Executive Director of Sustainable South Bronx, will talk about green jobs.  Former Rochester Mayor William Johnson will discuss the real-world challenges and opportunities of metropolitan governance.  Jennifer Bradley, of the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, will explore recent federal actions that recognize and encourage metropolitan cooperation.  Joe Schilling, Associate Director of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech, will provide context for understanding the related programs that can help reinvent distressed neighborhoods.  Blaine Bonham, the Senior Director for State and National Outreach at The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society will join a panel on green jobs in infrastructure improvements.  The full list of outstanding confirmed speakers and the organizations they represent is here.

2.  BECAUSE OF THE TOPICS. Summit sessions are set up to provide room for dialogue among practitioners, advocates, and state and Federal agency reps about what is working, and what could be working better.  Whether it’s the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, Community Development Block Grants, building efficiency funds, or Workforce Investment Boards, we will explore urgent topics through the multiple lenses of our chronically challenged cities, the goal of sustainable economic development, a demand for innovation, and the sense that right now is an unrivaled time of transformation.

3.  BECAUSE OF WHAT WE HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH. Over the course of two days, we will contribute to: maximizing the community impact of the stimulus in Great Lakes cities; advancing innovative policy approaches to problems facing all Great Lakes cities; building an organized constituency for Great Lakes resurgence; articulating a vision for change; and, of course, having fun in the sun on the shores of Lake Erie.

4.  BECAUSE YOU NEED TO BE PART OF THIS CONVERSATION. Practitioners, stakeholders, advocates, foundation reps, NGOs, planners, concerned citizens, municipal employees–our cities need us to engage each other in this re-imagining.

Register today!

Posted by: Sarah Szurpicki | June 9, 2009

Registration Discounts

Due to the generous support of our sponsors, and our host Buffalo State College, we are now able to open up registration for students and representatives of NGOs at a free or reduced cost.  Email me ( to request a discount or complete waiver of the registration fee!

Posted by: Sarah Szurpicki | June 8, 2009

Faces of the Summit: Collage

The Great Lakes Metros and the New Opportunity Summit is, most centrally, a conversation about what is working, and what could be working better when it comes to federal support for the revitalization of Great Lakes cities.  Sessions are set up to provide room for dialogue between practitioners, advocates, and state and Federal agency reps, and the strength of this convening will be the diversity of our speakers.

satyawebFor instance, we’ll talk about funding for energy efficiency programs, including weatherization ramping-up, with experts from three different perspectives–an advocate, Satya Rhodes-Conway (pictured) from the Center on Wisconsin Strategy, a state-level official, Lori Harris from the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal, and a federal representative of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Sheryl Duderwick.

Phil-KiddWhen we discuss the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, it will be with a state administrator, a local practitioner from Buffalo, and a local advocate and organizer from the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collective, Phil Kidd (pictured).

Likewise, green jobs and Workforce Investment Board funding will be explored with the help of Eric Walker, a Buffalo organizer (pictured), Emmaia Gelman, a Senior Policy Organizer for the Center for Working Families, Michael Gainer, a co-founder of Buffalo ReUse and provider of green jobs, and Jeff Jones, the Director of the NYS Apollo Alliance.

ericwalkerAs you can see on the Agenda page, the Summit’s sessions have been balanced between researchers and academics, policy wonks, organizers, advocates, and state and Federal officials to provide the meaningful, cross-sector collaboration that has been missing for so long.

We encourage you to come and join this conversation.  Registration is still open here.

Posted by: Sarah Szurpicki | June 5, 2009

Faces of the Summit: William Johnson

williamjohnsonWilliam Johnson, Jr., is Distinguished Professor of Public Policy who has spent the bulk of his career operating social service and local government programs. He is the former mayor of the City of Rochester (1993-2005).

His expertise includes local and state government, urban issues and smart growth and land use policies. He can also speak on racial equity issues and educational achievement issues for African American students.

Prior to serving as mayor, Johnson was the President/CEO of the Urban League of Rochester (1972-1993) and a political science professor at Mott Community College in Michigan (1967-71). Johnson has been a Monroe Community College trustee (1976-82), the Board Chair for Partners for Livable Communities in Washington, D.C. (2002-05) and Chairman of New York State Employment and Training Council (1979-83).

Johnson was a columnist for the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle in the mid 1980s and About…Time Magazine from 1975-1990 with more than 30 published articles.

He has delivered more than 200 speeches to universities, associations and civic groups across the United States since 1973 and, as Rochester Mayor, many of his major speeches are still available on the City of Rochester’s website.

Johnson earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Howard University, Washington, D.C. (1965, 1967) and holds doctorates of humane letters and laws from: Keuka College (1990), St. John Fisher College (1998), Rochester Institute of Technology (1999) and University of Rochester (2006).

Posted by: Sarah Szurpicki | June 5, 2009

Faces of the Summit: Blaine Bonham

Blaine Bonham portrait lo resJ. Blaine Bonham Jr. serves as executive vice president of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) and founded its urban greening program, Philadelphia Green, in 1974.  And in two weeks, he’ll be serving on our Green Jobs in Infrastructure Panel, to talk about the ways in which cities can incorporate greening strategies into their infrastructure plans.

Under Blaine Bonham’s aegis, Philadelphia Green moved from a small, grassroots initiative to the forefront of urban greening in the nation and now serves as a model for programs in other cities. In addition, Bonham oversees PHS’s education, publications, membership, and development departments.

In 2003, Bonham helped Philadelphia Green create the Green City Strategy, which was adopted by the Mayor of Philadelphia as part of his Neighborhood Transformation Initiative. Through this initiative, Philadelphia Green developed and implemented a vacant land management program that has since converted millions of square feet of once derelict land to green space.

Most recently, Bonham collaborated with the producers of the acclaimed PBS documentary Edens Lost & Found, which prominently features PHS’s greening work in the Philadelphia episode, aired in May, 2006. This series chronicled the public- and private-sector efforts of four cities—Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Philadelphia—to reclaim and create sustainable urban environments. It was produced by the Academy Award-winning company Wiland-Bell of Los Angeles.

Posted by: Sarah Szurpicki | June 5, 2009

Faces of the Summit: Miquela Craytor

MiquelaCraytorFrom a NY Daily News story (8/5/08) on the Executive Director of Sustainable South Bronx, and our keynote speaker on Green Jobs, Miquela Craytor:

Craytor has already helped change the landscape in the South Bronx for the better as the deputy director of SSBx before her promotion to executive director last month when the group’s founder, Majora Carter, stepped down from that position to start a green consulting firm.

Sustainable South Bronx has been one of the prime movers in the creation of a South Bronx Greenway slowly being pieced together from reclaimed riverbanks, new parks and waterfront promenades wrapping around the Hunts Point peninsula.

Opening the Bronx waterfront – one of SSBx’s signature crusades – is a personal priority for Craytor. “I love the water and yet find it so interesting that in a city like New York, surrounded by water, we often forget that it is here,” she said.

Craytor said another priority she intends to push as executive director is expanding the borough’s “green collar” sector – jobs based on sustainable architecture, alternative power and other eco-friendly enterprises.

Prior to becoming deputy director of the environmental nonprofit in 2006, Craytor was senior planner of Economic Development at the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp., the economic development agency of Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión.

You can read the full story here.

Posted by: Sarah Szurpicki | June 2, 2009

Metropolitan Action

Registration for the Thursday, June 18 dinner is now open, and promises to be an important element of the agenda.  Jennifer Bradley, Senior Research Associate at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, will present on why federal policy should support metropolitan collaboration and cooperation, and examine major federal legislation, including the Recovery Act, the FY 2010 budget, and climate legislation to demonstrate how the federal government is beginning to provide important incentives for metropolitan action.

A response panel, consisting of practitioners and analysts, will follow.  Tickets are just $10, and I believe the event will truly tie together all the themes of the summit.

You can review Jennifer’s bio after the jump…

Read More…

Older Posts »