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At the end of March of this year, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia hosted its third biennial conference on reinventing older communities. We had great speakers, an engaged audience, and terrific cosponsors, all of whom share our interest in rebuilding big and small towns that are central to our metropolitan areas. The conference, which drew more than 525 people – including speakers – from 29 states, was entitled Reinventing Older Communities: How Does Place Matter?
We could not have done it without the help of our cosponsors: the William Penn Foundation, the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, the University of Pennsylvania’s Institute for Urban Research (Penn IUR), the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, The Reinvestment Fund, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh, the New York and Cleveland Federal Reserve Banks, the George Gund Foundation, the Heinz Endowments, the Surdna Foundation, the National Housing Institute, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, the Pennsylvania Planning Association, 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania, and the German Marshall Fund of the United States. Still others, such as Isles Inc., PlanSmartNJ, and the Chicago and Richmond Feds, helped by sending the invitation brochure to their mailing lists. All of this help enabled us to reach a diverse group of people.
This year the two-and-a-half-day conference had three additional features. We added a research track with the help of Penn’s IUR that included nationally recognized researchers who have analyzed how education, social networks, crime, and health are influenced by the place in which we live. The sessions were well att ended, and the researchers agreed to write a chapter for a book that will be published by Penn Press.
The second new feature was continuing education credits for planners. While the audience is typically a mix of community developers, bankers, and government officials, many of the issues discussed are important to city and town planners. Recognizing that point, the American Planning Association, at the request of the Pennsylvania Planning Association, agreed to provide credits to planners for most of the conference sessions.
A third new feature was a partnership with the German Marshall Fund of the United States that enabled the audience to get a European perspective on reinventing cities. European cities face many of the same challenges as their American counterparts, and some have made remarkable strides toward developing a sense of place while strengthening their economic competitiveness.
Now, if you were not able to attend the conference, even for a short period of time, we have tried to describe the highlights in this issue of Cascade. If this is not enough, please go to www.philadelphiafed.org/cca/conferences.html, where you will find the speakers’ presentations. In a few cases, we also have MP3 recordings of the plenary sessions. You will enjoy first hand the words of Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution, as well as Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania; Michael Nutter, mayor of Philadelphia; and Valentino Castellani, a former mayor of Turin, Italy, home of the 2006 Winter Olympics.
If you couldn’t join us this year, I hope we will see you in 2010.