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  • Michael Mehaffy

60th IMCL wraps with enthusiasm, commitment to continue collaborations in Cortona and beyond

Updated: May 1

Participants celebrate progress in making cities, towns and suburbs more livable, but recognize global challenges, and much more work to be done

Top row, L-R: Steve Mouzon (Urban Guild), Mallory Baches (Congress for the New Urbanism), John Hans Gilderbloom (University of Louisville); bottom row, Andrew Rudd (UN-Habitat), the "red shirt crew" (Leslie Barrett, Liam Chanter, Silas Snyder, Evie Chanter, Jude Chanter, Stevie Snyder, KJ Kresin, Brycen Barrett, Aiden Chanter, Evan Fuller, and Jared Snyder), and a panel with Kent Watkins (American Academy of Housing and Communities), Mary Gardill (Commonwealth of Massachusetts), Chris Allen (Strong Towns), Justin Hollander (Tufts University), Ethan Kent (PlacemakingX), and Senchel Matthews (The Full Frame Initiative).

NEWPORT, RI (April 28th) - The 60th International Making Cities Livable (IMCL) wrapped up its 3-day conference here, after assessing frontier challenges for cities, towns and suburbs, and the tools and strategies to make them more resilient, affordable, equitable, durable, supportive of well-being... in a word, livable. The focus was on "Research into Communication, and ACTION" - on overcoming barriers and getting changes implemented.

The remarkably diverse lineup of speakers included over 50 leading researchers, government officials, practitioners, NGO heads, and others, from the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. The venerable series, begun in 1985, has become a unique international peer-to-peer gathering in intimate, instructive locales, to share effective knowledge across disciplines, sectors and borders.

Attendees gave the conference a cumulative score of 4.75 out of 5 stars, with comments including “This is the best conference I've ever attended,“ "it was brilliantly organized!” and “A fantastic conference!”

The rich lineup of frontier urban topics covered in the conference included new research and case studies, and new tools and strategies for public space, placemaking, climate resilience, housing affordability and diversity, zoning code reform, street and transportation reform, aesthetics and livability, and livable cities and towns for ALL.

Partners and participating organizations in the conference included The King's Foundation (UK), UN-Habitat, the Congress for the New Urbanism, the International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture and Urbanism (INTBAU), the US chapter of INTBAU, HealthBridge Canada, The Seaside Institute, PlacemakingX, The Urban Guild, and local institutions including Bike Newport and Roger Williams University.

Participants noted that the number of successful new projects in livable urbanism has increased greatly, yet the old destructive models persist, and the case for reform is more urgent than ever. Specifically, we need to develop and share more effective tools and strategies for ACTION - for implementation of projects on the ground and at scale. Attendees will develop an outcome document from the conference, working together online, that the partners will use as a joint statement of their aligned missions.

Attendees were also able to take a bike tour of Newport on Friday, offering many lessons on its transportation reforms and other challenges, and a walking tour of downtown Providence on Monday, seeing some of its many new regeneration and affordable housing projects. Attendees were also able to explore the town, and enjoy the beautiful venue of the historic Bois Doré estate, built in 1927 and designed by noted New York architect Charles A. Platt. The venue was made available through the generosity of Fairfax and Sammons Architects.

Many attendees pledged to attend the next conference in the series, October 19-November 1 in Cortona, Italy. (For more information, visit

A few more of the attendee comments:

“Thank you again for a wonderful conference and stunning venue.”

- Christine Storry, Brisbane, Australia

“Arguably one of the more interesting--and memorable--conferences I've ever attended... huge congrats to Michael Mehaffy for bringing together an eclectic group of people in a fascinating place and giving us great memories.”

- Krista Nightengale, Better Block Foundation

“Many Placemaking leaders were lucky to get to participate in the International Making Cities Livable Conference in Newport, Rhode Island at the beautiful Bois Doré.”

- Ethan Kent, PlacemakingX

“Thanks for including me in such a generative and thought-provoking conference! What a wonderful urban setting for such a gathering.”

- Stefan Norgaard, Columbia University / Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

Join us in beautiful Cortona, Italy for the 61st IMCL!


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