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  • Michael Mehaffy

All is ready for an epic 59th International Making Cities Livable!

Executive Director Michael Mehaffy reports from Poundbury and Dorchester on final preparations

LEFT: Poundbury, site of the opening reception, tours, breakouts, and closing party for the IMCL conference. RIGHT: The Corn Exchange, the site of the main plenary sessions, where Michael Mehaffy (at left in image) meets with Andrew Bradshaw of AB Catering (center), and Sam Wood of Dorchester Arts, manager of the Corn Exchange venue (right).

POUNDBURY, UK - The weather was a bit off and on -- typical for late September -- but everything else was nearing readiness as we prepared this week for the 2023 IMCL conference, “The Ecology of Place: From Understanding to ACTION,” October 10-13, with side events on October 9th and 14th. Partners include the Duchy of Cornwall, the Prince’s Foundation, the International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture and Urbanism (INTBAU), the Congress for the New Urbanism, UN-Habitat, and other international agencies and institutions.

As of the end of our “recce” (reconnaissance) trip on September 23, a little over two weeks before the conference, 133 out of 150 seats were already taken (just under 90%), and those who still wish to come are advised to book promptly. Hotels are also full or filling quickly.

Executive Director Michael Mehaffy used the visit to make sure that travel between the main venue in Dorchester (the Corn Exchange) and the main Poundbury venue (Jubilee Hall) was clear and manageable. He walked between the two venues and also rode the bus, recording a video guide that can be seen here (click image):

As reported in the video, the bus line takes contactless payments including cards, Apple and Google Pay, and rides are £2 each way -- about $2.50 US. (We looked into providing bus passes to all attendees, but the bus company doesn't offer a suitable option.) There are clear readerboards at each stop, and most smartphone mapping apps will also show the times and stops clearly.

Michael Mehaffy also walked from the main train station, Dorchester South, to the Corn Exchange and the main hotel area, making a video guide that demonstrates how attendees can easily follow that path. Most attendees will arrive at Dorchester South train station, and as the video documents, they can walk up to the hotel area along a delightful pedestrian path in a little over ten minutes:

Special coaches (buses) will be provided to take people from Jubilee Hall to the Corn Exchange after the opening reception on Tuesday the 10th, and after the closing party on Friday the 13th. There are also taxis and other TNC companies in the area.

The staff will also have a 9-passenger van for attendees with special mobility needs – please email the staff to discuss this option.

Early October weather is often very pleasant in Dorchester, although attendees are advised to bring umbrellas and/or windbreakers in case of inclement weather - always a possibility in England! The temperature can also be chilly, especially at night -- around 50 degrees fahrenheit, or 10 degrees centigrade.

Duchy of Cornwall development manager Jason Bowerman notes that there has never before been a conference specifically covering Poundbury, let alone one actually located there, even partially. Perhaps in the future, the Duchy or other providers might provide full conference facilities directly within Poundbury. For now, we will have to work with the hybrid arrangement -- but with a walkable route and bus service, as Michael Mehaffy found, it certainly seems manageable. Indeed, it seems like a good way to "walk the walk," and experience the area's urbanism more fully,



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