On the occasion of the Congress for the New Urbanism's 20th annual gathering, which ended Saturday in West Palm Beach, we've heard from several leaders and insiders attempting to codify the history and future of the movement. In the first of several articles she is authoring on her experiences at her first CNU conference, Urban Designer Erin Chantry confronts her own preconceived notions about the movement and the conference itself, and captures the drama of the fiery plenary session debate.
"I knew there was the possibility that CNU20 would be an exercise in brainwashing. After all, the movement certainly has this reputation from its critics. But I was pleasantly surprised to find just the opposite. The morning started off with the plenary session, Looking Forward: New Urbanism and the New World with Daniel Solomon and Andres Duany. The result was an introduction to New Urbanism with a debate on theology between two very prominent urban designers, which set the tone of challenging our own and each other's beliefs in what New Urbanism is and should be. We were off to a good start, and I felt satisfied in my defense of the movement after all these years. It was clear that there was room for many ideas here."
"This session was so powerful for me because the arguments that both Daniel Solomon and Andres Duany made, while contradicting each other, both resonate with me...While Solomon's speech made me fantasize, Duany's speech brought me back to the real world. But I found myself wanting to sit somewhere in the middle."